Belgian Wonderland: 2-Day Brussels Itinerary

Things to do in Brussels

You’ve booked your flight to Brussels, and you’re wondering what there is to see in the city. Brussels may not be as beautiful as Paris, but it certainly has enough character (and delicious waffles) to make your trip worthwhile.

Brussels is a great destination for those interested in history, art, magnificent structures, and odd sculptures such as Manneken Pis. This Brussels Itinerary contains everything you need to see and do in the city during your brief visit.

Brussels is the country’s capital and the largest city in Belgium. It is recognized for its Brussels landmarks, Belgian chocolate stores, some of the most stunning Christmas markets in Europe, excellent beer, and Moules-Frites (mussels and fries).

Brussels is also home to a number of top-ranking museums, magnificent Art Deco buildings, and well-preserved historic city center.

It’s time to share with you how to spend two days in Brussels. Continue reading for a travel advice on how to arrange the greatest two-day European city break in Brussels.

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ABOUT BRUSSEL | SOME BASIC INFORMATION

I always love sharing and researching cities when I write a post about it.  This is, of course, also the case for this Brussels post. Underneath you can find some general information about this city. What currency they use, the languages they speak, the best time to visit and where to stay can all be found below.

Money and Prices

The currency in Brussels is the Euro, as Belgium is part of the European Union. As it is home to the EU parliament, the city attracts a lot of business travellers. Meaning, it is more expensive, as it caters for the most part to this traveller’s group. Additionally, everyday items like transportation and food can be a bit rough on the budget.

Past travellers have spent, on average, € 25, – on meals for one day and € 13,- on local transportation. Wich is $40 AUD for meals and $ 20 AUD for transportation.

Double rooms in Brussels go for as little as $ 23,- AUD but the average price is $225,- AUD. 3-star hotels are available from $112,- AUD and 4-star hotels from $147,- AUD (Of course, accommodation prices vary, so make sure to do some research before booking)

Underneath are also a couple of food prices, to help a bit more with your budget:

Lunch  | Around 15 EUR
Plain Waffle from a food stall | Around 2 EUR
Basic dinner for two in a pub | Around 40 EUR (for 2 people)
Dinner in a normal restaurant | Around 55 EUR
A beer in a pub (500ml) |Around 3.50 EUR

Hopefully, this will give you a bit of an idea of what to expect.

Language

Brussels is officially bilingual, but French is much wider used than Flemish. People generally understand and speak English. And, of course, Brussels is very multicultural, since it is the home of the EU commission and administration.

FRENCH PHRASES & USEFUL TRAVEL PHRASES

Underneath are just a couple of handy words in French, just in case you need it:

English  French  
Hello / Good morning Bonjour
Good afternoon Bonne après-midi
Good evening Bonsoir
Thank you Merci
Please S’il vous plaît
Thank you very much Merci beaucoup
Yes Oui
No Non
Excuse me Excusez-moi
My name is… Je m’appelle…
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais?

Best times to visit Brussels

Whether you are planning to visit in summer or winter, Brussels has its charms all year-round.

The best time to visit the city, in my opinion, is from June to August, when the weather is nice and the trees are lush green.

The weather is generally chilly and damp throughout the year. Summer temperatures seldom exceed 30 degrees. Spring and fall are shoulder seasons when fewer people visit and temperatures are cooler, with average highs around 10°C.

Things to do in Brussels

Language French
Time Zone GMT/UTC +1
Electricity Type C two-prong plug. Electrical power in Belgium and in most of Western Europe runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt, alternating current.
Currency Euro (€)
Tipping Like in most of Europe, tipping isn’t generally expected. However, it’s polite to leave extra change or round up.

How do I Get from Brussels Airport to City Center?

There are two airports that are serving Brussels. You can either fly to Zaventem Airport and the more remote Charleroi Airport. I would suggest flying into Zaventem if your main destination is Brussels, as it is located a lot closer to the city.

ZAVENTEM AIRPORT 

Underneath are a couple of options o how you can get to the city from this airport.

TAXI | A taxi from Zaventem to the city centre will cost roughly € 45,-. This, however, depends on your time of travelling and how bust it is on that time of day.

if you don’t mind hopping on public transport after a day of travelling, then underneath are a couple of options:

BUS | If you stay somewhere close to the European District in the city, then the bus may be your best bet. There are two buses services running between the district and the Airport.
LINE 12 |  This line operates from Monday to Friday till 8 pm.
LINE 21 | operates after 8 pm on weekdays and weekends and offers more stops than line 12. The last one is just outside the Royal Palace.

TRAIN | The airport train will take you to Brussels’ Central Station.  The service operates between 5 am and midnight, every day of the week and will take about 20 minutes to get to Central. A single ticket is current € 12.50.

CHARLEROI AIRPORT

The Charleroi Airport is located 60 kilometres from Brussels, because of this there is unfortunately only one way to get to Brussels, and that’s the airport shuttle. You can get your shuttle bus tickets at the ticket offices or ticket machines at the airport or you can buy them directly from the driver.  If you pre-book online, the tickets are a bit cheaper.

Getting around in Brussels

In general, I would say that public transportation in Brussels is excellent! It has a large metro network, many trams, and bus routes. You will be able to pretty much go where ever you want by public transport.  The prices are pretty reasonable, a 1-hour ticket costs €2.10 and a 24-hour ticket costs €7.50.

Taxis can be found plentiful in the city! Of course, they are way more expensive than public transport, but sometimes you ain’t got time to wait for a bus. The default starting fee for a taxi pick up is €3.70 plus €1.80 per km within the 19 city communes and €4.50 per km outside of the city. Plus a €2 surcharge applies between 10 pm and 6 am.

Where to Stay in Brussels?

Brussels is a popular area for business travelers and holidaymakers. Brussels has a wide range of accommodations suited to all kinds of visitors. Working out where to stay in Brussels may be difficult, especially if you want to be near the main attractions, bars, cafés, and restaurants.

It’s usually ideal to stay in the middle so that you can walk everywhere. And, since Brussels may serve as a great base for exploration of Belgium beyond, being near a major train station is also advisable. Given this in mind, the best areas to stay in Brussels are central districts such as the Grand Place area and Sablon and Saint Gery.

A couple of great luxury hotels are:

  • Sofitel Brussels Europe |  5-star luxury hotel in Brussels European District set serenely among leafy parks cafés and museums.​

  • Pullman Brussels Centre Midi | An upscale 4-star hotel located in the city centre next to a river.

  • Warwick Brussels | A luxurious hotel located in the heart of Brussels, only a 2-minute walk from the Grand-Place and Brussels Central Station.

Boutique hotels in renovated historic buildings are also reasonably common and a lovely unique stay: 

  • The Augustin | A boutique hotel refurbished in modern design style just a 5-minute walk from Brussels’ Grand Place. 
  • Made in Louise charming hotel | Delightful and well-priced hotel in a turn-of-the-century building in the Ixelles district

Best Hotels in Brussels

Hotel Indigo
Hotel Agora Brussels Grand Place
Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place
The Dominican
Hilton Brussels Grand Place
Steigenberger Wiltcher’s
Hotel Indigo
Hotel Agora Brussels Grand Place
Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place
The Dominican
Hilton Brussels Grand Place
Steigenberger Wiltcher’s
Hotel Indigo
Hotel Agora Brussels Grand Place
Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place
The Dominican
Hilton Brussels Grand Place
Steigenberger Wiltcher’s

Brussels also has a wide selection of top-notch affordable hostels for those looking to spend less money.

SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN BRUSSELS? 

Bring back souvenirs is always fun, especially when travelling to a new country or city. Underneath are just a couple of good options to bring back from Brussels:

  • Lots of BonBons aka Belgian Chocolates
  • A bottle or two of Brussels beer
  • Tasty Speculoos
  • Comic Books
  • Some Belgian lace

TRAVEL VISA/TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

Brussels is located in Belgium, which belongs to the Schengen Zone. So if you have a non-visa exempt passport for Schengen countries, you will require a visa to travel. Learn more about the Schengen Visa here. If you have a European Union passport, you are, of course,  visa-exempt.

The Perfect 2-day Brussels itinerary

Peel back Brussels’s stuffy facade to discover legendary jazz clubs, comic-book superheroes, and, perhaps most famously, peeing sculptures. Make sure to see all of this and more on your visit to the Belgian capital.

Underneath are just some of the highlights you will see if you follow my 2 day Itinerary:

  • Manneken Pis
  • Grand-Place de Bruxelles
  • Some incredible museums, including Brussels City Museum, Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert and more!
  • St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
  • Atomium
  • Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
  • Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary
  • Place du Petit Sablon

2-day brussels itinerary |  Day 1

Day 1 |  Things to do in Brussels

It only makes sense to begin your first day in the city’s centre, where you’ll find the finest things to do in Brussels. This involves rushing straight into the Lower Town of Brussels’ city centre and absorbing as many of the city’s attractions as possible.

1 | Grand-Place de Bruxelles

Grand-Place de Bruxelles

An incredibly beautiful cobbled square also known as La Grand-Place is a must-see! This place is without a doubt the beating heart of the city and is surrounded by the guild houses, the City Hall and the Maison du Roi. Listed on the UNESCO world heritage list, the grand-place is simply not to be missed!

Grand Place and particularly the Guild Houses are a must-see when in Brussels. The impressive gold decoration is astonishing whether there is sunshine! They are simply gorgeous buildings which were made by different guides adorn the main square in Brussels. The level of detail and architectural splendour is simply amazing.

Brussels City Museum

When you are at Grand-Place, make sure to check out Brussels City Museum. This museum is located in the Gothic Revival Maison du Roi, also called Kins house.

The museum is dedicated to the history and folklore of the City of Brussels from its foundation to modern times. The perfect museum to check out if you want to know more about the city of Brussels.

Entrance Price

Combined ticket giving access to the Brussels City Museum (Maison du Roi) and the Garderobe MannekenPis.

Adult € 8.00
Senior, Group € 6.00
Student, job seeker € 4.00
Article 27 € 1.25
European Disability Card € 6.00

Visit 3 museums for the price of 2: Brussels City Museum, fashion & Lace Museum, Sewer museum

2 | Manneken Pis

The Manneken Pis, a short walk from Grand Place, is one of Brussels’ most well-known and contentious sites. Despite its popularity and role in local folklore, many visitors find the sight of this statue of a little boy peeing into the fountain to be uninspiring. You may also see the kid dressed up in particular costumes at different times of year. For those interested, a museum dedicated to these costumes is just down the street.

Manneken Pis is not the only one, with his siblings Jeanneke-Pis and Zinneke Pis located all over the city centre. Whether you find this attraction adorable or not, it’s apparent that this historical fountain reflects Brussels’ sense of humor and demonstrates that residents don’t take life too seriously.

3 | Wander around Comic Strip Wall

The Brussels Comic Strip Wall (or Comic Book Route) consists of 50 murals that depicts Belgium’s comic characters, including Tin Tin, the Smurfs, and more. It begins at the Fabrieksstraat junction and ends in the Lower Town.

Comic Strip Wall

The initiative began in 1991 as a collaboration between the Comic Strip Center and Brussels city council. It gave architects the chance to display Belgium’s affection for comics on plain walls of their buildings.

The interesting aspect about this location is that the comics’ authors did not paint any of the murals; they were created by street artists who invested a lot of time and effort into making them appear genuine.

Comic Strip Route is a lesser-known attraction to see in Brussels, hence it is often overlooked. Although murals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, Comic Strip Route is recognized as one of the lesser-known sights to visit when in Brussels.

4 | Wandering the Lower Town

As with any great European old town, one of the greatest things to do in Brussels is simply wander the city’s Lower Town. You’re never really lost in Brussels; rather, you’re just oriented due to a network of meandering streets that feed into magnificent big avenues. Wandering allows you to get a feel for the city while also seeing some landmarks and creative street art, including that of local creation Tintin.

5 | Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert

Located in the centre of Brussels, next to the Grand-Place, is Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a two hundred meters long glazed shopping arcade lined with high-end luxury stores, auditoriums, cafés, restaurants, theatres and more.

Split into two major sections, this is the oldest commercial galleries in Europe opening in 1847.

Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert

It is a really beautiful place to take a look at and wander around and enjoy its beauty. A word of warning, this place is not cheap, so buying a coffee is pretty expensive but well worth it.

6 | St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral

Less then a 10-minute walk from Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert lies the stunning St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral.

This is a Beautiful Cathedral inside and out. There’s a lot of great detailing on the outside structure of the building. The spire detailing would be lovely to see up close. The stain glass windows are amazing very beautiful and detailed.

St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral 

Cathedral

Opening times:

  • Monday to Friday: 7 am to 6 pm
  • Saturday: 8.00 am to 6 pm (visits from 8.00 am to 3.30 pm only)
  • Sunday: 8.00 am to 6 pm (visits from 2 pm only)

Entrance fee: free

If you still have time and energy left, underneath a couple of quick stops you could also check out on day 1:

  • Mont des Arts | meaning “hill/mount of the arts”, is a beautiful elevated public park that connects the lower, working-class part of the city with the upper, aristocratic part. Nearby is the Royal Library of Belgium, the National Archives of Belgium, and the Brussels Meeting Centre.
  • National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur) | The Koekelberg Basilica ranks fifth among the world’s largest churches.

2-day brussels itinerary | Day 2

The second day of our Brussels itinerary would be all about the Royals, science and nature. We’ll learn more about our planet, Europe, and we’ll use it to improve our leisure time in the city’s best recreational areas.

1 | Royal Palace of Brussels

This is the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium. Only if you are in Brussels at the right time, When the king and queen are on vacation, the Palacesis open to the public free of charge and it is well worth your time!

Besides knowing how they live, you will see Incredible chandeliers, stunning artwork and a few pieces of furniture painted ceilings some uniforms from the King, a few family photographs and more. So a fun experience, but you need to be in luck to experience this.

2 | Atomium + Laeken Park

The Atomium stand 102 meters tall and is composed of nine spheres of 18 meters in diameter connected to each other by tubes with escalators. The nine spheres of the Atomium represent an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. They symbolize the faith one had in the power of science and in nuclear power.

Atomium in Brussels

The Atomium is accessible, but it’s questionable whether it’s worth the trouble. There’s a permanent collection of the 1958 Expo, a Belgian restaurant, a beautiful panoramic view of the area, and a gift shop beside the freaky walkthrough tunnels and spheres.

It’s a lovely place to go inside, but given the cost, I wouldn’t call it essential. From the outside, viewing the giant spheres is plenty enjoyable.

Senior [≥65] € 14.00
Adult [18-64] € 16.00
Teenager [>115cm-17] € 8.50
Child [≤115cm] € 0.00
Student [with card] € 8.50
Person with a disability € 8.50

Located near the Atomium are the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken.

Built towards the end of the 19th century for King Leopold II, who adored plants and flowers, this place is an absolute must for all those who visit Brussels during the months of April and May, when the royal greenhouses can be visited.

3 | Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary

Covering approximately thirty hectares, this park features various spacious gardens, a large arch, and three museums including the Cinquantenaire Museum, Autoworld (a collection of more than 350 cars from different eras), and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces.

For epic views over Brussels and the European Quarter, head to the top of the arch via the entrance at the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces. Admission is free!

4 | Place du Petit Sablon

Place du Petit Sablon is a beautiful lovely little garden/parc with a very nice fountain and a statue of two counts whose heads had been decapitated in the year 1568 because they tried to prevent from King Phillipe the second of Spain to bring the Inquisition into Belgium. The statue is surrounded by 12 figures of people from the Fifteenth & Sixteenth centuries. On the fence surrounding the garden, there are 48 lovely statues.

When you still have energy and motivation to check out more, below a couple of amazing Museums and Tours you could check out!

5 | MUSEUMS

The Upper Town enjoys a wealth of museums to explore. Fortunately, the museums are conveniently located next to one another, so you won’t have any trouble shifting your plans.

  • Museum of Natural Sciences | Unlike the other big natural history museums I’ve been to, this one is nearly solely about dinosaurs! T-rex, triceratops, and diplodocus are all represented here. The museum is so interesting that they have a recently discovered species on display!
  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium | The Royal Museums contains over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, which date from the early 15th century to the present.
  • Magritte Museum | dedicated to the work of the Belgian surrealist artist, René Magritte.
  • Art & History Museum |  It is one of the largest museums in Europe, home to displays of Belgian artifacts from prehistory to the Merovingians, plus finds from Egypt & Iran
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center | The Belgian Comic Strip Center is a museum in Brussels dedicated to Belgian comics.
  • Choco-Story Brussels | A small museum featuring chocolate-related exhibits & live demonstrations with a master chocolatier.
  • Coudenberg | Museum & archaeological site on medieval palace foundations with excavations on display

6 | WALKING TOURS

The city has a bunch of cool walking tours that you can do. Underneath just a couple of options.

  • Best of Brussels Tour: Highlights & Hidden Gems | From the stunning Gran Place to the must-see Manneken Pis Statue. Or how about a hidden Art Deco gem plus many more local secrets? This 3-hour private tour shows you the best of both worlds!

  • Marc’s Belgian beer tour in Brussels | Connect with your beer-loving guide and small group in central Brussels, and head out on foot to some of the city’s best and oldest brew houses.
  • Brussels all-in discovery tour: beer, waffles, mussels, and chocolates | Explore the long history and rich culinary culture of Brussels on a walking food tour. Visit landmarks like the Grand Place and Royal Galleries with a guide, stopping along the way to sample Belgian specialties like waffles, mussels, and, of course, chocolate and beer. It’s a great way to combine sightseeing with the best bites in town

The Comic book route is a great walk that you can do yourself.  There is plenty of huge comic street paintings all around the grand place surroundings. You will walk a fair bit to photographed most of the comic picture walls. Treat it like a treasure hunt and its quite fun.

What and where to Eat in Brussels – Typical Belgian Food to try

What and where to Eat in Brussels

Some of the most authentic snacks, like Belgian Waffles or Frites (French Fries), will be a euro or less from stands in the street. Branch out into Brussels’ classic mussels and try Chez Léon near Grand Place or La Brouette nearby for a cozy, intimate dining feeling.

Underneath I will show you a couple of incredible restaurants that are worth checking out:

Chez Leon | This is one of Brussels’ most authentic restaurants. Founded in 1893 and is family-owned. The star of the menu is “Moules Frites”, the quintessential must-try Belgian dish.
Location | Rue des Bouchers 18, Brussels 1000

‘T Kelderke | located in a centuries-old cellar, now converted into a cozy restaurant.
Location: Grand-Place 15, Brussels 1000

Au Brasseur |  Belgian beer is as world-famous, probably more, as Belgian food. Belgium is the world’s number 1 beer producer and has many amazing lesser know beers locally.  at Au Brasseur, you can try all the most popular beers in Belgium.
Location: Rue des Chapeliers 9, Brussels 1000

Underneath are some local must-have culinary delights (snacks as well as dinner):

  • Moules Frites |  Cooked mussels and French fries
  • Belgian waffles | Toppings vary from whipped cream, confectioners sugar, soft fruit, and chocolate spread, to syrup and butter or margarine
  • Belgium chocolates | The famous bonbons should not be missed
  • Stoemp |  Potato puree mixed with one or more types of mashed vegetables
  • Carbonade flamande |  Stew made with meat, beer, carrot, onion and brown sugar
  • Speculoos | A type of spiced shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas’ day
  • Belgian Beers. 

IS 2 DAYS IN BRUSSELS ENOUGH?

There is a lot to see and do in this incredible city. I would say that the minimum time you should spend in the city is 2 days. 1 day is definitely not enough to see everything this city has to offer. And if you have never been to Belgium, then I suggest adding on a couple more days and maybe checking out some more cool cities.

Bruges is located only a short train journey away from Brussels. It is home to some stunning buildings, incredible market squares, and amazing food. Here is a handy Bruges itinerary, so you won’t miss anything.

Of course, it depends on what you would like to see, but if you are just flying into Brussels to check out the city, I would say 2 days is the minimum of days that you require.

WHERE TO GO AFTER YOUR 2-DAY TRIP TO BRUSSELS? 

How to spend the perfcet weekend in Bruges, Belgium

If you got a day to spare, what better way to do it but exploring more of beautiful Belgium. I suggest heading to the stunning city of Bruges. This city is one of those places that grabs you and will be in your hearth forever. From stunning buildings from the Middle Ages to impressive churches, museums and lots of delicious restaurants. This city has it all!

In my extensive Bruges one day itinerary, I will show my must-see recommendations, but also my things to see and do, what to eat, and some recommended hotels. If you have time Bruges is truly a must-see city and it will not disappoint. So I highly recommend checking it out.

Because of Brussels awesome location, there are many other amazing cities that you can check out as well. Underneath are just a couple of cool options for you:

  • Rotterdam, The Netherlands  |  Home to incredible architecture, amazing food and harming neighbourhoods, you’ll want at least 1 day in Rotterdam.
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands | the capital city of the Netherlands and home to beautiful canals, historic buildings and amazing museums.
  • London, UK |  Spend 4 days in London exploring this stunning and imposing city.
  • Paris, France | The city of lights is a bucket list city on many travellers! Home to the famous Eifel Tower, amazing food and incredible historic buildings. This city has to be seen! Here is a handy 1 day Paris Itinerary, so you know all the must-see highlights.

ADDITIONAL EUROPE RESOURCES

In my opinion, this is everything you need to see and do in Brussels. What are your best tips for things to do in Brussel? Let me know in the comments below.

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6 Comments

  1. February 22, 2020 / 11:31 pm

    Oh this is a handy guide! I’ll be flying into Brussels this summer (But staying in Bruges) and we’ll have a day at either side of the trip to explore Brussels so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can!

    • bonditobasic
      Author
      February 25, 2020 / 9:53 am

      Ahhh awesome Katie, I am glad you like it. I also have a handy guide to Bruges If you need some information on that city as well 🙂 xx

  2. March 5, 2020 / 11:25 pm

    What a handy post! I hadn’t really thought about visiting Brussels until I read this post – it looks so pretty and picturesque!

    Holly x
    http://www.adailydoseofholly.com

    • bonditobasic
      Author
      March 6, 2020 / 10:07 am

      Thank you so much, Holly. Brussels is stunning and definitely worth a visit xx Manon

  3. Paula
    December 20, 2021 / 1:55 am

    Thanks so much for this post. This itinerary is so well organized.

    • bonditobasic
      Author
      December 20, 2021 / 10:39 am

      Thank you Paula ^^ I am glad you like this Itinerary. Appreciate the kind words. XX Manon

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