Brussels, the capital of Belgium, of Europe, of waffles, chocolate and beer, is large. However, the city centre revolves around the Grand Place and except for one or two attractions, most monuments and sights are located relatively close to the centre and can be seen in a single day.
Through this article we are going to help you prepare a visit to Brussels in one day by seeing the most important things in the city.
How to get to the centre of Brussels from the airport
Brussels’ Zaventem airport is about 13 kilometres from the centre and is well connected by train with departures every 10 minutes every day at all hours. There are several stops in the centre of Brussels and the journey usually takes about 40 minutes. You will find more information in our article on how to get to the centre of Brussels from Zaventem airport.
On the other hand, if you are several or want to save time, you can book your transfer from the airport to your final destination through this link.
Where to stay in Brussels
Rent a car with a discount of up to 15%:
We recommend that you stay in a hotel near one of the train stations. This way you will be well connected from the centre and the airport by metro, train and on foot to the heart of Brussels. Everything in the city revolves around the Grand Place so the ideal area to stay would be around the Central Station. The Brussels Midi station is another interesting option to choose if you find cheaper prices.
We, the last time, stayed in an apartment that we would not recommend. If you are looking for cheap and centrally located accommodation, the following map with the best offers in Brussels from Booking will surely help you find the solution:
Accommodation offers in Brussels
City sightseeing tours
If we only have one day, we might want to ask for help and sign up for a free tour or excursion that will give us a glimpse of the most important things in the city. There are several possibilities like the one we did recently in Brussels and with which we learned the basics of the city so that we can then do it on our own.
At the end of these free tours, a donation is expected that is at the level of the expectations that you have generated. In our case we were generous with the good explanations given by the local guide.
Another option to optimise your time is to get on the Brussels tourist bus, which ensures your mobility throughout the city to visit faraway places such as the Atomium and gives you an overview of the city from the top of the double bus, with an audio guide in several languages available, including Spanish.
What to see in the centre of Brussels
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The city revolves around the Grand Place, undoubtedly one of the most impressive squares in all of Europe. As you can see on the map, our one-day tour of Brussels starts and ends on the Grand Place.
Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the vast space of the Grand Place offers a range of beautifully designed buildings such as the City Hall or the King’s House, the House of the Dukes of Brabant among others.
When you are on the Grand Place, if you want to take the best pictures, climb the steps of the Maison Grand-Place. It is located on one side of the square and from its relative height you can get a beautiful view of the square.
Then we go to the Stock Exchange building with its neoclassical style to approach the neighborhood of Saint Catherine, one of our favorites to walk, buy at the market, take something on one of its terraces or restaurants in the city or walk. Undoubtedly one of the most vibrant and friendly areas of Brussels with the church of Santa Caterina and its long boulevard. During the Christmas celebrations in Brussels, this area is one of the most beautiful in the city with its giant Ferris wheel and dozens of stops with local food and drink.
We approach the centre again through Brouckere Square, one of the most commercial areas with a multitude of shops to go into the streets of the centre. We took a detour on Rue Grétry to get closer to the female version of the famous Manneken Pis. She is called Jeanneke Pis and you will find her in front of one of the most illustrious bars of the city, the Delirium Village, and she shows an irreverent, original and funny mise-en-scene.
We follow the Rue de Bouchers to step on the Grand Place again and from there we set off to find Jeanneke’s famous brother, we follow the Rue de l’Etuve until we see a great influx of people, on any day and at any time of day, taking pictures with the famous sculpture of the little boy peeing in the fountain. Depending on the commemoration of the day you may see the Manneken Pis dressed in some original garment.
After visiting the Manneken Pis, we continue along the city’s main avenues, first via Rue du Lombard and Rue de la Madeleine to the Brussels Central Station, then via the Musée des Beaux-Arts and finally to the Parc de Bruxelles.
The Parc de Bruxelles is one of the most beautiful green areas in Brussels. You will see a multitude of people practicing sports of all kinds and an ideal place to take a walk, rest or prepare your picnic if you prefer.
From the Parc de Bruxelles we take the Rue de Colonis to approach the Cathedral of Brussels and from there we go back into the historical centre to visit the interior of one of the most surprising galleries in Europe: the Royales de Saint Hubert gallery, a real marvel of decoration, lights, staging, shops and good atmosphere. If you are unlucky enough to have the rain with you during your visit to Brussels, you always have an underground city in the centre with galleries as beautiful as those of Saint Hubert to walk around in or to have a coffee or a waffle.
THINGS WE CAN’T STOP DOING IN BRUSSELS Eat a waffle at Le Funambule, one of the classics of Brussels in front of the Manneken Pis Buy a box of quality Belgian chocolate in one of the shops you’ll find in the Galerie Saint Hubert Keep your eyes peeled as you admire the Grand Place both day and night Taste some good mussels and chips, the classic Brussels’ must-have Taste some of the country’s excellent beers Look for the three pissers of Brussels the boy, the girl and the dog
Where to eat in Brussels
During our stays in Brussels we tried out several restaurants and also ate out. During the Christmas season we don’t miss out on the excellent hot and cheap dishes we find at the Christmas markets. On other occasions we sit at the table and enjoy excellent mussels and other typical dishes from the Belgian capital. Among them we highlight the Grimbergen Café in the area of Saint Catherine and the Houtsiplou, in another area of the city, the Place Rouppeplein with excellent dishes and good prices.
If you are looking for a good restaurant, a good tip is to have a look at the ranking of El Tenedor in Brussels where you will see the best scores and you can even book with discounts in many establishments.
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