Short on time and want to plan a mega epic one day in Brussels itinerary? If so then you have come to the right place.
After all, I have been to Brussels countless times and want to help you plan the perfect 24 hours in Brussels.
This way you can quickly and easily see all of the major Brussels attractions without freaking out or wasting time on things to do in Brussels that kind of suck.
Plus, this perfect 1 day in Brussels itinerary has secret expert tips that will help you get off the beaten path and experience things to do in Brussels that most people never get to enjoy.
So, step away from the generic travel guide and check out my cool insider’s guide to Brussels in a day.
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Best Places to Stay for 24 Hours in Brussels
First things first, you’ll need a place to stay in order to get a head start on your one day in Brussels itinerary. Now, these expert picks are the best hotels in the city center.
So, they are close to the train station and major attractions in the city. Just be careful waking around the train station since that area can be a bit dicey – particuliarly in the evening.
Cheap and cheerful, this modern hotel is a 10-minute walk from Brussels-Central Train Station and the Grand Place.
So, hunker down in a standard room or upgrade yourself and wake up with a garden view.
Plus, all units come with rad essentials like an en suite bathroom, free Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning. A top-rated buffet breakfast is also available and something that I love every time I spend one day in Brussels.
It’s not the easiest name to pronounce but it’s a hotel in Brussels you’ll never forget.
See, plush, romantic rooms are appointed with period furnishings and in some instances, a four-poster bed.
However, superior suites are beyond epic since they feature either a hot tub or a terrace.
Sure, it’s a splurge. But, the rooms are utter bliss with space aplenty and premium linens at Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo.
Additionally, there is a tub in the bathroom for a bubble bath and a well-stocked fridge that is overflowing with premium Belgian chocolates.
Furthermore, breakfast is included with your stay and you’re a mere 215 yards from the first landmark on your one day in Brussels itinerary.
One Day in Brussels Itinerary
1. Start the Day at Manneken Pis
Rise and shine, the first stop for your one day in Brussels itinerary is guaranteed to make you grin.
See, Manneken Pis is a bronze statue of a young boy peeing into a water fountain.
In fact, this “wee” chap is the mascot of Brussels! In fact, it’s thought that he commemorates a little boy who saved the city from a catastrophic fire by, well, you can guess.
So, this “Little Peeing Man” dates back to the 17th century. And, ever since the 1950s, he is often spotted sporting a garment chosen by the public – especially during holidays and special events.
Recently, the lad has been joined by a little girl (Jeanneke Pis) near Délirium Café and a dog (Het Zinneke) on Rue des Chartreux.
It’s totally free to visit the fountain. Plus, you’ll spot various souvenirs based on Manneken Pis all over the city which make far more sense once you’ve completed this pilgrimage during your 24 hours in Brussels.
Address: 1000 Brussels, Belgium
How to Get There: Take the 1 or 5 to Centrale station and walk from there.
2. See Grand Place
Only a 5-minute walk from Manneken Pis, the Grand Place sits at the very heart of Brussels and is truly stunning to behold.
Now, this huge public plaza is lined with stunning buildings that have turned this spot into a beloved UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At the center, you’ll see the Gothic Town Hall. It’s possible to go inside and see the rooms and artwork as part of a guided tour (highly recommend and the interior is stunning).
Plus, every two years the Grand Place is blanketed in a flower carpet of begonias. Meanwhile, it hosts a huge Christmas installation every December.
Usually, this includes a tree, nativity scene, and light show plus market stalls that are well worth a look during any day in Brussels.
Furthermore, Grand Place is the location of the Brussels City Museum (one of the best museums in Brussels) and the “wardrobe” of Manneken Pis.
Now, with one day in Brussels, you won’t have time to visit the museum. But, this is good to know for next time since one visit to Brussels is never enough IMHO.
There are also museums dedicated to Banksy, lacemaking, beer, and chocolate just off the Grand Place.
Essentially, you will want to arrive as early as possible to take photos and ogle the architecture. Yeah, this place is always PACKED and it’s much easier to take stellar photos in the AM.
And if you get here in the AM, you’ll have plenty of time to pick up some epic Belgium souvenirs too.
Address: Grote Markt, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
How to Get There: Take line 1 or 5 to Centrale station and walk from there.
3. Window Shop at the Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries
Literally a minute from Grand Place, Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries is an ultra-glamorous retail hub.
In fact, this mall consists of three covered shopping arcades: the Queen’s Gallery, the King’s Gallery, and the Prince’s Gallery.
Designed by the architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar in the 1840s, it set a precedent for other such arcades as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.
It’s a posh affair, with designer boutiques sitting next to premium chocolate makers and jewelry stores.
Basically, it’s a prime place to do a speedy souvenir haul on your one day in Brussels. Otherwise, you can window shop without fear of getting caught in the rain.
Even if you’re not looking to spend tons of cash, this complex is a total treat to just wander around during your twenty-four hours in Brussels.
Address: Galerie du Roi 5, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
How to Get There: Take line 1 or 5 to Centrale station and walk from there.
4. Eat Waffles at Maison Dandoy
In a city famed for its waffles, Maison Dandoy is the place to prioritize on a one day in Brussels itinerary.
Now, take a moment to appreciate the glorious emerald facade before stepping inside.
Then, you can choose to sit on the covered patio or in the wood-paneled dining room bedazzled with chandeliers.
Here, Brussels and liège waffles come with a variety of classic toppings like whipped cream, speculoos, chocolate sauce, hazelnuts, and cooked cherries.
The speculoos are especially delicious since the recipe has been passed down through four generations and isn’t something you’ll want to miss.
FYI, it’s popular here and there’s often a line. So, this is just all the more reason to start your day early and arrive promptly at opening time (aka 10.00 am).
And, the idea is that these decadent waffles will see you through until your mid-afternoon food tour.
Pro Tip: See if they have a daily special before you order off the menu. And while there are many locations throughout the city, the one at Galeries Royales Saint Hubert is my fave.
Address: Galerie du Roi 2, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Price: Around €10.00 for a waffle and coffee.
How to Get There: Take 1/3/4/5 to De Brouckere station and walk from there.
5. Stroll around Mont des Arts
Walk off your brunch as you saunter down the road to Mont des Arts. This is another grand public space where you’ll want to take lots and lots of photos.
Essentially, it’s a monumental complex of landscaped gardens, museums, and sculptures.
Now, the aptly named “Hill of Arts” was originally laid out ahead of the 1910 Universal Exhibition but has been revamped over the decades.
Of note, you’ll see an arch made of yellow bicycles that was added for the 2019 Tour de France. There is also an imposing equestrian statue of King Albert I.
Closer to Brussels Square, you’ll find a cluster of galleries and museums. And, if you spend longer than one day in Brussels you can expand your Brussels itinerary to include other spots.
Otherwise, spend as little or as long as you want to check out the monuments and panoramic city views in this area.
Address: 1000 Brussels, Belgium
How to Get There: Take the 1/2/5/6 to Arts-Loi station and walk from there.
6. Swing by the Palais de Bruxelles
Perfect your curtsy; the Palais de Bruxelles is the administrative residence and workplace of King Philippe of Belgium.
Now, the Royal Palace of Brussels occupies a lovely spot on the southeast end of Brussels Park. In fact, it’s right next to the BELvue Museum which is part of Mont des Artes.
It was established on the site of a former palace that was consumed by fire in 1731. Later, the palace underwent a remodeling to reflect the Louis XVI architectural order.
Sadly, the Palais Royal is closed most of the year. But, you can tour the state rooms and see the throne room over the summer – from late July until the end of August.
Honestly, I have done the tour and HIGHLY recommend it since it is free and the architecture is truly stunning. I mean, there is a room with a green ceiling made of beetles. Need I say more?
However, word of warning, tickets sell at the speed of light. Regardless, do factor in a visit to see the exterior as part of your one day in Brussels.
Pro Tip: The palace is currently undergoing some renovations. So, the exterior looks a bit “BLAH” ATM.
Address: Rue Brederode 16, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Late July to the end of August.
How to Get There: Take lines 2 or 6 to Trone station and walk from there.
7. Visit Brussels Cathedral
You’ll have already seen the national church of Belgium from your vantage point at Mont des Arts.
So, next, you’ll head there for a closer look – and take the scenic route through Brussels Park.
Brussels Cathedral, officially the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula, is a Gothic-style building. In fact, it was erected on top of an 11th-century Romanesque church.
Seeing as it was restored in the 1980s, it’s in pretty good shape.
It’s free to visit so you can amble right into the nave. Note the gorgeous Baroque pulpit carved out of wood from 1699 and the oak confession booth.
Furthermore, the organ was designed by the revered Gerhard Grenzing – a master of organ building and restoration. Also, check out the marvelous stained glass windows, some of which date back to 1540.
It’s also €3 to visit the cathedral crypt and €2 to enter the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament of the Miracle. But, you’ll be able to see plenty as part of your free visit.
Address: Pl. Sainte-Gudule, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take line 1/5 to Parc and walk from there.
⭐️ Rating: 4.6/5.0 (27 Reviews) Price: $68.75 per person Duration: 3 hours 📍Meeting Point: Grand Place (in front of City Hall) Operator: Bravo Discovery Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!
Wherever possible, lunchtime in Europe means going on a food tour.
Now, this Belgian Chocolate, Beer, and Fries Tasting Tour is one of the best options. That is if your one day in Brussels falls on a Saturday.
See, it’s a 3-hour walking tour with a professional guide who is well-versed in Belgian cuisine and where to eat like a local in Brussels.
Now, we all know it’s important to eat a balanced meal which is why this tour is the golden triangle of crunchy Belgian fries, creamy pralines, and scrumptious beer.
Plus, this tour includes a tasting of 4 Belgian beers, chocolate pralines from Pierre Marcolini or Mary’s, and frites from a traditional frietkot (fries kiosk).
“What a fun way to experience a new city?! I enjoyed walking the older part of Brussels while getting both a historical and foodie perspective. The guide was engaging, shared fun facts about the city and the food, and helped us navigate the crowded city center.”Sabine (read more reviews now)
Spoiler alert, the pralines on the tour have unexpected ingredients. For example, you might come across mango with yuzu, cassis with black pepper, and lime kefir with potato vodka.
All the while, your guide will explain the history, traditions, and nuances of Belgian cooking.
Of course, the food tour does eat up a large segment of your one day in Brussels itinerary.
Therefore, you might want to switch things around or skip some of the sights that appeal less to you during your 24 hours in Brussels.
|Well-priced||Food served is sometimes cold|
|Great way to sample a wide array of Belgian cuisine in a short amount of time||Can feel a bit disorganized|
|Walking tour and food tour combined||The guide can lack information|
|All-inclusive and no hidden fees|
9. Gorge on the Best Belgian Fries at Frites Atelier
Now, if you decide to skip the food tour, you can still get your fill of the best fries in Brussels.
Just beeline over to Frites Atelier. This is a super swanky eatery where Belgian fries are double-fried in vegetable oil.
Therefore, you get all the crunch and fluffiness of the classic frites but they’re safe for vegetarians.
And, you can posh up your frites with gourmet delights like parmesan and basil, carbonnade (beef stew), and truffle sauce during your one day in Brussels itinerary.
Furthermore, the kitchen is forever revamping the menu with limited-edition flavors. You’ll also love that this gastropub has lots of light-filled seating inside.
Plus, there are other, larger Belgian, and European-inspired plates for you to enjoy, in addition to an array of Belgian beers to accompany your fries.
Address: Rue Sainte-Catherine 32, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Open Wednesday through Monday from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm and until 10:00 pm on Friday/Saturday.
Price: €5.75 for fries and two homemade sauces, like my faves Truffle and Bearnaise.
How to Get There: Take 1 or 5 to Sainte Catherine station and walk from there.
10. Learn about the Brotherhood at the Belgian Museum of Freemasonry
Now, the Belgian Museum of Freemasonry is a hidden gem for your one day in Brussels itinerary.
Basically, it’s a small museum housed in a former hotel. And, the exhibitions explore the avant-garde role played by Belgian Freemasons in the local and regional area since the end of the 14th century.
Items on display include furniture, textiles, jewelry, crockery, and books. While not a huge exhibition, the collection is diverse and cleverly curated.
Plus, you have the option of scooping up an audio guide or booking a guided tour, depending on what you’re into.
The museum is also just a 10-minute walk from Frites Atelier or Grand Place (where the food tour ends).
Local Tip: The museum is open until 8.00 pm on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. You can also enjoy free admission the first Sunday of the month from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Address: Rue de Laeken 73, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Price: Starts at €8.00 per person.
How to Get There: Take line 1 or 5 to Sainte Catherine and walk from there.
11. Get Spooked at the Museum of Fantastic Art
Another offbeat attraction, the Musée d’Art Fantastique is dedicated to creepy, freaky, and bizarre relics and artifacts.
Among the collection, you’ll encounter surreal sculptures, paintings, and visual art installations.
So, if you’re a fan of fantastical critters and curious about the occult, this museum is a must during your one day in Brussels itinerary. Plus, it’s suitable for slightly older kids and great for adults.
Now, because you won’t have time to visit both of these museums, you’ll have to prioritize the one that appeals to you most.
Also know that The Museum of Fantastic Art is located south of the city center in Saint Gilles.
You can take tram numbers 3 or 4 from Bourse and alight at Horta or number 92 from Palais (near the cathedral and palace).
Address: Rue americaine 7, 1060 Brussels, Belgium
How to Get There: Take tram 92/97 to Janson and walk from there.
⭐️ Rating: 4.3/5.0 (4706 Reviews) Price: $17.86 per person Duration: 2 hours 📍Meeting Point: Ticketing pavilion at the Atomium Operator: ATOMIUM Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!
By now, you might be exhausted. If not, make one final stop at Atomium.
After all, this is one of the most iconic sights in Belgium since this giant atom was the headliner of the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels.
Essentially, it represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times, with each of the particles being linked by escalators.
Now, you can go and see it from the ground or purchase a ticket to go inside. However, final admission is at 5.30 pm ahead of closing time at 6.00 pm.
If you do include this spot on your one day in Brussels itinerary, you’ll want to pre-book your Atomium admission ticket.
It even includes admission to the permanent and special exhibitions at the attached museum.
“The description said it was good to be there right when it opened at 10 a.m. and that was a really good tip. It was a relaxed arrival, no queuing for the elevator up and it wasn’t that crowded in other rooms either. It was exciting to travel back in time again… what were the conditions like in 1958 and at the time when the Atomium was planned and built? That was well prepared. There was a crazy light show with music on an escalator, which was very impressive.”Mona-Luise (read more reviews now)
From the museum, you can take tram number 97 from Janson. Alight at Louise and switch to the metro. Line 6 takes you to Heizel, the nearest station. Otherwise, you can hail an Uber.
Just be prepared for a bit of a trip here since it’s well outside the city center.
Address: Pl. de l’Atomium 1, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Price: €16.00 per adult, €14 per senior, and €8.50 per child/student/person with a disability.
How to Get There: Take line 6 to Heysel station and walk from there.
13. Discover the Brussels Beer Scene
And, that’s almost a wrap on your one day in Brussels! But, be sure to round things out the Belgian way – with a nice cold one.
See, Belgian beer ranks right up there with Czech and German as some of the best in the world.
So, head straight to Délirium Café where you can work your way through 2,000 different types of beer – just not all in one night. The beers include blonde, dark, triple, amber, sour, and more.
Yeah, they have a gigantic taproom with lots of little areas offering different vibes. So, in some places, you can tap along with regular live music while in other nooks you can sit in peace with your book.
And, elsewhere you can talk until the cows come home. FYI, that can be as late as 3.00 am on weekends.
Just pay attention when you arrive since Jeanneke-Pis is on the street right outside the taproom. Ultimately, you could stay here all night.
Otherwise, you could wander down the road to À La Mort Subite or head across to Little Délirium on the other side of Grand Place.
Then, the next morning, visit some of the best cafes in Brussels to cure your hangover.
Address: Imp. de la Fidélité 4, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Open daily from 11:00 am to 3:00 am.
Price: Beers start at around €4.60 each.
How to Get There: Take line 1 or 5 (tram 3/4) to De Brouckere station and walk from there.
Map of this One Day in Brussels Itinerary
One Day in Brussels Itinerary FAQs
Is One Day Enough Time to Visit Brussels?
Although it’s the Belgian capital, the center of Brussels is pretty compact and walkable. Therefore, you absolutely can see most of the main sites with only one day in Brussels.
However, you will need to plan your day in Brussels carefully. So, be sure to start early and commit to a lot of walking. Plus, there will be a lot of museums that you’ll simply not have time to visit.
All in all, your one day in Brussels itinerary should include a mix of the best landmarks, a few hidden gems, and epic food. Which, is exactly what this post dished the deets on.
Now, this is an ambitious itinerary so you’ll need to make some decisions about which attractions make the final cut.
Furthermore, most of the main attractions in Brussels are within walking distance of one another.
However, you will need to jump on the tram or metro – or hail an Uber – in a couple of instances. So, be prepared!!!
What is Brussels Known For?
In a nutshell, Brussels is known for waffles, chocolate, and beer as well as for being the seat of the European Union.
Naturally, the Belgian capital also has its fair share of historical treasures and glorious gardens.
Specifically, these include the Grand Place, the Royal Palace of Brussels, and the Mont des Artes complex of gardens, museums, and monuments.
Overall, there are more than 120 museums and galleries in Brussels like the fine art museum, transport museum, and freemasonry museum.
A little less historic but utterly mind-boggling, Atomium is one of the coolest emblems of the city that doubles as one of the most unusual things to do in Brussels.
Can you do Brussels in Half a Day?
Honestly, there is a lot to see in Brussels. Therefore, it will be really hard to see all of Brussels in a half day.
However, if you come prepared with an itinerary then you can see a lot of Brussels top attractions since they are well-located in the city center and within easy walking distance of one another.
What to do in Brussels for 24 hours?
Some of the best things to do in Brussels in 24 hours include:
- See Manneken Pis
- Explore Grand Place
- Visit Brussels Cathedral
- Eat waffles, taste chocolate, and enjoy Belgian Fries
- Explore Palais De Bruxelles
- Go on a food tour
- Go to the top of Atomium
- Try some Belgian beer at Delirium Cafe
Can I go to Belgium for a Day Trip?
You could easily do a day trip to Belgium from places in the Netherlands, France, and Germany. If you can, try to visit a smaller town so that you can see all the area has to offer in a day.