If you want to visit Belgium in 3 days then here’s how to make the most of your trip… and how your 3 days in Belgium itinerary can easily fit in three beautiful but very different Belgian cities.
When we visited Belgium in winter, we were caught off guard. We knew we would love the food and the architecture, but we came away loving so much more about this pretty little country.
Seriously, even Brussels alone gave us more than a dozen reasons to fall in love with it!
And here’s how you can fall in love with everything about Belgium in one long weekend too…
3 Days in Belgium Itinerary For First Time Visitors
Day 1: Brussels
We’d recommend starting your 3 days in Belgium itinerary in Brussels, the capital of Belgium and our favourite of the three Belgian cities mentioned in this guide.
We also recommend basing yourself in Brussels as it’s easy to get to and from other Belgian cities from the capital and makes it easier for when you first arrive to Belgium too.
Here’s what you should make time to see during your one day in Brussels…
As you’ve only got one day in Brussels to spare, you should make it your mission to head straight for Grand-Place aka Brussels’ most famous and pretty spot.
This impressive square is stunning by day and at night so be sure to make the time to see it more than once.
By day, the gold gilding on the buildings can be admired – especially if the sun is shining! While at night, the buildings are lit up making them glow like silver.
Our favourite part of the show was when the gothic-inspired Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) was lit up in red and white… just like a giant candy cane.
Did you know that there are not one but three peeing statues dotted around Grand-Place?
You’ve likely heard of Manneken-Pis (the boy version) as he has become something of a mascot for Brussels over the years.
He was built in the 1600s, making him the oldest and most famous of all the Brussels peeing statues. You might even catch him wearing an outfit to commemorate an occasion or special event!
You can find him on the corner of Rue de l’Étuve and Rue de Chêne.
His sister, Jeanneke-Pis was built in the 1980s and is lesser known and hidden down a side street along Impasse de la Fidélité. She’s probably our favourite just because of how well hidden she is!
And finally, there’s also Het Zinneke (sometimes also called Zinneke-Pis), which is the dog version. He was built in the 1990s and you can find him peeing up against a bollard on Rue des Chartreux.
The peeing statues are great fun to scout out and snap a quick photo of. We loved the novelty of them so much that we actually think they’re one of the top reasons to visit Brussels!
Some more of Brussels’ lesser known gems are its covered shopping arcades or galleries.
While the city was once home to fifty of them, now only a handful remain. But the ones that do are so beautiful!
Built in 1847, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is easily the city’s most famous shopping gallery and was actually one of the first like this to be built in Europe! This is where designer boutiques and authentic Belgian chocolatiers can be found.
There are three sections of the arcade to see:
- Galerie du Roi / King’s Gallery
- Galerie de la Reine / Queen’s Gallery
- Galerie des Princes / Gallery of the Princes
We’d recommend heading straight for the Neuhaus flagship store in Galerie de la Reine, which is where the Belgian praline was invented in 1912. Thus, some of these decadent little treats should definitely make their way onto your souvenirs shopping list.
And if you happen to be in Brussels at Christmas, then we tried and tested their advent calendars (for blog research of course!) and can confirm that they’re well worth the splurge!
In addition to seeing Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, be sure to check out the hidden gems of Galerie Bortier, which is a haven for bibliophiles, and Passage du Nord, which is home to lots of charming cafés and tea shops.
Each pretty little shopping gallery has its own vibe and flair, but one thing’s for certain: they are all well worth seeing during your time in Brussels.
Street Art Walking Tour
Before your one day in Brussels is up, make sure you carve out some time in your day to see some of the comic strip murals that are dotted across the city during your very own self-guided street art walking tour.
There are over fifty in total, and although you won’t be able to see them all, you can definitely see some of the city’s most famous ones near to Grand-Place.
As an example, you could easily see all of these during the time you’ve got:
- Victor Sackville on Rue du Marché au Charbon
- Broussaille also on Rue du Marché au Charbon
- LGBT on Rue de la Chaufferette
- Tintin on Rue de l’Étuve
- Olivier Rameau on Rue de Chêne
- Manneken Peace also on Rue de Chêne
And if you find yourself near Gare Centrale train station as well, then be sure to investigate the Smurfs mural that’s on the ceiling of the Putterie passageway. It’s (by far!) the biggest and best mural of them all!
Read More About Brussels:
- Is Brussels Worth Visiting? 17 Reasons To Visit Brussels, Belgium
- Brussels In A Day: Action-Packed One Day In Brussels Itinerary
- 2 Days in Brussels, Belgium: The Perfect Weekend Itinerary
- Brussels At Night: A Guide For First Time Visitors
- Brussels Street Art & Comic Strip Self-Guided Walking Tour
- Self-Guided Chocolate Walking Tour in Brussels
- Christmas in Brussels: What To Do, Where To Go & More!
Day 2: Ghent
Ghent is roughly 40 minutes away from Brussels by train – and it’s a true fairytale city.
Full of medieval buildings, pretty canals and unique architecture, you’ll love visiting Ghent (even if you only have one day to spare).
Here’s what you should make an effort to tick off during your time in Ghent…
Citadelpark is one of Ghent’s largest parks and is home to all kinds of trees, fountains and statues.
And as it’s close to Ghent’s railway station, you could easily stroll through the park when you first arrive on your way to the main part of the city.
Gravensteen is easily one of Ghent’s most famous attractions. Dating back to 1180, it’s a typical medieval castle but one with a varied history.
It was originally used as the home of the Counts of Flanders until 1353, and since then, has been used as a court, prison, mint and cotton factory.
It was restored between 1893 and 1903 and how houses a museum specialising in torture objects and tools, as well as weapons and armour.
Just across the road from Gravensteen is Oude Vismijn aka the Old Fish Market.
Here, you’ll find an unexpected hidden gem: a grand baroque archway dominated by a trident-bearing Neptune and the figures of Scheldt (represented by a man) and Leie (represented by a woman) rivers.
Fish was sold in the market beyond this impressive gate until 1966. But today, you’ll simply love admiring the intricate architecture of the archway.
If you’re a fan of seeing cities from above, then head to the top of the Belfry (Het Belfort van Gent) to see Ghent’s rooftops.
It’s actually the tallest Belfry in all of Belgium and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ghent is a port city, which means that there are a number of canals and rivers (over 19 miles worth!) that wind their way through the city.
During the warmer months, you can hop on a boat to cruise the canals.
But there are also paths following the water, which make for a rather charming walk and offer unique views of the city’s buildings.
St Michael’s Bridge
Don’t leave Ghent without taking in the pretty views from St Michael’s Bridge!
It’s the only place in the city where you can see all three of Ghent’s famous spires lined up neatly in a row – and sharing a cheeky kiss here is often included in lists of romantic things to do in Ghent.
What could be a better way to say goodbye to this fairytale Belgian city than that?
Day 3: Bruges
Bruges is about an hour away from Brussels by train and is one of Belgium’s most popular cities.
Full of medieval architecture, quaint canals and cobblestone streets, Bruges is the ultimate fairytale city brought to life.
It’s also a very walkable city allowing you to see most of the top highlights in just one day. Here’s what we recommend you see…
Minnewater is home to a beautiful park, as well as a self-professed ‘Lake of Love’ and ‘Lovers Bridge’, thanks to a local legend.
The story goes that a young girl called Minna was in love with a warrior of a neighbouring tribe, Stromberg. Her father didn’t agree with the love match so arranged for Minna to marry someone else. She escaped into the forest and when she was eventually found by Stromberg, she passed away in his arms.
While this might be an unrequited love story, Minnewater is now a popular place for couples to wander around.
It’s a very pretty area and is also close to the train station, so you can stroll through here on your way to the main part of Bruges.
Grote Markt is the main square in Bruges. It’s easily one of the city’s most iconic sights – and one of the most beautiful.
Gable-stepped buildings in reds, oranges and purples hug the square on all sides while horse-drawn carriages add to the fairytale image.
It does get very busy here but it’s well worth the trip!
As Bruges is a small city, it’s the perfect place to join a walking tour.
From learning about historic sights to trying chocolate or even beer during your tour, this is a great way to see the best of Bruges in a short amount of time.
Guided by locals, you’ll be shown and told about top sights and attractions like:
- The Belfry of Bruges
- Saint John Hospital
- Bonifacius Bridge
- Church of Our Lady
- Burg Square
Although you won’t go inside any of these attractions, you’ll be shown them from the outside and learn the history about them.
But if you make this one of the first things you do during your visit to Bruges then you’ll be able to better navigate the city later on and discover places you want to go back to and spend longer at.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood
In Burg Square, you’ll find The Basilica of the Holy Blood, which is a 12th century Roman Catholic church.
Not only is the building itself magnificent, but it’s also home to a golden vial encrusted with gemstones, which is alleged to contain a cloth of blood from Jesus Christ.
Whether you’re religious or not, it’s a wonder to behold!
Bruges is also home to a Belfry, which is well worth the 336-step climb to the top to see the city skyline from above.
It can be found in the very pretty Grote Markt, and at 83 metres tall, the views from up here are excellent.
Bruges is almost as synonymous with canals as Venice is. Okay, maybe not quite. But they’re still one of the top highlights during a visit to Bruges.
During a quick 30 minute cruise, you’ll be shown Bruges from its waterways and told a bit about the city and the sights as you pass.
We’d recommend taking one of the last boat trips of the day as it’ll be quieter, and at certain times of the year, you can see Bruges at dusk, which is just magical.
Cruises usually run daily from March to mid-November from 10am to 6pm with the last departure normally being at 5.30pm.
Read More About Bruges:
- Bruges One Day Itinerary For First Time Visitors
- Bruges Chocolate Walking Tour: The Best Chocolate in Bruges
- Bruges Or Ghent: Which Belgian City Should You Visit?
Another way to split up your 3 days in Belgium itinerary would be to spend an extra day in Brussels (trust us, it’s worth it!) and see Bruges and Ghent together in one day.
If you decide this makes sense for you, then to avoid some of the crowds, we’d suggest visiting Bruges in the morning and Ghent in the afternoon (on your way back to Brussels).
How To Get Around Belgium In 3 Days
Belgium’s rail network is excellent – especially when you’re exploring the country’s most popular cities.
Not only are the journeys fairly short (ideal for a weekend getaway!) but the trains are also surprisingly cheap… especially when we compare the fares to UK prices!
Brussels is also a stop on the Eurostar, which definitely beats flying. Because of this, we’d recommend that you make Brussels your base for your 3 days in Belgium rather than checking in and out of hotels throughout your trip.
With that in mind, here’s a quick guide on where to stay in Brussels…
Where To Stay In Brussels
If you follow this itinerary then the bulk of your sightseeing in Brussels will be in and around Grand-Place, so it makes sense for this to be an area you consider staying in. However, you will pay for the privilege of having that kind of convenience.
Here are a couple of great hotel options near Grand-Place:
- Hotel Agora Brussels Grand Place: 3-star hotel boasting unusual features in the bedrooms like wooden beams, bricked over fireplaces and mezzanines | Check Prices
- Hotel Hubert Grand Place: 4-star hotel lavishly decorated throughout and complete with interesting artwork in the bedrooms | Check Prices
Alternatively, you might prefer to stay close to either the Gare Centrale or Gare du Midi train stations to make it easy for getting around Belgium and if you’re using the Eurostar.
Here are some good options to try near to the main train stations:
- Pullman Brussels Centre Midi: Modern 4-star hotel boasting a location on the Gare du Midi plot itself | Check Prices
- Courtyard by Marriott Brussels EU: Classic 4-star chain hotel close to Gare Centrale train station | Check Prices
- Motel One Brussels: Beautiful 3-star hotel also found close to Gare Centrale train station | Check Prices
We hope you enjoyed this 3 days in Belgium itinerary, but most importantly, we hope you enjoy your trip! We’re sure you’ll love exploring Belgium just as much as we did. What are you most excited to see and do first? And will you be seeing anywhere else during your trip? Let us know by dropping a note in the comments below…
Do you need more help planning your trip to Belgium? We also offer custom travel planning services!
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