Only have one day in Brussels to spare but still want to see all the best bits? As always, we’ve got you covered.
Our action-packed Brussels in a day itinerary will show you everything you can see and do to really make the most of your 24 hours in Brussels.
But be warned… you’ll probably get to the end of your one day in Brussels and want to extend your trip. It really is a very pretty city!
Is One Day In Brussels Enough?
First things first, is one day in Brussels enough? Like, really is it? The answer is: yes and no.
If you’re happy to hang around Grand-Place in the centre of Brussels, then there is a lot you can see and do in Brussels in one day. We’d even argue you’d be seeing the best of Brussels in one day.
However, if you’re hoping to venture further afield (either within Brussels or to another Belgian city), or spend time in museums, then one day won’t be enough. For that, you’d need at least 2 days in Brussels or a long weekend.
Brussels In A Day: The Perfect One Day in Brussels Itinerary
That said, if you really do only have one day in Brussels to spare then here is what we recommend you see and do to really make the most of it!
One Day In Brussels Itinerary: Morning Meanders
Head straight to the beautiful Grand-Place
If you’re anything like us, then Grand-Place is one of the sights you’re most excited to see during your one day in Brussels… so why wait?
This impressive square is simply stunning – especially if the sun’s shining. Look out for the golden architecture glinting in the sunlight!
Although you could easily spend a couple of hours here in awe of the buildings, remember that you’re a little pressed for time, so try to limit your time here to just 45 minutes. Don’t worry, you’ll be back later to see the buildings lit up at night!
Laugh at the Brussels peeing statues
Dotted around the outskirts of Grand-Place are three peeing statues.
You’ve likely heard of Manneken-Pis, which is the boy version and built in the 1600s, making this the oldest of the three statues. He’s become something of a mascot for Brussels over the years and you may even be lucky enough to see him in an interesting outfit!
You can find him on the corner of Rue de l’Étuve and Rue de Chêne.
Next up is Jeanneke-Pis, the girl version. She was built in the 1980s and is so well hidden that only devoted fans are able to find her. She was actually my favourite because of this!
Walk up a back street along Impasse de la Fidélité to find her.
And lastly, there’s Het Zinneke (sometimes also called Zinneke-Pis), which is the dog version. Built in the 1990s, this cute little dog can be found peeing against a bollard by the side of the road on Rue des Chartreux.
When you see these statues, you’ll laugh and probably start your one day in Brussels thinking: “What the…?!”
Buy Belgian chocolate in Galeries Royales Saint Hubert
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a beautiful shopping arcade and close to Grand-Place so you won’t have to stroll far to get to it.
It was built in 1847 and is actually one of the first shopping arcades to be built in Europe. There are three sections within it:
- Galerie du Roi / King’s Gallery
- Galerie de la Reine / Queen’s Gallery
- Galerie des Princes / Gallery of the Princes
Neuhaus are most famous for inventing the Belgian praline and the ballotin box, so one of these should definitely find their way into your shopping basket and onto your souvenirs list.
Alongside this, you can find various individual chocolates, truffles and nougatines in the store (priced by weight), as well as chocolate bars and gifts.
And if you happen to be in Brussels at Christmas, then their advent calendars are also well worth the splurge!
One Day In Brussels Itinerary: Afternoon Activities
Eat frîtes for lunch
For lunch, you simply must buy some frîtes.
They’ve become something of a local delicacy in Belgium and are like thin fries or chips but with a difference – the sauce! You can get them doused in ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise (the latter being the most traditional Belgian topping).
You can even dip them in a ‘Samurai’ sauce, which is a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise and harissa.
But our personal favourite and the one we would pick every single time is the equivalent of garlic and herb aioli.
We think the best way to eat frîtes in Brussels is out of a takeaway carton in the middle of the street with a wooden fork… preferably shared between two as the combination of chips and sauce is quite filling!
Head out on your very own street art walking tour
Brussels is home to over fifty comic strip murals to celebrate the fact that some of the world’s most famous comics originated in Belgium, including ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, ‘The Smurfs’ and ‘The Adventures of Astérix’. And they’re one of the top reasons to visit Brussels!
Although you won’t be able to see all fifty murals in just one day in Brussels, you should have time to see a few of the most famous ones dotted around Grand-Place on your very own street art walking tour.
As an example, you could see:
- 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
If you have time or are arriving into Brussels via the Gare Centrale train station then be sure to check out the Smurfs mural on the ceiling of the Putterie passageway. It’s, by far, the best mural!
For more tips on creating your very own self-guided street art walking tour, take a look at our guide here.
One Day In Brussels Itinerary: Evening Excitement
Eat traditional Belgian food for dinner
For dinner, you should make it your mission to try some traditional Belgian food like moules (mussels), carbonnade flamande (beef stew) and boulets (meatballs).
Make sure you book in advance though and remember to order a Belgian beer with your dinner!
See Grand-Place at night
Although the light show at Grand-Place is most synonymous with Christmas in Brussels, this light show actually happens at other times of the year as well.
As an example, you’ll often see a light show to accompany the Brussels annual flower carpet, which draws in large crowds during the summer months.
But even if you miss seeing a light show, you’ll still see Grand-Place lit up every night… making the buildings look silver and even more stunning than usual. A visit to Grand-Place at night is NOT to be missed!
Chill in an ‘estaminet’ (aka café-bar)
To make full use of your one day in Brussels, stay up late and chill in an ‘estaminet’ near Grand-Place.
You’ll see lots of estaminets here, which comes from the French and refers to a small café that sells alcoholic drinks. Some have even nicknamed this type of establishment as a café-bar.
Here are a few recommended options:
- Delirium Café – Over 2000 different types of beer await!
- L’Archiduc – Home to a pretty art deco-style cocktail bar, which opened as early as 1937.
- MEzZO – Delicious cocktails and a thriving happy hour are on the cards here.
Is this Brussels itinerary not quite what you were after? We also offer custom travel planning services!
Phew! What an action-packed one day in Brussels! We hope you’ll agree that this itinerary will help you to see the best of Brussels in a day. Tell us… what are you most excited to see and do first?
Would you prefer to turn your one day in Brussels into a full weekend? Check out this 2 day Brussels itinerary instead!
Or why not combine your 24 hours in Brussels as part of a 3 day Belgium itinerary?
Need help planning your trip to Brussels? We also offer custom travel planning services!
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