Long layovers are genius. Our time in Brussels was the first layover I didn’t spend in an airport and I don’t know how I’ve lived this long without doing one. For those travelers like us with a limited amount of time away from work, this is the ideal way to sneak in an additional city or even another country on your way to or from your first or final destination.
We started our Europe trip in Paris, France, but the flights through Paris were so expensive! Luckily, we came across a deal to fly through Brussels, Belgium which was only 1.25 hours away from Paris by train.
There was only one problem: our flight home from Santorini would have us arriving in Brussels at the same time the last flight to Atlanta would be leaving. The next flight home wouldn’t be until 10:00 am the next morning.
So how did we fix this problem? We didn’t. We embraced it and decided to spend our layover in the city.
If you find yourself facing a similar scenario, here’s how to make the most out of 24 hours in Brussels.
1. Pick a hotel close to Brussels Central Train Station
We stayed at the Novotel Brussels Grand Palace which was a 3-minute walk from the train station. This was key because we didn’t want to waste any time walking with our bags. Time is precious during these 24 hours stops!
We loved the modern feel of this hotel and I’ve never seen so many power outlets in a room before. This is the perfect hotel for business travelers or digital nomads (or just normal people like us).
2. Review your hotel’s early check-in details
Our hotel did not allow us to check-in early, but they did have a very safe (and free) way to store our bags while we walked around the city. They tagged our bags and gave us paper slips to claim them upon return. Then the bags were locked away.
Most hotels will store your bags for you if you arrive before your room is ready. However, if you know ahead of time that you will be arriving early, it’s always worth double checking to make sure your hotel offers this or would be willing to offer this with advance notice.
3. Have a plan for sightseeing
Plan ahead and know the sites you’re dying to see. Don’t wait until you’re wandering around the city to try and figure out what to do. You’ll spend more time trying to figure out where to go than you’ll have to actually enjoy the city.
No need to do extensive research, I’ve done the hard work for you! Read my Brussels in One Day post for more.
4. Plan for the weather
The weather in Brussels was significantly different than where we had been 5 hours earlier in Santorini. It was drizzly and cold when we landed so we both were digging through our bags for jackets and a change of clothes. Neither of us even thought to check! Save yourself the hassle and either dress appropriately when you board the plane or have your destination outfit ready to be changed into when you land.
5. Don’t overdo it
You only have 24 hours. Don’t panic if you can’t see everything! While you’re planning, make yourself a priority list. If Delirium Bar is a high priority for you, don’t make a beeline to the Manneken Pis and get disappointed when you don’t have enough time to finish your beer at Delirium.
Most of all, see this as a bonus to your already amazing trip. If part of your plan doesn’t work out or you don’t have enough time to see something, remember that without this long layover, you wouldn’t have been able to see this place at all!
↠ Have you ever enjoyed a long layover in a city? Tell me in the comments below! ↞