Brussels, Belgium is the perfect place to make a quick stop. The city is very walkable and you can fit almost everything in within 24-hours. Below I’ve listed my top things to do in Brussels from “must-do” to “skip if you don’t have time.” Technically everything is free unless you buy something of course. If your 24 hours in Brussels happens to be a long layover, check out my guide on how to plan that long layover in Brussels the right way. Enjoy!
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Exploring Brussels in One Day
1. Delirium Cafe
Whether you like beer or not, this bar is iconic and a true must-see if you’re in Brussels. It broke the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most beer on tap at one time. It has 3 stories and each floor has very interesting decorations. Last but not least, the bartenders are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Normally I get a little intimidated when visiting famous bars because the bartenders tend to be a little pushy and impatient. The bartenders at Delirium were so patient and seemed to really enjoy trying to figure out which beer of theirs we would like. It was a great experience!
Website: Delirium Cafe
Time needed: 1 – 2 hours… maybe more if you make friends!
WAFFLES! In doing my research, waffles were a high priority in Brussels and they should be for you too. Vitalgaufre specializes in Liege waffles which are slightly crunchy on the outside but warm and fluffy on the inside. They are a bit dense but SO delicious. I got mine stuffed with Belgian chocolate bars. I’m drooling as I type this.
Time needed: 10 minutes or less (unless you want to stand in one place with your waffle)
3. La Grand-Place
This UNESCO World Heritage site is considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe. Every 2 years, there is a massive flower carpet put on display. Consider yourself lucky if you get to experience this while you’re there!
Website: La Grand Place
Time needed: 20 minutes at the most… more if you are there for the flower carpet
You’ve already had a waffle, now you need frites (the French word for fries)! To be honest, I really didn’t know that Belgium was known for their frites until I was planning to go there. Now I know why. They are incredible! There are many frite stands around Brussels, but Fritland was delicious. We got our frites Belgian style with mayonnaise as our dipping sauce. I know it sounds weird, but the mayonnaise there is much different than the US.
Tip: Bring cash. I believe you can pay with a credit card inside, but the line was very long. With cash, we were able to walk up to the window and get our frites very quickly.
Time needed: 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much food you get
5. St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral
This was not originally on our list of things to do. We stumbled upon it as we were walking around the city and decided to walk in. It is absolutely beautiful from the outside and inside. The gothic architecture will remind you of the Notre Dame in Paris. We visited so many cathedrals in Europe, but I really loved the gothic cathedrals with their intricate details and symmetry.
Website: St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral
Time needed: 30 – 40 minutes
6. Galler Chocolatier
Number 3 in the food trifecta in Brussels. You’ll pass by a ridiculous amount of chocolate shops, but only a few are worthy of a stop. I decided on Galler after reading that this is a local favorite (in addition to Leonidas). Their chocolate was so delicious! We bought a few mixed bags of their small bars and gave them to friends and family when we got back.
Website: Galler Chocolatier
Time needed: 15 – 20 minutes (depending on the line)
7. Manneken Pis
Well, we saw it. That’s about all you can say. It’s a tiny statue of a peeing boy that has somehow captivated the world. When you visit, there will most likely be a massive crowd of tourists taking endless photos. In my opinion, if you’re not dying to see this statue it’s not worth the visit.
Some history: The statue was created in 1618 making it one of the oldest in Brussels. The one you can see on the street is a replica. The original is in the Museum of the City of Brussels. It symbolizes the people of Brussels, emulating their sense of humor and independent thinking.
Website: Manneken Pis
Time needed: Less than 10 minutes
8. Jeanneke Pis
Even less thrilling is the lesser-known Jeanneke Pis. This statue is behind some bars in a wall near rue des Bouchers, in the small alley Impasse de la Fidélité. A better landmark is its proximity to Delirium. It makes for an interesting story!
Website: Jeanneke Pis
Time needed: Less than 5 minutes
How did we find ourselves in Brussels for 24 hours? We found an amazing flight deal we couldn’t pass up and Brussels was only 1.25 hours away by train from our first stop (Paris). Going in and out of Europe through Brussels was a total bonus. We got to explore an additional country and city at the end of our big trip.
Don’t be afraid of a long layover and don’t think you’re limited with airports in Europe. If flights to the country you’re wanting to visit are extremely expensive, make sure to check all the cities and countries around your first stop. Sometimes you can find incredible deals and new adventures just by thinking outside the box!
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