You only need a day to do Brussels
When you google, What to do in Brussels? numerous suggestions pop up in lists or top 10’s and it would seem you’d need a couple of days to tick off just a few of the tourist spots and foodie recommendations.
But, in the city famous for beer, chocolate and waffles we did pretty much everything there is do in Brussels in just a click over 24 hours and ate and drank our body weight in beer, chocolate and waffles.
I reckon the best use of the time is to arrive later in the day so you can wander the streets, enjoy a great Belgian meal and a good sleep.
Then refreshed, you’ll knock everything over before heading to your next travel destination, especially if you really want the extra time there.
Here’s what we did in 24 hours.
5pm: Arrived at the hotel, checked in and found to our delight we had a balcony. (Although we could only access it by climbing out of the window, which of course we did).
5.30pm: Went across the road from the hotel and purchased takeaway tequila beer and climbed out to the balcony to take in the city from above.
6.30pm: Wandered the Brussels streets, many of which are closed to car traffic.
7.45pm: Found the restaurant recommended by our hotel and now highly recommended by us. There was a waitlist so we stood at the bar and chatted to others also waiting to be seated.
8.30pm: Seated and about to be satisfied. One of the best meals we had enjoyed in a month.
11.00pm Home to hotel and bed. (Of course nightowls and nightcaps are catered for in this city).
9.15am Checked out left our bags with concierge.
9.30am: Belgium waffle breakfast.
10.00am: Visited Grand-Place of Brussels, Hotel de Ville, Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis and other city sights.
12.00pm: Caught the train to Heysel/Heizel.
1.00pm: Explored the Atomium (marketed as the symbol of Brussels).
2.30pm: Walked to the King’s Palace.
3.15pm Caught the train to the European Quarter.
4.00pm Explored Cinquatenaire, Royal Army and Military Museum and Autoworld (NB did not buy tickets but went inside to the coffee shop and was able to see quite a lot)
5.30pm: Decided to walk 5km back to our hotel to see the Royal Palace of Brussels, Pierre Marcolini Chocolates.
6.30pm Quick dinner in city heart
7.30pm Train back to airport
Where we ate:
Fin de Siecle- 9 Rue des Chartreux
It’s well known locally as a beer and meat restaurant but there is always a vegetarian option with menu scrawled on a chalk board above the bar. The prices are very reasonable around 14-18E
I had the vegan moussaka and my husband went authentic with the beef cooked in Begian beer (a la Chimay) but the hit was dessert, the Chef’s Citron special.
Juice Land -Rue du Marche aux Herbes
You can get waffles anywhere, but they are normally already cooked and cold and awaiitng your choice of topping. Juice Land, owned by a Belgian born Chinese guy makes them to order while you watch, so they are hot and fresh and fabulous.
What we did.
The Atomium- as its name suggests it appears like a giant atom made of aluminium.
Just like the Eiffel Tower it was built for a World Fair, that of 1958 and it too was supposed to be dismantled after the fair but remains today as the country’s icon.
While it is certainly interesting to see, photograph and climb the tubes and balls and it is definitely worth a visit, I’d argue it isn’t the breathtaking beauty and iconic symbol of its Paris contemporary. For a start it’s not located in the heart of the city and takes an effort to get there. Although you can also visit the Mini-Europe attraction next door if that interests you. ( It didn’t for us, we’d rather the real Europe tour).
Museums- If the chocolate museum or the beer tasting tour or the comic book tour or the Military museum, or any of the other tours or museums are what interests you you may need another day in Brussels.
We visited almost all as well as the main attractions- the little boy and girl Pis’ which are free and mapped our own chocolate and beer tours.
Where we stayed:
NH Collections Brussels Centre- 7 Boulevard Adolphe Max
The closest metro station is De Brouckere so if you feel comfortable navigating the rail networks it’s really simple, central and you’ll have more time to spend on beers, chocolate and waffles.