ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A ONE DAY BRUSSELS ITINERARY?
You’re in the right place! As I’m about to outline the perfect one day in Brussels.
Brussels is a fantastic capital city that you should definitely visit if you find yourself in Belgium.
If you only have one day in Brussels, you might be intimidated by trying to fit everything in.
But don’t worry, it’s actually pretty small meaning you can fit a lot in just ONE day!
I recently travelled to Brussels and got a lot done, so I have created a list of places I’d make sure to visit with just 1 full day in Brussels.
Places to Visit in Brussels in One Day
The Grand Place, located in the heart of Brussels, is a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site that stuns first-time and returning visitors with its architectural beauty. This historic square, also known as Grote Markt, serves as the central setting of the city and is surrounded by splendid guild halls.
The Grand Place is always full of life and showcases the wonderful mixed cultures of Belgium well. While the city is split with Dutch and French speakers, you’d be surprised at how many other nations are represented by the people in the square.
The Grand Place is surrounded by side streets, filled with hundreds of unique eateries. Be sure to grab yourself a portion of Belgian Fries or a Brussels Waffle to enjoy while sitting in the square, watching people go about their busy days.
By the way, taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Brussels is actually a really efficient way to see the city in one day, as it passes by all of the main tourist attractions.
Manneken Pis is the FACE of Brussels. Just a short walk down any street with a souvenir shop and you’ll be sick of his cute little face! This cheeky statue has many visitors giggling away due to his rude pose.
The small bronze statue depicts a little boy urinating into a fountain, and it has become an icon of the city’s sense of humour. Our walking tour guide told us that legend has it that the little cherub was commemorated in statue form for peeing to put out a fire that once threatened the city.
You might be surprised or underwhelmed when you come across the statue as it is a lot smaller than you might expect for all of the hype. But he still manages to draw in hundreds of visitors every day.
He’s loved so much by the local population that he is often dressed up for National Days and a museum of all his outfits can be found just a short walk away. He has over 1,000 outfits in his wardrobe!
This quirky and unique statue has become integral to Brussels’ identity and is a must-see attraction for tourists exploring the city.
Make sure to keep an eye out for the lesser-known but still as-comical Jeanneke Pis and Het Zinneke, a girl and dog version of the Manneken Pis statue.
Parlamentarium is a museum in the business district of Belgium dedicated to the EU Parliament. It is a very interactive museum with plenty of activities to entertain kids and adults alike. I loved this experience in Brussels and learnt so much in such a short time. I could’ve easily spent hours at the museum but had to wrap up my visit quickly as I had another booking to attend.
Be aware that you need a form of ID to get in and will be subjected to a security search. I would recommend booking online as it can be very busy, even in the off-peak season.
The multi-media guide systems that the museum uses are like nothing I’d ever seen before but very easy to use and they made the visit a lot of fun. I’d highly recommend visiting Parlementarium even on a short day trip to Brussels!
Just a short walk from Parlementarium, the Hemicycle is a must-see! Visiting the Hemicycle offers a fascinating opportunity to witness the heart of European democracy. This iconic circular room is where Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gather to debate and vote on crucial issues that shape the European Union.
You can experience these debates first-hand by visiting during an active session and witnessing the passion that the MEPs have for bettering the EU. There is an audiovisual system which translates all of the diction in real-time, making sure that all participants don’t miss out.
The Hemicycle is laid out similarly to Parlementarium in that you need to pass through security to enter and there are also multi-media guides that enhance the experience.
Whether you have a keen interest in European affairs or simply want to witness democracy in action, a visit to the Hemicycle in Brussels is a memorable and enriching experience.
But if you do have an interest, I recommend checking out my 2 days in Luxembourg itinerary which includes visiting the European Parliament there.
Mont des Arts
Mont des Arts is exactly what it means in French – “Hill of the Arts”. Mont des Arts is a great public garden which offers a fantastic panoramic view of Brussels. Its central location and rich cultural offerings make Mont des Arts a popular destination for both locals and tourists, who can enjoy leisurely walks, take in the stunning architecture, and appreciate the vibrant arts scene in the heart of Brussels.
It is a great place to take a couple or family photos in front of the beautiful city skyline. Be sure to visit when the time is close to a full hour so that you can enjoy the wonderful animatronic clock playing its tune close by.
Royal Palace of Brussels
The Royal Palais is an architectural masterpiece and deserves first-time visitors’ admiration. The official residence of the Belgian Royal Family is located right in the heart of Brussels and highlights their fortune and elegance.
While it serves primarily as a venue for state affairs and ceremonies, the palace opens its doors to the public during summer months, allowing visitors to explore its opulent rooms, beautiful gardens, and the prestigious Mirror Room. Make sure to visit in the summer months if you love exploring grand buildings.
Complete some of the Comic Strip Walk
Brussels has often been dubbed the “Comic Strip Capital” and for good reason. If you arrive in Brussels via the central station then you’ll immediately understand why! Brussels is famous for the creation of many different comics including the iconic character TinTin.
A personal favourite comic of mine was also born in Brussels – The Smurfs You’ll find an adorable mural of The Smurfs on the ceiling of a tunnel near Brussels Central Station. And a huge white statue of a Smurf outside of the Comic Strip Museum.
There are dozens of comic strips painted on walls all over the city, waiting to be discovered. Under each official piece of art, you’ll find a plaque with an inscribed description and a pointer on a map. There are plenty of comic strips to find, why not set aside an hour or two and challenge yourself to how many you can find?
Devour some artisan Belgian chocolate before you go
It would be silly to leave Brussels without eating at least one piece of chocolate. There are plenty of chocolate shops all over the city and some do really good bulk-buy deals on bars of chocolate – great for taking back home with you.
Make sure to check the chocolate to have your heart set on though as I nearly bought some Brazilian-made chocolate because it was so cheap. While I’m sure it would have been very tasty I wanted true authentic Belgian chocolate.
If you really want to treat yourself you should try the chocolate-covered strawberries from the Godiva Chocolate Shop on the corner of Grand Place. They are to die for!
Also- taking a chocolate tour of Brussels is a really great way to explore Belgian chocolate in its most authentic form, but it’s not the best way to spend time if you only have one day in Brussels.
One Day in Brussels: Conclusion
There are so many ways you can fill a one day in Brussels itinerary and you have to choose how to spend your time wisely. Many attractions around Brussels are fabulous to visit such as the Atomium, but this would eat into your 1 day trip a lot.
Equally, there are many great museums in and around the city centre but you could easily spend a full day in some of them. I think the list I’ve made above is very achievable in 1 day and you should still have some time to relax and enjoy authentic Belgian cuisine.