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A Weekend In Brussels: Itinerary

Your carefully planned itinerary for the perfect weekend in the Belgian Capital!

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Brussels is one of my absolute favourite cities in Europe. Maybe this is something that just makes me seem a little ignorant, but when I visited Brussels, I didn’t particularly have high expectations. It’s not a place that I’d heard a lot about before, so I didn’t know what it would be like, have any idea about the culture or attractions, or what to do! But it genuinely blew me away when I arrived.


To say that I only had a short time in this city, I feel that I had such an amazing experience and really got a taste of Belgian culture. And it’s so easy to access, by air, train (even from the UK) or even coach from other areas of Belgium. It’s perfect for a short city break to escape reality and see some brilliant sights. So, here’s my itinerary for a jam-packed weekend, seeing the best of this fantastic city.


Feel free to cut stops out to spend more time at your favourites, add in your own variations to suit your taste, or swap and change different attractions around in the route. And of course, this itinerary doesn't have to be done on a weekend, it can be any 2 days! I’ve chosen these particular stops in this order as the route makes logical sense, you won’t be going back on yourself or walking in circles all day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be set in stone. If you prefer a slower travel style, I’d recommend splitting all of these stops across three days, rather than two, just to give you that extra time to relax and take in your surroundings.


Contents:


Your itinerary - summarised:

If you just want a quick overview to save reading the details, here's a summary of the itinerary to make the absolute best of a weekend in Brussels!

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

  • ​Grand Place

  • Try Belgian Waffles

  • Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

  • Parc de Bruxelles

  • Royal Palace

  • Parlamentarium

  • Maison Antoine

  • Parc du Cinquantenaire

  • Dinner and drinks!

  • Mini Europe

  • Atomium

  • Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

  • Manneken Pis

  • Mont des Arts

  • Dinner and drinks again!




SATURDAY:


Start off your Saturday Morning in the incredible Grand Place to witness some of the most beautiful and regal architecture in Europe. This square houses Brussels City Hall alongside some other absolutely incredible buildings. It’s always bustling, lively, and the perfect place to people-watch, snap some great photos and begin your weekend. This is the very centre of the city, one of the most popular attractions in all of Belgium, and you’d be mad to miss it!


Grand Place, Brussels
Grand Place, Brussels

Next, grab yourself a coffee and a waffle. You’ll need energy for all this exploring you’ll be doing. Waffles are everywhere in Brussels, as one of Belgium’s signature foods, you won’t be walking far before you find one. You could find an upmarket café in Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, the stunning shopping centre not far from Grand Place. Although, be warned, if you enter that shopping centre, all of your spending money might quickly disappear on large amounts of luxurious Belgian chocolates! That’s certainly what happened to me! So, if you want to avoid this for now, you could grab a waffle from a standard café on a city centre street or even a street food stall.



The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels
The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels

Once you've eaten, wander towards the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, where entry is free! The cathedral is a beautiful sight inside and out, definitely not one to miss, and it’s pretty much on your way to the next stop anyway. You do have to pay a fee if you want to enter their crypt or the archaeological site, so I gave that a miss (saving our money for more waffles) and headed over to the next attraction.


From the cathedral, wander through Parc de Bruxelles towards the Royal Palace. Parc de Bruxelles is the largest park in the city centre, spanning a huge 32 acres. It’s decorated with countless sculptures, statues, and fountains. To be honest, if you have longer than a weekend in Brussels, you could spend at least half a day here just strolling and taking in the peaceful atmosphere and the sights. You could even bring a picnic and games, and set up here for the day! The Royal Palace is just at the other end of the park, so you can stop here to admire the building before heading on to your next stop. The palace is currently closed inside, so you won’t be able to enter for a tour at this time. It’s being renovated, and due to reopen in Summer 2024.


Next, head to the famous Parlamentarium. If you didn’t already know, Brussels is considered the capital of the EU, and one of the three cities where the European Parliament meets. It’s completely free to enter, but you do need to book online. You can do so here. To be completely honest, I wasn’t exactly excited about this visit, but I actually found it very interesting. All of the exhibits are interactive and you take yourself through the museum so if you don’t want to stay long, there’s no obligation to wait while your guide finishes explaining. It’s a great place to shelter for an hour if you catch yourself in some bad weather, and it’s really interesting to learn about the history of the EU and why it came about.


By this time, you must be absolutely starving, so it’s time to get some Belgian Fries! Our favourite place was Maison Antoine, where they have a huge range of sauces and other snacks too. In Belgium, a portion of fries and sauce is considered a whole meal, and we can see why! The large option is cheap, but don’t be fooled into thinking the portion won’t be generous. You get a lot for your money, and I think these are genuinely the best fries I’ve ever tasted.




Maison Antoine is a takeaway place, so you can take them to our next stop, Parc du Cinquantenaire, and enjoy there. But if you’re ready for a drink and a rest, don’t worry. The surrounding bars allow you to take your fries in if you buy a drink with them. So you can enjoy your “meal” with an authentic Belgian beer too! This isn’t your only option, though. You only have to walk a few paces in the city centre to stumble across somewhere selling Belgian fries! Take our advice and try the Andalouse sauce, it’s amazing :)


Now you’ve boosted your energy again, head to Parc du Cinquantenaire and explore the lush greenery, peaceful atmosphere and incredible buildings surrounding it. As it’s a little way out from the city centre, you really can find some serenity in this park. The Arc du Cinquantenaire is a sight not to be missed, especially if you can hang around there until sunset. We could’ve sat there taking in the view all evening.


Arc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels
Arc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels

Head back to your accommodation and either collapse for the evening or get ready to head out for Saturday evening! There are a huge selection of restaurants in Brussels city centre, far too many to choose from, so we recommend checking out Tripadvisor to see what’s best for the type of food you’re craving, your budget, and whereabouts in Brussels you’re staying.

There are also plenty of bars if you want to keep your night going. One of our favourite things to do on a city break is go on a guided pub crawl, which might be worth a try, especially on a Saturday night. You meet so many new people, see a completely different side to the city and generally get brilliant discounts on drinks in some of the best bars in the city. There are lots to choose from, like this one on GetYourGuide.


SUNDAY:


Think you saw all the sights of Brussels yesterday? Think again! This city is absolutely packed full of attractions, so we have another exciting day ahead. Again, if you prefer a slower travel style, you can absolutely spread these things to do across more days.


Grab some breakfast and jump on Metro Line 7, to get off at Heysel. You can find all the info you need about travelling on the metro on Google Maps or Apple Maps. You’re heading to Bruparck today, just out of the city centre. If you pop that in as your destination and select the public transport, Google Maps will tell you exactly what you need to do.


Bruparck houses Mini Europe and the Atomium is conveniently located pretty much next door to it. If you don’t know what these attractions are, or why they’ve been included in your itinerary, let me explain!


Mini Europe is pretty much self-explanatory. It’s a theme park where you wander around an extremely accurate, detailed, scaled-down model of many European cities. You won’t believe how intricate the sculptures are, it’s really an incredible sight. Just down the road, The Atomium is one of the most unique museum experiences you will ever have. It’s a giant sculpture of an iron molecule which you can go inside to witness some amazing exhibitions (including a mesmerising light show!) and stunning views of Brussels. It feels very futuristic, and I absolutely loved my time there.


These attractions aren’t particularly cheap, but I really did feel it was worth the price we paid for our visit. To make it a bit better value for money, you can buy a combination ticket for both attractions directly here. That’s what we did, and it worked out cheaper than booking them separately or through a third party website.





Once you’ve explored these attractions, head back into the city centre and get yourself something to eat! More fries, maybe? Spend your last afternoon and evening relaxing in the city centre, enjoying the atmosphere and sampling as much of the local food and drink as you can possibly find.


We’d recommend heading into Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert to pick up some of those mouth-watering Belgian chocolates we mentioned earlier. You can get them as souvenirs or gifts for loved ones, but we wouldn’t blame you if they mysteriously didn’t make it home…


You now need to seek out another iconic Brussels attraction, although this is one I don’t quite understand the appeal of as much. Manneken Pis is a (surprisingly small) fountain of a little boy having a wee… and it’s always surrounded by people snapping photos. Head there and get your pictures, or just give it a miss and spend more time sampling Belgian beer.



The view from Mont des Arts, Brussels, including a park and the grand place
The beautiful view from Mont des Arts!

For your final evening, we’d recommend heading up Mont des Arts and relaxing with an amazing view of the city. With Brussels being so flat, this is one of the only places you can really admire the city skyline. You’ll find tourists posing for pictures, locals relaxing in bars and students relaxing, sitting on the stairs. You have the freedom to join in with whichever of those activities appeals to you the most! There are plenty of bars and restaurants around this area to spend your final evening. If you have more time, there are also lots of museums in this area for you to explore, and get an even better feel for Belgian culture.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:


Is one weekend enough time to spend in Brussels?

Yes! One weekend is enough to see the main sights of the city at a relatively quick pace. We think that the ideal length of time to spend in Brussels would be 2-3 nights.


I’m in Brussels for longer than a weekend, what else can I do?

The city of Brussels is full of attractions, so don’t worry, you won’t be bored spending more than a weekend here. Here are some more ideas of things to do:

  • Take a self-guided tour of the city centre to find all three “Pis” statues

  • Do a Belgian Beer tasting experience in a local bar

  • Visit the museums at Mont des Arts such as the Musical Instruments Museum, Horta Museum and Museum of Fine Arts Belgium.

  • Visit the botanical gardens

  • Take a day trip to Bruges, Ghent, Amsterdam, Paris or any other nearby city by train.

  • Search for tours and experiences in Brussels on GetYourGuide here


How do I get to Brussels?

Brussels is very easy to access from most major cities by air. You can get direct trains from all surrounding countries in Europe, including the UK (jump on the Eurostar and be there in less than 2 hours!). You can even arrive by bus or coach from major cities in Belgium and surrounding countries like France or The Netherlands.


How do I get around Brussels?

Brussels is a very walkable city. It’s flat, and pretty easy to navigate, especially with the help of Google Maps!


However, the metro system is also great. A single ticket is €2.10, and a 24 hour ticket is €7.50, so you can hop on and off all day! There are also buses and trams if you prefer this mode of transport. You can find all the information you need about public transport in Brussels here.


Where shall I stay in Brussels?


We stayed in this Airbnb in Brussels and loved it for a short stay. It was affordable and really close to the Grand Palace which was so convenient!


Alternatively, you can search for hotels in Brussels on Expedia here.


What else do I need to know about Brussels?

Visas: Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Belgium for a stay of up to 90 days.

Currency: The currency of Belgium is the Euro.

Language: Belgium has 3 official languages: Flemish (Dutch), French and German. We found that we heard more French spoken than the other languages in Brussels. However, English is widely spoken, especially in major cities such as Brussels.

Time zone: Belgium is in the Central European Time Zone, usually an hour ahead of the UK.


I really hope you love this itinerary for a weekend in Brussels! Let us know if you give it a try by sending us a DM on Instagram @sightseekrtravel :)


Don't underestimate this amazing city, and have the BEST time - Jess

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