Planning a quick visit to Brussels? Check out our two-day itinerary of Brussels packed with the best things to see and do in the city, so you make the most of your visit. The itinerary is planned for a weekend, arriving on Friday afternoon and leaving on Sunday evening.
If you would like to do this same itinerary another day of the week, make sure to check out the opening hours of the museums and top attractions before your visit, as these often change between weekdays and weekends.
You probably won’t have time to visit any monuments or museums on the same day you get to Brussels, since it will probably be late by the time you leave your luggage in your hotel (especially if you land in Charleroi Airport), but you’ll have enough time to go for a walk and see some of the most beautiful parts of the city centre.
The starting point of your stroll around Brussels is the Grand Place, the city’s main square and the most popular part of Brussels. Here you will see striking neo-classical buildings like the Town Hall or La Maison du Roi. Take the street on the right of the bar Roi d’Espagne, called Rue au Beurre (Boterstraat in Dutch, all streets are written in French and Dutch) and you will get to St Nicholas Church, a pretty neo-classical construction. Continue straight and you will get to the emblematic neo-classical building of La Bourse (The Brussels Stock Exchange).
By now you will probably be starving, so turn back towards the Grand Place and take the rue Chair et Pain until you get to rue des Bouchers where you can have a delicious traditional Belgian dish on this street full of restaurants and with a lively atmosphere. You will see that all the menus are similar and include the star-dish of Brussels, the Moules-frites (mussels and chips).
By the time you finish dinner it will probably be a little late to continue the sightseeing tour, so you can either call it a night or enjoy a good Belgian beer in any nearby bar.
To make the most of your first day, we recommend getting up early and heading out as soon as possible (between 9 am and 10 am). Head to the closest metro (tube or subway) and get off at "Schuman" stop. This metro station will lead you directly into the heart of the European Quarter, where you can go for a walk and discover the European Commission and the European Parliament. Afterwards, turn towards the Cinquantenaire to visit Autoworld, one of the best car collections in the world.
When you leave Autoworld, take the exit towards the rear part of the building and take the metro “Merode” to get to “Parc”, which is located directly in front of the Parc de Bruxelles (Brussels Park). This park is the liveliest in Brussels and a great place to have a rest or a stroll around. The green space is bounded by the Royal Palace of Brussels and on the opposite has been the headquarters of the Belgian Federal Parliament since 1830.
If you leave the park from where you entered, walk down the rue des Colonies until you get to the Brussels Cathedral, one of the most beautiful temples in the city.
Go back to the Parc de Bruxelles and continue to the right until you get to Place Royale, and there, turn right in the first street to visit the Musical Instruments Museum, a pleasure for the senses. When you leave the Museum, turn right and continue down the same pavement until you get to the imposing Ravenstein Hotel.
If you turn back towards la Place Royale you will come across the beautiful façade of the Église St-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, and nearly in front is the Magritte Museum and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Take the rue de la Regence to the right and stroll down the street until you get to Place Poelaert, where you get the best views of Brussels. (Although it is close you can also take the tram 92 or 94). Next to the square is the Palais de Justice, one of the largest and most impressive buildings in Brussels (unfortunately it closes on the weekends).
Walking down the rue de la Regence you will come to Église Notre Dame du Sablon, one of the most stunning churches in Belgium’s capital. Keep walking down rue des Alexiens, turn right down rue de l’Etuve and you will see a crowd of people gathered around the Manneken Pis. If you are lucky enough, the little boy will be dressed up.
The Mannken Pis has a female version called Jeanneke Pis that isn’t too far away. If you would also like to see the statue of the little girl urinating, go straight down rue l’Etuve to the Grand Place and continue down rue des Bouchers. At the end of the street, turn left and take the first right. The statue of the girl is down an alleyway, very near the Delirium Tremens Bar, one of the most popular bars thanks to its 2,000 different types of beer.
Having spent so many hours exploring the city, you will probably be hungry and want to have a nice dinner. We recommend finding a restaurant in the surroundings of the Grand Place or any of the side streets.
After a tiring first day, we suggest spending a relaxed Sunday morning (or the second day of your trip) visiting Brussels’ most famous landmark, the Atomium and Mini Europe. We suggest being at the Heysel metro station at around 9:30 am, which is the closest metro station to the two attractions.
These two visits will take up most of the morning, so you can either have a bite to eat in one of the restaurants near Mini Europe or if you are not yet hungry, then head back to the city centre. If you don’t have much time before your flight you can get by without visiting the Atomium’s interior.
Note that if your flight leaves from Charleroi Airport it is a good idea to be at Brussels-Midi Railway Station at least 15 minutes before the bus leaves, since there is always a queue to get on the bus.
Over 2 days in Brussels?
If you are in Brussels for over two days and have followed our 48-hour itinerary, why not visit one of Brussels’ neighbouring cities like Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp. These are always places that are worth visiting.
If you have done these day-trips and still have a few days in the capital of Europe there are plenty of other interesting places to visit like the Horta Museum, Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, these are just some of the city’s top attractions and museums.