Wondering how to spend a weekend in Brussels? We got you covered. The capital of Belgium, Brussels is a city that has been described as “the melting pot of Europe”. It’s also a very popular tourist destination and it’s easy to see why. In this post, we will share an easy to follow 2 days in Brussels itinerary.
With its wide range of architectural styles, modern and traditional shops and restaurants, museums, galleries, and the famous Grand Place with its beautiful buildings dating back to the 14th century, Brussels has something for everyone.
2 days in Brussels Itinerary: How to spend a weekend in Brussels
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Brussels is like no other city in the world. Apart from being the capital of the European Union, it has two official native languages, namely French and Dutch.
The downtown area, apart from being well known for its architectural landmarks, also serves as a centre for some of the most powerful international organizations such as the NATO and EU.
2 day Brussels itinerary: What to do in Brussels on a weekend – a snapshot
- Day 1 of 2 days in Brussels itinerary: Grand Place, Rue des Bouchers, Les Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, European Quarter, Parc, Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis
- Day 2 of 2 days in Brussels itinerary: Mini Europe, Atomium, Comic Strip tour, Mont Des Arts, Chocolate making workshop, Beer tasting tour
Enjoying a great location in the centre of the continent makes it one of the most easily accessible destinations in Europe. (The Eurostar from London takes less than two hours to reach Brussels).
Since Brussels is an extremely compact and walkable city, it is possible to achieve a lot in the limited two days you have at your disposal. So put on some comfortable walking shoes and dive straight into this specially crafted Brussels itinerary to make the most of your forty-eight hours in the comic capital of Europe.
(Please note this itinerary is designed for a weekend getaway, as timings of the attractions or closure days often change during weekdays. So make sure you check out the opening hours of the top attractions and the museums before your planned visit).
Planning your trip to Brussels: Tour recommendations and trip preparation
When visiting Brussels on a weekend trip, we recommend sticking to the central area and booking accommodation there.
If flying to Brussels, opt for the Brussels Airport (BRU). It is tempting to fly into Charleroi Airport as it serves the budget carriers, and has cheaper fares when flying into Brussels Airport.
However, Charleroi has no train station and the only way to get to downtown (one hour and a half away) is by shuttle bus or private transfer. So this costs a little more and should be factored in the total budget (and time).
So choose BRU instead. From Brussels airport to Central Brussels is
- 17 minutes by train
- 30 minutes by shuttle bus
- 15 minutes by car/taxi. You can book a private transfer here
Where to stay in Brussels for the weekend?
Since most of the top attractions are within easy reach of the city centre, it is best to stay in this part of Brussels.
We stayed at the easyHotel Brussels City Centre for more than a week, and it was convenient and amazing for a long-term stay. You can check availability here
For a short trip, we have some more recommendations below. All the hotels we list have an X-factor that is sure to take your vacation to a new level:
- Hotel Amigo (Luxury): Short of being in the Grand Palace, the hotel is as close as it gets to the historical centre of Brussels. They have unfussy cool interiors with particular stress on locally sourced fixtures with a distinct Belgian touch. Check photos and reviews here.
- Warwick Brussels: (Mid-range): Enjoying the best possible location with excellent views of the Grand Place, this vintage hotel has comfortable rooms with marble floor bathrooms. The hotel is also minutes away from the Metro Gare Centrale train station. The service is extraordinary and the complimentary breakfast is amazing. Book it here.
- Made in Louise (Boutique): Dating back to 1911, the core of this hotel has managed to retain its old charm in the original six-storey stairwell. Rooms have been designed with an eye on homemade touches, bold wallpapers, and calligraphy directions posted on the walls. Check out prices and availability here.
- Meininger Hotel (Budget-€45): This novel building is a part of a dynamic chain of German entrepreneurs that aims to improve the hostel culture. The accommodation is good and flexible and the atmosphere easy-going. A competitively priced hotel in the heart of the city. Book your stay here.
Free WiFi is standard and most hotels have self-catering facilities. Some also include complimentary breakfast as well.
Tickets and attractions pass:
For sightseeing, the first thing you should get is the Visit Brussels card which includes entry to as many as 49 museums in the city, offers unlimited travel on public transport, and discounts in shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs.
You will save approximately €39 if you opt for the 48 hours Brussels Card (£60.5).
If you are under 26, buy a Go Pass 1 for trips on the Belgian train system. At €6.4 it allows you to travel anywhere in the country at a ridiculously low price. This is the cost of a one-way second-class ticket but can be upgraded to first-class by paying a supplement.
Another option is to book a hop on and hop off sightseeing tour and use that to explore various landmarks with ease. This transport/tour will allow you to get down as you please, especially for attractions that are located outside the city center (or on the outskirts of Brussels).
Day 1 of 2 days in Brussels itinerary: Grand Place, Rue des Bouchers, Les Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, European Quarter, Parc, Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis
This Brussels 2 day itinerary assumes that you will be in the city the night before. But if you happen to land in the morning at Brussels Airport, then it will be close to midday by the time you have checked in your hotel.
Still, you will be able to see some of the most beautiful parts of the city on the first morning itself.
Brussels Grand Place & nearby attractions
As soon as your luggage is in the room, start as soon as possible for a stroll around the city’s main square and the most popular part of Brussels, the Grand Place.
Here you will come across some neo-classical buildings such as La Maison du Roi and the Town Hall and the emblematic institution, The Brussels Stock Exchange, and the Brussels City Museum.
Book: Guided tour of Brussels
After the walk, head back towards Grand Place and take the Rue des Bouchers, a street full of restaurants. This was where once the city’s butchers did their business from, but today you can enjoy a traditional Belgian dish here, including the signature dish of mussels and chips.
Do not forget to wash it down with a good Belgian beer at a nearby bar. Or chocolates.
Located near the Grand Place is also the beautiful shopping arcade, Les Galeries Saint Hubert.
This gorgeous spot is lined with cafes, theaters, and luxury stores, and is considered to be the first covered shopping arcade in Belgium (and is also one of the prettiest!).
It is also the oldest in Europe and is located around the corner from Grand Place.
Here you will also find upscale stores, trendy champagne outlets, chocolate shops, a cinema, and fine cafes. This prestigious complex is covered by a glass roof with a metal frame inspired by the architecture of the 19th-century palaces.
To make the most of the remaining part of your first day Brussels itinerary, head to the nearest Metro station and take the train to the Schuman stop.
European Quarter and Autoworld:
Here you will find yourself in the heart of the European Quarter which is home to some iconic landmarks like the European Parliament and the European Commission.
Next, walk towards the Cinquantenaire and visit Autoworld, to see some of the finest collections of cars anywhere.
Parc du Cinquantenaire & other landmarks:
From the rear part of Autoworld take the Merode metro to reach Parc du Cinquantenaire, located exactly opposite Brussels Park. Parc du Cinquantenaire or Jubelpark is one of the most amazing parks in the city.
It is a park as well as a historical and cultural site – with museums, monuments, artwork, gardens, etc., and dates back to the reign of King Leopold II.
If you love city views as we do, we recommend heading to the rooftop of the Cinquantenaire arcade to soak in the views of Brussels.
Although it will take you more than an afternoon to check off all the structures and museums at the Parc, we suggest picking 1-2 spots only. Important landmarks here include the Art and History Museum, the Great Mosque of Brussels, to name a few.
Or just wander the Parc and hang out!
Now if you turn right from the park into the first street you will come upon the Musical Instruments Museum holding the world’s largest collection of musical instruments.
Nearby is the impressive Palace of Justice, the largest building in Brussels (unfortunately you will find it closed on weekends).
Manneken Pis & Jeanneke Pis
From rue de la Régence walk towards rue de l’Etuve (a 10-minute walk), where you are sure to find a crowd of people gathered around a figure. This is the famous symbol of Brussels, the Manneken Pis, a sculpture of a nude young boy urinating.
Legend has it that this boy doused a fire and saved the city from burning down. Very close by, you will also find the Jeanneke Pis, the female version of the urinating boy. This is a lot less famous but is still worth a visit for the sake of curiosity.
However, we found it quite astounding why the statue of a small boy relieving himself was so popular. The Jeanneke Pis instead was less crowded and more of a novelty.
Brussel’s food scene enjoys a world-class reputation. After a hectic day of sightseeing, you are bound to be hungry!
Though the city has an amazing choice of restaurants to choose from, our personal favorite area is Rue des Bouchers.
Restaurants here are a little pricey, but you will find a variety of cuisines, and all are located pretty close to your accommodation. Plus they are a stone’s throw away from the Grand Place – so you can also take a walk down there to see this landmark under the night lights.
If we were to pick one place, we can recommend Chez Leon, where, apart from local Belgian dishes, you can savor the most traditional Brussels Friture in the world with a pint of excellent Leon Beer.
What’s more, you get a 15% discount on your bill with your Brussels card.
Day 2 of 2 day Brussels itinerary: Mini Europe, Atomium, Comic Strip tour, Mont Des Arts, Chocolate making workshop, Beer tasting tour
After a tiresome first day of sightseeing, we suggest you start with a relaxed next morning homemade breakfast at Woodpecker 47 on rue du Marche aux Poulets, a three-minute walk from the Grand Place.
Try the Eggs Hemingway, latte, and hot chocolate. Everything is delicious here and the helpings are large.
Mini Europe & Atomium
Today you will be visiting some of the important landmarks so try to reach the Heysel metro station by 9:30 am which is the closest station to the star attractions of Mini Europe and the Atomium.
Pro tip: You can also book a hop on and hop off sightseeing tour to check out various attractions with ease. Book it here.
Mini Europe is a miniature park on the outskirts of the city and has main monuments of 80 different European cities such as Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. Your visit here will take at least two hours. Here is an entry ticket to Mini Europe
The Atomium is situated nearby and houses a 102 metre (334.6 feet) tall sculpture of an Atom and has become an important landmark of the Belgian capital. Here you can climb inside an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times its normal size.
If you are hard-pressed for time, it is suggested to get by without visiting the interior of the Atomium.
The city of Brussels has been paying special emphasis to comics since the early 90s. It pays tribute to the authors of the Franco-Belgian comics and their characters by depicting them in mind-blowing murals on the walls of the city centre (Pentagon) and Laeken.
A three hour guided walking tour of the Brussels Comic strip route and Art Street will provide a snapshot of the fascinating urban art scene through the lens of a local.
You will explore two of the city’s most iconic stores, Little Nemo and Hors-Serie, selling precious first edition comics and other rare old toys at the comic strip center.
Prefer an art museum instead? Head to Horta Museum. This is a house and studio of architect Victor Horta, and the building is stunning, filled with art nouveau stained glass, mosaics & furnishings.
Alternate Option: Mont Des Arts and Chocolate making workshop
On a sunny day in Brussels, the Mont Des Arts is a great place to relax and watch the world go by. This is an elevated vantage park in the city and has an extremely beautifully manicured public garden. The place is also home to the National Archives and the Royal Library of Belgium.
Located right next door to the Mont Des Arts is another popular attraction, the all-important chocolate shop, and museum (5-minute walk).
Taking part in a 2.5 hour Belgian chocolate making workshop offers the perfect opportunity to crave your chocolate curbs by enjoying some of the finest chocolates the country is famous for.
In the end, you learn how to become a perfect chocolate art, from scratch, by mastering all the tips to make delicious pralines and mendiant chocolates.
Pamper yourself on your last evening in Brussels by enjoying some early evening jazz and a drink at L’Archiduc. Here you will find the atmosphere elegant and the style of Art Deco.
Head next to the rue de Flandre area which is home to many restaurants and is a trendy food hub of the city. Try some of the Belgian classics here such as croquettes, aux croquettes, and moules-frites (mussels and chips), the most popular dish of Belgium.
The Dandoy dynasty has been in operation for over 150 years on rue au Beurre where it first blossomed in 1858. The Maison Dandoy is not just about biscuits but a way of life for the people of Brussels.
Head to their outlet near the Grand Place which is cozy and cute and serves some of the best waffles topped with whipped cream. The only thing which we found weird was that the bathroom shared a window with the kitchen haha!
For beer lovers:
Another option is to embark on a beer tasting tour with a group before bidding adieu to Brussels. Here is a recommended 3-hour Belgian beer tasting tour.
If you prefer not to take a tour then visit the Delirium Cafe in Delirium Village. Housed in multiple rooms, there are more than 2000 different brands of beer to enjoy.
Moreover, you will find people flocking here from all corners of the world and it is a great place to make friends as well. Many dismiss it as a tourist trap, but if you are looking for a novelty it is worth the price.
Day Trips from Brussels Belgium: Ways to extend your Brussels 2 day trip
One of the best things about planning a day trip from Brussels is that because of the small size of the country (161sq km), you are not restricted to sights only in Belgium but to several neighboring countries as well.
Though most of the destinations mentioned below can be accessed by public transport, consider renting four wheels for flexibility and independence.
Plus day tours are always an option!
Ghent and Bruges
The two top places we would recommend for a day trip from Brussels are Ghent and Bruges. If you have time, they are worth visiting individually, else you can combine them on one visit.
However, if you are short of time we personally feel that Burges is a better choice.
The fairy tale town of Bruges is known for its cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and canals, while Ghent is a University town, also with medieval architecture but not so well preserved.
You can walk around for the day seeing the churches, climb the Belfry tower, and a brewery visit in Bruges.
Find out how to spend one day in Bruges itinerary
Another good place to visit in the north is Antwerp. The highlights of this port city are Brabo Fountain and the City Hall. The city is world-famous for its diamond trade and houses hundreds of jewelers in the Diamond District.
Finally don’t leave Antwerp without seeing the eclectically designed Railway station and the high-tech museum, aan de Stroom. (Avoid the areas near the docks and ports as they are hotspots for crime)
There are frequent trains from Brussels to Antwerp, which take about 45 minutes to cover the distance between the two cities.
It is easy to hop across the border into France to visit the lovely city of Lille. You can reach it by train in less than forty minutes from Brussels.
Some of the striking landmarks of Lille are the Opera House and the impressive La Vieille Bourse, a magnificent Renaissance building.
Then walk through the streets of Vieux Lille to explore the incredible Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral.
As Belgium’s close neighbor is the Netherlands, many visitors use the opportunity to head to Amsterdam on a day tour. The intercity trains take about two hours from Brussels to reach.
Once there you see the city’s famous canals, the Royal Palace, House of Anne Frank (tickets to be booked ahead of time), and a walk through the Red Light District.
Luxembourg City (Luxembourg)
It is possible to visit one of the smallest countries in Europe on a day trip from Brussels.
A full day tour that covers the heart of Luxembourg City like the Arms Square, Place de la Constitution, the UNESCO World Heritage monuments of the Ville Haute, and more.
Things to do in Brussels Itinerary 2 days: Sightseeing Map
Is 2 days enough for Brussels Belgium?
Actually, it all depends on what you want to do, but 1 to 2 days in Brussels are enough to explore the Belgium capital.
If you are visiting to get a feel of the city, then one day in Brussels is enough without visiting the inside of the museums.
Brussels has a lot of attractions that are away from the center, and there are many experiences (workshop, walks, and jazz) that you can enjoy.
But it is definitely possible to see a lot the city has to offer in two days. The idea should be to explore the key attractions in all the neighborhoods, starting from the Lower and Upper town before heading to the northern city limits.
Travel Tips for Brussels on a weekend
Here are some quick tips for Brussels,
- Brussels is located in Belgium, which is a EU member and follows the Schengen agreement (for visa purposes)
- Euro is the official currency of Belgium. You can use euros (cash) or pay by credit card in various stores, and restaurants.
- There are 3 official languages in Belgium – French, Dutch and German. And in Brussels French and Dutch are more common. Most service providers did their best to provide a good experience and also attempted to communicate in English
Budget and safety
The average daily expenditure per day for a trip to Brussels will be about €114, in standard accommodation (twin-share), based on the experience of past travelers. If you stay in a hostel it will cost you between €60-€90 per day.
In general, food cost is the most expensive item in the capital and is highest in the city centre. To limit your expenses, you will have to look for the best deals.
You can find cheap and filling food at the Brasseries or from department stores cafeterias in Galeria Kaufhof for example.
Expect to shell out €15 for a traditional sit-down meal, and splash €30 for a fancy three-course meal with a drink. A pizza costs about €9 and Chinese food/meal around €12. Beer costs €4 and bottled water is €1-2 Euro.
For a quick, wholesome, and inexpensive snack try the famous Belgian fries with mayonnaise. They are served in a large cone for €3 and can be found in all corners of the city. They are super filling and delicious as well.
On a mid-range budget of €150 per day, you can book a nice 4-star property (twin-share), enjoy a couple of drinks, have some meals outside, take the occasional taxi ride and pay for your museum admission.
When it comes to safety, the Brussels city center is by and large a safe place for tourists.
We never faced any issues catching the train, or staying out until later. As always, don’t venture to unknown areas at night. In Brussels, serious crime rates are low and if you use common sense, you can easily get by.
For accommodation, stick to the center for a 2 day Brussels trip, and avoid places/hotels in the neighborhoods around Place de Brouckere because of casinos and weird catcallers and Molenbeek which is a purse snatching haven.
Try to masquerade as a local which will make matters substantially easier as you will not make yourself seem like a target for opportunists.
In case you get robbed in Brussels, there is a police station right in front of the Parliament building. Nearly all the policemen speak Dutch, French, and English. The official emergency number is 112, from where you can access all emergency services such as fire, ambulance, and police.
Wondering how long do you need in Brussels? Ideally, 2 days is enough to explore the primary city attractions like the Grand Place, a couple of museums, food and chocolate making workshops, and more.
With 2 days in Brussels, you can also explore places like the Atomium and Mini Europe located in the city’s outskirts.
Here is a quick Brussels 2 day itinerary,
Day 1 of 2 days in Brussels itinerary: Grand Place, Rue des Bouchers, Les Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, European Quarter, Parc, Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis
Day 2 of 2 days in Brussels itinerary: Mini Europe, Atomium, Comic Strip tour, Mont Des Arts, Chocolate making workshop, Beer tasting tour
Brussels is a great weekend city break. There is so much to do, and yet you can still see a lot without entering a museum. Grand Place is our absolute favorite – you can hang out there, eat and shop!
There are many green spaces in the city of Brussels where you can enjoy a nice picnic on a sunny warm day.
You can go thrift shopping, or wander the comic strip. A workshop (waffle or chocolate making) will delight any couple or a family weekend in Brussels.
Brussels makes for a great trip. It is the political heart of Europe, and the city is known for chocolates, beer, and waffles to soothing jazz bars and art nouveau buildings. Grand Place is an iconic landmark, so is the Atomium, and you don’t want to skip them!
Staying in Brussels will also allow you to explore more of western Europe and Belgium.
Some fun facts about Brussels:
We are leaving you with some fun facts about Brussels! Enjoy,
- If you are lucky you can see theThe Manneken Pis dressed up on some fixed dates, four times a year.It is said that his wardrobe has over 900 pieces, some of which can be seen at Garderobe Manneken Pis. The statue on display is a replica made in 1965. The original is housed in the Brussels City Museum.
- Comic strip books contribute significantly to the culture of Belgium.There is an excellent museum devoted to them on rue des Sables, Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, housed in a vintage Art Nouveau fabric shop. Here you will find Tin Tin, the famous Belgian comic strip character, Lucky Luke, Gil Jourdan and many other characters.
- Belgium produces over 2200 beer brands and Brussels over 800.You can actually spend six years in the country without having to sample the same brand of beer twice.
- Brussels is the only city in the world, other than New York, which has more diplomatic missions (180+). At any point the city hosts 40,000+ diplomats.
- You should splurge on lunch as many restaurants offer special rates at lunch for the same quality meal at dinner at a much cheaper rate. If you want the best value for your money, consider going all out at lunchtime.
- Students can avail of special discounts upon presentation of their identity card. This also includes 50% off on entry to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
- Lastly, Belgium is a constitutional, hereditary, and popular monarchy. The monarch is the head of state. The residence of the Belgian Royal Family is located on the outskirts of Brussels in the Palace of Laeken. The Royal Palace of Brussels, located in the center is the King’s administrative residence only.