Looking for the perfect 3 days in Belgium itinerary? We got you covered. In this post, we will share our Belgium itinerary (from our very first trip), with a variety of sightseeing options and destinations to explore on a short trip.
Not to brag, but our blog was awarded the best Brussels Blog in 2019. Keep on reading to see all the stunning photo locations, and travel tips for Brussels and beyond!
3 days in Belgium Itinerary, plus ideas for 4 and 5 days in Belgium
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Here is a snapshot of how to spend 3 days in Belgium
- Day 1: Arrive in Brussels, and explore the city highlights
- Day 2: Go on a day trip to Bruges (and Ghent)
- Day 3: Visit the cute city of Dinant
- Optional Day 4: Spend one day in Antwerp
- Optional Day 5: Venture to Luxembourg City on a day tour
Preparing for your trip to Belgium: Travel Tips
Belgium is officially known as the Kingdom of Belgium. They do have a royal family that lives on the outskirts of Brussels. It follows a democratic form of government, which is headed by a hereditary constitutional monarchy.
There are 3 regions in Belgium, namely Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels Capital Region. It is a small country (by size), but has a very complex internal governance.
Belgium shares a border with France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, which makes it easy to explore from either of these countries.
A lot of modern world history milestones will feature Belgium’s contribution or participation, whether it is the industrial revolution (they colonized Africa, never came to India/Asia unlike the English, French, Dutch, and the Portuguese), World War II, or the formation of the European Union, and the Schengen Agreement.
There are quite a few World War memorial sites located in and around Brussels in Belgium.
- Capital City: Brussels
- Currency: Euros
- Official Languages: Dutch, French, German
- EU Member: Yes
- Tourist Visa: Schengen Visa
Getting to Brussels, Belgium: Brussels is served by Brussels Zaventem Airport (also called Brussel-Nationaal / Bruxelles-National). It is located in the northeast part of Brussels.
Cab fare will cost around 50 euros from the airport to the city center. Airport Taxis can be reserved online for 85 euros. A train ride from Brussels Airport to Brussels Central Station takes around 18 minutes and costs 12.70 euros.
De Lijn bus company operates a shuttle transfer service. Tickets are around 3+ euros and take about 40 minutes to reach the city centre area.
Brussels is also well connected via road and rail networks in Europe, including high-speed trains (Thalys) to other countries like Amsterdam in the Netherlands (2 hours or less) and Paris in France (1.50- 2 hours).
Where to stay in Belgium? For a quick trip to Belgium, we recommend staying in Brussels. On our very first trip to the country, we stayed at the city centre in Brussels for one full week and then embarked on day trips from there. Read all over the day trips from Brussels to extend your vacation.
Here are our hotel recommendations for Brussels,
- easyHotel Brussels City Centre: We stayed at the easyHotel Brussels City Centre which is a low to mid-budget hotel. The rooms were clean, with chic decor inside. It is important to note that the rooms are not very big, so pack light. You will love to stay at this central location, as sightseeing from here will be a breeze. Book your stay at the easyHotel Brussels City Centre
- Hotel Hilton Grand Place – The Hotel Hilton Grand Place is a luxury property, located close to the iconic Grand Place in Brussels city centre. The hotel has fitness and banquet halls, with nicely decorated suites. You can also book bigger and more spacious rooms for families or large groups. Book your stay at the Hotel Hilton Grand Place
- Hotel NH Collection Brussels Centre –The NH Collection is a vintage hotel, dating back to the 1920s, which is also situated close to Grand Place and other sightseeing areas. The hotel property has clean rooms, with modern amenities. They are also pet friendly. Book your stay at the Hotel NH Collection Brussels Centre
If you do not wish to do all the trip planning, here is a 3 day tour covering Brussels, Ghent and Brugge, and Leuven. You have to book hotels only, and the tours depart every day from Brussels.
Day 1 of Belgium Itinerary 3 days: Explore the city highlights of Brussels
On day one of your Belgium itinerary, explore the city highlights of Brussels. Begin your day with breakfast of Belgian Waffles, and coffee at the centre.
Grand Place/Grote Markt
The Grand Place or the Grote Markt is one of the must visit landmarks in Belgium. It is located in the heart of Brussels and is considered as one of the most important squares in the country.
The Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage site. And we promise, you will be completely mesmerized by the stunning gold ornate designs on all merchant and guild buildings at the Grote Markt.
There are three main structures that make up the grandeur of the Grote Markt – which are the town hall, King’s house and the houses of the Grand Place. This place is opulent and speaks volumes of the grandeur of Belgium architecture.
The buildings that you see when you step into the Grand Place are actually a replica of the original grand place guilds. Those guilds were built in the 1690s and they were built in stunning Italian baroque designs with gold finishing. As you take a stroll along the square, you will find separate blocks of houses.
You can also opt for a horse carriage ride and tour the city centre in style!
Brussels City Museum at the King’s House (Grand Place)
The museum of the city of Brussels is located in this building – at the Grand Place.
La Maison du Roi (The King’s House) is home to the City Museum. Entry fee is 8 euros for adults. Originally built as a bread house, the King’s house at the Grand Place had undergone several demolitions and renovations to later become a seat of administrative importance.
Brussels Town Hall
Do admire the town hall at Grand Place. This is the only medieval building that is existing in its original form at the Grote Markt. The Townhall is also the focal point of the square.
The town hall was built in different stages during the early part of the 15th century and is very evident from the asymmetrical architecture.
Manneken Pis Statue & Jeanneke Pis
The Manneken Pis is a unique tourist attraction in Brussels, which is part of many walking tours. The statue showcases a “little boy who is peeing” into a fountain. There is another bronze statue, called the Jeanneke Pis, which is Manneken Pis’s female counterpart.
Mont des Arts Gardens or Kunstberg
From the lower town of Brussels, head to the Mont des Arts – a beautiful park and a historic square. Due to its location, the square offers stunning views of the city and its gorgeous Flemish buildings.
Via the park, you can connect to the upper part of Brussels, which is home to the Palace of Coudenberg (Palais du Coudenberg), and the Royal Palace of Brussels.
Royal Palace of Brussels or Palais Royal de Bruxelles
The Royal Palace of Brussels was the official palace of the king and queen of Belgium, located in central Brussels. Although it no longer serves as the residence of the king and queen; today it is used as an administrative seat for the Belgium monarchy.
The Royal Palace was built in neoclassical style and is very stunning to look at, adorned by the Belgium flag on top.
We included this as a stop on your one day Brussels itinerary, so that you can admire the palace, but you won’t need a lot of time here, as it is not open for visitors all year round. The Royal Palace is only open from late July to the beginning of September every year Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays).
The palace is located in the southern part of the Parc de Bruxelles (Brussels Park) in the high part of town.
Note that the official residence is located on the outskirts of Brussels – at the Royal Palace of Laeken.
The Brussels Cathedral – St Michael and St Gudula
St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral are twin cathedrals located at the Brussels city centre. The two Roman Catholic cathedrals co-exist, as the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of Mechelen- Brussels.
We recommend visiting the church interiors to check out the stained glass windows dating back to the 1500s. You will also love the grand organ with over 4000 pipes, located here.
After exploring the city centre highlights, you can spend 2-4 hours (afternoon until dinner) exploring either one of the following,
- Atomium Park: The Atomium is a landmark building in Brussels, which was created for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair (Expo 58). Today it is a fully operating museum and oozes the ‘cool quotient’ in Brussels. The Atomium is shaped like the molecular “atom”. Atomium is located in Heysel, north of the centre. You can hop on the metro line 6, and travel via Beekkant, and reach Halsey to explore the Atomium. We ended up using the hop on and hop off sightseeing bus, and stopped at a few places before arriving at the Atomium. Here is an entry ticket for the Atomium.
- Belgian Comic Strip: If you prefer to stay close to the city centre, you must stop by the Belgian Comic Strip. This is a lane full of murals, street art and makes for a great photography location. Brussels loves Tin tin and it is evident in the form of blonde hair graffiti which can be found everywhere in the city. There is also a comic museum, located closeby. Price is 10 euros for adults and 7 euros for visitors between 12-25 years
- 3+ hour Belgian food, lunch & chocolate tour: Belgian chocolates are popular, and in this 3 hour tour, you can enjoy the best of culinary delights in Belgium from waffles, beer to chocolates and more. You can check out the tour here (in city centre)
- Chocolate Workshop: Prefer a chocolate workshop instead? Then you must consider booking this 2.5 hour chocolate making session and museum entry.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
In the evening, make your way to the Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries. This gallery dates back to the 1850s, and it is one of the beautiful shopping malls that we have come across. The interiors of the hall are gorgeous and look like a grand palace.
There are clothing stores, confectionery and chocolate shops and cafes located inside. If you would like to capture some beautiful images of the mall interiors, arrive early (before 08:00 am) or after 09:30 pm, when the stores are closing.
This place is perfect to go shopping or sit down for a relaxed dinner, after a jam-packed sightseeing day. You can also head to the nearby lane – Rue des Bouchers, to enjoy a nice/casual dinner or just Belgium beer.
Day 2 of Belgium Itinerary 3 days: Take a day trip to Bruges (and Ghent)
On day 2 of the 3 days in Belgium itinerary, take a day trip to the capital of West Flanders – Bruges. Also known as the ‘Venice of the North’, the medieval city of Bruges showcases its old lost grandeur from the 14th and 15th centuries.
You can easily visit Bruges from Brussels by public transportation (train). Trains are available from most stations in Brussels and connect Bruges through their SNCB rail network. We departed from Brussels Midi and arrived in Bruges in an hour.
If you are visiting Belgium for the first time, Brussels and Bruges must be on your list!
Experience the medieval Market Square
The Markt Square is the fairy tale place that you can soak in picture-perfect postcards from Bruges. It is the iconic landmark of Bruges, and you must include that on your 3 day Belgium itinerary.
This market place is filled with pretty gingerbread houses, all decorated in beautiful Flemish architecture. The shops and stalls at the Markt Square have been in operation since 958 AD.
We do recommend arriving at Market Square early, to capture the marketplace. All the food and flowers sold here are sourced locally, you will definitely enjoy a piece of vintage and medieval history in the market square.
At the Markt, do check out the belfry, and the statues of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. And eat your heart out!
Belfry Tower or the Belfort van Brugge (in Dutch)
Standing tall at the market square is the Belfry tower. The Belfry of Bruges (or Belfort van Brugge) is an iconic medieval bell tower in the city. It is 83 metres tall and has a long legacy of 800 years. From the tower, you are welcomed to amazing views of the city, and of course the market square.
The tower of Belfry was important in the middle ages as it almost served as a guardian to alert residents of fire or other calamities. It forms a part of a 13th century complex of buildings. The Belfry tower has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1999.
You must visit tower interiors, and make your way to the top. There are about 366 steps to climb to the top, and on the way, you can visit a museum to learn about city archives from the Middle Ages, and a treasury room.
There are also 47 bells at the carillon inside the Belfry. You will learn more about the carillon and the ‘Triumphant Bell’ when you reach the top level. It is amazing to see the bell and the clockwork so closely (clockwork mechanism is also very fascinating).
The Burg Square
From Market Square, head to Burg Square. The Burg square dates to the 9th century and is believed to be one of the earliest inhabited places in Bruges, dating back to the second or third centuries.
Inside and in and around the Burg Square, you will find a few sightseeing gems that are worth a visit. The Bruges City Hall (The Stadhuis), an Old Civil Registry (1537 which was a CourtHouse) and the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
Take a moment to admire the complex. Or just relax to soak in the ambience of the square.
There are many places to eat and shop near the Burg Square as well.
Learn about beer in a Local Brewery Tour
Bruges is known for its beer and there are a few breweries in town that are worth a visit. Most tour guide books refer to the De Halve Maan (Half Moon) brewery and their Brugse Zot drink, we thought of doing things a little differently.
We opted for the Bourgogne des Flandres Brewery for a tour and really enjoyed it. The cost of the tour was 10 euros and included in that price was a guided tour of the brewery as well as a FREE pint of famous Bourgogne des Flandres beer – red-brown beer, with a creamy finish.
The brewery is located at a quaint street, with a relaxed environment inside the bar. After the tour, sit by the canal and enjoy another pint of beer!
Go on a canal boat tour
A canal boat tour is a MUST do activity in Bruges. The waterways led to the prosperity of Bruges in medieval times and taking a ride over the river is sort of customary and essential. The canal tour lasts an hour and costs 14 euros for two.
When you are in Bruges for a day, taking the canal tour will also allow you to experience more of what the city has to offer.
In the entire loop of the tour, you will view beautiful medieval buildings and most of the iconic sights of Bruges. You can pay for the tour at the dock. Boats are led by a guide, and shared by 10-12 people.
- Explore Saint John’s Hospital or Sint-Janshospitaal. This is an 800-year-old medieval hospital, which houses art collections, archives, medical items, and instruments from bygone days.
- Take a Guided Rickshaw Tour. If you wish to explore Bruge without walking, then hop on a tuk-tuk or an East Indian Rickshaw style. The rickshaw tour (for two) is a sightseeing tour for 1-2 hours, where you will be getting a glimpse of all the tourist highlights of Bruges, including access to hidden areas, without the long walk or drive. The tour starts and ends at the Historium. Book a guided tour in a Rickshaw here
- Go on a food and beer tour in Bruges. In this 2.50 tour, taste dishes and beer in up to 10 different places, and learn about the history of Bruges. Check out the tour here
Additional day 2 Belgium itinerary ideas
When visiting Bruges via public transportation/trains, it is recommended that you spend an entire day there.
If you wish to add a trip to Ghent from Brussels, then book this combined day tour.
This is a full day tour (8 hours), covering the city highlights of Ghent, from Saint Bavo Cathedral, Belfry, St. Nicholas’ Church to Earl’s Castle. And then in the second half of the tour, it takes you to Bruges and checks off the Lake of Love and the Beguinage, Market Square and its Belfry, town hall, and Our Lady’s Church.
Day 3 of 3 days in Belgium Itinerary: Venture to Dinant
Dinant is a beautiful city located in the state of Namur in Belgium. Regionally, it belongs to the French-speaking area of Wallonia.
With the Meuse River flowing through the city and the towering hill, Dinant is so picturesque!
From Brussels, you can reach Dinant by train in about 2 hours (one way). You can catch a train from almost all the train-stations in Brussels to Dinant. The earliest train to Dinant starts just before 06:00 am from Brussels.
You can take a train back to Brussels city as late as 09:40 pm. Tickets cost about 14 Euros one-way (second class train ticket). The second class trains are clean and spacious.
You can easily spend 6-8 hours in Dinant, and explore the city highlights, relax and unwind before you wrap up your three days in Belgium.
From the train station to the centre is about a 4 to 6 minute walk away.
Walk over the Charles de Gaulle Bridge/ Pont Charles de Gaulle
When you proceed towards the center of Dinant, you will be warmly welcomed by a bridge over the Meuse River leading to the city centre and the Dinant Notre Dame. The name of the bridge is Pont Charles de Gaulle. It is named after Charles de Gaulle, who was the champion of the Free French movement (and a former French President).
As you walk across the bridge, admire the views of the Meuse and the river banks, and the colorful saxophones!
Visit La Citadelle de Dinant or Citadel Dinant
La Citadelle de Dinant is one of the most popular attractions in Dinant.The citadel of Dinant stands tall on a cliff, overlooking the entire town and the Meuse river valley. The citadel was built as a defensive fortress to protect the town of Dinant in the 11th century.
The current fortress was shaped by the Dutch invasions of the 19th century (around 1818-1821). The history of the Dinant Citadel speaks volumes of the strategic importance of this little town.
Since the establishment of the first castle in 1040, there has been continuous battle and devastation on Dinant, sometimes by Namur, French, or the Dutch.
To reach the citadel complex, you can either walk 408 steps to reach the top, or hop on a cable car. The fortress currently houses a museum dedicated to the World War I events, including the massacres in the Battle of Dinant of 1914.
They are open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Guided tours of one hour are available as well.
Collegiate church of Our Lady
Collégiale Notre Dame de Dinant, also known as the Collegiate church of Our Lady, is a church located on the other side of the bridge.
The church dates back to the 10th-century, and the church as you see today was opened in the 13th century and was built in the Gothic style. The interiors of the church are stunning with stained glass and mosaic windows.
Saxophone Museum/Home of Adolphe Sax/Maison de Monsieur Sax
Dinant is the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of Saxophone. And no wonder you will find so many colorful saxophones sprinkled all over the city.
The family home of Adolphe Sax is turned into a museum called the ‘Maison de Monsieur Sax.’ The museum is filled with musical instruments used by the Sax family.
This small museum is worth a visit. Entry to the museum is completely free and will probably take you 15-20 minutes to explore everything inside.
Outside the museum, there is a huge statue of Adolphe at the gate. The museum is open daily from 09:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Townhall of Dinant
The Townhall of Dinant is a beautiful government administration building. The exterior of the office looks like a quaint romantic house with pretty flowers on the windows. The lawn of the Dinant town hall has 2 important structures – one is the World War I memorial and the second one is a stunning glass saxophone.
Take the Meuse River Cruise
The picturesque Meuse river and the city of Dinant are best explored by a boat cruise, especially when you are on a short one day trip. You can go on an hour’s sightseeing tour, and cover the entire town.
Maison Leffe Beer Museum
There are quite a few options for food/cafes near the Meuse River, and the citadel. We highly recommend stopping at the Maison Leffe. It was a monastery in the past, and now it is a beer museum and an upscale bar and restaurant.
Museum entry fee is 7 euros per adult.
Castle of Freÿr – Renaissance Fortress
Before you leave for Brussels, consider exploring the Castle of Freÿr and the gardens. It is located about a 15 minute train ride away from Dinant. This Renaissance palace contains labyrinthine gardens and remnants of royal existence.
The royal palace is a reminder of the French’s Versailles, and is one of Wallonia’s treasured heritage sites. The interiors and furniture here date back to the times of the Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin.
Just like the Citadel Dinant, the Chateau of Freÿr is of historical importance. The Treaty of Feyr (Coffee treaty) was signed here. The Coffee Treaty was signed as a foundation leading to the Treaty of Borders.
They close at 05:00 pm, so make your way there before that.
Optional Day 4: Belgium Itinerary 4 days spend one day in Antwerp
You may swap any of the above days with these optional sightseeing attractions. One of the places to spend a day in Belgium itinerary is to head to Antwerp.
Brussels to Antwerp is about 40 minutes by train. It is easy to explore some of the important landmarks and then go shopping and eating in Antwerp in a day.
Antwerp is located in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, and it is the unofficial capital of Flanders. Antwerp is known for its port, and it ranks the second biggest in Europe.
In one day, do check off the following attractions in Antwerp,
- Grote Markt: The Grote Markt is a town square in Antwerp. It is surrounded by the city hall, numerous elaborate 16th century guildhalls, many restaurants and cafés. Don’t forget to admire Brabo’s statue in the Grote Markt (market Square).
- Stadhuis of Antwerp or the City Hall
- Rubens House (Rubenshuis): Explore the work and art of Rubens in this museum
- Cathedral of our Lady: Visit the Cathedral of our Lady – Catholic Church in Antwerp
- Go shopping in Meier Street
- Het Steen Castle
- MAS Museum Aan de Stroom
- Central Station: Admire the station interiors before leaving
Optional Day 5 Belgium Itinerary: Visit Luxembourg City
Luxembourg is a small country, located close to Belgium. If you wish to explore some of the less frequented destinations in Europe, then definitely visit Luxembourg.
Luxembourg City can be easily explored from Brussels. You can reach Luxembourg city by train in about 2.50 hours. There are direct trains available for Luxembourg, and then you will have to take a bus or cab to reach the centre of the capital city.
A guided tour is also a good way to explore Luxembourg City. We took this day tour on one of our trips and enjoyed it. Check it out here
When you travel from Brussels to Luxembourg City, you will also get to pass by the city of Namur, and peek at the Ardennes forest along the way.
For one day in Luxembourg itinerary, stick to the city centre area. Check out the memorial dedicated to the World War II soldiers and the Place de la Constitution.
- Do check out the Grand Ducal Palace (the Grand Duke still resides here).
- Neumünster Abbey is a cultural centre. You can view the Neumünster Abbey from the upper level of Luxembourg City.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral is a 17th century Roman Catholic church. We highly recommend checking out the stained glass windows inside the Cathedral in Luxembourg.
- Spend a few hours at the Bock Casemates, an 18th-century tunnels and World War II shelters
After sightseeing, make your way to the Place d’Armes. This plaza was founded by the Spanish in 1671. Settle down here for a nice cup of coffee or sit down for lunch.
If interested, stop by the Luxembourg City Museum. The museum showcases the thousand year history of Luxembourg and the capital city. There is a cool glass elevator located at the museum, that is worth checking out.
Before leaving Luxemburg, stroll Place Guillaume II, the town square, take photos and eat some pastries!
Quick Travel tips for Belgium Itinerary
If you are visiting Belgium for the first time, here are some useful tips to help plan your trip
- Travel Documents: Belgium is located in Europe, and is an EU member. For travelers with a US or Canadian passport, you can travel visa free for up to 90 days. If you require a visa to travel to the Schengen zone of countries, then you will require the same tourist visa to enter Belgium.
- Travel Insurance: Don’t forget to insure your trip against medical emergencies, cancellations, and delays. Check out free insurance quotes here from World Nomads.
- Budget for Belgium: Belgium is not overly expensive nor affordable. Many of the hotels, restaurants, and shops were priced near how much we normally pay here in North America. You can easily survive with around $100 USD per person per day (for hotel, food, transport + tour)
- When is the best time to visit Belgium: Belgium is best explored during off seasons, in the months of April, May and June and between September and October. You can expect fewer crowds in this season, but there are plenty of festivals to keep you busy. Plus go on day hikes or walks in the parks. If Christmas markets are on your bucket list, consider visiting in December.
- What to eat in Belgium: Belgian beer, Belgian waffles, Moules frites and sauce, chocolates, mussels, Flemish stew
Additional Tips: 3 days in Belgium itinerary
In 3 days in Belgium, you can easily keep Brussels as a base city, and take day trips to explore more of the country. Visit the capital, and 2-3 cities like Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges, Dinant, Leuven, etc.
A minimum of 3 days is required to visit the primary tourist areas in Belgium. They include Brussels, Bruges and Ghent, Antwerp. If you have more time on your hands (5 to 7 days in Belgium), you can venture to smaller cities/towns, explore World War sites at Ypres, and go on hikes in the Flanders and the Ardennes region.
2 full days are enough to explore the city highlights of Brussels, relax and shop!
Belgium is not as expensive as Switzerland or Iceland. We found accommodation to be slightly cheaper in Brussels as compared to Paris or Amsterdam. Getting to Belgium is expensive though (flight tickets), you can find better deals for Amsterdam (KLM) or Paris (Air France) instead.
Early June and September are the best months to visit Belgium. They are off season (fewer tourists), and the weather is pleasant to wander market squares and enjoy delicious food and beer tours!
For a short trip to Belgium, plan to explore Brussels, and take a day trip to Bruges – these 2 cities are the most popular destinations in the country (and very Instagram worthy!)
By keeping Brussels as base you can explore more of Belgium by going on day trips. Craft your 7 day Belgium Itinerary with these suggested activities,
Day 1: Arrive and explore Brussels
Day 2: Bruges and Ghent
Day 3: Antwerp
Day 4: Dinant and Namur
Day 5: Leuven
Day 6: Ypres (site of three major battles of the First World War)
Day 7: Take a day trip to Luxembourg City from Brussels. OR spend half a day in Brussels, and take a half day tour to Waterloo.
So that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed reading our 3-5 day itinerary for Belgium. Remember, there is a 3 day tour as well that you can easily book.