Brussels was a pleasant, and unexpected, surprise. I originally had no plan to visit the city, but when the opportunity came up to take a day trip via Flixbus from Amsterdam to Brussels, I just couldn’t say no.
Luckily, one day in Belgium’s capital is just enough to get a taste of the city’s highlights, as well as the chocolate, waffles, and beer.
If you’re looking to spend one day in Brussels, I’ve got you covered! Keep reading for a complete 24hr Brussels itinerary.
How to Spend One Day in Brussels
Start your day at Maison Dandoy
As you walk from the bus station into the city, take a stroll through the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Similar to the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II in Milan, this historic shopping arcade will make for quite the grand entrance into Brussels. Here, you can pop by Maison Dandoy to begin your day with a cappuccino or tea, accompanied by the cafe’s infamous speculoos biscuits, before heading into town.
Your next stop should be the Grand Place or Grote Markt, a UNESCO heritage site considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. The opulent Grand Place is located at the very heart of Brussels and is home to many historic buildings dating back to the 17th century. A few important buildings to note on the square are the Town Hall and the King’s House, which is now home to the Brussels City Museum.
Try a Belgian Waffle
All around the Grand Place, you’ll find waffles galore. We chose to go to the Maison Dandoy right off the main square to get our fix, as we heard they have the best waffles in the city. If you choose to do the same, be prepared to see a long line. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the queue moved pretty quickly. Here, you can order a variety of toppings on two different kinds of freshly made waffles. I personally went with the liège waffle topped with chocolate and strawberries with a side of speculoos ice cream – it was everything I imagined a Belgian waffle to be. Trust me, your senses will twinkle and dance when you receive that warm Belgian waffle in your hands.
Visit the Atomium
Next, take the metro to the Atomium. This landmark building was originally constructed in 1958 for the Brussels World Expo, and has since become a symbol of the city. You can purchase tickets to go inside the structure, or you can marvel at it from the outside and chill in the park like we did. In the summertime, you’ll find lounge chairs surrounding the Atomium, making for the perfect spot to rest for a bit while admiring this unique creation.
See the Arch of Triumph
Inspired by the Arc de Triomph in Paris, the Cinquantenaire Triumphal Arch was constructed to symbolize industrial progress of Belgium. Located near the European Union Administrative Center, this area also consists of a beautiful park as well as the Military Museum and Car Museum.
Check Out the Royal Palace
Once the official residence of the King and Queen of Belgium, this stunning neoclassical style building is also known as the Palais Royal de Bruxelles. Though this gorgeous palace only open to visitors during the summer, you can still admire its architecture from the outside.
Enjoy the View From Mont Des Arts Gardens
Literally translating to hill of the arts, Mont des Arts (or Kunstberg) is a gorgeous park situated between the lower and upper parts of town in Brussels. This lovely area, filled with flowers and perfectly manicured trees, offers spectacular views of the city. Surrounding the elevated urban park are several museums and attractions as well as brilliant Flemish-style buildings.
Taste Authentic Belgian Fries
End your day with Belgian fries and a Belgian beer! You can find delicious Belgian fries all over town. Order them with delicious toppings like diced onions, mustard, and even curry ketchup. Save room for dessert because you’ll want to top off your sweet stay with some decadent Belgian chocolate! Try Leonidas for a traditional box of assorted goodies or Pierre Marcolini for sumptuous creations like smoked dark chocolate, matcha tea truffles, and pralines filled with creamy caramel and hazelnut ganache.