HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN BRUSSELS
If you’ve got 2 days in Brussels, you’ve got enough time to experience the wealth of art, history, and culture that Belgium has to offer. And this Brussels itinerary covers the best places to see, the best things to do and more travel tips for a weekend in Brussels.
Belgium is world-famous for its cuisine — especially renowned for fries, waffles, chocolate, and beer. Brussels is also home to a thriving comic book art scene as well as six fine arts museums, a musical instruments museum and more!
Additionally, Brussels is an important political capital in Europe and the home base for the European Parliament. These are many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Brussels like the Grand Place. So, whether you’re into food, art, history or politics… there’s something incredible for you to discover in Brussels!
Brussels is an easy place to spend the weekend. It’s conveniently located (you can get there in less than 2 hours by train from Amsterdam or Paris). Read on to discover what you can do in Brussels in 2 days.
This post was written by Valentina from Valentina´s Destinations
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2-DAY BRUSSELS ITINERARY
If you are visiting Europe for the first time, check out my post with travel tips for Europe.
And for a Europe summer packing list click here.
Before discussing, how to spend two days in Brussels, here are some travel tips to smooth your trip.
How to Get Around in Brussels in 2 Days
Walking is the best way to get around Brussels. Especially, if you only have 2 days. You’ll want to spend most of your time near the city center to avoid wasting time. All of the activities listed in this article can be reached by on foot (except for the Atomium and Mini-Europe).
Brussels is also very well connected by public transportation.
If you have more than 2 days in Brussels, you may want to check out nearby cities like Bruges or Ghent. These can be reached in close to 1 hour by train. They’re charming Medieval cities with unique history and flair.
Where to Stay for 2 Days in Brussels
Here are some great places to stay in Brussels for 2 days.
Budget Accommodations: 2GO4, Grand Place Hostel, B&B Hotel Brussels
Mid Range/ Affordable Luxury: Warwick Brussels, Hotel Hubert
Ultimate Luxury: Radisson Blue Royal Hotel
Best Time to Visit
Spring and Fall are the best times to visit Brussels. Summer brings large tourist crowds and scorching heat (that will melt your pralines 😉). While spring and Fall offer more temperate climates and cheaper prices on flights & hotels.
Casual Breakfast: L’Arcadi, Mokafé, Peck 47
Waffles: Le Funambule, Maison Dandoy, Mokafé Taverne
Formal Dinner: Belga Queen, Comptoir des Galeries, Au Vieux Saint Martin, Fin De Siecle
ITINERARY FOR 2 DAYS IN BRUSSELS – PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO
Here is how to spend your two days in Brussels.
Day 1 in Brussels
Let´s start with a walk to explore Brussels.
Explore the Belgian Fine Art Scene
Comic book arts and casual street murals are some of the most accessible forms of art history and culture in Brussels. But, that’s just the beginning!
A serious art lover would be delighted to explore the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Brussels. These six museums display over 20,000 works including paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the beginning of the 15th Century until today.
Of these light, museums, the Oldmasters Museum has an excellent collection of Flemish primitive paintings. The Magritte Museum offers an impressive collection of Belgian surrealist works. There’s also a museum focused on Modern Art.
These museums are located in the Royal District within downtown Brussels. They are a short walk from the Mont des Arts or Hill of the Arts. The Hill of the Arts is a must-see in Brussels. It’s a romantic spot to hang out, people watch or appreciate breathtaking views. In the distance, you can see the tower of the Brussels Town Hall building.
Check out the Musical Instruments Museum
The Musical Instruments Museum isn’t another stuffy museum with endless paintings and tiny text. This museum comes to life! Even the exterior of this museum is impressive. It’s housed in a mid 19th Century department store (another example of the Art Nouveau style).
The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels is world-renowned for their collection of 8,000 musical instruments. Only, some 1,000 of them are on display. The museum also features a concert hall, a library, and an awesome rooftop restaurant.
The rooftop at the Musical Instruments Museum is one of the hidden gems of Brussels —it boasts breathtaking views.
The museum is broken up into four distinct galleries. The first is dedicated to keys and keyboards of the western world. The next gallery displays Western classical instruments chronologically. The third gallery explores traditional instruments from around the world. Finally, the last gallery documents the electrical and mechanic constructions of various instruments.
Sample Belgian Chocolate
Belgian chocolate is world-famous for good reason. It was Belgium where the revolutionary praline was first invented. What’s a praline? you may ask. Praline is the technical term for a hollow chocolate shell that is filled with special delicacies inducing nougat and other confections.
Initially, pralines were used by apothecaries to disguise the bitter taste of medicines. Over time, pralines transformed the way chocolate was enjoyed all across Europe. They are the reason that we buy a “box of chocolates” for our sweethearts on Valentine’s day.
While in Brussels, you must enjoy a sampling of pralines at one of the best chocolate shops. These include Maison Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus and Laurent Gerbaud.
If you are looking elevate your chocolate experience in Brussels, you must sign up for a chocolate workshop. These are available at Planete Chocolat and Chocolissimo & Zaabär. You’ll see first hand how pralines are made & you’ll sample some fresh ones as well.
Another way to experience the excitement of Belgian Chocolate is to visit the Chocolate Museum —Choco Story.
Comic Book Walk
Then it is time to explore more outdoor areas in Brussels for your 2-day itinerary.
As you start to explore the streets of Brussels, you can’t help but notice the enchanting cartoons charmingly displayed on every other street corner. Comic books share an important place in the early 20th Century history of Brussels, and Belgium.
The most famous of these comics include the Smurfs and the Adventures of Tintin. In years since their debut, these stories were translated in over 70 languages and have sold over 200 million copies!
If you’re interested in learning more about the unique history of comics in Brussels, you must visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center. This museum his housed in an incredible Art Nouveau style building. Exceptional architectural features of the building include its dramatic glass ceiling, striking facade and cozy library space.
Although, you don’t have to visit the Comic Strip Museum to immerse yourself in Brussels comic book art. Walk over to some of the most iconic wall murals. I recommend Victor Sackville, Olivier Rameau, and Tintin. There are all within a few blocks of the Grand Place.
If you want to discover more comic murals while you explore the city, this Brussels Tourist Map includes all of the top-rated pieces you’ll love.
Stroll through the Royal Galleries of St. Hubert
No visit to Brussels is complete without a stop to this glamorous & historic location. The Royal Galleries of St. Hubert were one of Europe’s first shopping malls. They were part of a 19th Century gentrification project meant to clean up murky swamplands and attract ladies of leisure.
When it was first built, the Royal Galleries of St. Hubert contained a theater, shopping spaces & fancy cafes.
Stroll through the Galleries today, and you’ll notice that not much has changed. The windows continue to display luxury goods, pralines from chocolate shops and relaxed cafes.
It’s important to note the unique architecture within the Galleries.
The repetition of arches, pillars, and windows create a sense of length and depth. Also, the impressive fish-scale, arched, glass ceiling allows light to flood in while each wall is ordained with marble.It only takes a few minutes to walk through the Royal Galleries of St. Hubert. They’re only a short walk from the Grand Place.
Visit the Grand Place
The Grand Place might be the most popular tourist attraction in Brussels. Certainly, impossible to miss! This is the main town square of Brussels and it has a pretty fascinating history. It’s been used as a meeting place, and market, since as far back as the 11th Century!
The Grand Place is where you’ll find the Brussels Town Hall Building (and museum), the Museum of the City of Brussels and the origin point for many free walking tours. The Town Hall is this square’s only remaining Medieval building. It’s notoriously asymmetrical resulting from a mistake on the part of the architect.
Another dramatic building in the Grand Place is the ‘King’s House.’ The style of this wooden building is Gothic Revival.
Today, it’s home to the Museum of the City of Brussels. If you only have 2 days in Brussels, you may not be able to visit every museum. Although, you should stop by the Grand Place and, at least, appreciate their facades.
I recommend the free walking tour organized by Viva’s Tours. This is a 2.5 – 3 hour tour that gives you a great introduction to the history of Brussels while also getting you acquainted with some of the top tourist attractions.
If you are traveling solo, free walking tours are great ways to meet people and get recommendations from locals.
Try Belgian Beer
Belgium, especially Brussels, is the perfect place to drink beer! If you haven’t tried Belgian beer, you haven’t experienced Brussels culture.
Belgian Beer Culture isn’t just colloquially known, it’s been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Many Belgian beers are produced in microbreweries. This is why Belgium has more diverse brewing styles than any other beer-producing region.
In Brussels, beer has long since been an important part of everyday life. Beer making in Belgium has been seen in history as early as 3 and 4 AD. During parts of Medieval history, beer was safer to drink than water.
Up until the 1960s, schoolchildren could choose beer as their beverage at school lunch (this was a light “table beer,” low in alcohol — but still!).
We recommend you check out the Delirium Cafe for your sample of Belgian beer.
You can also visit one of the many microbreweries and sample local ales. Check out the Brussels Beer Project, Cantillon Brewery or En Stoemelings Brewery and end the day with this activity.
For a beautiful sunset on day 1, I recommend Mont des Arts.
Day 2 in Brussels
For day 2 in Brussels, I recommend following itinerary.
Learn about Europe’s political capital at the Parlamentarium
Brussels prides itself on being Europe’s political center. It’s also home to the European Union’s Parlamentarium. This is essentially a museum that documents the history and achievements of the European Union.
A visit to the Parlamentarium takes about 90 minutes and includes a self-guided multimedia tour. You can experience this in 24 different languages!
If you are looking for more ways to experience EU culture within Brussels, look no further than Mini-Europe. Mini-Europe is a miniature theme park compiled of tiny replicas of famous buildings from EU countries. You can check out a mini Eiffel Tower, mini Trevi Fountain and mini Acropolis.
Mini Europe is a 20 minute drive or cab ride outside Brussels city center. You can also get there in about 30-40 minutes by public transportation.
Visit the famous Atomium
The Atomium is another famous landmark in Brussels that’s located just outside of the city center. This can also be reached in 30-40 minutes by public transportation.
The Atomium is an incredible structure shaped like iron crystal (if that iron crystal was magnified 165 billion times). It was built in honor of the 1958 Brussels World Exposition. At that time, it was a massive feat of engineering.
Guided tours of the Atomium are available but must be arranged at least 3 weeks in advance. Tours last 90 minutes and you can fit it into your 2-day Brussels itinerary.
Gawk at the Brussels Cathedral
Also known as St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, the Brussels Cathedral is a sight to behold. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Brussels.
The Brussels Cathedral was built in the Brabantian Gothic style. It took over 300 years to complete!
You can visit the interior of the Brussels Cathedral for free. Although, it does cost a few euros to visit the interior crypt and special treasures.
Make sure to check out the beautiful wooden pulpit (carved in 1699). You’ll find incredible stained glass windows that date back to the 16th Century.
The Brussels Cathedral also boasts an impressive organ. It contains some 4,000 pipes and 4 keyboards. Wowza!
Find Manneken Pis and his friends
Manneken Pis is a cutesy statue of a little boy peeing. His friends include Jeanneke Pis (little girl pees) and Zinneke Pis (dog pees). Zinneke is apparently Manneken and Jeanneke’s dog.
While his friends are fun counterparts, Manneken Pis steals the show. He has become an important symbol of the city of Brussels and a dearly beloved icon.
The statue of Manneken Pis has quite an interesting history. The original statue was stolen and lost a few times throughout history. Each time, enraging the natives of Brussels. Present day, Manneken Pis is dressed up on special occasions and holidays.
Try to visit Manneken Pis in the evening so that you can miss the crowds. This is a popular stopping grounds for many tours. It’s a small statue, so you won’t see much from far away.
Enjoy Belgian Fries
Looking for more ways to sample Brussels culture? You’ve got to sample Belgian fries! Belgian fries have also made UNESCO’s list of Cultural Treasures.
Belgian fries are usually served with sauces like ketchup or mayonnaise. The best places to enjoy them are Fritland and LaFunambule.
Vegan Alert: Fries are naturally vegan (potatoes, duh!), but Belgian fries are often fried in animal fats. If you are a strict vegan, you can check out Friterie De Frietketel in the nearby town of Ghent. They serve up tasty, savory, fries that are cooked in 100% vegetable fats.
The best sunset spot for day 2 comes with panoramic views near the Law Courts building.
CONCLUSION: 2-DAY BRUSSELS ITINERARY
Brussels is a fun and exciting city to visit – with its many international organisations, it is an international city with many interesting places and sights. 2 days in Brussels with allow you to get a good glimpse of the city and see its main sights and attractions.
Check out beautiful places to visit in Europe in December.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Valentina’s Destinations was born from my obsession with meticulously researching, organizing and planning my travel itineraries.
I’m originally from Nis, Serbia. My family moved to the US when I was young, and I’ve been living in Chicago for the last decade. My passion is travelling the world with my boyfriend, Remigijus. When we’re not travelling, I work as a physician assistant in the psychiatry field. The mental health field is as rewarding as travelling can be.
Find me on social media: Instagram