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If you’re looking for a weekend full of beauty, beer, and chocolate, you’re in the right place. I include highlights of Brussels that can be seen over a weekend in Brussels based on my month in Brussels and numerous other trips to Brussels. Somehow, I’ve kept returning to Brussels and I keep finding more things to do in Brussels each successive time. This itinerary is mostly based on my recent weekend in Brussels with friends eating and drinking as much as possible.
This itinerary is relaxed as Brussels is quite walkable and has a good metro system. (Note: I’ve left out the Atomium as I was left underwhelmed by it although it’s certainly a recent piece of architecture. It’s a bit pricey to go inside and out of the way.)
- Grand Place
- Waffles and Frites
- Manneken Pis
- Comic Murals of Brussels
- Chocolate Tasting
- Lots of Belgian beer
- Thrift & Neighborhood markets
Where to stay in Brussels
I’ve stayed at several hotels and hostels in Brussels during my various trips. For those on a budget, Sleep Well is a steal with clean, basic rooms and a good location. I really loved staying in the heart of the trendy Ixelles
Saturday in Brussels
Belgians know how to eat. That is without question and every trip to Brussels involves some weight gain for me. I’m a chocoholic, so I always stop off at a number of chocolatiers in Brussels.
Coffee and a light breakfast
A good start to the day is important, especially if you’re coming off a train from elsewhere. I generally take the train into Bruxelles Centraal given the choice although it’s very easy to transfer from Bruxelles Nord. Given the choice, I often head to Aksum for a good cup of coffee.
Galeries Royales Saint Hubert / Chocolate tasting part I
The Royal Galleries of Brussels is a stunning covered shopping arcade in the centre of Brussels. This beautiful gallery holds some of the best chocolatiers in the world (along with the most average). I recommend stopping off at Mary, Neuhaus, and Tropismes (for books). You can click for my self-guided chocolate tour of Brussels.
How can you miss Grand Place? Grand Place is Brussel’s right to fame and it is absolutely stunning. The square is certainly crowded, but the earlier you’re here, the better. Many of the buildings were built to house the powerful guilds who once controlled commerce in Brussels although the town hall, which dates back to the medieval period, is the most iconic buildings of Grand Place (known as Grote Markt in Flemish).
One of the most frustrating things about Brussels that many don’t tell you is that Manneken Pis is often in a costume and a bit smaller than you might imagine. The statue epitomizes Belgian sense of
Église Saint Nicolas
The church of Saint Nicholas is one of the oldest churches in Brussels. It dates back to the 12th century although it has been rebuilt several times. It’s absolutely beautiful inside and free to enter, so don’t be afraid to take a peek!
Although Brussels waffles are famous, they were actually invented by a Belgian family who lived in the United States who wanted to create something new and interesting for the 1964 World’s Fair. That said, Brussels waffles have caught on.
You can tell that it’s a Brussels waffle by its rectangular shape and lightness as Liège waffles tend to be more circular and sweeter. You’ll find numerous places to get Brussels style waffles although Maison Dandoy came the most recommended to me.
Comic walls of Brussels
All around the city, you’ll find gorgeous comic murals showing off Belgium’s amazing legacy of comic art. (The TinTin museum is a little outside of Brussels!) My
I’ve tried most of the best Brussels chocolatiers and Frederic Blondeel is my
Marché aux Poissons / Saint Catherine
One of my
You’ll find a lot of options for all budgets although we ended up getting gourmet burgers. Come early and stop by Nordzee for reasonably fish Belgian-style. (They close at
Craft beer or Cocktails
Although Belgium is famous for its abbey beer, there’s also great craft beer in Brussels too! Brussels Beer Project makes fantastic experimental beer that can be found at their namesake bar. You’ll find other cafes serving up great cocktails in this area, including vintage-style drinks at L’Archiduc or the innovative bar next door (Cobra).
Sunday in Brussels
Belgium sometimes feels a bit sleepy sometimes with supermarkets outside of the city
Breakfast at the market in Saint Gilles
Saint Gilles is known as a village within Brussels. This charming neighborhood is full of art deco architecture and it hosts a lovely market. On Sunday, you’ll want to come to Market Parvis Saint-Gilles armed with a few euros to pick up breakfast and browse the various goods here. It’s a great place to pick up cheeses as a souvenir too.
This elaborate port once stood as part of the city gate around the city of Brussels. It dates back to 1381 and it’s incredibly impressive to admire as you walk through the picturesque park around it. For a few euros, you can enter the port to learn about the history of Brussels as well as weapons, otherwise just walk by and enjoy the view!
Browse secondhand goods at the Marolles Flea Market
I always love a good flea market. I happened upon the Marolles Flea Market, which occurs every Sunday. You’ll find a bit of everything here from used clothes to poor taxidermies to antique items. If you’re an antique lover, be sure to bring cash with you as I was wishing that I could buy some of the oddities on sale here…
Although the Royal Galleries are super famous, be sure to stop off at Galerie Bortier, which is full of bookshops and art shops. It’s just such a beautiful place to take a moment to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and shop.
Park Mont de Artes
For the most iconic view of Brussels, head to Park Mont des Arts for stunning views from the Mountain of Art. This lovely park is surrounded by gorgeous buildings in every direction and you’ll be glad that you headed to the top of the stairs!
Royal Palace/Parc de Bruxelles
From here, head towards the Royal Palace and Brussels Park. This park was once used for hunting, however it’s open to the public to enjoy. From Place des Palais, you can admire this working palace that is open to the public during the summers.
A beer of course.
With limited time, decisions must be made. Before you leave, consider stopping for a drink at one of these classic Brussels bars: Delirium Café, A la
Delirium Café is the most famous and most expensive of these three. This bar is a
A La Mort Subite has a stunning interior dating back to 1928. I was worried it would be too touristy, but we had a blast having beers here although you’ll pay for the pleasure. Their housemade beer went over well with my friend who isn’t very into beer and I loved their peach-
Lastly, I had to include Au Bon Vieux Temps. This old cafe is hidden down an alleyway that is very easy to miss, but it’s full of charm. I loved the quiet of the cafe as well as its charm that will transport you back to another era.