Brussels, Belgium is the largest city in Belgium and the capital city. We were spending a few days in Amsterdam around the holidays and I was dying to make a day trip to Brussels for the Christmas markets and lights. We booked a round trip train and headed out on a Thursday for what would end up being one of the most magical days! Brussels is a stunning city kept in time. Everywhere you turn there are chocolate shops, French fry stands, and waffles so it’s safe to say the city smells like heaven. We only had a few hours in Brussels (and since it was around the holidays we went for some holiday vibes) but here are our must-do’s in this amazing city if you just have a day!
What to do
- Walking tour: if you only have a day, this is the PERFECT way to spend your time! We went with the tried and true NEW Europe tour and our guide was incredible. Do remember that even though it’s a free tour, tips are expected and after the tour you’ll definitely feel like it was worth the tip!
- Royal Gallery of Sant Hubert: is a gorgeous indoor shopping mall with beautiful storefronts, decorations, and architecture galore. If you’ve been to Milan this will feel super familiar. It’s the perfect place to escape the cold and grab a coffee, or splurge on some awesome gifts!
- Grand Palace: You can’t miss this when in Brussels. The square is gorgeous and has so much history! If you take the walking tour it will likely start here!
- Manneken Pis: Yes, this is a statue of a little boy peeing, and yes there’s always a crowd, but it’s wild to see how much this has become a symbol of Brussels!
- *If you go at Christmas time, don’t miss the Christmas Market: Just to the west of the city center, and walking distance of everything, this market is massive and has authentic food stalls, local artists, beer tents, gluhwein, and even a Ferris wheel! It’s magical in the winter!
- *If you are a fan of architecture or have extra time, head to Atomium: This incredible sculpture was made for a world’s fair and is such an iconic structure. There’s a huge park and lots of restaurants so it looks like an awesome way to spend a few hours!
Where to eat & drink
- Wolf: This food hall has some awesome budget-friendly options and is right in the city center! I always love going to food halls and markets when I travel because you get the best bang for your buck and they always have something for everyone!
- Cafe Georgette: they have a walk up frites stand and make fresh fries all day with delicious sauces, or have an awesome menu if you make a reservation!
- Delirium Cafe: this is a must see in Brussels. There are over 2000 types of beer and while the line can get kind of long, there is plenty of seating for everyone and the ambiance is pretty awesome
- Maison Dandoy: This is one of the best places for waffles!
- La Belgique Gourmande: there are endless possibilities for chocolate shops in Brussels but this one is definitely authentic and incredible!
- Fin De Siecle: looking for an authentic, delicious meal? This place has amazing reviews and a beautiful ambiance!
- Elisabeth Chocolatier: Another authentic chocolate shop with a beautiful store front!
- Take the train: the train station is right in the center and is walking distance to everything!
- Brussels vs. Liege waffles: yes there is a difference! Did you know there are two types of waffles in Belgium? The liege waffle is smaller and doesn’t have sharp edges but they add sugar to the batter so it comes out darker and deliciously sweet so just powdered sugar or a little chocolate is all you need to top this. The Brussels waffle is a perfect rectangle and the one you’ll often seen topped with sprinkles, fruit, and tons of candy. I personally love the liege waffle but you can’t go wrong with either one!
- Make reservations: The city center is always busy and the restaurants are not that large. Do your research (or pick from one of my recs) and make a reservation so you can have a table and delicious dining experience!