If you are looking for a city you can easily visit in 2-3 days be it an easy weekend escape for those living in Europe or a add on to a European holiday, then a Brussels weekender should certainly be high on your list.
The city of Brussels is known as “The Capital of Europe”, so it should come as no surprise how culturally European this city feels for tourists. Even those living in Europe like this Latina travel blogger. Did you know that the EU headquarters is in Brussels? A Brussels weekend can provide for a fun couple of days eating and drinking your way through the city, strolling to see the great architecture and bumping into the array of art that fills its streets.
See my top recommendations to make the most out of a Brussels weekender bellow and start planning your own visit.
Plan Your Brussels Weekender
Airport To Brussels
Brussels South Charleroi Airport to City – If your flight has you traveling to South Charleroi Airport keep in mind that this is a 45+ minute journey to Brussels city center. Cabs and Ubers will cost around 100 Euros. Consider using the shuttle provider, Flibco. They offer shuttle service to Gare Nord station with shuttle leaving every 20-30 minutes, 7 days a week.
Search Flibco tickets and to view the schedule.
Brussels Airport to City – If your flight has you traveling to Brussels Airport (BRU) the Intercity direct train system can easily get you into the city in under 30 minutes for 12.10 Euro each way. Train tickets can be purchased at the station or online.
Brussels Weekender Tips
|Cash||Cash is still king in many tourist attractions, neighborhoods and restaurants in Brussels. Withdraw money from ATM’s or exchange money before you begin exploring the city. Many establishments will post this but if they don’t, they do allow you to visit an ATM to withdraw money without putting too much of a fuss. In any case, be sure to ask first.|
|Restaurant Culture||Expect longer times at sit down restaurants in Belgium. This is definitely a culture where service is slow. Keep this in mind when you visit restaurants for dinner.|
|More Days Available||Have more than a weekend to visit? 1-2 day trip to Bruges is a must if you have the time. From Brussels the train to Bruges is only 35 minutes. A quaint little town known for their Christmas market if you visit in December. Visiting any other time, consider a bike ride strolling through the farms, windmills and neighboring villages.|
|See More Countries||Considering visiting multiple cities in Europe from Brussels? Explore my “Country Guides” section for inspiration on other close places to visit. Including Germany, England and Spain. FYI: Paris is a short hour train ride from Brussels.|
Getting Around Brussels
Train – There are many train routes in Brussels making trains a great option to get around the city or beyond. Ticket machines maybe a little difficult to figure out. The way you select your option is by twisting the knob. This isn’t very clear on the machine even in English mode. Lucky for you, your reading this blog and now know and can navigate without issues. Find your train route.
Cabs – Cabs are everywhere in Brussels but cash is king here. Have cash when traveling in the city.
Uber – Uber does operate in the city of Brussels allowing for easy travel around the city.
E – Scooter – The trend in Brussels is using electric scooters to get around the city. You will spot many of these electric scooters throughout the city. These are rented by the hour/minute/mile etc. using your mobile device and downloading an app. See the various companies providing scooters in Brussels.
Belgium Language For Tourism
French is the prominent language spoken in Brussels with German also spoken in other parts of Belgium. Many people speak English in Brussels so you should not have a problem. Regardless, still have some basics under your belt.
|Good day!||Bonne Journee|
|Thank you very much||Merci Beaucoup|
|I don’t speak French||Je ne pas parle Francais|
TIP: Leading up to my Brussels city break, I used “Memrise” app to brush up on my French learned in high school. I chose Memrise as it focus’ on speaking opposed to grammar and writing.
Brussels Weekender Sightseeing
- Grand Place Area – FYI Brussels City Museum and Town Hall is also in this iconic square.
- Palais de Justice
- Manneken Pis – This adorable pissing boy is worth a visit and won’t take much of your time. Maneken Pis gets dressed up for all sorts of occasions. If you get lucky, like I did, you get to see him donning one of his many outfits.
- Manneken Museum – Want to see the full closet of Manneken Pis and learn more about this Belgian icon then this is the place to visit.
- Atomium – I was only able to see Atomium in the distance due to train service being canceled. Certainly add it to your visit. From the city center it is a 25-minute train ride.
- Royal Palace of Brussels – While no longer an active palace it’s still beautiful with tours being available.
- Brussels Park – Beautiful park and garden in the center of the city.
- Mont des Arts – This area has tons of museums including the library and fine art museum and it comes with beautiful views to the lower part of the city.
- Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique – The Royal library is another architecture masterpiece but I’m also bias based off my love for libraries.
- Galeries Royales Saint Hubert – A stunning glass ceiling marketplace with upscale shops and eateries.
- Brussels Canal near MIMA – Beautiful views of the canal with the hipster neighborhood in the background.
- Brussels Street Art – Stroll the city looking for your favorite Brussels art in the street, including the famous Tintin murals.
TIP: Search “Tourist Attractions” in Google maps app while in Brussels to see iconic street art in the city. My partner and I created our very own scavenger hunt / private street art tour. This included stops enjoying hot chocolate, waffles, frites and spotting hidden breweries.
Additional places to add to your visit – Given unsuccessful attempts to get to Atomium we missed some places but this certainly doesn’t mean you should.
- Triumphal Arch
- Le Botanique
Brussels Weekender Stay
- Citadines Toison d’Or Brussels – A contemporary apartment hotel perfectly situated in the city center. Close to public transportation, luxury shopping and city attractions. Do keep in mind that the hotel chain does have other locations throughout the city. I particularly enjoyed the location to this hotel. It wasn’t situated in the touristy hub allowing for a wonderful balance to the relaxing weekend. Book your Brussels stay.
What To Eat In Belgium
- Gaufre/Wafle – There is nothing better than a Belgium waffle, be it savory or sweet. You will find stalls everywhere in the city offering them with an array of toppings. Whether you add toppings or not, even the plain waffles won’t disappoint as the batter is made with sugar giving the warm off the griddle waffle a hint of sweetness.
- Chocolate – Belgium is said to be one of the countries purveying the best chocolate in the world. Given the number of chocolateries in the city, indulge in tasting your way through all the options. Sample the famous Belgian Pralines and if you love chocolate in liquid form, then make it a must to try their hot chocolate here TIP: See where to have Hot Chocolate below to ensure you save time for other things like eating chocolate and deciding which is your favorite.
- Moules – Mussels in sauce are certainly a staple here. They are usually accompanied with frites and the mussels can be cooked in an array of sauce based on your preference from beer, white wine or broth. TIP: Use the empty shells to pick up the loose mussels from the broth.
- Frites – Any Belgian will tell you that French Fries actually originated in Belgium and they sure eat their share of fries here. Fries in Belgium are thicker, crispier and usually topped in an array of toppings with mayo being the classic.
- Carbonade Flamande – Belgian’s version of a slow cooked beef stew made in beer sauce. It’s a perfect meaty dish to keep you full all day especially since this stew is usually accompanied with you guessed it, frites.
- Belgian Beer – With over 200 breweries in the country and many having locations in Brussels similar to chocolate, you will certainly have your choice. Do a tour or visit one of the many brewhouses in the city to enjoy a pint of flight for yourself.
Where To Eat During Your Brussels Weekender
- Au Vieux Bruxelles – A cozy little restaurant known for their Belgian dishes including their mussels and beef stew. Very authentic and very delicious. Definitely recommend if you are looking to treat yourself by splurging a little for a very delicious traditional meal in a very authentic restaurant in the city.
- Waffle Factory – A delicious and quick way to get your waffle fix while you sightsee in Brussels. Don’t be deterred by the fast food chain restaurant as this doesn’t take away from the taste. Waffle Factory is one of the best places to get waffles in the city and they are one of the few restaurants that offer savory waffle options too. I can vouch to this claim of being one of the best after eating waffles from “Maison Dandoy” considered another top waffle place in Brussels and being very disappointed despite it being more upscale. (FYI: Meal deals at the Waffle Factory include both savory and sweet waffles so you will get the best of both worlds.)
- Le Delire Parisien – This French restaurant is a great place for mussels and other classic French dishes. The atmosphere and service are superb minus the fact that they are a cash only establishment. My top picks; mussels in sauce, granitized mussels and their French onion soup.
- Pierre Marcolini (Location in Galeries de la Reine) – Brussels is filled with chocolates galore so it’s a must to taste your way through all the options from their famous pralines to their macaroons. BUT for hot chocolate; Pierre Marcolini is the place to go! I’m somewhat of a hot chocolate aficionado and their hot chocolate stands as one of the top hot chocolates I’ve had in the world. Thick, rich and decadent.
Additional Brussels Resources
- Full Suitcase Blog: https://fullsuitcase.com/belgium-itinerary-3-4-days/
- Wonderful Wanderings: https://wonderfulwanderings.com/belgian-food-brussels/
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