Planning a trip to Brussels? Get some inspiration on what to do while you’re there with our idea of a perfect three-day itinerary. History, culture, entertainment, restaurants… Pack it all in at a comfortable pace and don’t miss a thing!
A central, integral spot in Brussels, dear to every Belgian’s heart, is the Grand-Place, a Neo-Gothic architectural treasure that’s the perfect place to begin your stay in Brussels. When scanning the exceptionally ostentatious and grand façades, your eyes will notably be drawn to the city hall, the Maison du Roi’s (Broodhuis) thousands of arcades, and the guild houses. By closely studying these extravagant Gothic-style buildings, you will discover a myriad of architectural details. Make the most of the first morning of your stay in Brussels by sitting in the outside area of one of the traditional brasseries nearby. During your visit to this city, make sure you enjoy every moment at a leisurely pace. Relax and take the time to appreciate the gilding on the pediments and the finesse of the sculpted allegories that adorn several of the window frames. It would be a shame to rush, you are, after all, seated in one of the most beautiful squares in the world!
After this little pit stop, explore the neighbourhood surrounding Grand-Place by strolling through its streets. In the afternoon, walk the streets of the Saint-Jacques neighbourhood. There you are on the same territory as the famous Manneken-Pis, a small statue on top of a modest fountain, which today, has become the defining symbol of the city. Close by, you will find Vieille-Halle-aux-Blés square with its incredibly picturesque brick houses and a wonderful statue paying homage to the city’s hero: Jacques Brel.
For the first evening of your stay in Brussels, enjoy the originality and quirky vibe of the Goupil Le Fol café, an establishment synonymous with Brussels. A small café with disorderly décor consisting of various odds and ends, Goupil Le Fol is an ideal spot for enjoying a quiet drink, whilst losing yourself in countless interlinking lounge rooms. This unique part of Brussels’ nightlife is a particular favourite of those who love French songs.
In the early morning, after breakfast at the quintessentially Belgian Pain Quotidien, head towards the Mont des Arts district. It’s now time to experience some culture during your stay in Brussels. This hill overlooking part of the city is home to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Musical Instruments Museum and the BELvue Museum (a museum dedicated to Belgian history). Cross the gigantic promenade and climb the steps to discover a magnificent view over Brussels. Then, directly in front of you, you will come across the Magritte Museum. Dedicated to Belgium’s most famous surrealist, the museum houses 150 of the painter’s artworks, a comprehensive collection of his masterpieces. By now, you are sure to have worked up an appetite! Take a gourmet break by having a picnic in the adjoining Brussels’ Park, which is shaded plane trees and dotted with around sixty statues.
Afterwards, stay in the Mont des Arts district to visit the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. There you will find the country’s largest art collection, comprising over 20,000 Belgian works of art. By visiting the five museums that comprise the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, you can learn about the entire history of Belgian art, and see splendid masterpieces by Pieter Bruegel, Rubens, Gauguin and Jacob Jordaens. You can also discover Belgium’s artistic heritage, including some classic art pieces, enjoying an afternoon of elegant sophistication. To properly finish off the second day of your stay in Brussels, taste another essential part of Belgium’s cultural heritage: mussels and chips. To savour this experience, stay close to Grand-Place and head to the picturesque brasserie Roue d’Or. This establishment offers a more authentic, local experience than Chez Léon, which is a tourist hotspot par excellence.
To finish off your stay in Brussels properly, start your third day by wandering around the extremely photogenic MIMA, a highly interactive urban art museum located in a former brewery. Situated in the cosmopolitan district of Molenbeek, this spot, much loved by aesthetes, this huge space showcases avant-garde artwork. For lunch, make your way to the L’Ilot Sacré (the sacred island district), the streets surrounding Grand-Place. A truly historic part of Brussels, some of the streets here boast perfectly preserved medieval buildings, such as Rue des Bouchers, a cobbled street where the lit-up signs of several restaurants vie for your attention and you’ll find endless options for a tasty meal. You should then head towards Impasse de la Fidélité to see another of the city’s famous statues: Jeanneke-Pis, the feminine version of Manneken-Pis.
Just behind you, the Delirium Café welcomes you in with a menu featuring over 2,000 beers. This location, renowned worldwide as a beer mecca, emits the aromas of hops and malt when you sit by the immense counter and gaze at the dozens of chrome-plated columns. Afterwards, you can either go to one of the restaurants nearby or simply buy a portion of fries and a Frikandel (deep-fried sausage) from one of the district’s friterie.
For your last evening, enjoy Brussels’ music scene by seeing a performance at the Ancienne Belgique. With superb acoustics, a grand scale and huge capacity, the ‘AB’ is considered one of the best concert halls in Europe. With an eclectic and demanding artistic programme, this location is the perfect place to finish off your stay in Brussels, and has a friendly, enthusiastic atmosphere typical of the city.
A refreshingly compact European capital, Brussels is a city full of surprises. From the medieval streets to the Grand-Place’s thousands of windows, the gilding on the Maison du Roi to the speech bubbles at the Brussels Comic Book Museum, everywhere you go reveals yet another unexpected side to Brussels. By staying longer than three days, you can take a detour to the Marolles neighbourhood and its famous flea markets, or admire the ultramodern architecture of the Europe district, just two great options for extending your visit to this incredible city.