Brussels is a cosmopolitan city, with a melting pot of cultures and traditions in its streets, shops and restaurants. The Belgian capital hides a thousand places and stories for those who want to visit it.
You could spend days and days wandering its streets, discovering its architecture, enjoying its gastronomy and getting lost in the surrounding villages. But nobody has that many days of holidays. If you are one of the lucky ones, congratulations.
If not, and you only have a few days for a getaway, here's everything you need to know about how to discover Brussels in 3 days. Make the most of your 72 hours in the Belgian capital with us, ready?
Here is the route we followed on our first intense day in Brussels:
1. Bourse de Bruxelles, Pl. de la Bourse, 1000 Bruxelles
2. Eglise St. Nicolas—Sint Nikolaaskerk, 1000 Bruxelles
3. Grand Place, Grote Markt, 1000 Bruxelles
4. Everard 'T Serclaes, 1000 Bruxelles
5. Jeanneke Pis, Imp. de la Fidélité 10-12, 1000 Bruxelles
6. Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Galerie du Roi 5, 1000 Bruxelles
7. Cathédrale des Saints Michel et Gudule, 1000 Bruxelles
8. Parc de Bruxelles, 1000 Bruxelles
9. Palais Royal de Bruxelles, Rue Brederode 16, 1000 Bruxelles
10. Place Royale, 1000 Bruxelles
- Musée Old Master
- Musée Magritte
- Konink.Musea Schone Kunst.BelgiE
- Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts
12. Église Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, Imp. du Borgendael 1, 1000 Bruxelles
13. Old England, Hofbergstraat 2, 1000 Brussel
14. Mont des Arts, 1000 Bruxelles
15. Tintin Comic Mural, Rue de l'Etuve 37, 1000 Bruxelles
16. Manneken Pis, 1000 Bruxelles
1º- We begin at Place de la Bourse, where an impressive 19th century building that houses the Brussels Stock Exchange awaits you.
2º- Behind it, you will also be able to enjoy the Church of St. Nicholas. This 12th century church is located in the heart of the historic centre of Brussels. It is well worth a visit, both to enjoy its gilded clock on the outside and inside.
And if you are an art lover, you should know that it houses an original painting by the Flemish Baroque painter Rubens.
3º- After enjoying such delicious chocolate shops as Leonidas or Neuhaus Chocolate, that tower in the background is waiting for us, one of the real jewels and must-see places in Brussels; Grand Place.
Impressive, isn't it? You are right now in one of the most important and beautiful squares in Europe. And if you are lucky enough to visit it at Christmas time, few can overshadow it in the world.
You are surrounded by impressive buildings, most notably, at number 1 on the square, the Gothic Maison du Roi d'Espagne, the Guild Houses, which are those characteristic façade buildings that demonstrated the economic power of the different guilds in the 15th and 16th century, and the Brussels City Hall, an impressive 15th century Gothic building.
4º- In one the streets coming out from the square, you'll find the Everard 'T Serclaes. It represents the well-known citizen who fought for the liberation of the city in the 14th century War of Succession of the Duchy of Brabant. Legend has it that touching him brings luck.
5º- Let´s visit another very well-known sculpture; the Jeanneke Pis, the little pissing sister of the famous Manneken Pis. Right next to it, the Delirium Café with its over 200 types of beer.
6º- Not far from here, just a couple of minutes on foot along a beautiful cobbled street full of shops, the spectacular Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Ready for a sweet bit? Go for Pierre Marcolini for chocolates and Maison Dandoy for waffles.
Be aware that there are two types: Brussel waffle and Liege waffle. The difference is... you'd better try them both and let us know, but you'll love them both.
7º- Leave the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert heading the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, which lies behind a nice park. Almost 280 years of construction were completed in 1500, creating this impressive Gothic building. The interior is well worth a visit.
8º- If you want to take Rue de la Chancellerie, which you should take now, and you come across a sign saying "Kanselarijstraat", don't worry. As a reminder, Brussels is officially bilingual - you'll find everything in both French and Dutch.
In just a few minutes, one of the best stops in Brussels for a breath of fresh air and a bit of nature; Parc de Bruxelles. Don't forget to stop by the Théâtre Royal du Parc.
9º- Right next to it, you will be able to visit the Royal Palace of Brussels. It will take you about five minutes to cross the park, but we recommend you enjoy the surroundings, especially if the weather is good. The Royal Palace is scheduled to open to the public in the summer of 2024.
10º- Another five minutes walk and you will be in the amazing Place Royal. This neoclassical square is a must on your tour of Brussels and is also the point where some of the city's best museums converge.
11º- The best ones are: Musée Old Master, Musée Magritte, Konink.Musea Schone Kunst.BelgiE or Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts.
If you want to spend the rest of the day in one of the wonderful museums here, it's totally understandable but are you going to miss the final part of our first 3 days in Brussels?
12º- In the square, you will also find the neoclassical Church of Santiago, known as the Église Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg or Sint-Jacob-op-Koudenberg and the equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon. The church is also the seat of the diocese of the Belgian Armed Forces.
13º & 14º- On your way to the Monts des Arts, don't forget the Old England building. Built in 1899 in a clear Art Nouveau style, it now houses the Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments, an architectural gem.
Monts des arts is home to gardens and historic buildings, such as the National Archives of Belgium, the Royal Library of Belgium or the Square Brussels Congress Centre, as well as privileged views of the city from the hillside.
15º- Rue de L'Etuve is a monument in its own right, and we treat it as such because it's home to a couple of must-see stops. Halfway down the street you'll see a mural of Tintin comics. In case you didn't know, the city is full of comic book references.
They have a comic-based street art route, a museum, dozens of specialised shops and a huge comic book culture. The city is world famous for it.
16º- If you take a few more steps down this street, you will find one of the most famous and representative figures of the city, the Manneken Pis. You have finally arrived at the perfect photo spot. This fountain is a symbol of Brussels.
This spot, which becomes the last stop of our 3-day tour of Brussels, has an extra prize. Actually, several prizes. The first one is the chocolate shop right in front of the Manneken Pis; Elisabeth Chocolatier Manneken Pis. On the corner opposite the Manneken Pis is the Manneken Pis Café, a great place for a hot drink and a sweet treat.
Finally, on the only corner we haven't yet visited at the crossroads, walk 50 metres and you'll find the Poechenellekelder, a great place to eat and have a beer.
Today you'll be able to enjoy Brussels' public transport at first hand. It's punctual, fast, comfortable and cheap. Ready to see Brussels from top to bottom? We'll start by going up, and then work our way down on our route south.
Here is the route we will follow today on our walk through Brussels:
1- Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Basiliekvoorplein 1, 1083 Bruxelles
2- Atomium, Pl. de l'Atomium 1, 1020 Bruxelles
3- Mini-Europe, Av. du Football 1, 1020 Bruxelles
4- Parc du Cinquantenaire, 1000 Bruxelles
Square de la Bouteille
- Monument du Cinquantenaire; Arco del triunfo
- Musée Royal de lármée et de l´histoire militaire
- Autoworld Museum
- Institut Royald´Histoire de l´Art et Archeology
- La Tour de Tournai
- Grande Mosquée de Bruxelles
5- European District or Leopold Quarter
- Berlaymont Building, Rue de la Loi 200, 1049 Bruxelles
- Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi 155, 1040 Bruxelles
- House of the European History, Rue Belliard 135, 1040 Bruxelles
- Parc Léopold, 1040 Bruxelles
- European Parliament, Rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Bruxelles
- Parlamentarium, Pl. du Luxembourg 100, 1050 Bruxelles
- Luxemburgo Square, Pl. du Luxembourg 7, 1050 Bruxelles
6- Église Notre-Dame des Victoires au Sablon, Rue des Sablons, 1000 Bruxelles
7- Grande Synagogue de Bruxelles, Rue de la Régence 32, 1000 Bruxelles
8- The View Grande Roue Bruxelles, Pl. Poelaert, 1000 Bruxelles
9- Palais de Justice de Bruxelles, Pl. Poelaert 1, 1000 Bruxelles
1º- The De Brouckere metro stop is where we'll make our first foray by metro. From this stop, take line 5 towards Erasme, and after three stations, get off at Étangs Noirs.
We change means of transport, and we're off to the bus now. Very close, less than a minute's walk, you will find the bus stop called Sint-Jans-Molenbeek Zwarte Vijvers. There you will wait for a short time for the bus line 13, direction Uz-vub. After 5 stops, about 7 minutes, get off at Riethuisen.
You won't need much more directions, we've arrived at our first destination, and what a start; welcome to Basilique du Sacré-Coeur or Basilique de Koekelberg.
It is an impressive place with no less interesting facts. Its construction began at the beginning of the 20th century, 1905, and it survived the two Great World Wars, finishing the project in 1969. Since then it has been the sixth largest church in the world, and the largest Art Deco building on the planet.
As if that weren't enough, from a platform in the dome, there are unbeatable views of the city of Brussels.
2º- Continue up to our next stop; Atomium. Go back to the previous stop; Riethuisen, and take bus 13 direction Etangs Noirs, after a couple of stops, get off at Simonis.
About two minutes away is the metro station with the same name, take line 6 direction Roi Baudouin and make yourself comfortable, because you will have to wait 6 stops, about 10 minutes, until you reach your destination; Heizel.
Exit the station and you will have no problem seeing one of the emblems of the city of Brussels. With a maximum height of 102 metres, representing an iron crystal, this is the Atomium, inaugurated in 1958.
3º- Next to this monument, less than five minutes away and with a clear view, especially if you go up to the Atomium, you will find the Mini-Europe theme park. Here, monuments and buildings characteristic of 80 cities from all over Europe are represented on a scale of 1/25. In total there are around 350 structures and buildings.
4º- Ready to leave this area of the city? Let's take a radical turn in our route, and head back to the city centre, where the imperial Parc du Cinquantenaire or Jubelpark awaits us.
Go back to the Heizel metro station. Take line 6 towards Elisabeth and, after about ten minutes, get off at Beekkant station. There you change lines, not means of transport, we are still on the metro, and take line 5 in the direction of Herrmann-Debroux.
After another ten minutes, your stop has arrived, Merode. When you come out of the station, you only have to look for the huge Triumphal Arch, on the right to know that you are about to enter the Parc du Cinquantenaire.
This huge park of about 30 hectares is a great place to stroll around, take a break and, of course, still enjoy the monuments and historic buildings of Brussels.
Some of the must-see sights are: Square de la Bouteille, which is the huge fountain you'll see at the entrance, Monument du Cinquantenaire, i.e. the huge Triumphal Arch, the buildings of the Musée Royal de lármée et de l'histoire militaire, Autoworld Museum and Institut Royald'Histoire de l'Art et Archeology, which are works of art in themselves.
Finally, at the other end of the park you can see the tower that was built for the 1880 national exhibition and the majestic Grande Mosquée de Bruxelles.
5º- While you're there, leave the park at the Schuman roundabout and head for what is known as the European District, passing through Parc Léopold. The European Quarter is a very important area of the city, and of Europe.
In addition to numerous museums, such as the House of European History, and buildings that are clear examples of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, there are the main buildings that make up the heart of the European Union.
Berlaymont Building, Residence Palace, European Parliament, Parlamentarium, and Luxembourg Square are some of the must-see stops in this lively neighbourhood.
6º- After this passage through the most European things you'll see, let's jump to a stop that's a must because of its architecture and elegance; Église Notre-Dame des Victoires au Sablon.
This 15th century church is a real monument, both inside and out. Our next destinations are very close to each other, and with this walk we will finish our second day in Brussels. All photos done? Let's continue.
7º- Very close you will find another spectacular cult building, the Great Synagogue of Brussels. But don't put your mobile phone or camera away just yet.
8º- Go on for another 3 minutes and you will find a place to continue immortalising moments; The View Grande Roue Bruxelles.
9º- What about that big building on the left hand side? We warned you that this end would have a lot of interesting things close together. What you see is the Brussels Palace of Justice, and its dome leads part of the Brussels skyline.
This is the last monument on our second day in Brussels. It's been a great day, with lots of monuments and lots of sightseeing. We recommend a dinner that has lived up to the fantastic day you've had. Bon appétit!
Our last day in the Belgian capital will be spent exploring the other surrounding cities. We can't imagine a visit to Brussels that doesn't go hand in hand with an escape to some of the beautiful locations that are very accessible by public transport.
Some of our favourite places to visit are;
· Leuven; only 25 minutes away by train.
· Ghent; which is 30 minutes away using the same transport.
· Antwerp; about 45 minutes.
· Bruges; 55 minutes.
One of the highlights of Brussels is its proximity to other destinations. Thanks to its location, Brussels becomes the base camp for any getaway to neighbouring cities.
This way, you can wake up in Brussels, spend the day in Ghent, for example, and be back in Brussels for dinner, without having to travel far.
This is definitely the way to end our three-day stay in Brussels.