Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is one of the most visited cities in Belgium. Since I live in Ghent, I have already been to Brussels several times. This was often a day trip for shopping, visiting a museum or exhibition or meeting friends. However, I had never really experienced Brussels as a tourist. That is why Jan and I decided to plan a weekend in Brussels with a mission to explore the best things to do and see in the city centre of Brussels for you.
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How to get to Brussels?
All major cities in Belgium are easily accessible by public transport. Since Belgium is such a small country, the journey doesn’t take too long. From Ghent to Brussels it’s half an hour by train. For the weekend there are also special rates that make traveling by train more interesting than by car. In cities public parking is often very expensive.
If you still prefer to travel to Brussels by car, then choose a hotel with parking. Or park on the outskirts of the city and travel there by metro to the city centre. Don’t forget that Brussels has been a low emission zone since 2018. If your car does not meet the requirements, don’t forget to register your vehicle to avoid costs.
Moreover, traffic in Brussels is very busy. Within Brussels you can move easily and quickly by public transport such as the metro or bus. The best way to get to know the city better is of course on foot. You can also use the shared bicycles or scooters.
Because Brussels has such a central location in Belgium it’s the perfect base to explore more of Belgium. Don’t forget to check out the best day trips from Brussels as well.
Where to stay in Brussels?
For our weekend in Brussels we chose the 9hotelcentral which is located within walking distance of the central station. The hotel spoke immediately to us because of the location in the heart of Brussels and the semi-industrial/ vintage interior, which I am huge fan of. This style gives a trendy vibe but also a warm and cosy feeling.
The price-quality ratio is also important to us. And at this hotel you get value for your money. The rooms are trendy, cosy, warm and inviting. I immediately felt at home. In addition, the rooms are also spacious, very well kept and functionally furnished.
Do you prefer to stay somewhere else? Check out this map for more hotels in Brussels and find out the best deals.
How to spend a weekend in Brussels?
If you like historical architecture, vibrant atmosphere, culture and local specialties, you can’t miss the Grand Place and its surroundings!
The Grand Place is one of Europe’s most beautiful markets and is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list because of its beautiful historic buildings.The Grand Place is the starting point of a maze with little streets and alleys where you can wander off. In these streets you will find shops with local specialties and souvenirs. Do not forget to enjoy delicacies like a fries with mayonnaise or a Brussels waffle with toppings of your choice. This is definitely one of the things Belgium is famous for.
One thing you can miss on your weekend in Brussels is bringing a visit to ‘Manneke Pis’. This is one of the most famous Belgian monuments and is a symbol of the city of Brussels.
The most beautifully decorated shop windows and the best Brussels chocolate shops can be found in the galleries of St. Hubert. These glass-covered shopping galleries are a treasure for strolling by and window shopping.
Rue de Boucher
Afterwards you can also walk through the famous Rue de Boucher. This is especially at best in the evening when all restaurants are open, than the street lights completely up. It’s such a vibrant neighbourhood. Waiters are outside trying to seduce you to come in and eat in their restaurants… How attractive this may look. Try to resist the temptation. These are often tourist traps! To have a nice meal, you can walk a little further to the next neighbourhood.
In a side street of rue de Boucher you will find the Délirium cafe. There you can drink all kinds of Belgian beers from the draft. The cafe is quite dark, but it has that typical interior you expect from a beer cafe. When you consider going there for some beer tasting, go down to the basement. It is much nicer and cosy to sit there. If you’re into belgian beer, than you should definitely consider doing a belgian beer tour in Brussels.
As I mentioned before, do not be tempted to dine in Rue de Boucher. Continue your path a little further to the trendy neighbourhood the Dansaert. In the Rue De Flandre you will find nice and cosy restaurants with delicious food and good value for your money. There are also trendy and nice bars where you can go for a drink after dinner.
Mont des Arts & Place Royal
The name speaks for itself. The Mont des Arts is a hill full of culture. If you are a real culture lover and like visiting museums, this is the perfect place for you. You can find the best museums over here, including the famous Museé Magritte.
On top of the hill you have a beautiful panorama view of Brussels. If you want a more exclusive view, be sure to eat or drink something in the MIM, the museum of musical instruments. This is also beautiful historical building with a restaurant on the top floor. There you have an excellent view of Brussels.
On the way to the top of the Mont de Arts you will find La Pharmacie Anglaise. This is a beautiful cocktail bar. It was originally a pharmacy. The cocktail bar is completely decorated in the theme of an old Pharmacy. The interior is simply magnificent and you can drink somewhat more special cocktails than in a regular cocktail bar. It’s so worth it. The cocktail bar is only open in the evening and if you want a spot it’s better to reserve in advance.
When you reach the top of Mont des Arts, you will arrive at the Place Royal. From there you can take two directions. One to the Palais Royal and a second one to the Sablon.
Palais Royal & Parc de Bruxelles
From the Place Royal it’s not far to visit the royal palace. It’s definitely worth to go for a short walk and see where the king of Belgium works. There is also a beautiful city park in front of the palace. Besides the palace there are many more beautiful castles near Brussels. So if you have some extra time to spend, you definitely need to check them out as well.
Petit & Grand Sablon
If you go to the other side from Place Royal you will reach the neighbourhood of the Sablon. The Petit Sablon is a small, but very beautifully landscaped park and a very nice place to just relax for a while. The Grand Sablon is the perfect area to do some shopping. You will find nice antique shops, shops with local specialties and nice, atmospheric bars. I really loved wandering through this neighbourhood.
If you walk a little further, you can take a lift to the Palais de Justice where you also have a panoramic view of Brussels. Personally, I didn’t think this was so spectacular. I prefer the panoramic view on top of the MIM.
Marolles & Place du Jeu de balle
If you want to do real bargains then don’t forget to go to Place de Jeu de balle for the daily flea market. It’s only open in the mornings. Every day it’s packed with beautiful vintage items. Sometimes prices are high, but don’t forget to negotiate prices. That’s the way to business over here!
In the neighbourhood around the Placce du Jeu de balle you will find authentic vintage and antique shops. It’s a nice place just to wander around. Don’t forget to threat yourself after shopping on an aperitif in a traditional, local Brussels bar.
Other things to do in Brussels
Of course there are many more sights in Brussels. Don’t forget to check the offers of Get your guide, the ideal travel partner for guided tours or for booking entrance tickets for the most special sights, below.
Video weekend in Brussels
Don’t forget to watch the compilation video about how we spent a weekend in Brussels
During our weekend in Brussels, we especially enjoyed exploring the city and the traditional, vibrant Brussels atmosphere.
Would you like more tips for a weekend in Brussels? Check ouyt my favorite travel guides below. These will help you plan an unforgettable city trip to Brussels.
Are you planning to visit more Belgian cities. Be sure to check out my blog posts abouthow to spend a day in Bruges , the best things to do in Damme, the most beautiful places in Ghent , where to stay in Ghent and this amazing city guide about Antwerp written by a local.
What can’t be missing from you weekend in Brussels? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading.