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How to Spend One Day in Brussels

If you’re reading this then, like me, you love to travel. That being the case, you’ll probably also agree that when opportunity comes knocking, you should open the door! That’s what I did in June 2022 when Eurostar had a sale. A friend and I took advantage and headed off to spend one day in Brussels, Belgium’s vibrant capital city. I’d been through Brussels en route to Brugge many years ago but this was to be my first actual visit.

After arriving from London into Brussels Midi station and jumping on another train to Brussels Central station, we had roughly 6 hours to fill so here’s what we did:

The Grand Place

It goes without saying that all roads lead here. This historic centre of Brussels is home to the ornate Town Hall, the King’s House, guildhalls and houses. Construction of the Grand-Place began in the 11th century. Although much of it was destroyed in 1695 during the Nine Years War, the Town Hall, which dates from the 1400s, survived French bombardment.

The Kings House is located opposite the Town Hall. Back in the 12th century there was a wooden building on that spot selling bread. In the 15th century, the wooden building was replaced. It was then rebuilt in the 16th century and restored again after bombardment in 1695. There have also been subsequent restorations. Today it houses the city museum.

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in and around the Grand Place and surrounding streets, so you won’t go hungry or thirsty!

Manneken Pis and Jeanneke Pis

Located southwest of the Town Hall is Manneken Pis, the famous ‘wee’ (61cm tall) statue of a urinating boy. The earliest mention of the existence of Manneken Pis was in documents dating from 1451-1452. This statute dates from 1965 although earlier ones dates from the 1600s. He attracts a large crowd of onlookers despite his diminutive size and apparently has an outfit for every occasion!

In the interests of equality, we went looking for Jeanneke Pis – the feminist answer to Manneken Pis! Commissioned in 1985 and erected in 1987, she is 50cm high. Iron bars protect her.

Belgian Waffles

How could we not indulge in Belgian waffles! With a huge range of toppings to choose from, decision making is a challenge, but I landed on this beauty – I chose the strawberries because they’re healthy!

Belgian waffle with cream, strawberries and melted chocolate

In addition to Belgian waffles, no trip to Brussels is complete without mussels (moules) and fries (frites) (and a beer – it was a hot day!).

Cathedral of St Michael & St Gudula

A short walk from the Grand Place is the medieval Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Michael & St Gudula.

Construction of the Cathedral took place between the 11th to 15th centuries with the facade and towers built in 1485. The Cathedral is a designated historic monument.

Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Michael & St Gudula

Across from the Cathedral is a lovely quiet park where locals were taking their lunch and where tourists could catch some respite from what was a hot, sunny day!

Street Scenes

Although we were on a tight timetable, Brussels is a vibrant city with much to see both at street level and if you look up.

The shopping streets were heaving with people, walking tours were out in force and the weather made for a busy, exhausting but enjoyable visit.

Have you been to Brussels?

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