One day in Brussels, Belgium

ULTIMATE ONE DAY TRAVEL ITINERARY IN BRUSSELS

I recently visited Brussels on a day trip from London. It was a super cheap, budget-friendly trip to Brussels which began with the overnight Eurolines coach (bus) from London Victoria Terminus to Brussels. It was a tightly scheduled trip where I reached Brussels early morning (around 7:00AM) and my Eurolines coach to return to London was on the same night at around 10:00PM! I managed to quickly stop by the top attractions of Brussels and also visit a couple of museums & do a few experiences as well.

One day in Brussels Pinterest Things to do in Brussels Pinterest

Budget trip to Brussels Pinterest Top 10 sights to see in Brussels

WHAT TO DO IN BRUSSELS IN ONE DAY

STOP 1 - GRANDPLACE, BOURSE & BRUXELLA 1238
As soon as I reached Brussels and walked to the Grand Place to see the Flower Carpet, on my way I spotted this spectacular building. So I stopped to photograph it. As I walked around to see its sides, something more intriguing caught my attention. 
History of Bourse (Brussels Stock Exchange) & Bruxella 1238: The huge building is Brussels Stock Exchange which is called the Bourse. The ruins are called Bruxella 1238 and were once the Franciscan monastery built in 1238 and existed till 1799, upon which Bourse was built by architect Leon Suys. The Neo-Palladian architecture here is very similar to the Pantheon in Paris but much more ornate with Corinthian Columns, a Pediment etc. In 1874 it was inaugurated by King Leopold II. When it was built, the ground floor served as a market for oils, grains, metals etc and the upper floor had the Chamber of commerce, a banquet hall, a library etc and in course of time, by 1920, it became a full-fledged Stock Market! By 1996, since the stock market went online, the building went defunct and was leased to the city which has some offices, holds events, exhibitions etc.
While Bruxella 1238 is open for visits (though I didn't get to visit), the Stock Exchange is still an office and is accessible only by pre-booked guided tour (so I didn't get to visit that either). After a quick stop at Bourse & Bruxella 1238, I was off to Grand Place to witness the magic of Brussels Flower Carpet!

Where is Grand Place? (On Google Maps) Grand Place / Grote Markt
Grand Place tickets & opening hours: All about Flower Carpet event; All about Grand Place
Where is Bourse & Bruxella 1238 (On Google Maps) Bourse de Bruxelles
Bourse & Bruxella 1238 tickets & opening hours: Free to see from outside! 24 x 7
Nearest metro stop: De Broukere (450m (6 mins walk))
Nearest tram stop: Beurs (in front of Bourse)
Update 2021: Currently, Bourse along with Bruxella 1238 is closed for renovation. It is expected to open its doors in Spring 2023. Follow the website of Bourse Project for updates on this.

Bourse One day in Brussels Itinerary

Bourse One day in Brussels Itinerary
 
Bruxella 1238 One day in Brussels Itinerary

Bourse One day in Brussels Itinerary

STOP 2 - THE 3 PISSING STATUES OF BRUSSELS 
After seeing the Flower Carpet in Grand Place, I headed out to see one of the 2 famous icons of Brussels - the peeing boy called Manneken Pis. Guess what? There's not just a peeing boy, but he also has a sister and a dog! Yes, there's a peeing girl statue called Jeanekke Pis and peeing dog statue called the Zinneke Pis. All 3 are located just around Grand Place but in 3 different directions.

Where is Manneken Pis statue: All about the 3 peeing statues of Brussels

STOP 3 - THE BREWER'S HOUSE IN BRUSSELS (BELGIAN BREWERS MUSEUM / NATIONAL MUSEUM OF BEER)
My 3rd stop was also in Grand Place, at the Brewer's House. On one side of the Brussels Town Hall in Grand Place, is the Brussels Beer Museum aka The Brewer's House. It is a tiny little museum that houses all equipment for beer making. The entire museum is within an underground cellar and that just feels authentic. This was built in 1695-98. 
Introduction to Belgian Beers: Beer, as it is, is very old, and its origins can be dated back to the Mesopotamian civilization. Belgian beer is manufactured in 4 ways - top fermentation, bottom fermentation, spontaneous fermentation & combined fermentation. The varieties vary from strong to light to blond to amber to brown to fruity to bitter to acid and many more. Belgian beer culture not only stops in its varieties but also serving style. Each and every type of beer has its own type of glass and has to be served in a certain style. And of course, each type of beer has its own suggested combination of appetizers to go with.
Virtual Tour of the Brewer's House in Brussels (Belgian Brewers Museum): The Brewer's House in Brussels (Belgian Brewers Museum) is in 3 sections - the tasting area, old section & new section. The old section was very intriguing with the good-old huuuge caskets with its oar sized ladle, the old wooden barrels, ceramic containers & mugs. Another area in this section has the carts, whips, horseshoes, etc that were used in the horse carriages used to transport beer. Also, there was a fireplace with blowers. 
Beyond this, the next section is the modern section where the modern equipment used in beer manufacturing are kept on display. Here's also a video that shows the festivities associated with the opening of Pride Beer in Brussels as well as about beer manufacturing.
Is it worth visiting Brewer's House in Brussels (Belgian Brewers Museum)? However, if you've already been to Heineken Experience or Scotch Whisky Experience or other similar places, this may not feel that exquisite. It is really tiny. It is more like an exhibition of the equipment than a working demo. However, at €5 entry that includes a glass of authentic Belgian beer, it is totally worth it. Yeah, at the end of the visit, you get to taste a pint of one of their 3 options of beer, served from an old ceramic beer tap & this is the lightest one.

Where is The Brewer's House (Belgian Brewers Museum)(On Google Maps) -  Belgian Brewers Museum
How to reach The Brewer's House (Belgian Brewers Museum)? It is in Grand Place itself!
The Brewer's House (Belgian Brewers Museum) tickets: €5 (included in Visit Brussels Card)
The Brewer's House (Belgian Brewers Museum) opening hours: Wed-Fri: 11AM to 6PM; Sat: 12Noon to 6PM

Belgian Brewers Museum the Brewer's House Brussels

Belgian Brewers Museum the Brewer's House Brussels

Belgian Brewers Museum the Brewer's House Brussels

Belgian Brewers Museum the Brewer's House Brussels  Belgian Brewers Museum the Brewer's House Brussels
 
STOP 4 - CINQUANTERNAIRE ARCH
It was almost noon by this time, after experiencing the magic of Brussels Flower Carpet, sipping some authentic Belgian beer and stopping by at a few attractions. My next stop in Brussels was the Arcade du Cinquantenaire which is very similar to London's Wellington Arch or Paris' Arc de Triomphe or Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Very similar to London this too has a quadriga sculpture atop with a woman charioteer. Like most other architecture of the era, incl Grand Place, this too was built under Leopold II. It was designed by Gedeon Bordiau, & Charles Girault. 
There is a huge, curved colonnade (sequence of pillars with a roof atop) on either side. The most spectacular thing was that it was had a wall on one side which was filled with mosaic work made by Jean Delville in 1912-32. I couldn't go up there to see it up & close but got to see it only from the ground.
Update 2022: It is possible to even climb the Cinquantenaire arch. The entrance is through the War Heritage Museum located just under it. Make sure to ask for the direction to climb the arch at the museum's ticket office - it is different from the main section of the museum!

Where is Cinquantenaire Arch in Brussels (on Google Maps)Arcades du Cinquantenaire
How to reach Cinquanternaire Arch in Brussels? Nearest metro/tram/bus stop: Merode
Where is War Heritage Museum in Brussels: Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History
Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History Tickets: €10 (€5 for climbing the arch alone) - included in Museumpassmusées & Brussels Card
Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10AM to 5PM

Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History Brussels War Heritage Museum

Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History Brussels War Heritage Museum

Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History Brussels War Heritage Museum

Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History Brussels War Heritage Museum

STOP 5 - AUTOWORLD
Just opposite the Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History (War Heritage Museum), in the same complex is the Autoworld Museum, one of the top places to visit in Brussels for every automobile enthusiast. There are some cars that are on display permanently. Apart from those, many exhibitions keep happening time & again featuring various brands.
To begin with there's the section for the horse carriages! Most of the ground floor is split into various sections for cars from various countries, obviously including a big area for Belgian cars. The space for American cars is quite amusing with the Route 66 vibe to it! The entire first floor as several, several automobiles from late 19th C till date with a section for each decade since 1910. There's also a setup of a mechanic shed of the yesteryears including some motors, engines, petrol/diesel pumps etc. Obviously, there's an area for race cars as well as the influence of cars in Belgian comics! There are also some interesting accessories like the vintage hats of women with a net covering the face to protect them from dust when they're on the road in a car!!!
Apart from cars, there were also scooters, incl the Vespa of 1957. There was a 1953 Solex, a 49cc bike, which was the Belgian equivalent of India's TVS 50.
Here are some of the cars in Autoworld that caught my attention - When I saw the 1958 Cadillac I couldn't stop drooling!! This one was in fact from the fleet of King Baudouin. There was a special exhibition of Alpine cars when I visited, displaying cars from the 1950s till date. Esp Alpine M63 is just a dream! There were also the F1 cars incl Renault Alpine. That's a Cadillac S63 convertible of 1959. Just spectacular. Errrmmmm... Does anyone want to gift it to me??? Yeah, I'm influenced by the TV show 'Counting Cars'! Have you watched it?
Update 2022: Now, since 2017 I've been living in Brussels and now Atyudarini has entered our lives as well. So we're regular visitors of Autoworld museum. We've been there atleast 30-40 times so far in the last few years, attended all their different exhibitions, thanks to Museumpassmusées. Here's our evolution & the growth of Atyudarini in Autoworld over the last couple of years on my Instagram!

Where is Autoworld in Brussels (on Google Maps)Autoworld
How to reach Autoworld in Brussels? Nearest metro/tram/bus stop: Merode
Autoworld Brussels Tickets: €15 (included in Museumpassmusées & Brussels Card)
Autoworld Brussels Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 10AM to 5PM; Weekends: 10AM to 6PM

Top things to do in Brussels visit Autoworld

Top things to do in Brussels visit Autoworld

Top things to do in Brussels visit Autoworld

Top things to do in Brussels visit Autoworld

STOP 6 - STOCLET HOUSE / PALAIS STOCLET (from outside)
A short tram ride from Autoworld took me to Stoclet House, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brussels. This is the home to some exquisite Art Nouveau and Art Deco collections including the famous Embrace of Gustave Klimt. Unfortunately, this is private property and is never open to the public! I had a quick look at it from the outside, took a few photos and headed to my next destination.

Where is Stoclet House: Read all about Stoclet House

STOP 7 - HOTEL TASSEL & HOTEL SOLVAY (from outside)
I headed to Hotel Tassel and Hotel Solvay which are 2 of the 4 buildings listed together as the Major Townhouses of Victor Horta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, both these buildings can only be visited from outside and Horta Museum wasn't open on the day I visited.
Update 2021: Since Jan 2021, Hotel Solvay has been open for the general public to visit. More details in the link below. Hotel Tassel is open only during the BANAD festival and Brussels Heritage days (Patrimoine Bruxelles). 

Where are Hotel Tassel & Hotel Solvay: All about Major Townhouses of Victor Horta

STOP 8 - BELGIAN CHOCOLATE VILLAGE - THE BEST CHOCOLATE MUSEUM IN BRUSSELS
There are 2 specialities when it comes to Belgium's Street Food - beer & chocolate. After visiting the Belgian Brewers Museum, it is time to visit the Belgian Chocolate Village Museum. 
Virtual tour of Belgian Chocolate Village Museum: This is located very close to the Koekelberg Basilica and is on 3 floors. An audio guide takes you through the entire museum. It begins with a short documentary film on how cocoa beans are cultivated in Ghana, through the entire process and the manufacture of chocolate in Belgium in all the detail. This room also has samples of all stages.
Beyond this is another room filled with various types of chocolates, various brands of chocolates worldwide, various ways in which chocolate is cooked worldwide etc. 3 different huge sculptures were there made of chocolate depicting 3 important monuments of Brussels - Arcade du Cinquantenaire, Atomium and Basilica made of chocolate from 90-200kg.
There's a conservatory where Ghana like temperature and humidity are maintained and few cocoa plants are grown here. Another section shows the evolution of chocolate for ages. There's a cafe that also serves way too many types of chocolates! 
Chocolate making demo/workshop in Brussels Belgian Chocolate Village Museum: The best section was however the workshop and demo by Sammy Lataief who also owns La Fabrique àrtisan Chocolat. He was one incredible guy and to watch him work with his molten chocolate was just yummy!!! As he particularly specifies the chocolate has to be liquid but it has to be at room temperature and not warm or hot which would give it a crack as it hardens. He demonstrated the making of hollow dark chocolate to make truffles. I'm losing my words now. It was just divine to watch the chocolate being poured in the moulds and as soon as it begins to harden, pouring it out back to create the hollow!!!! It was divine. Yes, there is a board that says not to put the finger into the molten chocolate machine. I didn't. But the temptation is way too hard to resist.
He prepared me a few dark chocolates topped with spices incl chilli powder, pepper etc when I said I'm from India. Spices & India go hand in hand! And as he topped every choco chip with 1 variety of spice, I asked to make one with all spices put together and he made it for me. It was way too yummy!!! The sweet yet sour dark chocolate, the spiciness of the spices put together, it was an explosion in the palate!!! 

Where is Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in Brussels (on Google Maps)Belgian Chocolate Village
How to reach Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in BrusselsNearest metro/tram/bus stop: Simonis
Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in Brussels Tickets: €8 (included in Brussels Card)
Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in Brussels Opening Hours: Tue-Fri: 9AM to 6PM; Weekends: 10AM to 6PM

Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in Brussels

Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in Brussels

Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in Brussels

Belgian Chocolate Village Museum in Brussels

STOP 9 - KOEKELBERG BASILICA - NATIONAL BASILICA OF SACRED HEART IN KOEKELBERG
My 2nd last stop for the day was the Koekelberg Basilica. This is a short walk from the Belgian Chocolate Village Museum, on the other side of Park Elisabeth. It is an Art Deco marvel and one of the largest churches in the world where luckily I witnessed a wedding with Gregorian Chants playing! After being amazed there, it was already evening and I barely had time for my last stop!


STOP 10 - ATOMIUM
The last entry at Atomium is at 5:30PM and it was almost 5 by the time I exited Koekelberg Basilica and it takes almost 30 minutes by public transport to reach Atomium. I ran, I mean, I literally ran from the Basilica to the tram stop and then again ran from the tram stop near Atomium to its entrance and I made it!!! I made it just before the last few minutes of closure. 
After getting to climb Atomium (& also have a view of Mini Europe Brussels from atop), it was already 6PM and the time for its closure. I spent another 30 minutes just seeing and photographing Atomium from outside. Then I passed by the Royal Chateau du Laeken and Japanese Pavilion before heading to De Wand tram stop to head back to Brussels Nord to get my coach to get back to London.

Where is Atomium? Read all about Atomium


HOW TO VISIT BRUSSELS IN ONE DAY 
As I mentioned in the earlier post, for any traveller, the best way to explore Belgium easily is by getting the Brussels Card + STIB which gives free entry to 37 points of interest and discounted entry in many others plus unlimited public transport for the days. Make sure you buy the Brussels Card with Public transport and not Hop-on Hop-off. (Update 2021-2022: Due to the Covid lockdown measures, the Hop-on Hop-off has been reduced to a bus tour without an option to get off at all, which is definitely kinda pointless!). Certain areas of the city are more accessible by bus or tram than metro like Koekelberg, Uccle etc. It is very easy to keep track of the easiest route and timings, using Google Maps.

P.S: I was invited by VisitBrussels to experience the city for review purposeshowever, the opinions are my own and this post does not advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

14 comments:

  1. Love the sculpture and the patina on it

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  2. I am just touring around the Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. I enjoy seeing those luxuries which I couldn't find or have in my life. It feels good to have a virtual travel around the globe especially in the highly urbanized city of Brussels.

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  3. I am also drooling over the Cadillac! Imagine what a great photoshoot we can do with it ;) You should make your photographs bigger.... The architecture is so beautiful, it deserves to take more space on my screen!

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  4. Great experience. I think going to ruins is a good thing because it reminds us of past civilizations. There are so many things in the past which are great and could be a good source to base our present and future decisions upon.

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  5. I love seeing the vintage cars over there. It's nice to appreciate the heritage and every intricate detail of their stock exchange.

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  6. The Belgian stock exchange building is so elegant that it looks like that is already the royal palace. Those vintage cars at the end looks so good! They really do not make cars the same anymore.

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  7. Seeing those old buildings, the ruins, and the classic cars really had me in awe! It makes me want to go there now! I hope to visit this place someday. It has plenty of character. :-)

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  8. I love ruins! And I love cars! It must be so exciting to live in a country where every corner seems like a picture perfect painting. I hope to visit Belgium someday. :)

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  9. My Hubby had been to this place and was telling me about its beauty. Your photo with the Cadillac is awesome.

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  10. This building reminded me very much about Singapore's Parliament (somehow). Autoworld is a place most guys will love to visit as there are so many vintage cars. I know my idol Jimmy Lin will most probably like this place alot~

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  11. I can tell you had a lot of fun. I really should make an effort to go to an auto show as I love cars too.

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  12. I love that vintage car, me and my hubby love to collect the vintage stuff. Beautiful photos and you have enjoyed the place.

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  13. I can see you are into your cars more than me, I'm impressed how knowledgeable you are about them. The Brussels stock exchange is a impressive building with impressive history, I was recently in Brussels, I hope I photographed it too, I will be jealous if not!

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