When people talk about Belgium, two things come to mind: french fries and beer. This sounded like an excellent combination, so I finally visited the country last December. I only had a couple of days and Brussels is the perfect city to spend a weekend. Also, it makes a great stop before going to Bruges. From my experience, I share the perfect itinerary with places to visit in Brussels in two days:
Start with a Free Walking Tour
This extensive tour covers the most important sights in the city. Unfortunately, I think it was a little bit longer. It lasts almost three hours, with a 20-minute pause in a bar that, in my opinion, isn’t necessary. Towards the end, the guide went depth into the history, but I learned a lot of fun facts through the tour.
And yes, in the Free Walking Tour, it’s included to see the Mannekin Pis, the sculpture of a boy peeing into a fountain.
Directions: Hop off at Bourse station (metro and tram lines 3, 4 and 42) walk two blocks – you’ll see signs on the street that will lead you to the Grand Place (Main Square).
I did the afternoon tour, but considering how long it is, I recommend that you have a good breakfast and do the tour at 11 am instead.
Places to visit in Brussels: Schaerbeek Museum of Beer
By far, one of my top 5 favourite museums in the world. Although it’s small, the information inside was precious. For example, I learned how beer is made from scratch. They have a detailed exhibition of Belgian beers (more than 300!), including some that aren’t produced anymore.
Along with the beer bottles, you see the corresponding glass – every Belgian beer has a specially designed glass. How cool is that? With the entrance fee, it’s included half a pint of beer specially made for the Museum. That beer was the best one I’ve ever tasted. The only downside it’s the limited working hours, so keep that in mind when organising your trip.
Working hours: Wednesday and Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm
Directions: Take tram 92, hop-off at Eglise Saint-Servais, and follow the signs. The Museum is within a 5-minute walk.
Places to visit in Brussels: Grand Place – Grote Markt
If you do the Free Walking Tour, you’ll have already seen this beautiful square. However, I was impressed with the detailed architecture of the two main buildings that encircle it: the city’s Town Hall and the King’s House (including the Museum of Brussels). I came back at night, and it was stunning. Make sure you don’t miss it and prepare your camera for many pictures.
A little fun fact about the construction of the Town Hall. The architect, Jan van Ruysbroek, made the plans, but he wasn’t in Brussels to check the making of the building. He only came back when he was informed that the Town Hall was finished. He went to the middle of the square and noticed that the structure wasn’t symmetrical. The belfry was located a little bit more to the right. Thinking that he made a mistake when making plans, van Ruysbroek climbed to the top of the belfry and committed. Although, in reality, his plans were okay, the construction workers made a mistake.
Okay, it isn’t a really fun fact, but it’s not something you’ll find in a textbook, right?
Places to visit in Brussels: Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat
This Museum is fantastic. Included in the entrance fee, you get to eat all the chocolate you want from different regions while learning about the history, how it’s made, produced and the different varieties of chocolate. The amount of chocolate I ate that day was out of this world. Also, you can see how chocolate figures are made by a chocolatier who does a demonstration (and a degustation) in front of you.
I have to admit that his Museum has a special place in my heart. There is a part of the Museum dedicated to Venezuela – my country is famous for the quality of cocoa beans. They even had some videos of the workers explaining the process of picking up the seeds. Also, it was great to listen to my language and my accent in Belgium.
Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am-5 pm
Price: 6€ – 5€ for students
Directions: It’s pretty close to Grand Place. Hop off at Bourse (metro and tram station) and follow the signs – a fantastic thing this city has is they have signs everywhere that guide to the main attractions.
Places to visit in Brussels: Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
After the Museum, you need to walk to digest all the chocolate you ate. Take your time to stroll around the Royal Galeries of Saint-Hubert, a touristy shopping arcade. During the Free Walking Tour, I learned that these Galeries were built after the ones made in Milan and St Petersburg. I really enjoyed doing some window shopping. It was perfect to kill some time before heading to the last, and in my opinion, the best attraction in Brussels.
Places to visit in Brussels: The Atomium
I saw it for the first time on the tram, and I instantly loved it! It’s a colossal aluminium building representing an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Hence its name. Once you buy your ticket, you take the elevator to get to one of the 9 spheres, offering an impressive 360° degrees view. Once you’re finished, you make your way to the rest of the spheres, where you’ll find different exhibitions, from the history of the building to furniture design.
Working hours: Monday to Sunday – 10 am-6 pm
Price: 11€ – 8€ for students
You should probably end your night in a nice bar and taste a few more Belgium beers. Cheers!