3 Days in Brussels: The Perfect Brussels Itinerary

Discover the heart of Europe through art, architecture, and mouthwatering cuisine in Belgium's captivating capital. Follow this 3-day Brussels itinerary for best results!

West Parker
By
West Parker
July 18, 2024

When my wife Sarah and I told our friends we were planning to spend three days in Brussels, we got some raised eyebrows. "Isn't that too long?" they asked. "Won't you run out of things to do?" Oh, how wrong they were! As we soon discovered, three days in Brussels is barely enough to scratch the surface of this vibrant, multifaceted city.

From the moment we stepped off the train at Brussels Central Station, we were captivated by the city's unique blend of historic charm and modern European flair. The aroma of fresh waffles wafted through the air, mingling with the scent of strong Belgian coffee. Street artists sketched caricatures of tourists in the shadow of centuries-old buildings. And everywhere we looked, there was art - from comic book murals splashed across walls to world-class museums housing masterpieces.

As the de facto capital of the European Union, Brussels pulsates with an energy that's hard to describe but impossible to ignore. It's a city where you can savor a gourmet meal prepared by a Michelin-starred chef, then grab a cone of crispy frites from a street vendor. Where you can marvel at the opulent Grand Place one moment, then chuckle at the cheeky Manneken Pis statue the next.

In this 3-day Brussels itinerary, I'll share how Sarah and I made the most of our time in this captivating city. We'll explore its rich history, indulge in its world-famous cuisine, and uncover some hidden gems that even surprised the locals we met. Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or just someone looking for a unique European getaway, Brussels has something for you.

So, grab a Belgian beer (or a hot chocolate if that's more your style), and let's dive into the perfect way to spend 3 days in Brussels. Trust me, by the end of this guide, you'll be wondering if three days is enough!

Pre-Trip Planning: Setting the Stage for Your Brussels Adventure

Before we jump into the day-by-day itinerary, let's cover some essential information to help you plan your trip to Brussels. After all, a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience.

When to Visit Brussels

Brussels is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences and tolerance for crowds (and rain - this is Belgium, after all!).

  • Spring (March to May): This is when Sarah and I visited, and we loved it. The weather is mild, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 17°C (46°F to 63°F). You'll see beautiful blooms in the city's parks, and there are fewer tourists compared to summer. Pack layers and a light rain jacket, just in case.
  • Summer (June to August): This is peak tourist season. The weather is warmer (15°C to 23°C / 59°F to 73°F), and the city buzzes with outdoor events and festivals. However, be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.
  • Autumn (September to November): Another great time to visit. The crowds thin out, and you can enjoy beautiful fall foliage in the city's parks. Temperatures range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).
  • Winter (December to February): It's cold (1°C to 7°C / 34°F to 45°F) and often rainy, but Brussels is magical during the holiday season. The Christmas markets are a sight to behold, and you can warm up with hot chocolate and Belgian waffles.

Getting There and Around

Brussels is well-connected to major European cities by train and plane. We flew into Brussels Airport (BRU) and took a direct train to Brussels Central Station, which was quick and convenient.

Once you're in the city, you'll find that Brussels has an excellent public transportation system. Here are your options:

  • Metro: The quickest way to travel within the city center. It operates from 5 AM to midnight, with night buses on weekends.
  • Trams: Faster than buses and cover 147 km of the city.
  • Buses: Good for reaching areas not covered by metro lines.
  • Trains: Ideal for day trips to other Belgian cities.

Pro tip: Get a MOBIB Card, a rechargeable card that works for all public transport. It costs €5 and will save you time and hassle.

For real-time updates and journey planning, download the STIB-MIVB app. It's a lifesaver when navigating the city!

Where to Stay

Brussels has a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and style. Here are some neighborhoods and hotels we recommend:

  1. City Center (Pentagone): Stay here if you want to be close to major attractions like the Grand Place.
    • Recommended: Hotel Amigo - Luxurious option steps away from Grand Place.
  2. Ixelles: A trendy area popular among young professionals and students.
    • Recommended: Made in Louise - Charming boutique hotel with personalized service.
  3. Saint-Gilles: Up-and-coming area with a bohemian vibe.
    • Recommended: Vintage Hotel Brussels - Unique, retro-themed rooms.
  4. European Quarter: Great for business travelers or those interested in EU institutions.
    • Recommended: Thon Hotel EU - Modern hotel close to EU buildings.

We stayed at Made in Louise in Ixelles and loved it. The neighborhood had a great local feel, and we were still within easy reach of all the main attractions.

What to Pack

Brussels weather can be unpredictable, so it's best to be prepared. Here's what we recommend:

  • Comfortable walking shoes (you'll be doing a lot of walking!)
  • Umbrella or light rain jacket
  • Layers for variable weather
  • Adapter for European electrical outlets
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera (trust me, you'll want to capture everything)
  • Light jacket or sweater for cool evenings

Safety Guidelines

Brussels is generally a safe city, but as with any urban area, it's good to take some precautions:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas.
  • Keep your valuables secure and be wary of pickpockets.
  • Use official taxis or ride-sharing apps rather than unlicensed cabs.
  • Learn a few basic French or Dutch phrases - locals appreciate the effort!
  • In case of emergency, dial 112 for police, fire, or medical assistance.

Now that we've covered the basics, are you ready to explore Brussels? Let's dive into our 3-day itinerary!

Day 1: Historic Heart and European Flair

Morning: Grand Place and Surrounding Area

Tourists exploring Brussels' Grand Place, surrounded by ornate guild houses and the Town Hall
The heart of Brussels beats in Grand Place. I could spend hours here just soaking in the incredible architecture!

Rise and shine, it's time to start your Brussels adventure! We're kicking off our 3-day Brussels itinerary with a bang by exploring the historic heart of the city. Trust me, you'll want to have your camera ready for this.

Our first stop is the Grand Place, and let me tell you, it's grand indeed. As we stepped into this UNESCO World Heritage site, Sarah and I were immediately awestruck. The square is surrounded by opulent guildhalls, the impressive Brussels Town Hall, and the Museum of the City of Brussels. The intricate gold detailing on the buildings gleamed in the morning sun, creating a scene that looked like it was straight out of a fairy tale.

Pro tip: Get here early to beat the crowds and catch the morning light. We arrived around 8 AM and had the place almost to ourselves for a solid hour.

After soaking in the beauty of Grand Place, take a stroll down the narrow cobblestone streets radiating from the square. You'll find charming chocolate shops, cafes, and boutiques. We stumbled upon a tiny cafe called La Maison des Maîtres Chocolatiers Belges, where we indulged in what might be the best hot chocolate of our lives. Seriously, it was like drinking liquid velvet.

Manneken Pis

Famous Manneken Pis statue in Brussels, small bronze fountain sculpture of a urinating boy
Manneken Pis may be smaller than you expect, but his cheeky charm is undeniable. Don't miss his ever-changing wardrobe!

Next up, just a short walk from Grand Place, is the infamous Manneken Pis. Yes, it's a small statue of a peeing boy. Yes, it's smaller than you might expect. And yes, it's absolutely worth seeing because... well, how often do you get to see a 400-year-old peeing statue that's dressed up in different costumes throughout the year? When we visited, he was dressed as a firefighter!

  • Location: Grand Place, 1000 Brussels
  • Hours: The square is always open, but aim for early morning for the best experience
  • Admission: Free
  • Why Visit: It's the beating heart of Brussels and one of the most beautiful squares in Europe
  • Insider Tip: Check the Grand Place events calendar. If you're lucky, you might catch the biennial Flower Carpet event in August, where the entire square is covered with a stunning carpet of begonias!

Afternoon: European Quarter and Mont des Arts

After lunch (may we suggest moules-frites at Chez Léon), it's time to fast-forward a few centuries and explore Brussels' role as the capital of the European Union.

Head to the European Quarter, where you'll find the impressive buildings of the European Parliament, European Commission, and Council of the European Union. Even if you're not a political junkie, the architecture alone is worth seeing. The sleek, modern designs provide a stark contrast to the medieval beauty of the old town.

Interactive exhibit at Parlamentarium in Brussels, showcasing EU history and function
The Parlamentarium offers a fascinating glimpse into EU politics. The 360° digital surround screen is particularly impressive!

If you're interested in learning more about the EU, you can visit the Parlamentarium, the European Parliament's visitors' center. It offers a fascinating, interactive look at the history and workings of the EU. Sarah and I spent a good two hours here and left with a much better understanding of European politics.

  • Location: Parlamentarium, Willy Brandt Building, Rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Brussels
  • Hours: Mon 13:00-18:00, Tue-Fri 9:00-18:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-18:00
  • Admission: Free
  • Why Visit: It's a unique opportunity to understand the inner workings of the EU
  • Insider Tip: Don't miss the 360° digital surround screen that places you in the heart of European Parliament action!

Mont des Arts

Panoramic view of Brussels from Mont des Arts, showcasing cityscape and architecture
The view from Mont des Arts is breathtaking, especially at sunset. It's the perfect spot for a romantic evening stroll.

From the European Quarter, make your way to Mont des Arts. This "hill of the arts" offers one of the best views in Brussels. As you climb the stairs, you'll be rewarded with a panoramic vista of the city, with the spire of the Town Hall rising above the rooftops.

The area around Mont des Arts is a cultural hotspot, home to several museums. We chose to visit the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, which houses an impressive collection of Belgian and European art. From Flemish Primitives to Magritte, it's a journey through the history of art.

  • Location: Mont des Arts, 1000 Brussels
  • Hours: Always open for the garden, museum hours vary
  • Admission: Free for the garden view, museum prices vary
  • Why Visit: For the stunning city views and world-class art museums
  • Insider Tip: Time your visit for sunset. The view of the city bathed in golden light is unforgettable.

Evening: Beer Tasting and Dinner in Sainte-Catherine

As the day winds down, it's time to indulge in one of Belgium's most famous exports: beer. Head to the trendy Sainte-Catherine neighborhood, known for its seafood restaurants and vibrant nightlife.

Extensive selection of beer taps at Delirium Café in Brussels, showcasing variety of Belgian beers
With over 2,000 beers to choose from, Delirium Café is a beer lover's paradise. The pink elephant logo is iconic!

We started our evening at Delirium Café, which holds the Guinness World Record for the most beers offered (over 2,000!). The sheer variety can be overwhelming, but the knowledgeable staff are always happy to make recommendations based on your taste preferences.

  • Location: Impasse de la Fidélité 4A, 1000 Brussels
  • Hours: Daily 10:00-04:00
  • Why Visit: To sample some of the 2,000+ beers on offer
  • Insider Tip: Try the Delirium Tremens, the café's namesake beer. It's strong (8.5% ABV) but delicious!

For dinner, we recommend Le Pré Salé, a cozy bistro known for its excellent seafood. After all that beer tasting, their hearty fish stew is just what you need.

As you head back to your hotel, take a moment to appreciate the city at night. The illuminated Grand Place is particularly magical after dark.

Day 1 of our Brussels itinerary is packed, but it gives you a great introduction to the city's blend of history, culture, and culinary delights. Rest up, because tomorrow we're diving into the world of Art Nouveau and surrealism!

Day 2: Art Nouveau and Surrealism

Morning: Victor Horta Museum and Art Nouveau Walk

Art Nouveau interior of Horta Museum in Brussels, showcasing intricate designs and furnishings
Stepping into the Horta Museum is like traveling back in time. The fluid lines and intricate ironwork are simply stunning.

Good morning, art lovers! Day 2 of our 3-day Brussels itinerary is all about immersing ourselves in the city's rich artistic heritage. We're starting with Art Nouveau, a style that flourished in Brussels at the turn of the 20th century, leaving an indelible mark on the city's architecture.

Our first stop is the Horta Museum, located in the former house and studio of Victor Horta, the pioneer of Art Nouveau. As soon as Sarah and I stepped inside, we were transported to another era. The fluid lines, intricate ironwork, and harmonious blend of colors are simply breathtaking.

What makes this museum special is that it's not just a collection of art pieces, but a work of art itself. Every detail, from the mosaic floors to the stained-glass windows, was designed by Horta. It's like stepping into the mind of a genius.

  • Location: Rue Américaine 25, 1060 Brussels
  • Hours: Tue-Sun 14:00-17:30 (closed Mondays)
  • Admission: €10 for adults, €5 for students
  • Why Visit: To experience a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture from the inside
  • Insider Tip: Book your tickets online in advance. The museum limits the number of visitors to preserve the house, so it can sell out, especially on weekends.

After the museum, take a self-guided Art Nouveau walk through the nearby neighborhoods of Saint-Gilles and Ixelles. We used a map from the tourist office, but there are also great apps available. Some highlights include:

  1. Hôtel Tassel (6 Rue Paul-Emile Janson) - Horta's first Art Nouveau building
  2. Hôtel Solvay (224 Avenue Louise) - One of Horta's most impressive townhouses
  3. Maison Cauchie (5 Rue des Francs) - Known for its stunning sgraffito facade

As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for the characteristic whiplash curves and nature-inspired motifs of Art Nouveau. Even ordinary apartment buildings often feature beautiful Art Nouveau details.

Afternoon: Magritte Museum and Royal Museums of Fine Arts

Surrealist painting in Magritte Museum Brussels, showcasing iconic imagery and style
Magritte's work never fails to challenge reality. "The Empire of Light" left me pondering long after I left the museum.
Art gallery in Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, showcasing paintings and sculptures
From Flemish Primitives to Magritte, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts offer a journey through art history. The Bruegel room is a must-see!

After lunch (we loved the fresh sandwiches at Pistolet Original), it's time to dive into the surreal world of René Magritte at the Magritte Museum.

Magritte, Belgium's most famous surrealist painter, has a way of making you question reality with his mind-bending images. The museum houses the world's largest collection of his works, taking you on a journey through his life and artistic evolution.

Sarah and I spent hours here, marveling at iconic paintings like "The Empire of Light" and "The Treachery of Images" (you know, the pipe that's not a pipe). The audio guide is excellent and really helps you understand the stories and ideas behind Magritte's enigmatic works.

  • Location: Rue de la Régence 3, 1000 Brussels
  • Hours: Tue-Fri 10:00-17:00, Sat-Sun 11:00-18:00 (closed Mondays)
  • Admission: €10 for adults, free for those under 18
  • Why Visit: To see the largest collection of Magritte's surrealist masterpieces in the world
  • Insider Tip: Look out for Magritte's early advertising work - it's fascinating to see how he applied his surrealist ideas to commercial projects!

If you're still hungry for more art (and trust me, in Brussels, you can never have too much), the Magritte Museum is part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Your ticket gives you access to the Old Masters Museum and the Modern Museum as well. We particularly loved the Bruegel room in the Old Masters Museum - seeing these iconic Flemish paintings in person was a real "pinch me" moment.

Evening: Dinner at a Michelin-starred Restaurant

Beautifully plated gourmet dish at Bon Bon Restaurant in Brussels, showcasing innovative Belgian cuisine
Dining at Bon Bon is a true culinary adventure. Chef Christophe Hardiquest's innovative take on Belgian cuisine is mind-blowing!

After a day of artistic indulgence, why not treat yourself to some culinary art? Brussels has a thriving food scene, including several Michelin-starred restaurants. We splurged on dinner at Bon Bon, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant that offers a creative, seasonally-changing menu.

Chef Christophe Hardiquest's innovative approach to Belgian cuisine is nothing short of magical. Each dish is a work of art, both visually and in terms of flavor. The standout for us was a dish that playfully reimagined the classic Belgian frites - it looked nothing like fries but captured their essence perfectly.

  • Location: Avenue de Tervueren 453, 1150 Brussels
  • Hours: Tue-Sat 19:00-21:30 (closed Sundays and Mondays)
  • Price Range: €€€€ (it's a splurge, but worth it for a special occasion)
  • Why Visit: For a gastronomic experience that elevates Belgian cuisine to an art form
  • Insider Tip: Make reservations well in advance, and opt for the wine pairing if your budget allows - the sommelier's selections are impeccable.

If Bon Bon is booked up or a bit too pricey, Bozar Restaurant is a fantastic alternative. It has one Michelin star and offers a more affordable menu, especially at lunch.

As you return to your hotel, take a moment to reflect on the day. From Art Nouveau to surrealism to modernist cuisine, you've experienced the evolution of Belgian creativity across different mediums. Pretty amazing for just one day in Brussels, right?

Day 3: Comic Book Culture and Iconic Landmarks

Morning: Comic Book Route and Belgian Comic Strip Center

Large Tintin mural on building façade in Brussels, part of the Comic Book Route
Stumbling upon these larger-than-life comic murals around Brussels is like a fun treasure hunt. The Tintin one is my favorite!

Welcome to the final day of our 3-day Brussels itinerary! Today, we're diving into one of Belgium's most beloved cultural exports: comic books. Did you know that Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometer than any other country in the world? From Tintin to the Smurfs, some of the most iconic comic characters were born right here.

Start your day by picking up a map of the Comic Book Route from your hotel or a tourist information center. This unique urban trail features over 50 murals of famous Belgian comic characters painted on buildings throughout the city center.

Sarah and I had a blast wandering the streets, stumbling upon these larger-than-life murals. Some of our favorites included:

  1. Tintin and Snowy (Rue de l'Etuve) - Just a stone's throw from Manneken Pis
  2. Broussaille (Rue du Marché au Charbon) - The first mural of the Comic Strip Route
  3. Lucky Luke (Rue de la Buanderie) - The cowboy who shoots faster than his shadow

It's a fun, free way to explore the city and appreciate Brussels' comic heritage. Plus, it takes you through some charming neighborhoods you might otherwise miss.

After you've worked up an appetite chasing comic book heroes, stop for breakfast at Peck 47. Their savory waffles are a delicious twist on the Belgian classic.

Belgian Comic Strip Center

Comic exhibits at Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels, showcasing original artwork and character displays
The Belgian Comic Strip Center is a nostalgic trip through childhood memories. Don't miss the section on Hergé, the creator of Tintin!

Next, head to the Belgian Comic Strip Center. Housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau building designed by Victor Horta (remember him from yesterday?), this museum is a treasure trove for comic lovers.

  • Location: Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Brussels
  • Hours: Daily 10:00-18:00
  • Admission: €12 for adults, €6 for children (7-12)
  • Why Visit: To dive deep into the history and art of Belgian comics
  • Insider Tip: Don't miss the rooftop terrace for a great view of Brussels!

The museum takes you through the history of Belgian comics, from their early days to the present. You'll see original artwork, learn about the comic creation process, and even find out how Belgian comics influenced artists around the world. Sarah was particularly fascinated by the section on Hergé, the creator of Tintin.

Afternoon: Atomium and Mini-Europe

Iconic Atomium structure in Brussels, large metal spheres connected by tubes against blue sky
The Atomium looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie. The view from the top sphere is incredible!

After lunch (we recommend Nona for amazing Neapolitan-style pizza), it's time to visit one of Brussels' most iconic landmarks: the Atomium.

Built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, the Atomium is a 102-meter-tall model of an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times. It's a retro-futuristic marvel that looks like something straight out of a sci-fi comic book.

  • Location: Place de l'Atomium 1, 1020 Brussels
  • Hours: Daily 10:00-18:00 (ticket office closes at 17:30)
  • Admission: €16 for adults, €8 for children (6-11)
  • Why Visit: For panoramic views of Brussels and a unique journey through time
  • Insider Tip: Book your tickets online to skip the queue, especially in peak season.

You can take an elevator up to the top sphere for panoramic views of Brussels, then explore the exhibitions in the other spheres. There's a permanent exhibition about the 1950s and the World's Fair, as well as temporary exhibitions on various themes.

Mini-Europe

Miniature replicas of famous European landmarks at Mini-Europe park in Brussels
Mini-Europe is surprisingly fun and educational. Watching the miniature Mount Vesuvius erupt was a highlight!

Right next to the Atomium is Mini-Europe, a park featuring miniature replicas of famous European landmarks. It might sound a bit kitschy, but trust me, it's surprisingly fun and educational.

  • Location: Avenue du Football 1, 1020 Brussels
  • Hours: Vary by season, check website
  • Admission: €17 for adults, €13.50 for children (4-11)
  • Why Visit: To "tour Europe" in just a couple of hours
  • Insider Tip: Get the combined ticket for Atomium and Mini-Europe to save a few euros.

Sarah and I had a blast trying to identify all the landmarks and learning fun facts about each country. Did you know that the miniature Vesuvius in the Italy section actually erupts? Or that the Berlin Wall replica falls every hour? It's details like these that make Mini-Europe more than just a collection of small buildings.

Evening: Farewell Dinner with Traditional Belgian Dishes

For your last evening in Brussels, let's go traditional. Head to Aux Armes de Bruxelles, a Brussels institution since 1921.

Traditional Belgian dish served at Aux Armes de Bruxelles restaurant, showcasing local cuisine
Aux Armes de Bruxelles serves up classic Belgian dishes in a beautiful Art Nouveau setting. Their waterzooi is comfort food at its best!

Located in the bustling Îlot Sacré neighborhood near Grand Place, this restaurant serves up classic Belgian dishes in a beautiful Art Nouveau setting. It's the perfect place to reminisce about your 3 days in Brussels while enjoying some local specialties.

  • Location: Rue des Bouchers 13, 1000 Brussels
  • Hours: Daily 12:00-23:00
  • Price Range: €€-€€€
  • Why Visit: To taste traditional Belgian cuisine in a historic setting
  • Insider Tip: Try the waterzooi, a creamy Flemish stew that's a Belgian comfort food classic.

Some must-try dishes include:

  1. Croquettes aux crevettes (shrimp croquettes)
  2. Carbonnade flamande (Flemish beef stew cooked in beer)
  3. Moules-frites (mussels and fries, if you haven't had them yet!)
  4. Dame Blanche (vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate sauce) for dessert

As you savor your meal, take a moment to reflect on your Brussels adventure. From the grandeur of Grand Place to the whimsy of the Atomium, from Magritte's surrealism to Belgium's comic book reality, you've experienced the many facets of this fascinating city.

Wrapping Up Your 3 Days in Brussels

As our 3-day Brussels itinerary comes to an end, you might find yourself, like Sarah and I did, already planning your return trip. There's still so much to see and do!

If you have extra time, consider these options:

  1. Take a day trip to Bruges, a perfectly preserved medieval city just an hour away by train.
  2. Visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken if you're here in spring (open only three weeks a year).
  3. Explore the trendy Dansaert district for cutting-edge Belgian fashion.
  4. Join a Belgian chocolate making workshop at Zaabär.

Remember, this itinerary is just a starting point. Feel free to adjust it based on your interests. Love art? Spend more time in the museums. Foodie? Brussels has enough culinary experiences to fill a week!

A few final tips:

  • Consider getting a Brussels Card if you plan to visit many museums. It includes free entry to over 40 museums and free use of public transport.
  • Brussels is a bilingual city (French and Dutch), but you'll find that most people in tourist areas speak English too.
  • Don't be afraid to wander off the beaten path. Some of our best memories were made when we simply picked a random direction and started walking.

As we boarded our train to leave Brussels, Sarah turned to me and said, "You know, I think we barely scratched the surface." And she was right. Brussels is a city that reveals itself slowly, layer by layer. It's a city of contrasts - historic yet modern, serious yet playful, familiar yet full of surprises.

Our friends who questioned our decision to spend 3 days in Brussels? They're now planning their own trips. Because once you experience the charm of this unique city, you can't help but want to return.

So, au revoir et à bientôt, Brussels. Until we meet again!

Alternative Itineraries for Different Travelers

While our 3-day Brussels itinerary offers a comprehensive experience of the city, we understand that every traveler is unique. Here are some alternative suggestions to tailor your trip to your interests or circumstances:

For the Time-Crunched Traveler: Brussels in 48 Hours

If you only have two days in Brussels, focus on the absolute must-sees:

Day 1:

  • Morning: Grand Place and surrounding area, including Manneken Pis
  • Afternoon: Royal Museums of Fine Arts (choose between Old Masters and Magritte)
  • Evening: Beer tasting in the Sainte-Catherine neighborhood

Day 2:

  • Morning: Comic Book Route highlights and Belgian Comic Strip Center
  • Afternoon: Atomium
  • Evening: Traditional Belgian dinner at Aux Armes de Bruxelles

For Families with Kids

Brussels can be a fantastic destination for families. Here's how to make your 3 days in Brussels kid-friendly:

Day 1:

  • Start at Grand Place, but make it fun with a chocolate-tasting tour
  • Visit the Musical Instruments Museum - kids can listen to hundreds of instruments
  • End the day at Parc de Bruxelles with its large playground

Day 2:

  • Spend the morning at the Comic Strip Center
  • Dedicate the afternoon to the Atomium and Mini-Europe
  • Have dinner at Quick - a Belgian fast-food chain kids will love

Day 3:

For Art and Architecture Enthusiasts

If you're passionate about art and architecture, consider this itinerary:

Day 1: Focus on Art Nouveau

  • Victor Horta Museum
  • Extensive Art Nouveau walking tour (consider a guided tour for in-depth information)
  • Visit Bozar, the Centre for Fine Arts, for exhibitions and architecture

Day 2: Dive into fine art

  • Spend a full day at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts complex, exploring the Old Masters, Modern Art, and Magritte museums
  • Evening at WIELS, a contemporary art center

Day 3: Explore diverse artistic styles

  • Start with the Comic Strip Center for a different art form
  • Visit the Villa Empain, an Art Deco masterpiece
  • End with the surreal architecture of the Atomium

For Food and Beer Lovers

Brussels is a paradise for culinary enthusiasts. Here's a gastronomy-focused itinerary:

Day 1: Classic Belgian cuisine

  • Start with a waffle at Maison Dandoy
  • Take a chocolate-making workshop at Laurent Gerbaud
  • Lunch at Noordzee for seafood
  • Evening beer tour in the Sainte-Catherine area

Day 2: Gourmet experiences

  • Morning food tour in the Sablon area
  • Visit the Cantillon Brewery to learn about lambic beers
  • Dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant like Bon Bon or La Paix

Day 3: Markets and modern Belgian cuisine

  • Morning at the Flagey Market (weekends only)
  • Lunch at Winehouse Osteria, featuring Belgian wines
  • Afternoon tea at the Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert
  • Farewell dinner at Brasserie de la Ville, a modern take on Belgian classics

Practical Information

Budget Tips

Brussels can be expensive, but there are ways to save:

  1. Use the Brussels Card for free museum entries and public transport.
  2. Many museums are free on the first Wednesday of each month.
  3. Enjoy free walking tours (remember to tip your guide).
  4. Eat at friteries for cheap, delicious meals.
  5. Stay in budget-friendly neighborhoods like Saint-Gilles or Ixelles.

Language Tips

Brussels is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), but you'll find that English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Still, locals appreciate when visitors make an effort. Here are some useful phrases:

  • Hello: Bonjour (French) / Goedendag (Dutch)
  • Thank you: Merci (French) / Dank u (Dutch)
  • Please: S'il vous plaît (French) / Alstublieft (Dutch)
  • Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais? (French) / Spreekt u Engels? (Dutch)

Etiquette Tips

  1. Greet shopkeepers when entering and leaving stores.
  2. Tipping isn't mandatory, but rounding up the bill is appreciated.
  3. Be mindful of bicycle lanes - they're often alongside pedestrian paths.
  4. Smoking is prohibited in public buildings and on public transport.

Day Trip Ideas

If you have extra time, consider these day trips from Brussels:

  1. Bruges: A perfectly preserved medieval city (1 hour by train)
  2. Ghent: Known for stunning architecture and vibrant student life
  3. Antwerp: Famous for its fashion scene and diamond district
  4. Leuven: Charming university town with Gothic architecture
  5. Waterloo: Visit the famous battlefield and museum

Each of these cities is easily accessible by train from Brussels and offers a unique perspective on Belgian culture and history.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up our comprehensive guide to spending 3 days in Brussels, we hope you're as excited about visiting this remarkable city as we were. From its grand historic squares to its quirky comic book culture, from its world-class museums to its unparalleled culinary scene, Brussels offers a unique blend of experiences that cater to all types of travelers.

Remember, this itinerary is just a starting point. The real joy of traveling comes from those unexpected moments - stumbling upon a hidden cafe, chatting with locals in a neighborhood bar, or getting lost in the winding streets of a new city. So while you follow this guide, don't forget to leave room for spontaneity and discovery.

Brussels may not always be the first city that comes to mind when planning a European trip, but as we've shown, it certainly deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. Its central location also makes it a perfect base for exploring other Belgian cities or even venturing into neighboring countries.

So pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure (and your appetite!), and get ready to fall in love with Brussels. Who knows? Like us, you might find yourself planning your return trip before you've even left!

Bon voyage et à bientôt, Brussels!

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:57 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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