How to explore Brussels in 24h

Want to sightsee Brussels properly, but you don’t have enough time to do so? The good news is you can do it in just 24 hours without missing anything important.

Confused girl trying to read a map of Brussels

Me being confused trying to read the map of Brussels


Here is the answer:

#1 Grab a local map at Steenkoolkaai 9B office (metro Ste-Catherine) open from Monday  (10:00 – 13:00) to Saturday (14:00 – 18:00).

#2 Decide the order in which you want to explore Brussels:

North Walk (you can visit Temporary castle, Green Labyrinth and Brussels Countryside)

European Walk (you can explore European skyscrapers, visit Museum Park, European Parliament and Poorest Village, see Art. Nouveau Area and experience the Heart of Europe)

Inside Parlamentarium , Brussels

Inside Parlamentarium


South Walk (you can go for snobby shopping, see Palace of Justice, sightsee Old-fashioned Brussels and feel Little Africa)

4 photos of Brussels, city centre

Postcards from Brussels, November 2012



Total walking time: 50 minutes – 60 minutes

Where to go:

#1  Temporary Castle –  The castle used to be an army post in 19th century, it looks out on the town of St-Jans-Molenbeek, which used to be an industrial zone with lots of poor working people.

#2 Brussels Countryside – A place with lots of cars, lots of concrete, some sheep with children’s farm run by volunteers (free entry from Monday to Saturday). You can take a look at the stunning Citroen Building across the street.

#3 Culinary Caravan – Here you will spot many stalls where the best Brussels food is served. Feeling hungry? Grab a huge portion of Belgian fries served with a pint of beer. Sounds good to you? It does to me!

Belgian fries

Belgian fries. Who said they are from France!!?


#4  Green Labyrinth The Botanique is a beautiful little green labyrinth between heavy traffic and buildings of shiny glass. From whatever angle you take a romantic photos, you will always have cars or skyscrapers in the background.

Additional info:

On weekdays, between 8am-9am and 4pm-5pm you can spot over 40.000 office workers running to and from their work, so the streets get very busy.

 When you arrive in Brussels North, take „Centre” exit so end up in Brussels’s largest skyscraper district.



Total walking time: 80 minutes- 100 minutes

Where to go:

# 1 European skyscraper – If you spot a shiny steel-and-glass skyscraper it surely must be the European Commission’s Directorate- Central for Education and Culture.

Stars on the ground European union stars

#2 Poorest Village – Sint- Joost is the poorest town of Belgium and it has the highest percentage of people without a job. It is also a place where people from 150 different countries live. You can spot here colourful shops, bars and restaurants.

#3 Art of Nouveau Area – This is the area of the beautiful Squares where you can see the little lake with all the birds and relax. Keep an eye open for some of Brussels’ most beautiful Art. Nouveau houses, especially at the Avenue Palmerston.

#4 The heart of Europe – Around here, all the important decisions are taken that affect your life, whether you live in Poland, UK or Spain. The Schuman Square is to the European Union what the National Mall is to the USA or the Red Square in Moscow to Russia.

#5 Museum Park – If there is one park in Brussels where you could come back every day and not get bored, it is this one. There is Autoworld with its egg-shaped BMW Isetta, the Army Museum and the Royal Museum of Art. And History.

Army museum in Brussels

Army museum


Additional info: Autoworld is open every day, 6 EURO with a student card, 9 EURO without, Army museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and it’s free, RMAH is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 4 EURO with student card, 5 EURO without.

#6 Dinos, Basketball and Fries – You can treat yourself with a pack of fries from Antoine on Place Jourdan and pick a bench in the Leopold Park. There is also the Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Science to explore.

#7 European Parliament – Exit the Leopold Park on the Rue Wiertz, and listen to the sound of the wind rattling the flags of all member countries of the EU. Follow the signs outside towards the Parlamentarium open every day, free entrance.

A girl standing in front of the European Parliament

Me proudly standing in front of the European Parliament


Total walking time: 55 minutes- 70 minutes

Where to go:

#1 Little Africa –  If you want to experience Africa without going there, go to Montonge named after the commercial district of Kinshasa (in Congo, Belgium’s former colony). To really get the vibe, have lunch in a restaurant on the streets nearby. Taste the sweet potatoes, manioc paste and baked bananas from Congo, Cameroon and Senegal.

City Centre of Brussels paintings in the street

#2 Snobby shopping – If you are a big fan of shopping, you must head to Stefania Square where you can smell money, expensive perfumes, gentlemen in a freshly pressed suit.

#3 Palace of Justice – In 1883, when the Palace of Justice was finished, it was the largest building in Europe. Most people you see going in and out of it are lawyers and criminals, but you can go and have a look for yourself – it’s free.

#4 Old- fashioned Brussels – In the middle ages, the „Marolles” neighborhood was a leprosy –colony, where sick people were sent to die outside of the city walls. Later, it became part of Brussels, but it was still the poor man’s area with a bad reputation. Today, everybody just loves the Marolles because it’s the most old-fashioned part of town with a wonderful flea market.

Man in a black suit

#5 Village Feeling – Have a drink on one of the pubs’ street terraces that surround this little square. Every day there is a market where you can buy everything from Romanian snacks to farmer products or cheap clothes. Walk up to the street to discover the richer area with its beautiful houses, and the Hotel de Ville. This town hall looks impressive from outside and going inside is a must-do and free.

A great variety of Belgian waffles

Don’t forget to grab some waffles


In order to save your time, you can take metro and go from one station to another. As you can see, you can enjoy Brussels and explore it within 24 hours. Get up early, don’t waste your time, grab a map of the city with a small subway map and get yourself into a real experience of Brussels.

If you have anything to add, please share your Brussels experience in comments.

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{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Steve January 13, 2013, 5:34 pm

    Thank you Agness, I was thinking of exploring Brussels in a day. Your post has given me some ideas for sites to see and enjoy.

    • Agness January 14, 2013, 2:08 pm

      Glad to hear it Steve!

  • Clare January 13, 2013, 6:39 pm

    Amazing post for me! You must have read my mind! I’ll be in Brussels for 24 hours next month! Genius!

    • Agness January 14, 2013, 1:47 pm

      Thanks Clare. Hope it helps a lot ;-). Have a great time in Brussels and say hello to this little dude pissing all the time :-P

  • Travel with Pedro January 14, 2013, 12:03 am

    Great post! I’m a big fan of Brussels and also published a post about it recently on :-)

    • Agness January 15, 2013, 5:00 am

      Checked your post out and it’s great. Been to all of these mentioned by you places :):) Ach, I’m missing Brussels a lot!

  • Leah January 14, 2013, 1:04 am

    Agness – best timing ever! I’ll be in Brussels next week for a conference and will have a day to explore :) Cheers, Leah

    • Agness January 14, 2013, 1:41 pm

      So happy I could help. Have a lovely time and eat a lot of chocolate!!!

  • The Guy January 14, 2013, 7:35 am

    That is a jam packed day Agness, I love the way you add a guide to the walking time too. So much to see in the city you did well to see it all and find time for fries!

    • Agness January 14, 2013, 1:39 pm

      Thanks a lot. Of course I found time for fries. I am a food lover, never forget to treat myself even during a busy sightseeing day.

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown January 14, 2013, 7:00 pm

    Wow – I had no idea you could do so much in so little time there. Looks beautiful (but a little chilly?) The fries looked amazing, fries are my favorite and my Belgian co-worker insists they are the best in Brussels!

    • Agness January 15, 2013, 4:58 am

      Brussels was chilly as I was visiting it during my winter break last (late Nov/early Dec). You are working with very modest people LOL!

  • Aryn January 14, 2013, 10:45 pm

    I think the fries and the waffles were some of my favorite memories when it comes to Brussels, haha!

    • Agness January 15, 2013, 4:58 am

      DITTO :)

  • Shing January 15, 2013, 6:51 pm

    Great tips – the North and European walk definitely appeal! I’ve been meaning to go to Brussels for so long, but never got round to it. However, I’m moving to London during the summer so I figure I’ll go then as it’s really accessible via the Eurostar! I would also LOVE to see the Flower Carpet during August it looks stunning!

    • Agness January 16, 2013, 6:21 am

      Thanks Shing. You can get really cheaply from London to Brussels by Euroline buses. Hope you will have a lot of fun girl!

  • Bennett January 16, 2013, 3:16 am

    I want to go to Brussels for 24 hours – you had me at waffles…

    • Agness January 16, 2013, 6:21 am

      Oh no, don’t mention waffles to me!!!! I’m getting crazy as I need to stick to Chinese baozi :(

  • John January 16, 2013, 10:43 pm

    I enjoyed this article. When I am in Belgium I will probably have only 24 hours in Brussels because I will want to take day trips to Brugges and Ghent. Belgium seems like it has a lot to offer.

    • Agness January 17, 2013, 3:52 am

      That’s so cool. Been to Brugges and it’s an absolutely must see place! Never heard of Ghent though, but hope you’ll like it. That’s true. Belgium has a lot to offer in terms of food and sightseeing. Enjoy your time!

  • This Battered Suitcase January 17, 2013, 5:02 am

    Great post, Agness! I was in Brussels almost seven years ago and I really want to go back. I hope it’s a bit warmer when I eventually get there again!

    • Agness January 17, 2013, 5:44 am

      Me too. Last time it was late November when I got there. Now I’m planning to get back there around May this year so I can get around the city by bike which I can’t wait to do :)

  • Doreen Pendgracs January 19, 2013, 7:55 pm

    Great post! I was almost getting ticked off, as there was no mention of chocolate, but at least you had chocolate in the final pic, so I’ll forgive you. A visit to Brussels is not complete without exploration of the amazing chocolate shops. Have fun on your journeys.

    • Agness January 21, 2013, 8:51 am

      Hey Doreen. Thanks for stopping by! :) There is mention of chocolate in the next post :-). It’s all about Belgian chocolate :)! You should have fun on your journeys!

  • Karolina March 7, 2013, 9:52 am

    Świetna jest ta mapa po Brukseli! Parlamentarium – jedno z najbardziej aktywnych i interesujących muzeów, w jakim byłam. Frytki + gofry + piwo = <3
    Pozdrawiam z Belgii właśnie :-)

    • Agness March 8, 2013, 11:05 am

      Dostałam ją od mojego host’a, rzeczywiście z tą mapą nie da się zgubić lub niczego przegapić i dodatkowo jest zabawna. Jesteś w Belgii? Zazdroszczę, a na myśl o gofrach cieknie mi ślinka!! :-D

      • Karolina March 8, 2013, 7:19 pm

        Jestem w Belgii na szkoleniu, dlatego na Brukselę miałam tylko dwa dni, ale jeszcze może przed wylotem w niedzielę uda mi się wyskoczyć na gofra ;) Pozdrawiam ciepło!

      • Agness March 11, 2013, 1:31 am

        Ja tez cieplo pozdrawiam. Zjedz dwa gofry, jeden za mnie :) taki z bita smietana i owocami!

  • Agness January 24, 2013, 1:24 pm

    Biking Belgium? It’s such a great idea! Can’t wait to see you guys on the road :) Keep me posted!


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