Brussels is much more than moules-frites, beer, Belgian waffles, and the Manneken Pis. While those are all musts – especially for first-time travellers – the Belgian capital is home to a host of gems worth discovering. Got a day to spare? Here’s my quick guide to 24 hours in Brussels.
What to see and where to eat & drink
Located steps away from the Grand Place, the Galeries de la Reine (part of the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert) is a gorgeous arcade filled with long passageways nestled under a striking glass roof with shops, bookstores, chocolatiers, restaurants, and a theatre. Established in 1847, the arcade was frequented by Brussels’ elite fashion crowd – if their walls could talk, I bet they’d tell great stories about that time period! My favourites are La Librairie des Galeries bookstore, Le Pain Quotidien for a quick bite, and all of the quaint chocolate shops.
The Halles Saint-Géry is another architectural wonder made up of red brick walls that contrast its luminous glass ceiling. A former three-story, 19th-century market now turned modern edifice, it has a trendy bar, a restaurant, and a gallery with art exhibitions throughout. Centrally located, enjoy a bite and a beer on their outdoor terrace and pop in to check out the art exhibit of the moment.
Chances are the Manneken Pis made it onto your bucket list, you inputted its directions into your phone, got there, and found yourself quite disappointed with how overrated it actually is. But did you know that the Manneken Pis has a female counterpart hidden within the city? Most tourists don’t. Her name is Jeanneke Pis and finding her is an adventure in it of itself. Spotting this secret fountain in the narrow Impasse de la Fidélité also leads to a reward once you find her: Delirium Café, a brewery that is home to over 2000 types of beer! So kick back and enjoy a pint on their open air patio while admiring Jeanneke Pis without the hoards of tourists.
End your day of touring the Belgian capital with champagne! Beaubbles – previously known as La Champagnothèque de Bruxelles – is a champagne and wine tasting bar spearheaded by conservateur Eric Vauthier. Dubbed “The Ultimate Champagne Experience,” you can sample 150 vintage and contemporary brands here along with little bites and fancy fare like foie gras, salmon, and caviar to complement your beverage choice. Not to worry though, this spot is for beginners and champagne aficionados alike. Its decor is also a stunner with old cinema chairs and a vintage vibe, which will make you feel as if you’ve gone back in time. Headed to Brussels once temperatures get warmer? Beaubbles also has a food truck come summer (yes, champagne food trucks are a thing!) so keep your eyes peeled.
Where to stay
I initially read about The Hotel Brussels in a magazine. Its photos quickly caught my attention, I assumed it was out of my price range, but I bookmarked the page just in case. When I finally got around to booking a short trip to Brussels, I decided to take a look on their website and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it was. With rooms that start at €135/night, this hotel also has an in-house restaurant (which looked delicious, but I didn’t get the chance to try it), a tea room, a gym, and a spa that immediately made me regret only staying one night. Located near Brussels’ shopping hub, Avenue Louise, it’s also perfect for fashionistas.
Greeted with a large, gorgeous lobby upon arrival, it only got better once I got to my room thanks to its stunning views of the city and its modern, luxury decor. After a refreshing night of sleep, wrap yourself in their luxurious robe and end your stay with another sauna session (which also provides an impressive, panoramic view of the city) before heading back home.
What are your must-see places when you only have 24 hours in Brussels? Let me know in the comments below!