As the capital city of Belgium, Brussels has quite a lot to live up to, and it gladly takes on the challenge. This spectacular city is located right in the center of the European Union and is in close proximity to some other fantastic places, like London, Amsterdam, and Paris. Its location draws in lots of visitors from nearby cities and abroad, as well as citizens who originate from all over the globe. This multicultural city hosts thousands of festivals and cultural events every year, making it a great place to meet new people.
Although there is an abundance of hidden gems and secrets here (like the best museums in Brussels, fabulous dining, and parks to explore), it can be fun to venture outside of the city limits as well. If you want to take a day or two to plan day trips from Brussels, keep reading since we have a few that you can keep in mind. There is no need to bring all of your luggage on the trip with you, so why not keep it safe and sound with Bounce luggage storage in Brussels?
How to get out of Brussels
Since the city of Brussels isn't too big and also not too small, you will have access to all types of public transport. The city boasts trams that run on renewable energy and are a great way to get around while admiring the scenery of the local landscape. If you need to get somewhere fast then the metro system (Brussels Central Station is a busy stop) is the best way to travel, especially since you won't get stuck in traffic!
You will also see buses driving around the city center, and they can bring you basically anywhere in Brussels. Be aware that there are a few different companies that run the buses, and the tickets aren't interchangeable between them so you will have to be sure that you've bought the right one. Brussels is also very easily navigable by foot or by bike, too! For most of your Brussels day trips, you will probably be using the train to get in and out of the city. There are three main train stations in the city, and locals warn that they are often delayed. Leave early if you are following a tight schedule!
From Brussels to Luxembourg City
Luxembourg is actually one of Europe's smallest countries, and the main city within it is called Luxembourg City. It is home to a beautiful Old Town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has many landmarks and places to go sightseeing, like the Gelle Fra war memorial, the Place Guillaume square, and the must-see Notre Dame Cathedral with its wonderful rose window. While you are in this part of the country you should also check out the Palace of the Grand Duke, which is still his residence today!
If you have an interest in contemporary and fine arts then you will want to check out the MUDAM Modern Art Museum. The medieval city center of Luxembourg City is home to some gorgeous old buildings, and we highly suggest taking a walk down the Chemin de la Corniche promenade. It will bring you past some of the most impressive buildings as well as the lovely Alzette River.
How to get to Luxembourg City
You will want to visit Luxembourg City since it is an easy place to visit from Brussels and can be reached by just taking one train, although it takes a while. The journey will take about 3 hours each way but it can be reached slightly faster by car. If you are interested, there is a guided tour that can take you from Brussels to Luxembourg as well.
From Brussels to Ghent
Ghent proudly stands as one of the oldest places in Belgium, and its streets are filled with classic and medieval architecture. This historic city is sometimes overlooked and definitely underrated, making it the perfect place for a day trip for people who want to see something new. It is home to a rich history, a great beer scene, fantastic vegan food options, and lots of other hidden gems that will surely make it one of your favorite day trips.
The first stop on your visit to Ghent should be St Bavo's Cathedral which offers a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, followed by the Belfort Belfry which dates back to the 14th century. The 12th century fortress Gravensteen is another must-see landmark, as well as the Korenmarkt square which is conveniently located on the water of the River Leie. Take some time to stroll along the river and canals, too!
How to get to Ghent
Getting from Brussels to Ghent will not be difficult at all. You can drive there in over an hour, but why bother when a quick train journey can get you there much faster? The ride on the railway takes a bit under an hour, meaning that Ghent is a perfect spontaneous day trip when you don't know what to do.
From Brussels to Bruges
Chances are that you've heard of Bruges before since, as the nation's capital, it is a pretty popular place. It is also one of the most popular day trips from Brussels and should absolutely be on your itinerary! The gorgeous medieval city will feel like something out of a fairy tale from the middle ages and, aside from wandering through its cobblestone streets, you will also find a wide selection of activities and places to go sightseeing.
One of the highlights of this small town is the Basilica of Holy Blood, a medieval Catholic cathedral that is said to house a relic of the blood of Christ. You will also want to check out Markt, the main square in the city, and the Belfry of Bruges that towers above it and was built back in the 13th century. You will fall in love with the canals of this quaint town, and the best way to see them is by taking a boat tour! Bruges also has a fantastic chocolate and beer scene, and there are plenty of bustling outdoor markets selling delicious foods that you will want to try.
How to get to Bruges
Bruges isn't too far from Brussels and you will find it without a problem if you continue in the same direction past Ghent. In fact, you can easily visit both cities in one go and they can be reached using the same train line. You can also get there using a car in about an hour and a half, but the direct trains are the easiest option and take just over an hour.
From Brussels to Amsterdam
A trip to the lively capital city of the Netherlands should never be passed up, and you will have the perfect opportunity to add it to your day trip itinerary while you are in Brussels! The charming streets of this fascinating city will captivate you and you won't easily forget the beauty of the canals and tall, narrow houses that line them. Since it is such a popular tourist destination Amsterdam boasts many attractions like world class museums, art galleries, and monuments that you can check out. Of course, you can also just sign up for a day tour and let the locals introduce you to their picturesque town!
Some of the places that you will definitely want to stop by include the stunning Royal Palace of Amsterdam and Dam Square. The Anne Frank House is another attraction that you shouldn't miss out on seeing, plus the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum will be a favorite for art lovers. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities in the street markets, like the Vlooienmarkt flea market.
How to get to Amsterdam
Driving to the port city of Amsterdam will take about two and a half hours in total. However, if you want to make your life easier you can just hop on the intercity train; the journey from Brussels to Amsterdam central station is just about two hours. An added bonus is that many of the main sights of the city are located just a short walk away from the central train station.
From Brussels to Leuven
If you don't know what to do one day in Brussels then consider a day trip to the lovely city of Leuven. Although it was founded sometime in the 9th century, this university city is home to many students and the younger population really keeps it upbeat and lively. The fact that it is home to the longest bar in the world might help, too! The architecture around the city is stunning, and some of the best places to visit include the main square and the Town Hall.
The St Peter's Church and Belfry are well worth a visit as well, as they are part of the Belfries of Belgium and France and they are also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Leuven is home to another UNESCO site; the Groot Begijnhof. Even the city's university buildings are worth checking out, and Leuven is actually home to the oldest Catholic university in the entire world. If you don't have time to visit them all you should absolutely prioritize a visit to the University Library which will wow you with its magnificent reading hall.
How to get to Leuven
Leuven is the easiest and closest day trip from Brussels, so you have no excuse to not visit it. You can get to this wonderful little town in under half an hour by train, and depending on which one you hop on the train ride can be as short as 13 minutes!
From Brussels to Waterloo
If you have an interest in the first World War then you might want to visit the beautiful city of Waterloo. It is home to the site of the battle on June 18th, 1815 when Napoleon and his French army fought against the armies of the Netherlands, Prussia, Hanover, and Britain. This battle is now infused into the town's history, although the place where it happened is now a peaceful field with incredible scenic beauty. The best way to learn about the battle that happened here is to visit the compelling underground center which will also introduce you to the different monuments and landmarks located aboveground.
Most of the other attractions in Waterloo are also centered around the war, and aside from the battlefield, you can also visit Napoleon's Last Headquarters which is an interesting museum with 5 rooms containing some of his items and artifacts. The Lions Mound Hamlet also has a fantastic visitor center that you can check out, and the little shed of Hougoumont is important as it is said to be where the battle's finale took place! There are also plenty of day tours that can bring you to all of the main areas since most of them are within walking distance from one another.
How to get to Waterloo
Getting to Waterloo from Brussels is fast and easy whether you take a car or public transport. The drive will only take about 25 to 30 minutes and the trip by train takes just about the same amount of time. Either way, the day trip is fast and easy so you can visit the city and its historic center at any time.
The Best Trips From Brussels to Do in a Day
Although Brussels is a hub for the entire European Union and is a rich, cultural city, it can be fun to take your trip outside of the town's limits to discover somewhere new as well. By just taking a quick train ride or driving for a while in the car you will find yourself in a new town center filled with hidden gems and treasures to discover.
We only mentioned a few of the options but there are actually many more incredible places that are within day trip distance from Brussels. Some other options include Hasselt which has some gorgeous street art or the city of Lille which boasts La Vieille Bourse, a magnificent Renaissance sight.