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Layover In Brussels – The Ultimate Guide 2021

Published by: Bounce13 August, 2021

Brussels is a city that truly lies at the heart of Europe. As the capital of the European Union Headquarters, this is a statement that can be perceived as both actual and metaphorical. The airport is one of the best in Europe already, and intends to become the best in Europe by 2040.

The airport is a hub for many European and international destinations and as a result, it is common to find yourself there for long periods as you wait for connecting flights. In some countries, this could be perceived as a major inconvenience as one is forced to face hours of boredom awaiting a connecting flight. 

At Brussels Airport, you are just twelve kilometers from the heart of the city and you have easy access using either the rail system or the bus network. Your Brussels Airport layover provides a whole new perspective as you look at the opportunities which are suddenly accessible. Drop your bags in a convenient Brussels luggage storage service and use that stopover time to explore.

6 hour layover in Brussels


This might seem like only a short time to go on an exploratory trip, especially as you will need to store your suitcases in a Brussels Airport luggage service. That done, however, your best bet is to make your way down to Level 1 where you can hop onto a train into the heart of the city. This is a journey that will take twenty minutes and there are about six trains per hour.

The joy of visiting Brussels is that it is small enough to cover many of the major attractions on foot. You may not be able to do an in-depth tour of all of them, but you will have time to get a feel for the place. Start with Place Sainte Catherine and the fish market and then wander over to the Brussels Opera house which was once the most famous in all of Europe. A quick stroll through Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert will allow you to do some window shopping and grab a coffee.

  • Don’t forget to allow a bit of extra time to collect your bags and clear security on the way back.

  • A walking visit is probably the best way to explore a small city with limited time available.

8 hour layover in Brussels


That couple of extra hours is going to allow you to experience some of the Belgian cuisine as you will have plenty of time to sit down to a meal and still do some exploring. You might prefer to opt for the bus rather than the train. You can catch that by heading to level 0 in the airport. 

Head for the city center and then wander some of the wonderful cobbled streets and squares. Once you have worked up a bit of an appetite you need to start thinking about what and where to eat. Brussels, like many cities, has several signature dishes. Moules are available just about everywhere, and remember this is the country that gave us the French fry, so the two are often served in combination with one another.

If you prefer to sit down and go for something a little more substantial, then consider Flemish stew or meatballs which are also traditional favorites. The area is dotted with restaurants and some of the best ones are small and unassuming so don’t be shy to stop and ask a local for suggestions. They are generally happy to share their knowledge.

  • Eight hours gives you enough time to do some exploring and to sample some of the local dishes.

  • Many traditional dishes are quite inexpensive so you can sample them without blowing the budget.

10 hour layover in Brussels


As your connection gets longer, your options broaden. So does the motivation to get away from the stifling airport environment. With ten hours at your disposal, there is an opportunity to delve more deeply into the history and culture that this city has on offer. One of the best ways to do this is by opting for a guided walking tour.

Now that your schedule is not quite so tight, you might like to let a professional guide show you what the city has to offer. There are several ways to do this and most of them are surprisingly inexpensive. You could opt to join a walking tour with a group or hire a private guide who would tailor a tour to your requirements. This is a great way not to just see the major landmarks, but also to learn a bit more about their background.

  • Guided tours help you make the most of your time by targeting the most popular tourist sights.

  • A guide will be able to share anecdotes and historical information you might not discover on your own.

  • If you choose the right tour, it will still leave you time to do some exploring by yourself.

12 hour layover in Brussels


A twelve-hour long layover is long enough to get a feel for this delightful city without constantly having to keep an eye on your watch for fear of missing your connecting flight. With this much time on your hands, you can target one or two destinations or cultural events and explore them in slightly greater depth.

Belgium prides itself on being one of the best makers of chocolate in the world. A quick stroll through the center of town will quickly remind you of this as there will be chocolate shops just about everywhere.

To gain a deeper understanding of this industry and how it has become a part of Belgian culture, you could opt for a chocolate tour or a tasting event. There are many of these on offer and you will need to choose whether you want to stick to just chocolate or combine your experience to include beer, waffles, or beer and waffles. These are three important parts of the culinary culture of the city and locals have no qualms in combining tours offering tastings of all three.

  • It might be worth remembering here that you have an up-and-coming flight to consider. Large quantities of chocolate don’t always make for a perfect travel experience.

  • There is more to the history of chocolate than one might expect and there is some fascinating information to be gleaned here.

  • There would still be some time to take in other tourist attractions.

24 hour layover in Brussels


With an overnight layover in Brussels, you are able to experience far more of this intriguing city. Drop your bags at a Brussels luggage storage service so that you are travelling light and then dive into your adventure.

One thing you might want to consider is taking in an opera at one of the world's most renowned opera houses. Even if you are not really an opera fan, this will be one to tell your friends about for years to come. La Monnaie was first built in 1700 and is an opulent architectural gem that has played host to some of the world’s most famous composers.

Brussels happens to be home to iconic comic strip characters such as The Smurfs and Tin Tin, both of whom have become recognizable worldwide. You can take a comic strip walk of the city moving from one wall mural to the next and experience much of the city at the same time. 

Finally, no trip to Brussels would be complete without a visit to the Grand Place. This World Heritage site lies at the heart of the city and in addition to being breathtakingly beautiful, it is also steeped in history going all the way back to the 15th century.  

  • Even on an overnight layover, you will need to be selective about what you visit.

  • When choosing a hotel for your Brussels layover, consider access to and from the airport.

  • Bear in mind that if you can’t do it all, you can always come back.

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