The Best Things To Do And See In Brussels In Only 12 Hours

Rue du Marché au Charbon | © Steynard/Flickr
Rue du Marché au Charbon | © Steynard/Flickr
Photo of desiree ketabchi
9 February 2017

Brussels is a truly dynamic city, offering a myriad of cultural opportunities and entertainment to the tourists and locals alike each year. Although spending half a day in Brussels is not nearly enough time to discover the capital, here are a few highlights that will guarantee you make the most out of your visit, even on a tight schedule.

Mont des Arts | © Stephane Mignon/Flickr

Visit Mont Des Arts

If you are coming by train, make your way up from the Central Station to Place Royal. Pause at the top of Mont des Arts and turn around to admire the view on the city center. Don’t forget to take a peek at the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) and its magnificent art nouveau facade, located between Mont des Arts and Place Royal. The museum itself houses an extensive and diverse collection of musical instruments and, if you have time, go up to the roof terrace of the museum for a coffee (you don’t have to pay the entrance fee to go to the bar). You can also keep this address in mind for a buffet brunch later in the day.

Musical Instrument Museum, Rue Montagne de la Cour 2, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 545 01 30

Discover Surrealism at the Magritte Museum

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Magritte Museum | © GAUTIER Stephane/SAGAPHOTO.COM / Alamy Stock Photo
René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist, famous worldwide for his often provocative work. The Magritte Museum showcases over 200 works that range from paintings to advertising posters. We recommend investing the four extra euros for the audio guide, as it will give you a clear idea about the nature of his work.

Grab lunch in the trendy part of the city center

Rue de Flandre offers a wide range of choices, from the delicious Italian trattoria, A casa mia, to Asian fusion at San. For a quicker and cheaper option, visit Charli Boulangerie and opt for a tasty sandwich.

Place Saint Catherine | © Grentidez/WikiCommons

Stroll through Place Saint Catherine and Rue Dansaert

If you enjoy shopping or browsing store windows, walk around the area of the Place Saint Catherine and Rue Dansaert, where you will find local and international designer boutiques.

Grande Place | © Timitrius/Flickr

Visit the Grand Place and Manneken Pis

Go to the Grand Place and admire its splendid architecture that dates back to the 17th century. Within the main square, you will be looking at the Brussels Town Hall, the Museum of the City of Brussels and a number of old guild houses that are recognizable from their craft symbols, which are still visible above their doors. At number 9, (also known as the butcher’s guild house), is famed as the location where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the Communist Party Manifesto. From the square, go to see the infamous Manneken Pis, a statue whose size is inversely proportional to its fame. Its wardrobe (yes, they sometimes dress him up) is on display in the above-mentioned Museum of the City of Brussels.

Arcadi Café | © Andy Smith/Flickr

People-watch from a terrace

If the weather is nice, exchange cake for beer. Pick one of the bars in a livelier neighborhood, such as Le Fontainas or Au Soleil. If you are not lucky with the weather but still prefer beer over cake, go to Au Bon Vieux Temps to sip a Belgian beer and forget which century you are living in.

Parking 58 | © David Taquin/Flickr

Discover Brussels from Parking 58

Parking 58 is the one of the best opportunities to experience an incredible cityscape, where you can admire the areas you have visited or scope out new spots for your next trip to Brussels. Situated close to the Grand Place, individuals can take the elevator to the 10th floor which opens up to a 360-degree view of the city. Don’t forget to look for the Atomium in the landscape.

Parking 58, Rue de l’Evêque 1, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Taste homemade-style Belgian cuisine at Restobières

Taste delicious Belgian food at Restobières. Try the homemade paté and mussels as a starter, followed by the Belgian beef stew Carbonnade or a Jambonneau, accompanied by a fully flavored Belgian beer. The waiters will also introduce you to the beer of the month. Both the food and the decoration will make you feel as though you were visiting a traditional Belgian home.

Address: rue des Renards 9, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, + 32 2 511 55 83