Travel

48 Hours in Brussels

by Rachel Naismith

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Looking for the perfect weekend trip from Paris? Look no further. Just an hour and a half from the French capital sits a quirky and cool city that’s got more going for it than Nutella-laden waffles (who are we kidding— those are well worth crossing the border for!). The Belgian capital is wonderfully eclectic. Home to the European Parliament, it’s a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and architecture. You’ll want to stay for longer, but if you’ve only got 48 hours, here’s where to head when in Brussels:

Left: Three golden-topped pastels de nata along with a fork are sat on a white plate. Right: A large water fountain sits inside the leafy Parc de Bruxelles
Top: Cafe Centrale @bushra24_6 / Grand Central @emi__bxl
Above: Pastéis de Nata @robthegourmetsmarket / Fountain Parc de Bruxelles @impact_house_bxl

Transport

Roughly eighteen trains run from Paris to Brussels per day. Tickets start at €24.70, and the journey time is approximately an hour and a half. Leaving from Gare du Nord, you can disembark at Bruxelles-Midi or Bruxelles Centrale, but the latter will bring you closer to the centre. 

Accommodation

Budget: If you’re on a budget, The Vintage Hotel is your best bet. A 15-minute bus ride from Central Station, it’s contemporary and comfortable. Prices from €77 per night. 

Mid-range: Hotel des Galeries is a boutique hotel nestled inside the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert. A 4-minute walk from Central Station, rooms start at €147 per night. A modern hotel with characterful nods to its historic surroundings. 

Luxury: Prices start from €250 at the elegant Hotel Amigo, just a 5-minute stroll from Central Station. The rooms are generously sized, and the service is slick. 

Day 1

Left: Wooden chairs, a wooden table, and couch are pictured inside a suite at Hotel Amigo Right: A white double bed is illuminated by the sunshine coming in from a nearby window inside Hôtel des Galeries
Hotel Amigo @hotelamigobrussels / Hôtel des Galeries

Drop off suitcases at your hotel, and head straight towards Grand Central for an epic brunch: you can get there via the beautiful Parc de Bruxelles, the largest park in the city. Fuel yourself for a day of exploring with the restaurant’s salmon and eggs bun (complete with homemade fries), or their decadent pancakes (topped with praline spread, whipped cream, and roasted almond!).  

Left: A crowd of people of different ages are flicking through books inside Peinture Fraîche Right: Wine bottles, plants, and colourful posters line the walls inside Le P’tit Canon
Peinture Fraîche @peinture_fraiche_bookshop / Le P’tit Canon @brusselskitchen

Take time to digest and wander south towards the uber-trendy Ixelles district. Peek inside the independent shops on Rue du Tabellion (where you’ll discover the gorgeous Peinture Fraîche bookstore) and Rue du Bailli, home to Effet Mérité, a concept store specializing in clothes and accessories made by local designers.

Left: Two portions of moules frites are pictured alongside a beer and red wine Right: Moules from Le Chou de Bruxelles are covered in a garlic and herb dressing, and pictured up-close
Le Choux de Bruxelles @irinakonoplianik @belgian_food_addict

If shopping leaves you peckish, sample a plate of moules frites at Le Chou de Bruxelles, which offers almost thirty variations of the popular Belgian dish!  Polish off your meal with an artisanal coffee and pasteis del nata from nearby Forcado, a great spot to indulge in some serious people-watching. 

Slide into the Saint-Gilles district and perhaps enjoy an afternoon play, musical performance, or exhibition at Brussels’ hippest cultural space, La Tricoterie. Alternatively, visit the Horta museum (dedicated to the life of Brussels architect, Victor Horta), or be thrilled by the Musee d’Art fantastique and its collection of spooky and strange paintings and sculptures.

Small sharing plates are the order of the day at Le P’tit Canon, an informal St Gilles wine bar and restaurant. The menu changes weekly— but if the burrata is available, go for it! There’s an extensive wine list and the staff are very friendly. 

Left: Male music performers play the guitar and trumpet for a small crowd inside La Tricoterie. Right: A dimly-lit tent is pictured in the courtyard outside La Tricoterie
La Tricoterie @brussels_special_venues

Day 2

Kick-off your day like a local in the historic Marolles district, where you can still hear some locals use the Brusseleir dialect. Café Capitale offers exquisite pastries and even better coffee, making it the perfect location to start your day.

Right: The shop entrance to Maison Dandoy is covered with gold lettering Right: A table of knick-knacks, plates, clocks, old cameras, and glasses is pictured at the Jeu de Balls flea market
Maison Dandoy @johnbraggphotos / Flea market @pauleslolos

Don’t miss the large flea market on Place du Jeu de Balle, where you can browse an array of weird and wonderful items and embrace the lively atmosphere (NB: bring cash; vendors rarely accept cards). Next, head towards rue Haute and surrounding areas to conduct your own street-art tour. Enjoy the fun comic strip murals featuring snippets from TinTin, The Adventures of Astérix, and work by urban artist, Denis Meyers.

Left: Groups are gathered inside Grand Central, which is decorated with greenery and low-level lighting Right: Several colourful plates of Lebanese food are pictured from overhead at Les Vignes du Liban
Grand Central @emi__bxl / Les Vignes Du Liban @eglehaidak

Les Vignes du Liban is the best Lebanese restaurant in the Marolles, and it’s guaranteed to satisfy the appetite you’ve worked-up. Fresh and vibrant dishes are suitable for meat-eaters, seafood lovers and vegetarians alike.

Left: Blue and orange coloured craft beer cans sit lined up inside L’Ermitage Right: Sunlit wooden tables and benches are pictured on the terrace at Grand Central
Bar L’Ermitage @tube.bxl / Grand Central @zahramuller 

Walk back into the centre and bid adieu to Brussels with a final drink at L’Ermitage, for a quality Belgian beer, but not before popping into Maison Dandoy for a tin of traditional speculoos biscuits to take home. 

Left: A blue sky peeks out behind a large water fountain inside Parc de Bruxelles Right: A white box from Maison Dandoy is photographed, with two types of speculoos biscuits inside
Parc de Bruxelles @nazosislian / Maison Dandoy @maisondandoy

Addresses:

  • The Vintage Hotel —  Rue Dejoncker 45, 1060 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Hotel des Galeries —  Rue des Bouchers 38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Hotel Amigo —  Vruntstraat 1/3, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
  • Grand Central — Rue Belliard 190, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Parc de Bruxelles — 1000 Brussels, Belgium
  • Peinture Fraîche — Rue du Tabellion, Notarisstraat 10, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
  • Effet Mérité Rue du Bailli — 69, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
  • Le Chou de Bruxelles — Rue de Florence 26, 1050 Brussel, Belgium
  • Forcado — Chau. de Charleroi 196, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
  • La Tricoterie — Rue Théodore Verhaegen 158, 1060 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Horta museum — Rue Américaine 27, 1060 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Musee d’Art fantastique — Rue Américaine 7, 1060 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Le P’tit Canon — Rue Lesbroussart 91, Ixelles, Belgium
  • Café Capitale — Rue du Midi 45, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Les Vignes du Liban — Rue Haute 152, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
  • L’Ermitage — Rue Lambert Crickx 26, 1070 Anderlecht, 1070 Brussel, Belgium
  • Maison Dandoy — Galerie du Roi 2, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

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Written by Rachel Naismith for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out marketplace shop and experiences.

Written By

Rachel Naismith

Originally from London, Rachel is a food writer and content creator currently living in Paris. She is deeply passionate about all things food and drink. Her favourite pastimes include discussing anything to do with butter, experimenting with raku ceramics, and watching her Italian partner make her pasta View Rachel Naismith's Website

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