24 Hours in Brussels: 6 Ways to Explore the Capital like a Local

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Photo by Polly Courtesy of Unsplash

The stunning city of Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium but is also home to the European Union’s headquarters. The city was specially chosen based on its history as a peaceful place with the power of uniting people from various backgrounds and cultures to live together in harmony. 

Although Belgium’s capital plays a prominent role in government relations, this political agenda will allow you to explore the other recreational and cultural aspects Brussels has to offer!

With that in mind, we have created a list of the top six things you should do within 24 hours in the city.

Visit Bruxelles Midi Market for Breakfast 

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Photo by Belga

Start your morning by visiting Bruxelles Midi Market (Marché du Midi), a fabulous farmer’s market that opens bright and early every Sunday from 6 am onwards. The market collectively houses over 400 vendors selling a variety of fresh produce and foods including local delicacies such as cheese, chocolate and waffles that are available for sampling. The Bruxelles Midi Market is also a perfect place to form connections with locals and get some insight on places to visit, eat or travel to within the area! 


Make your way to Brussels Grand-Place

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Photo by Alex Vasey Courtesy of Unsplash

Be a part of history by taking a walk around Brussels Grand-Place. The famous city square was deemed as a World Heritage Site in 1998 and since then has become one of Belgium’s most treasured landmarks. Not to mention the spectacular gothic-styled architecture along with gold finishes are what makes this stunning monument a picture-worthy moment! While exploring the Grand-Place be sure to also take a look at the City Hall as well as the Maison du Roi, which was originally home to the King of France and the rest of the royal family.


Afternoon Picnic at Parc du Cinquantenaire

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Photo by Smarksthespot

After a morning of lots of physical activity, it’s time to relax and unwind at the beautiful Parc du Cinquantenaire. The Parc du Cinquantenaire translates to “50th-anniversary park” in English and was built to celebrate 50 years of independence for Belgium. The park spans over 70 acres and is abundant in flowers, picnic benches, playgrounds making the spot a family-friendly area as well! There are also multiple events hosted at the center of the park such as sporting events and concerts so be sure to plan ahead to catch a celebration in action.


Pictures at the Manneken Pis

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Photo by BrusselsPictures

The Manneken Pis is an amusing attraction and like the name states, includes a water feature depicting a statue of a boy peeing. However, since being stolen throughout the years the sculpture is only a replica of the real statue which can be found in the Brussels City Museum.! Try visiting the Manneken Pis during a celebratory holiday to find him dressed up in a costume suitable to the occasion such as Halloween and Christmas. Pictured above the Manneken Pis is dressed in a doctor’s outfit to showcase appreciation for the front-line health care workers helping the country against COVID-19. The Manneken Pis is truly a one-of-a-kind statue, crowned as the mascot of Brussels and the people adore him!


Explore the Atomium

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Photo by Martin Muchbauer Courtesy of Unsplash

If you have a passion for the sciences, then you’re sure to love the Atomium! The Atomium is a 335ft tall structure shaped in the form of an atom and has become one of the most famous monuments in all of Belgium. The best part of this attraction is exploring each sphere which is accessible by an elevator in the center of the structure. Each sphere retells the history of Belgian from a different aspect ranging from scientific advances to cultural and societal customs. Pictures are a must when visiting this unique monument as it shines bright during the daytime or even at night when the Atomium is lit up using the power of over 3000 lights!


End the day with dinner at a local pub

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Photo by LonelyPlanet

End the day by heading over to a local pub and order “Moules Frites”. Moules Frites is a famous Belgian dish combining a fresh plate of mussels with crispy mouth-watering French fries! And what better to accompany the meal than a delicious tall glass of Belgian tap beer. Not only is Belgium famous for their cuisine but they are also praised for their beer is a right balance between sweetness and bitterness as well as being rich in flavour. Unsure what to have for dessert? You can’t go wrong with a traditional Belgian waffle stuffed with fresh fruits such as strawberries and drizzled over with creamy Belgian chocolate. We recommend visiting the Poechenellekelder pub or O'Reilly's pub to try out these amazing local delicacies and get the ultimate pub life experience!

Brussels truly is a gorgeous city overflowing with culture and history. It is the perfect travel destination and has activities for everyone. A trip to Brussels will definitely be one for the books!

Originally Written: Simone Monteiro

Edited: Vinita Malik