You might have thought from all the posts I’ve been putting out about Belgium that I spent almost a week there. But the jokes on you, because I was actually only in the country for 72 hours! Want to know how I packed so many awesome experiences into just 3 days in Belgium? Well, get ready, cause I’m about to drop some serious knowledge on you.
P.S. For more tips on how to visit Belgium on the cheap, check out my Belgium Budget Breakdown.
Budget flights from Europe to Brussels Charleroi are cheap and plentiful. From there, you’ll have about an hour long bus ride to reach the Brussels city center. I suggest taking the Brussels City Shuttle from Brussels Charleroi to Brussels Midi/Brussels Zuid.
If you’re lucky enough to fly into Brussels’ main airport, there are plenty of transport links to get you where you need to go. Check out this page from brussels.info for all the deets.
Where to Stay
For the purposes of this itinerary, I suggest basing yourself in Brussels and making a day trip to Bruges (as outlined in this itinerary). If cities aren’t really your thing though, then you can also easily base yourself in Bruges with a day trip to Brussels (or wherever else you want to go!).
How to Get Around
Brussels is a pretty small city, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to walk everywhere that you need to go. If you do end up needing to take public transport, I’d suggest simply buying point to point tickets rather than a pass (if you’re walking most places the pass won’t be worth it).
To get to Bruges on your day trip, head to Brussels Central Station and hop on one of the many trains that head to Bruges (their finally point is usually further on – generally Knokke or Oostende). If you’re confused about what train to get on, just ask someone! They’re more than likely to know where to point you. If you’re under the age of 25, be sure to buy a Go Pass rather than a regular ticket!
3 Days in Belgium
Day One – Brussels
Brussels Comic Strip Walls
Get acquainted with the city of Brussels by seeking out the Brussels Comic Strip Walls. This is a great alternative to your traditional walking tour because it takes you all over the city and down streets you might never have thought of exploring otherwise. Read more about my experience and get tips and tricks for finding the Brussels Comic Strip Walls in this blog post.
The Top Sights of Brussels
On your hunt for the Brussels Comic Strip Walls you’re likely to stumble upon most of Brussels’ top sights – like the Manneken Pis and the Grand Place. If you happened to miss any that you really wanted to see, though, take the time now to go out and find them!
Brussels Waffle Workshop
Skip lunch because you’re going to want to have as much room as possible for your next stop… a Brussels Waffle Workshop. Meet your guide at the Grand Place to learn all about Belgian waffles and then make your own! Oh, and did I mention that it’s all you can eat?
Dinner at Chez Leon
Once If you’re hungry again continue the theme of sampling traditional Belgian foods with a dinner at Chez Leon, one of Brussels’ most famous restaurants to eat mussels at. Get a pot of mussels, fries, and beer for only €15,95!
Day Two – Day Trip to Bruges
Train to Bruges
Get up bright and early and make your way to Brussels Central Station and hop on a train to Bruges for a day trip. Here’s how to day trip to Bruges on a budget.
The famous Minnewater Park is close by to the train station and therefore a great first stop for your day in Bruges. Be sure to say hi to the swans get a picture of yourself in the famous lakeside cafe!
If you’re a bit overwhelmed by the crowds already, take a minute to retreat to the Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde. This unassuming UNESCO World Heritage Site was once home to religious lay women and is now inhabited by Benedictine nuns. It also just so happens to require visitors to be quiet.
Wander the Streets
Bruges really is the perfect place to get lost. Instead of sticking your nose in a guidebook and hitting up all the main sites, take some time to wander down random streets and see what you can find.
The Burg & Markt Squares
A visit to Bruges probably wouldn’t be complete without a stop in two of its famous squares: Burg and Markt. If you get really lost, just plug one of them into Google Maps (they’re right next to each other), but more likely than not you’ll happen upon them while you’re wandering.
Old Chocolate House
Take a break from your busy day and stop into the Old Chocolate House for some hot chocolate. It’s guaranteed to knock your socks off.
Bruges Canal Tour
Time to see the city from a different angle! Hop aboard one of the many Bruges canal tour boats (€8), sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. Try to get a seat near the front if you can, to make sure you’re able to hear the guide.
Day Three – Brussels
Musical Instruments Museum
Brussels is known for its museums, and the Musical Instruments Museum is one of the best. While I didn’t actually get the chance to visit the museum while I was in Brussels (it’s closed on Mondays, aka when I tried to go), I’ve heard fantastic things about it. Start your morning off right by exploring this beautiful museum – and get a great view of the city from its rooftop cafe!
Jardin du Mont des Arts
Even if the Musical Instruments Museum is closed (aka it’s a Monday), head up to it anyway. The view from the Jardin du Mont des Arts is worth the fifteen minute walk uphill.
Brussels Chocolate Tour
Finally, say goodbye to Belgium in the most Belgian way possible: by indulging in all the chocolate you can eat. Take a guided chocolate tour of the city or follow my self-guided walking tour. Either way, be sure to enjoy every last piece of chocolate!
What You Shouldn’t Miss in 3 Days in Belgium
First things first. You absolutely should not miss Bruges while you’re in Belgium. It is so stupidly gorgeous. You can either take a day trip, like I did or base yourself there if you want to really get to know the city.
Honestly, just go food crazy in Belgium. Go on that chocolate tour I mentioned, eat as many €1 street waffles as possible, and gorge yourself on mussels, fries, and Belgian beer. Sightseeing should come second to stuffing yourself silly.
My favorite traditional ‘sightseeing’ type thing was, without a doubt, the Brussels Comic Strip Walls (even though they’re not actually all that traditional of a sight). Definitely leave some time to go find as many of them as you can!
What I Didn’t Love in 3 Days in Belgium
I could have taken or left the traditional sights in Belgium. The Grand Place and the Manneken Pis in Brussels were nothing to write home about, and the Markt in Bruges was nothing compared to the wonders I found on the side streets. You’re more than likely to stumble upon them while wandering anyway, so don’t bother carving out time specifically to see them.
While the canal tour that I took in Bruges was fun, I also wouldn’t exactly call it a ‘must-do’. At €8 for a half hour cruise, I also thought it was a little overpriced (especially because I couldn’t hear the guide at all). But if you love boats (like I do), you’ll probably be tempted to take the tour anyway!