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19 Best Day Trips from Brussels, Belgium

19 Best Day Trips from Brussels, Belgium

Belgium is a small country, but with a lot to offer visitors. The capital city of Brussels is centrally located and makes for the perfect base for exploring not only Belgium but also the Netherlands, France, and Germany. If you’re looking for some great day trips to take from Brussels, look no further.

If you’re traveling to Brussels, Belgium, and want to get the most out of the city for a day or two, consider these trip ideas. Each one is easily accessible from Brussels by train or car—all of them are worth exploring. 

And if you’ll be coming back to Brussels after your day trips, you can reserve the best accommodation at Pillows City Hotel Brussels Centre. It’s just a few meters from the Brussels Central Station and will undoubtedly offer the comfort you deserve after a busy day.

Best Day Trips from Brussels, Belgium

These are some of our favorite Brussels day trips to experience.

1. Bruges

Bruges
Image by faungg’s photos used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Bruges has been inhabited since Roman times, but its heyday came during the Middle Ages when it became an important trading center. Bruges is often (one of several towns) called the “Venice of the North” because of its canals and medieval architecture.

This picturesque town is only an hour away from Brussels by train, making it the perfect day trip destination. Once you arrive in Bruges, be sure to check out Market Square and the Belfry Tower, and take a canal cruise.

You can also visit one of the many museums or art galleries or simply enjoy wandering the narrow streets and taking in the atmosphere.

If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of Brussels, the quaint town of Bruges is your perfect day-trip destination. The city was awarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2000 due to its well-preserved medieval city center, which is largely intact.

In addition to visiting all these sights, there are plenty more things that you can do while visiting Bruges. For instance, you can relish traditional Belgian food such as some of their thick waffles or fries smothered in mayonnaise (it sounds disgusting to most Americans, but it actually tastes pretty good – I can’t actually go back to ketchup now).

You can also try some local beer from one of the many breweries located throughout town.

The best part is that you can even book guided tours from Brussels to Bruges. For instance, try the Bruges and Ghent tour to get the best these cities have to offer.

See Related: Best & Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to Visit

2. Binche

Carnival of Binche Belgium
Image by Farrukh used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Binche is host to one of the most famous carnivals in the world – “Carnival of Binche.” UNESCO has recognized this carnival as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” And alone, it’s reason enough to visit Binche.

The carnival includes parades and floats throughout the town with live music. Also, people are dressed up as various animals and celebrities, with giant puppets on stilts that dance along with performers on stage (only during the daytime parade).

Some people (particularly the traditional clowns known as “Gilles”) even throw oranges at each other. It’s said to bring good luck, but at the very least it’s a boost of vitamin C.

At night, there is a grand ball where everyone dresses up in costumes and mingles. If you’re interested in attending, be sure to book your tickets in advance as it can get quite crowded.

Carnival aside, if you’re looking to get out of Brussels for the day, Binche is a perfectly picturesque place to visit. But if you have the op[opportunity to visit during the carnival – DO IT.

See Related: Most Beautiful Fairy Tale Towns Around the World

3. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg City
Image by Robert GLOD used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Luxembourg City (sometimes just referred to as Luxembourg) is just a short 3-hour train ride away from Brussels. This unique city is set atop steep cliffs overlooking the Alzette River valley.

The capital city of Luxembourg is a charming, historic place that has something for everyone. It’s located on the border between France and Belgium, making it an ideal location to begin your day trip from Brussels.

One great thing about Luxembourg City is that there are plenty of attractions to make your day occupied. Some of the most famous attractions here are the Grand Ducal Palace, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Gëlle Fra, the War Memorial, the Neumünster Abbey, and the Castmates. And all make for great photo ops.

Also, be sure to visit the Old Quarter & Fortifications while you’re there—you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Other highlights include the Adolphe Bridge.

Regarding food options, you won’t be disappointed with any restaurant in Luxembourg City. This place is a melting pot of top European cuisine. Booking the Luxembourg and Dinant Day Trip from Brussels is a sure way to enjoy the best of Belgium.

See Related: Best Family Travel Hacks You Need to Know

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

people on a boat in a canal in Amsterdam
Image by Alejandro used under CC BY 2.0

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations for many great reasons! This fascinating city has so much to offer visitors that a day trip seems simply too short. However, that day trip to this picturesque, historic town is better than no trip at all.

If you’ve ever wanted to see a city that feels like it was designed by children, Amsterdam is the place. The structures here are worth every glimpse, from its higgledy-piggledy planning, colorful houses, windmills, bridges made of cobblestones, and idyllic canals.

Also, besides the many coffee shops, the Dutch capital is also among the most visited cities in Europe because they love their art and architecture as much as they love their cheese and herring (which goes without saying).

In fact, Amsterdam is so popular that you should be prepared to experience massive tourist crowds during peak season, but sometimes that’s just part of what makes it such an amazing place.

From its expansive canals to world-renowned museums like the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, and Van Gogh Museum to the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, there’s something for everyone in Amsterdam.

It’s also easy to get to Amsterdam from Brussels—just hop on a direct Thalys train that will get you there in under 2 hours right into Amsterdam Central Station. Simple.

See Related: Brussels vs Amsterdam

5. Paris, France

Eiffel tower Paris, France
Image by Tommie Hansen used under CC BY 2.0

When Paris is mentioned among the world’s top tourist destinations, it’s pretty easy to see why. For starters, it has something for everyone. From its world-renowned museums like The Louvre and Musée d’Orsay to its iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris is a city with much diversity.

What makes Paris an ideal day trip from Brussels is that it’s easily accessible by train. It only takes just over an hour to get to the French capital on the TGV. This makes it an easy day trip to squeeze into your itinerary.

In addition to all of the amazing things to see and do in Paris, it’s also home to some of the best food in the world. From classic French dishes like escargot and croissants to ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown, there’s something for everyone when it comes to food in Paris.

So be sure to leave room in your stomach (and travel) for plenty of culinary exploration while you’re there.

See Related: Best Travel Photography Books to Inspire You

6. Ghent

Ghent, Belgium
Image by Tranquiligold Jin used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ghent is a great city to visit for a day trip from Brussels. It’s just about half an hour by train, and with so much to see in Ghent, you can easily spend the whole day there. Alternatively, you can join this all-inclusive day tour which will ferry you between Brussels and Ghent via bus.

The Historic Center of Ghent is known for its medieval architecture, which earned it a spot on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1998. You’ll find many stunning buildings along your walk through the old town, which will mostly appeal to history and art lovers.

For instance, don’t miss St. Nicholas’ Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk), Belfry of Ghent (Belfort van Gent), and St. Bavo Cathedral (Sint-Baafs), where you’ll find the epically famous Ghent Altarpiece.

This alone is definitely worth seeing if you’re interested in history or art. But if you’re an art and history enthusiast, you probably know this already.

See Related: Best Travel Apps for Europe

7. Namur

Namur Belgium Pont de Jambes
Image by Jorge Franganillo used under CC BY 2.0

Located one hour by train from Brussels, Namur is a hidden gem you should not miss. The city has a lot to offer and is an excellent base for exploring the Ardennes region, as well as some of the region’s battlefields from WWI.

Namur also has a beautiful medieval old town center that someone can explore on foot or by bike (rental available at a paltry €1 for kids and at least €2.2 for adults). Highlights include its cathedral, the St Aubain-Tronquoy Church, the only late-Baroque church in Belgium.

You can also take part in one of many cultural events like jazz festivals or plays at the Royal Theatre de Namur. If you want to visit other cities from Namur, we recommend Charleroi (30 mins) and Dinant (35 mins).

See Related: Best Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit

8. Waterloo

Hameau du Lion in Waterloo, Belgium
Image by Victor Wong used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Waterloo is a small city in Brèbant, not far from Brussels. It’s best known as the site of one of history’s most pivotal battles – The Battle of Waterloo.

The small city became internationally known through that historical battle on June 18, 1815. France’s army, led by Napoleon, was defeated by two armies comprising the forces of the United Kingdom, Hanover, the Netherlands, under Arthur Wellesley the Duke of Wellington, and the Prussian army under Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.

The battlefield is located in the southeast of Waterloo, mostly in the Braine-l’Alleud district (with some parts also lying within Jodoigne). And currently, this area appears as an idyllic landscape full of pastures or wheat fields.

The Butte du Lions (also called Monument of Waterloo) rises over the battlefield and is easily accessible via road from Brussels. The Duke of Wellington famously hated this memorial, as it transformed the terrain of the battlefield itself!

In addition to its famous battlefields, Waterloo is also home to other amazing landmarks and attractions. For instance, history lovers will appreciate the art, artifacts, paintings, and furniture found in the Wellington Museum. Queen Elizabeth’s Music Chapel is also a great place to visit.

One of the best ways to explore the battlefields and their history in Waterloo is by booking a private guided tour. And a half-day Waterloo Memorial Tour from Brussels will be an excellent choice.

9. Antwerp

The Cathedral of Our Lady is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp
Image by Marco Crupi used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Antwerp is a port city in the Flemish Region of Belgium, located on the right bank of the Scheldt river and home to over 520,000 people. It’s known for its world-famous diamond district and famous Rubens House museum.

And if you’re looking for a romantic day trip from Brussels with your significant other, Antwerp is also home to one of Europe’s most stunning cathedrals – Our Lady Cathedral.

The city is quite charming, thanks to its abundance of Art Nouveau buildings. If that sounds like something you would enjoy seeing during your time off from work, then Antwerp might just be where you want to go.

You can ensure that you get the best of Antwerp and its surroundings by booking the Antwerp and Ghent Day Trips from Brussels.

10. Sint-Niklaas

Like several other cities around Brussels, Sint-Niklaas is also just over an hour away via train. The city has a long history of beer brewing, and it’s known for its beer festivals and beer tourism.

In addition to its beer heritage, Sint-Niklaas has a number of museums and art galleries that will appeal to culture buffs. Its architecture is also noteworthy – the city is home to the Our Lady of Assistance Church and the Saint Nicholas Church.

Other attractions you can enjoy visiting in Sint-Niklaas include Mercatormuseum, Moerland Castle, and De Lopers or the Runners.

See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit

11. Kortrijk

Broel Towers along the river Lys in Kortrijk, Belgium
Image by Trougnouf (Benoit Brummer)CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located just under an hour away from Brussels by train, Kortrijk is a small port city with a population of around 76,000. It’s the capital of West Flanders province, and it’s home to many historic buildings, including the 13th Century St. Martin’s Church.

Kortrijk got its city status in 1190 after receiving the city charter from Philip, Count of Flanders. Later on, it became an important textile manufacturing center because of its location on the Lys River, which connects Kortrijk to Antwerp (a major port city).

The city has a lot of attractions, including the Town Hall, Texture Specialty Museums, and St. Elizabeth House. Saint Martin’s Church is also a major tourist attraction due to its picturesque architecture and rich history.

The church’s construction started in 1390, and it is one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in Belgium.

See Related: Best Theme Parks in Europe to Visit

12. Mechelen

Mechelen, Grote Markt
Image by Luc Mercelis used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mechelen is a small city with a rich history, located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is famous for its Gothic town hall and beautiful cathedral. But, it also has many museums that are worth checking out, such as the Holocaust museum and memorial of Kazerne Dossin and Het Kunstuur, a terrific art museum.

Mechelen is located close to Brussels, so you can easily visit Mechelen either before or after your trip to the capital of Belgium. When visiting Mechelen, be sure to check out the Sint-Romboutskathedraal and its dominating tower.

The church, which was consecrated in the year 1312, is now listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List – rightly so! Other highlights of the city include the Gallery Transit, Cleydael Castle, and ZOO Planckendael. So, if you’re looking for a day trip from Brussels, Mechelen is an excellent option.

13. Leuven

Leuven Belgium
Image by Sergii Gulenok used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Leuven is a beautiful city with a rich history, and it’s only 30 minutes away by train! The university town is home to the oldest university in the Low Countries, which is a great reason to visit Leuven on its own. But it also happens to be famous for its beer and chocolate—two things that go really well together!

You can make your trip even more worthwhile by visiting one of two museums dedicated entirely to hops, an ingredient in beer (and some other things which you’ll learn all about). Belgian beers are world-renowned as being among the best around – fight me on this.

And they’re often served with delicious snacks like fries, or “frites” if you will. Go full European and dunk them in some mayo, it’s the best side to accompany some yummy Belgian beer.

A few good places to try nice Belgium Cuisine include Den Angelus Leuven, Masalatop, Convento, or Arenberg. Any of these restaurants will serve you delectable meals that will leave your glands salivating for more.

See Related: Best Travel Jobs to Make Money

14. Tervuren

The African Museum of Belgium, under the March snow, close to Brussels.
Image by Vincent Brassinne used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tervuren is a great town to visit if you’re looking for something to do on your days off or when you have some time off during your vacation. Tervuren has a beautiful park that’s just 20 minutes by car or tram from Brussels city center which I’ll delve into here before you delve on foot. 

The 1000-hectare Park van Tervuren is a great place to enjoy nature and get some fresh air. It’s home to many animals, including deer, foxes, and a plethora of ducks. Even better, if you love hiking, the park is one of the best in Belgium for hiking and biking.

The well-manicured lawns, shady trees, and water pods present some of the best picnic areas in the region. And as for history, the park’s rich history runs down centuries. Learn more about the region’s history by visiting the stunning Royal Museum of Central Africa, which is located right in the park.

Other attractions in Tervuren include the Arboretum Tervuren, Sint-Jan Evangelistkerk, and Après le Combat. Whether you’re a history lover or just want to get some fresh air in nature, Tervuren has something for everyone.

15. Tournai

 Tournai Belgium
Image by xiquinhosilva used under CC BY 2.0

Tournai is a city in the Hainaut province of Wallonia, Belgium. By U.S. standards it’s a small city of around 67,534 people as of 2022, but it’s got a great buzz! The city is well-known for its medieval architecture and its beer.

Being one of the oldest cities in Belgium, Tournai plays a key role in preserving the country’s history. Its monuments and structures are impressive, while its people are overly welcoming. This means that besides enjoying the quaint structures, you can also relate with the locals to get more of the city’s history and culture.

Imagine exploring over 2000 years of history! Plus beer! That’s what Tournai offers and more. Every corner of the city oozes rich history, with lecterns and statutes, ancient cathedrals, and churches still standing. And beer. It’s a place you won’t regret visiting.

As for nature lovers, the city gives you more than enough ways to explore their landscape. The numerous hiking trails are a perfect show of this. You can explore the area on foot, by tourist train, by segway, or even book a guided tour.

Some of the city’s highlights that you wouldn’t want to miss include the Historical Center, The Cathedral, and the Belfry. You’ll undoubtedly have more than enough on your bucket list of things to do here. As such, Tournai perfectly fits among the best day trips from Brussels, any day!

16. Ypres

The gothic Cloth Hall of Ieper (Ypres), Belgium
Image by Eddy Van 3000 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ypres is a town in West Flanders, Belgium, and one of the best cities to plan great day trips from Brussels. It is best known for its historical center, the Ypres Cloth Hall, its Belfry, and the Ypres Salient.

During WWI, Ypres became one of the sites of some of the worst fighting of the war. The Battles of Ypres (five separate battles ranging from 1914-18, including the Battle of Passchendaele) would claim well over 1 million lives.

As such, the town has a lot of history regarding the war. And even for those who don’t really love history, the city has plenty to offer if you visit for one day, particularly chocolate and candy.

The town itself is the most significant monument in all respects of war. Ypres had been largely destroyed during these battles, causing near-total destruction – but Ypres rebuilt. And during the extensive construction projects over decades, even medieval buildings have been renovated.

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine these impressive buildings were built in the last hundred years. But it’s certainly one of the most history-rich towns to visit near Brussels.

And just from personal experience, the people of Ypres are some of the kindest, most welcoming, and most generous people you could ever hope to meet.

See Related: Brussels vs Amsterdam: What’s the Difference?

17. Rotterdam

A view of Rotterdam on a clear evening
Image by John Morgan used under CC BY 2.0

Rotterdam is a city that’s perfect for day trips from Brussels. It’s only about a two-hour train ride away, and there are plenty of reasons to visit this beautiful Dutch city. Whether you want to check out the architecture, eat some traditional food, or enjoy some fine arts and culture, Rotterdam has it all.

Like the other day trips, you can get here on the same train line as Paris, Antwerp, and Amsterdam. It’s an easy, fast train journey from the city center of Brussels.

First things first: if you’re going to be in this harbor town in The Netherlands, then you need to try out the traditional Dutch food—it’s fantastic. So make sure you try them while you’re here.

My favorite dish was Stamppot, which is basically mashed potatoes with gravy on top. You can get different types, such as broccoli, carrots, and pork products (normally the traditional rookworst – a delectable smoked sausage).

It’s so delicious! Being a harbor town, you also have to try the ubiquitous seafood, particularly any scallops or pickled herring you come across.

Another thing I loved doing while in Rotterdam was checking out all their museums. There were so many options available, but one place that really stood out was Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

This museum focuses on modern art, which I am obsessed with, so needless to say, I had an amazing time. I spent a good amount of time exploring the space before finally heading toward its large collection at the back end.

Here there were beautiful art and artifacts by artists like Rembrandt, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and Hieronymus Bosch just waiting for me…oh yeah, don’t forget about those paintings by Vincent van Gogh either. You might have heard of him. They’re pretty incredible too.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Utrecht, Netherlands

18. Maastricht

Old City of Maastricht, Province of Limburg, Netherlands
Image by ZaironCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you’re in Brussels and looking for a new place to visit, Maastricht is a fantastic option. It’s only about an hour and a half away by the fastest bus and is one of the best day trips from Brussels.

The medieval city has plenty to see, including historic buildings like St Servaas’ Church, whose construction took place between the 11th and 13th Centuries. The old town hall, with its beautiful carvings, is also a sight to behold, plus several museums that feature everything from artworks to coins and banknotes.

If you have time after exploring the city’s core, take in some of its other attractions. You can stop by one of many cheese shops (Maastricht is known for its world-class varieties of traditional Dutch cheeses) or try some beer at one of many breweries in town.

See Related: Best Hotels in the Netherlands | Top Places to Stay

19. Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany
Image by Jose A. used under CC BY 2.0

Cologne is a city in Germany, the country’s fourth most populous city, and the largest city in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area. Cologne is also one of the world’s most important trade fair cities and has developed one of Europe’s biggest media sectors.

It boasts multiple television and radio stations and several major publishing houses. The city was founded by the Romans in 50 BC as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA), or Cologne, after its Roman name Colonia Agrippinensium.

It was built on an important crossroads between two major rivers. From east to west is the Rhine, and from north to south, runs the Moselle. As for the attractions, you certainly can’t exhaust what the city offers.

For starters, Cologne is home to one of the world’s tallest cathedrals, rather the 3rd tallest church in the world. The medieval, shrapnel-scarred Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is a sight you don’t want to miss, as it also houses the “Shrines of the Three Kings.”

Other major attractions in this city include Musem Ludwig, Romano-Germanic Museum, and the Old Town Cologne. In addition, you can take cruises on the great Rhine River, visit the Cologne Zoological Gardens, or take a tour of the Flora and Botanical Garden. And, if you’ve reached the end of this list and still haven’t had enough chocolate, there’s always the Cologne Chocolate Museum!

See Related: Best Breweries in Cologne, Germany | Top Beer Halls

Final Thoughts

There are endless possibilities for amazing day trips from Brussels. Whether you’re interested in history or culture or just want to relax by a canal with a good book, there’s sure to be a destination on this list that appeals to you. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today.

FAQ

What are some of the best day trips from Brussels?

Some of the best day trips from Brussels include exploring the charming cities of Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. Visiting the picturesque Ardennes region and touring the historical city of Namur also offer endless fun moments.

Where can you get to from Brussels?

Brussels is a great starting point for day trips to some of Europe’s most famous destinations. Just a few hours away are Paris, Amsterdam, and London. There’s also Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp – all beautiful Belgian cities well worth a visit. And if you’re looking for a little bit of nature and fresh air, head to the charming Ardennes region for some hiking and cycling.

Can you make a day trip from Brussels to Bruges?

Yes, you can. In fact, there are many great day trips from Brussels. It all depends on what kind of fun or attractions you are looking for.

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