How to See Brussels, Belgium in 5 Hours

How to See Brussels, Belgium in 5 Hours

Mont des Arts, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

While we really wanted to squeeze a proper visit to Belgium into the Euro Trip, time was short so we decided to make it a detour trip and see as much as possible between trains from Paris to Amsterdam. We bought train tickets with a 5 hour layover in Brussels and made the most of the time. We checked our backpacks into the lockers at the train station and then did all of our exploration on foot.

Royal Palace

First stop, we walked to the the Royal Palace, with an expansive estate filled with perfectly manicured topiaries. It used to house the Royal Family, but has turned into a place of Royal business. Across the street, we walked through the Brussels Park, enjoying sun-dappled sidewalks with fountains and statues.

Royal Palace of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

Royal Place and St. Jacques-Sur-Coudenberg

As we exited the park, we looked for the Royal Place where we found an imposing statue of “Godefroid Van Bouillon” in front of the St. Jacques-Sur-Coudenberg church with it’s colorful fresco and bell tower. From this statue, you have a great view of the Grand Place.

Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg Church, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

Mont des Arts

A stunning view from one end of the Mon des Arts shows the Lower Town of Brussels with the spire of the Town Hall in the distance. The garden has a fantastic geometric pattern (pictured at the top of the page) and has water fountains with plenty of park benches. Surrounding the Mont des Arts (French for “mount of the arts”), are numerous museums and palaces. I really liked a unique clock called a Jacquemart Carillion which was on an archway next to the garden and was really bummed out I didn’t get to see it ring. Next time!

Jacquemart Carillion du Mont des Arts, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

Grand Place

The Grand Place is the stunning city center with a towering Town Hall. The square is so snug that I couldn’t back up far enough the get the whole building in the picture. I could have spent a lot longer going around and getting a good look at the architecture and visiting the many museums in the square. But I only had 5 hours, people.

Town Hall

Brussels Town Hall, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

Hotel Résidence Le Quinze in La Grand Place

Hotel Résidence Le Quinze in La Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

Guild Halls

The gorgeous guild halls surround the square with decorative facades that may or may not have anything to do with the business underneath (ie Starbucks).

Facades of the Guildhalls in La Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

 

Manekkan Pis

Manneken Pis Statue, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.com

I was trying to decide what to see while in Brussels and at top of every list was Manekkan Pis. So if you want to see the top most popular attraction of Brussels Belgium, head to the nearest two foot tall bronze statue of a little boy pissing into a fountain. Seriously. It is supposed to represent the “rebellious nature” of the people of Brussels (they are a bunch of rascals). I was highly disappointed to see he was naked because he occasionally will be dressed in various costumes, which are all on display at the City Museum in the Grand Place. It was incredibly underwhelming, but there were waffles right next door, so it worked out in the end.

 

Waffles, Beer, French Fries, and Chocolate

Manneken Pis Waffle Statue, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.comBelgium is known for their superior version of the waffle, for some of the world’s best beer, for having invented french fries (or should I say Belgian Fries?), and for their mind-blowing chocolate. (And for their diamonds, but we ran out of time.)

For the first course, we sampled the waffles just around the corner from the Manekkan. Le Funambule Waffles had it’s own version of the statue and a massive selection of toppings for your waffle (I went with strawberries and whipped cream). And at 1€, you really can’t go wrong!

As a proud foodie, I wasn’t about to let the fact I just housed a Belgian waffle in record time hold me back from also enjoying more Belgian delicacies! We were on a mission to find a cold Belgian beer and piping hot fries (with the obligatory mayo that Europeans insist on drowning their fries with). We Beer and fries in Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.comkept an eye out for an inviting pub and found a cozy establishment along one of Brussels’ many narrow side streets. We asked for the bartender’s suggestion on the best beer and then we drank up!

To say “cheers” in Brussels, they mostly speak Dutch, so we said, “Proost!”

 

Cathedral St. Michael and St. Gudula

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, Brussels, Belgium www.knowntoventure.comWhen we finished our feast, we saw we still had time before our train, so we walked over to the magnificent gothic Cathedral down the road from the station. The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula was an amazing find for a big gargoyle nerd, like myself, with plenty of comical and detailed creatures to gawk at through my camera lens.

 

Midi Train Station:

Before we jumped on the train bound for Amsterdam, we had one more mission to complete, which was to try Belgian chocolate whilst in Belgium. We had very little time left before our train, but luckily there was a chocolate shop right in the station. La Belgique Gourmande did not disappoint, where we were able to select a delightful variety of Belgian goodies and pay by the ounce. I boarded the train with a bag full of chocolate candies that I slowly nibbled on all the way to Amsterdam.

Next Time:

I missed the famous “Flower Carpet” by just days, as there were plastic bags full of flowers being cleaned up from the Grand Place when we arrived. I also really wanted to see the Atomium sculpture and taste-test at a few chocolate factories and Belgian breweries. Apparently, there is a female version of the Manekkan Pis, but I could probably be fine without seeing that. Until next time Belgium, “tot ziens”!

"Brussels floral carpet B" by Wouter Hagens - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brussels_floral_carpet_B.jpg#/media/File:Brussels_floral_carpet_B.jpg
Photo Credit – “Brussels floral carpet B” by Wouter Hagens

Anything I forgot? Mention a Belgian must-see I missed as I whipped through Brussels below!

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