Brussels, the capital city of Belgium is a popular destination for visitors from all corners of the world. People visit this beautiful city to connect with the history of Belgium, art, and culture. Bustling outdoor markets, several museums, a stunning royal palace and a variety of local breweries set the scene for your day in Brussels. But have you considered day trips from Brussels?
Of course, it would be tempting to spend your entire day exploring what the city of Brussels has to offer. But while visiting this fascinating city, why not grab the opportunity of soaking up what the surrounding areas have to offer? Why not take day trips from Brussels that not only take you to different parts of Belgium but to several neighbouring countries?
And guess what? Brussels is just a couple of hours' drive to several major towns and sites in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France.
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Recommendations for Day Trips from Brussels
Brussels is a major hub for Belgium and the entire European Union. It doesn’t matter whether you opt to explore the regions of local Wallonia and Flanders regions or cross over the border to a neighbouring country, the fact is that you won’t be disappointed wherever you go. Yes, besides checking out the interesting things that the Belgium capital has to offer, you can also venture further out in easy one day trips.
Although most of the day trips from Brussels we discuss below can be easily done by public transport, for more independence and flexibility, we recommend you consider renting a car. Having your own car allows you to be in charge of your schedule, time, and number in your group.
Bruges, the Canals Network City
The most popular destination after the nation’s capital is definitely Bruges. It, therefore, comes as no big surprise that it is also among the most popular among day trips from Brussels. Markt, Bruges’ on the main square should be an ideal place to begin your Bruges day. Here you can marvel at the towering Belfry of Bruges and other striking structures.
A short walking distance away you come face to face the Basilica of the Holy Blood which is said to retain a holy relic that contains the blood of Christ.
If religious matters don’t capture your imagination, then get mesmerized by the city’s network of canals. From Brussels to Bruges it takes an hour on the frequent trains.
Cross Over to Beautiful Amsterdam
From the capital of Belgium to Amsterdam is 200 kilometres which makes this beautiful Dutch city an excellent one day trip from Brussels. Not only is this city packed with scenic beauty, thanks to its amazing views of canals and waterfronts, but it’s also a rich oasis of history, art, and culture.
Love art? At Anne Frank House, you get the chance of getting in touch with the past. Learn about art at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum or visit the Rembrandt and Van Gogh House museums. And while at it why not also enjoy a drink of the world-famous Heineken beer? And guess what? If you want to explore the city’s main pubs, landmarks, and streets, you can easily rent a bike and ride your way around the city
Direct Eurostars and Thalys trains run daily between Brussels and Amsterdam. The journey is relatively short taking a max of two and a half hours. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover that from Amsterdam Central Station, the main sights are within walking distance.
Ypres, the Scene of World War One Battles
A history aficionado? You may want to visit Ypres and recall some of WW1’s bloodiest battles fought on Belgium soil. Although it has a history stretching back to the Middle Ages, the town of Ypres is today mostly known for its part as an important WW1 battlefield. It's only 123 kilometres from the capital to this fascinating historical place.
Surrounded by the famous Ypres Salient battlefields, the charming and interesting town takes you back in time as you wander through the museums, war memorials, and cemeteries discovering the horrors of WW1, its villains as well as heroes.
Some of the important landmarks that captured our imagination are the Menin Gate Memorial, the German cemetery (Langemark), and the Saint George’s Chapel. The train journey to Ypres from Brussels takes about 2 hours.
An outing to Ypres has several additional benefits. As you travel towards Ypres, you get the chance of taking in breathtaking views which makes a great choice for your day trips from Brussels.
Visit Napoleon’s Waterloo Battlefield
If you are a student of history you may be aware of the place of Waterloo in the annals of history. You may want to spend time at the famous Waterloo Battlefield where Napoleon met his biggest defeat. Waterloo is located 30 kilometres from Brussels. Attractions here include Butte du Lion battlefield, translated as Lion Mound.
We are passionate about the past and we recommend you visit the Musée Wellington that captures the spirit of this Battlefield. Make sure you don’t leave without checking out Memorial 1815. This is a compelling underground centre that illustrates the historic significance of this battle.
Getting to this historic site by public transport is easy with trains departing every hour from Brussels. Driving to the site is also straightforward which also means you can combine your Waterloo visit with stops at places like the African Museum in Tervuren and if the season is right, the breathtaking bluebells in Halle Forest.
The Lovely City of Lille in France
From Brussels, it’s easy to hop across the Belgian border into France for a visit to the lovely French city of Lille. Begin your tour at Place du Theatre square which puts you in the middle of the city’s most striking landmarks. The Opera House and CCI Grand Lille building will capture your imagination while La Vieille Bourse gives a magnificent renaissance sight.
On the other side of La Vieille Bourse lies the Place Charles de Gaulle that highlights the huge massive Colonne de la Déesse memorial. Love walking? Then take a walk through the charming streets of Lille, check out the Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral, the imposing Porte de Paris arch, and finish at the Palais des Beaux-Arts.
And know what? It takes you less than 40 minutes by train to Lille from Brussels. Can a day trip get better than that?
The Old Little Town of Leuven
Compared to other choices in the Flanders region for day trips from Brussels, Leuven may not get as much attention. But the University City of Leuven will amaze you with its unique offerings. Just a short 25 minutes from Brussels, in this small town, you’ll soon find yourself engulfed by amazing architecture on the main square.
We just could not get enough of the beauty of the Town Hall and Tafelrond or the impressive St Pieters Church. After wandering around the Old Town, head to the University Library and be amazed by its superb tower views, magnificent reading hall as well as the informative museum.
Across town, take a stroll through the Groot Begijnhof neighbourhood with its magnificent village-like houses. And, did you know this town is home to one of the country’s oldest botanical gardens? Yes, enjoy a visit to the Hortus Botanicus Lovaniensis while in Leuven.
And then, after a great sightseeing day, reward yourself with a tour of the Stella Artois Brewery and some beer taste testing.
Tournai, Close to the French Border
A small town close to the French border, Tournai bustles with attractions worthy of a day trip from Brussels. This is one of Belgium’s oldest towns, and as such has many vintage attractions, all proudly embraced by its astonishing skyline. You may want to start your day by visiting the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. This medieval Catholic cathedral is famous for its wonderful rose window and distinctive 5 towers.
Nearby, you get to view another UNESCO-recognized edifice, the splendid Belfry of Tournai. This landmark literally defines the Tournai’s cityscape. You can visit the remains of the oldest military construction in Belgium – the ‘Pont des Trous’. Another worthy place in Tournai is the Museum of Fine Arts.
Love the carnival atmosphere? Why not schedule your visit to coincide with the town’s main annual events like the traditional annual carnival?
Anxious about getting to Tournai? Trains leave for this town from Brussels every hour and it takes just over an hour.
Hasselt, the Lively Capital of Limburg Province
Hasselt is located 85 kilometres east of the city of Brussels. And yes, there is something special to be seen in this corner of Flanders. For starters, you get to view a model replica of a 17th-century Japanese tea garden.
The Hasselt garden comprises a highly detailed complex of waterfalls, paths, and cherry trees covering around 2.5 hectares. Love strolling? This garden forms an idyllic and exotic landscape for that whimsical stroll.
The Museum Stellingwerff-Waerdenhof is located on the inner town’s east side. If you love history, here you'll find everything about the locals and town history. The most outstanding exhibit at this local museum is the world’s oldest known monstrance (ostensorium or an ostensory) dating from 1286.
Brussels to Hasselt by train will take you about one and a half hours while a car gets you there in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Luxembourg City in Neighboring Luxembourg
Luxembourg City hosts major European political institutions such as the European Investment Bank, Publications Office of the European Union, Secretariat of the European Parliament, and Statistical Office Eurostat. No wonder it’s a prime choice for day trips from Brussels.
The Old Quarter of Luxembourg City is a UNESCO World Heritage designated Site because of its many historic castles, impeccably tended historical gardens, and fortresses such as the Walls of Corniche. From the Walls of Corniche, you get stunning views over the City’s Old Quarter.
On the way back from Luxembourg City to Brussels, if you are using the bus, it stops in the picturesque town of Dinant in Wallonia which you may want to explore.
The Quaint Town of Dinant
We think Dinant has one of the most breathtaking and dramatic views you can ever get over the Meuse River. Take a tour down the river as you admire the historic Collegiate Church of Our Lady. If taking to the water gives you the chills, why not trek to the top of this Gothic structure for a spectacular view of Dinant?
It is in this small town where you get to view iconic saxophones that celebrate a star who was born here, Adolphe Sax. It’s also in this town where you get to see or cross the Charles de Gaulle Bridge leading to the home of Adolphe Sax which has been turned into a museum.
If you prefer visiting Dinant directly without combining your day trip from Brussels with Luxemburg City, the train takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. A car gets you there in about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Tour the Cultural City of Ghent
How can you leave without a taste of the cultural side of what day trips from Brussels can offer? This city satisfies a broad range of cultural needs. It will, for example, offer the opportunity of visiting the St Bavo’s Cathedral where you can view an oil painting by Van Eyck or visit the Ghent Design Museum.
This is also a leading culinary destination with a broad choice of speciality and gourmet restaurants. This picturesque city is close to Brussels and reaching there by train or car will on average take 30 minutes
Check what Huizingen Domain has to Offer
Nature lover? Well, we haven’t forgotten you. Our last recommendation for day trips from Brussels, and certainly not the least worthy, is to Huizingen Domain. The drop-dead stunning meticulously landscaped gardens and mile after mile of walking trails located in the Huizingen Domain make an unbeatable one day trip from Brussels.
Much history is found here too. You will get a chance to see the first castle constructed here that dates to the 15th century. However, the real extension of the site began in the mid-19th century after the creation of the park we see today.
Travelling with kids? You will find plenty to keep them happy here as the Domain has playground facilities, swimming pools, and a zoo. You cannot find a better place for a family picnic or leisure than this. The best thing is that Huizingen Domain is located just 15 kilometres to the south of Brussels.