It’s been ages since I last traveled to Brussels, but the city feels familiar as soon as I arrive. The cobbled streets, medieval squares, and artisan chocolate shops give a warm welcome and transport me back to the summer I spent working in this city. It feels good to be home, even if I only have 1 day in Brussels.
1 Day in Brussels
A day isn’t nearly enough to see the entire Belgian capital, but it’s a good amount of time to take in the highlights, revisit some of my favorite spots, and try a couple of new restaurants.
I arrive in the evening with my boyfriend, and we head straight for a restaurant in the Marolles called L’Idiot du Village (yep, The Village Idiot). As we step inside, we’re transported into an intimate boudoir. Red dominates the walls and everything feels very cozy, including the rustic cuisine.
The next morning we’re off in search of more good food. But first, coffee. At the suggestion of my friend Jess—she also used to live in Brussels—we stop at Natural Caffe on the Mont des Arts for a cappuccino. It’s every bit as delicious as we hoped, and fuels us on to our breakfast spot, Jat’ Cafe.
Jat’ is on the street where I lived in Brussels, and its colorful interior and bright ambiance have definitely improved the area since I was there. We stop for a quick bagel, then head out to start exploring the city.
Our 1 day in Brussels has already been a winner, but it gets even better as we wander through the Grand Sablon. This elegant square is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings and graced by the presence of some of Belgium’s top chocolatiers.
Not far from here is the Grand Place, the city’s pièce de résistance. The square is one of the most beautiful in Europe, with gilded facades and delicate spires towering into the air.
We take in the grandeur until our necks are sore from looking up, then duck into the gorgeous shopping arcade of the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert before heading to Ixelles for lunch.
The walk takes around 45 minutes, and along the way we pass by some of the city’s best museums, through the Place Royale, and alongside a lot of lovely doors.
As we get closer to our destination, we take in the pretty houses and shopfronts of Ixelles and eventually the two ponds the neighborhood is known for.
Lunch is on the edge of said ponds at a restaurant called Le Canterbury. It specializes in chicken dishes, so I tuck into one of the spit-roasted variety and a generous side of fries. It goes down a treat after the long walk, and by the time we leave I’m ready to explore again.
Which is good, because the next place on our itinerary is my favorite. With 1 day in Brussels I had to make sure the Horta Museum was on the list. We walk into Saint-Gilles to get to the museum, which is the former house and studio of Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta. The interior is a spectacular work of art, with every detail planned and executed beautifully.
We soak up everything from the curving metalwork to the dramatic stairwell before leaving to head back into the city center. There we stroll through the Marolles, getting our fix of Old Brussels and popping into antiques shops as we go.
By the time we arrive back at the Grand Place we’re ready for a break. And in Belgium there’s no better way to take one than with a beer. We walk over to A La Mort Subite, a famous cafe from 1928 with long tables and decor frozen in time. We drink beer and raise a glass to the city, which has shown us a great time during our short stay.
And then it’s home to London for us. We wave good-bye to Brussels and I vow—like always—that it won’t be so long before I travel here again.
But I know that when I do I’ll find the same familiar places waiting for me, and a few more new ones to discover.
Have you been? How would you spend 1 day in Brussels?