Located at the centre of Europe, Brussels is a great base for exploring more of Belgium and its neighbouring countries. With fairy-tale cities like Bruges, Ghent and Dinant around the corner, there is so much that you can see in just a day trip from Brussels. Many popular international tourist destinations like Amsterdam and Luxembourg are also within easy reach.
During my last trip to Belgium, I enjoyed the comfort of not having to unpack and repack repeatedly in order to see many places at once. As a major European hub with seamless public transport, you can just book a hotel in Brussels for multiple nights and take a train or bus to explore somewhere else for a few hours. The opportunities for unforgettable day trips from Brussels are nearly endless.
To make planning easier for you, I have compiled this list of destinations that myself and other professional travel writers have personally visited and loved. In this article, you will find ideas for the best day trips from Brussels that are less than three and half hours away, along with how to get there. I hope it inspires you to spend more time in Brussels and explore its surrounding area to the fullest. There really is so much to see!
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Recommended by Charu from Travel with CG
When thinking about day trips to take from Brussels, Bruges is the one name that usually comes first to mind. Home to otherworldly canals, mediaeval architecture, horse-drawn carriages and cobbled alleyways, it is an enchanting small city that is rightly one of the best places in Belgium. With only little ground to cover, it comes as no surprise that Bruges is also the most popular amongst Brussels day trips.
Begin your time in Bruges by visiting Grote Markt, the city’s main square housing the iconic colourful houses and the 13th century Belfry of Bruges. You can take a tour inside and admire the treasury and the municipal archives, or head straight to the roof to get a bird’s eye perspective of the market square. Just keep in mind that you will have to climb 366 steps to get up there.
Next, walk past traditional Belgian confectionary shops selling delicious waffles and chocolates to make your way to Burg Square. The Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges City Hall and an Old Civil Registry are all located there. If you are an art enthusiast, make sure to buy a ticket to the basilica to see Madonna and Child, the only sculpture by Michelangelo that left Italy before his death.
Lastly, since no trip to Bruges can be complete without marvelling at its charming canals, hop on one of the many boats around you and see the city from an entirely new angle. If you are short on time, grab yourself a waffle and head to Bonifacius Bridge and sit by one of the benches overlooking the canals instead. You will soon realise why Bruges is popularly known as the “Venice of the North”.
Distance from Brussels: 98 kilometres (60 miles) approximately.
Getting to Bruges from Brussels: Multiple direct trains run between Brussels and Bruges every hour. You can book your tickets in advance or simply show up at Brussels North, Brussels Midi or Brussels Central station and get to Bruges in an hour. Alternatively, you can also rent a car and take the E40 heading northwest and get off at exit 397. Just be prepared to park further away as the historic centre of Bruges is pedestrian only.
Recommended Tour: Full Day Guided Tour from Brussels to Bruges
Recommended by Charu from Travel with CG
Located halfway between Brussels and Bruges, Ghent is one of the easiest yet overlooked day trips from Brussels. Known for being an amalgamation of the past and the present, it is a charming city home to heaps of history and modern developments. With plenty to see and do, you can easily spend a day appreciating its music, theatre, street art and mediaeval architecture.
When visiting Ghent, spend some time exploring its historic centre on foot, uncovering picturesque alleys, gabled houses, and characteristic churches. The St. Bavo’s Cathedral housing the famous Ghent Altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck is definitely a must on any Ghent itinerary. If you are keen on incredible views, you can even make your way to the top and get a glimpse of the many canals and quaint pathways that make Ghent so alluring.
Moving further along, the 91 metre tall Belfry of Ghent is unmissable. You can tour the museum inside, experience the hourly music wheel in action, or directly take the elevator up to the roof. Being the tallest Belfry in all of Belgium, the 360 degree view from there is well worth the price. The Ghent City Hall situated in the same vicinity is also a nice stop before making your way to the canal banks.
Once near the waterfront, you can experience a young and vibrant Ghent with heaps of students sitting on either side of the Leie River. Known as Graslei and Korenlei, the two quays of Ghent are cultural hotspots of the city with many restaurants, café patios, and other dining options. You can take a stroll along the water’s edge, or sit out and enjoy the view. The enticing St. Michael’s Bridge connecting the two quays is perfect for pictures.
Finally, end your day trip by going on a canal tour from the port near St. Michael’s Bridge. On your boat ride, you will come across the splendid Gravesteen, a 12th century mediaeval castle, which once served as the home of the Count of Flanders. You can also tour the Gravesteen castle first and then take a boat tour at sunset.
CG’s tip: While many people combine Bruges and Ghent in one day trip, I would recommend giving them at least a day each. Although it is technically possible to see some of the major highlights of both in just one day, it doesn’t do justice to either of the cities and you will feel super rushed. But, if you are short on time, then this Bruges and Ghent full-day tour has great reviews.
Distance from Brussels: 55 kilometres (34 miles) approximately.
Getting to Ghent from Brussels: Several direct trains run between Brussels and Ghent within an hour, reaching in roughly 40 minutes. You can also drive to Ghent yourself or book a guided tour from Brussels.
Recommended Tour: Full-day Brussels to Ghent Guided Tour
Recommended by Dymphe from Dymabroad
Another popular day trip from Brussels is one to the city of Antwerp. It is the second largest city in the country and you can find it in the Flanders region. With many historical sites under its belt and an array of diamond dealers and fashion houses, there is plenty to keep you occupied for a day’s time.
When in Antwerp, begin your time by visiting the many interesting museums in the city and learning about its rich culture. The Museum aan de Stroom, located along the river, covers a variety of aspects of the city and is a great place to get your bearings in. The Rubens House, showcasing the incredible works of the famous artist Peter Paul Rubens, in his former home, is worth visiting too.
Next, make your way to the Grote Markt, a town square located in the heart of Antwerp, to admire the beautiful architecture of the City Hall and Brabo Fountain. The Cathedral of Our Lady, dominating the skyline of the city with its Renaissance design and Gothic elements, is also worth noticing.
Another great activity to partake in Antwerp is to visit the Chocolate Nation. Being the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world, it is a wonderful place to take a tour and learn about all things Belgian chocolate. The best part is that you will get to taste 10 different flavours of chocolate when there.
After being on foot for the majority of the day, head to Park Spoor Noord for some relaxation. Built on a former railway track, it is an urban park housing numerous restaurants and walking trails. Lastly, end your day by walking underneath St. Anna’s Tunnel, a historic pedestrian and bicycle tunnel below the Scheldt river.
Distance from Brussels: 55 kilometres (34 miles) approximately.
Getting to Antwerp from Brussels: From Brussels, it takes about 45 minutes to get to Antwerp by train. You can also rent a car in Brussels and drive yourself, the journey time is roughly one hour by road.
Recommend Tour: Antwerp Day Trip from Brussels
Recommended by Megan from Wander Toes
A university city in Belgium, Leuven has an energetic vibe and decreased crowds (even in the traditionally busy season), making it an excellent day trip from Brussels. It is located just 29 km west of Brussels, so it is a quick and easy trip between the cities.
A day in Leuven consists of world renown architecture, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, weekly markets, and a rich beer brewing history. The city’s top landmarks are within easy walking distance of each other, as well as the train station, making it convenient to see the highlights in a day’s time. Begin your trip by heading to Grote Markt, a central square located only a 10-minute walk from the train station.
Once there, you can visit the St. Peter’s Church with its soaring interior, ornately carved pulpit, and museum within the chancel and ambulatory. The world-famous Town Hall with lace-like Gothic architecture and 236 exterior statues is also located within the same area. Oude Markt, nicknamed the “longest bar in the world” because of the 40-ish bars lining the square, is also worth checking out.
Next, walking a bit farther will bring you to Leuven’s Groot Begijnhof, one of the largest remaining beguinages in the Low Countries. This ‘town within a town’ has been beautifully restored and now houses the KU University. You can stroll its paths and linger on the bridges over the two canals.
Finally, be sure to tour KU University Library to learn its heart-wrenching WWII history before heading back. For more details, check out this guide to plan your day trip to Leuven.
Distance from Brussels: 29 kilometres (18 miles) approximately.
Getting to Leuven from Brussels: Although you can easily rent a car and drive to Leuven from Brussels, the cost and distance for car parking in Leuven may not be worth it. There are frequent direct trains between the two cities many times per hour, making it the most convenient and cost-effective method. You can reach Leuven in under 30 minutes.
Recommend Tour: Private Day Trip from Brussels to Leuven
Recommended by Joanna from The World in My Pocket
Namur, the capital of the Wallonia region in Belgium, is another wonderful destination for a day trip from Brussels. Home to quaint alleyways boosting historic landmarks, great restaurants, and boutique chocolate shops, it is a charming city to walk around and explore on foot.
There are plenty of things to do in Namur in one day, starting with a visit to the Citadel which overlooks the city. A few years ago a new cable car connecting the centre of the city with the top of the Citadel was opened, which makes getting up there so much more fun. You can get beautiful views over the city whilst slowly climbing up in the cable car. Alternatively, you can also walk up to the Citadel if you prefer doing a bit of a hike.
One of the most interesting tours you can do at the Citadel in Namur is exploring the underground tunnels with a guide. The visit is interactive, as well as a good history lesson in which you will learn more about the defence system of the Citadel and how different conquerors improved it.
The Felicien Rops Museum, housing some of the famous works by the artist is another place worth checking out. In fact, the giant golden turtle from the Citadel is a tribute to the artist as well. Created by Jan Fabre, the turtle is supposed to be carrying the Belgian artist on its back.
Distance from Brussels: 71 kilometres (44 miles) approximately.
Getting to Namur from Brussels: Getting to Namur from Brussels is very easy, with hourly trains that connect the two cities in just over one hour. You can also rent a car and drive there yourself, or book a guided day-tour.
Recommended Tour: Private 8-hour Tour to Namur with Hotel Pick up
Recommended by Jackie from Jou Jou Travels
Dinant is a beautiful, and under-the-radar town waiting to be discovered in Belgium. It is also located in the Wallonia region of the country and is an easy day trip from Brussels.
Dinant is famous for the saxophone as this is where the inventor Adolphe Sax was born. In the city centre, you will find the Charles de Gaulle Saxophone Bridge which was built in honour of Adolphe, but named after Charles de Gaulle after he suffered a wound here during the war. The bridge showcases 28 saxophones each dedicated to a different country in Europe. You will also find a tiny free Saxophone Museum where you can learn more about the wonderful inventor of this iconic instrument.
The city of Dinant was sadly a war zone, being the gateway of protection preventing the Germans from crossing the Meuse River to invade France. This is why you will find the towering Citadel soaring high into the sky. You can take a cable car up and see the incredible views of the city as well as learn about the history behind this charming town. You can also take the 408 steps down if you’d like to soak in more views. The cost to enter the Citadel is 11 Euros.
The beautiful Gothic Cathedral known as the Notre Dame Cathedral is also part of the postcard-perfect backdrop of any photo you will find of Dinant. It is free to enter and the interiors are stunning to see. For more things to do in this wonderful town, read about Dinant in Belgium here.
Distance from Brussels: 98 kilometres (61 miles) approximately.
Getting to Dinant from Brussels: There are several direct trains connecting Brussels and Dinant daily. You can head to Bruxelles Midi train station and reach Dinant in just two hours. Alternatively, driving is also an option, with the journey taking roughly an hour. You can also book a guided tour to Dinant and have them take care of the transport.
Recommended Tour: Private Day Tour to Wallonia from Brussels in a Limo
7. The Belgian Coast
Recommended by Natali from She’s Abroad Again
Did you know there are approximately 65 kilometres of white, sandy beaches along the Belgian coast? Yes, Belgium might not be the first country that comes to mind when you think about beach destinations. Yet, on a hot summer day, a day trip to the Belgian coast is a perfect way to escape the heat in the capital.
Once you reach the Belgian coast, you can spend the day swimming and enjoying the beach if the ocean is not too cold. Otherwise, for an active day in true Belgian style, you can rent a bike to explore the coast. The ride is exceedingly scenic, and you will love the nature and the sand dunes along the way. Make sure to stop for some pictures!
Alternatively, you can also take the iconic coastal tram along the coastline to Oostende. The Belgian coastal tram connects Knokke and De Panne, and is the longest (operational) tram line in the world. You can hop on, sit back and enjoy the scenic ride as you pass multiple towns. It is the perfect way to explore the area as you can also jump off the train at any of the 68 stops whenever you see something you like.
Distance from Brussels to De Panne: 142 kilometres (88 miles) approximately.
Getting to the Belgian coast from Brussels: To reach the Belgian coast, take a train from Brussels to either Knokke or De Panne. These two coastal towns are located on opposite sides of the coastline. A train from Brussel to Knokke takes about an hour and 20 minutes, while the one to De Panne takes 2 hours.
Recommended Tour: Private 2 hour Ostend Walking Tour
Recommended by Annelies from Travelers & Dreamers
If you get a bit tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, there is a great forest near Brussels that you can visit called Hallerbos. It’s only 20 kilometres from the centre of Brussels, on the outskirts of the city of Halle, but you’ll be in another world altogether. The surroundings are serene and quiet and occasionally you can spot a deer or a wild rabbit too.
Hallerbos is a year-round local touristic destination, but it gets more attention around May, especially internationally. This is because, come spring, thousands of Bluebells start blooming all over the forest, making it all the more alluring. The terrain turns completely purple and walking around the forest becomes a magical experience. People from all over the world visit the Hallerbos in spring to enjoy this natural spectacle.
You probably won’t get a full day trip out of visiting the Hallerbos since it’s very close to Brussels. So a fun thing to do, before or after visiting the forest, is to take a tour at a local farm brewery called Brouwerij Boon. They offer tours of the premises on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which costs €12 per person. It also includes a beer tasting!
You can also stop at ‘t Kriekske to have a drink or a bite after your walk. It is an enjoyable place offering typical Belgian cuisine and a large terrace.
Distance from Brussels: 20 kilometres (13 miles) approximately.
Getting to Hallerbos from Brussels: From Brussels, there is no public transport to the forest so you’ll have to take a taxi or rent a car. The most convenient place to park near the forest is at a restaurant called ‘t Kriekske. There’s a parking space next to it and the road into the forest starts there.
Recommended by Ella from Many More Maps
If you’re a history buff, there’s no better day trip from Brussels than Ypres (which is also called Ieper). The original city of Ypres was almost completely decimated in WW1, and it was in the fields surrounding the city where a big bulk of the fighting took place. Today, the town and its landmarks such as the stunning Town Hall, have been completely restored and are worth seeing.
There are many interesting things to do in Ypres, but if you’re only able to visit on a day trip, you’ll have to limit yourself to the city’s very best attractions. The In Flanders Fields Museum documents the experiences of the soldiers who fought in the area during WW1.
Unlike the norm, this museum focuses on the people involved in the war at Ypres, rather than conventional military strategy. There’s also a huge attention on the physical and mental toll that the war took on the soldiers and inhabitants of Ypres, and you’re sure to learn a lot whilst visiting.
Another must-see place in Ypres is the Menin Gate, a huge white archway which is inscribed with the names of over 54,000 soldiers who went missing during the war, and whose remains were never located. To get the most of the Menin Gate, stay in Ypres until the evening to see the Last Post Memorial ceremony. It takes place every night at 8 pm and is truly touching.
Distance from Brussels: 124 kilometres (77 miles) approximately.
Getting to Ypres from Brussels: From Brussel-Centraal station, you can catch a direct train to Ypres, which takes around 1 hour and 54 minutes to get there. Alternatively, you can also rent a car and drive there, or book a guided tour that takes care of everything.
Recommended Tour: Flanders Battlefields Tour from Brussels
Recommended by Charu from Travel with CG
Amsterdam, the picturesque capital city of the Netherlands, is another wonderful day trip from Brussels. Due to the close proximity of the Netherlands with Belgium, you can easily hop onto the other side of the border in just a few hours and witness the major touristic landmarks in the City of Canals.
Once there, begin your trip by heading to Damrak, a beautiful area known for its historic crooked houses along the Damrak canal. Also known as the Dancing Houses of Damrak, these stunning homes are an iconic symbol of the city and only a few minutes away from the Amsterdam Central station. You can stop there for a picture or two on your way to the Dam Square.
Dam Square or the Dam is the main square housing the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, the National Monument, Madame Tussauds Museum and the New Church. You can visit any of these landmarks from inside or aboard a tram to continue onto the Rijksmuseum, showcasing millions of artworks. Being one of the more popular places in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum gets incredibly busy so make sure to purchase your tickets online from before.
Another landmark that you should also book the tickets in advance for is Ann Frank’s house. Known for being the diarist’s home during the Holocaust, you can tour the interiors shedding a light on everything that people went through via quotes, photos, films, her original diary and many other items. Just keep in mind that tickets are not sold on site and there usually is a big queue to enter.
Other notable sites to visit in Amsterdam are the Van Gogh and Rembrandt House museums. Depending on your interest, you can experience these from inside or head to the famous Heineken Experience directly before ending the day admiring the canals at sunset. Keizersgracht, Oudezijds Voorburgwal, Prinsengracht, and Brouwersgracht are amongst some of the most Instagrammable canals in Amsterdam.
Distance from Brussels: 209 kilometres (130 miles) approximately.
Getting to Amsterdam from Brussels: The fastest way to get to Amsterdam from Brussels is via train. Multiple high speed trains such as the Eurostar and the Thalys run daily between the two cities. You can reach Amsterdam in about two to two and a half hours depending on the train you book. Otherwise, renting a car and covering the distance by road is also possible.
Recommended Tour: Full day trip to Amsterdam from Brussels
Recommended by Kerry from VeggTravel
Another best day trip from Brussels to the Netherlands is to visit the trendy industrial town of Rotterdam. It is a major port city of South Holland and a thriving logistics and economic centre. As such there are many things to do in the city and plenty of unique and interesting architecture to discover.
Firstly, visit the iconic cube houses, designed with the vision of ‘living as an urban roof’. You can admire the structure from the outside or delve into the history and style by visiting the museum. Another interesting and practical place to visit is the vibrant market hall. This unique dome-like structure has a beautifully decorated roof that overlooks a bustling market, restaurant and bar facility.
Finally, understand more about Rotterdam’s culture and history at the Maritime Museum. The walk along the canal will whet your appetite for seeing more of the old boats and structures that you will find within. Whether you’re an art-buff or just intrigued by modern exhibits, Rotterdam makes a great day out from Brussels.
Distance from Brussels: 151 kilometres (94 miles) approximately.
Getting to Rotterdam from Brussels: The easiest way to get to Rotterdam is to drive as it is only approximately 100 miles away and will take about 1 hour 45 minutes. Other alternatives are trains or buses which both run frequently and take a similar length of time, but without the hassle of finding somewhere to park!
Recommended Tour: Rotterdam Highlights 2.5 Hour Bike Tour
Recommended by Chloe from Chloe’s Travelogue
Utrecht is a small college town in the Netherlands with a rich history and mediaeval heritage. Dubbed Europe’s most beautiful canal city, this relaxed destination is a wonderful idea for an unforgettable day trip from Brussels.
Start your time in Utrecht by heading over to Dom Tower, the highest mediaeval church tower in the Netherlands. There are 465 steps to get to the top, but don’t let the climb discourage you from going. The panoramic view of the city from there is rewarding, so is the famous bell play that you don’t want to miss when visiting.
Another iconic site in Utrecht is St. Martin’s Cathedral, next to Dom Tower. You can spend some time marvelling at its stained glass windows and majestic Gothic architecture, followed by a stroll in the secluded courtyard to enjoy a sunny afternoon.
Being a quaint town, Utrecht is a perfect place to unwind and simply enjoy the day with a beer in your hand. Grab a terrace seat in one of the bars along the canal, or visit the popular underground church converted into a beer restaurant. The offerings for a relaxing day trip are nearly limitless in Utrecht.
Utrecht is an excellent low-key destination for day trippers from Brussels who want to stay away from busy cities with a load of tourists. And fortunately for you, one day is just enough to explore this historic city and its beautiful canals.
Distance from Brussels: 180 kilometres (112 miles) approximately.
Getting to Utrecht from Brussels: Thanks to an excellent train system, it is not difficult to travel to Utrecht. Take a train from Brussels to Rotterdam, then transfer to a Dutch intercity train to Utrecht. The entire journey takes 2 and a half hours or less. You can check prices here.
Recommended Tour: Utrecht Walking Tour
Recommended by Zoe from Together in Transit
If you are looking for more beautiful day trips to the Netherlands from Belgium, make your way to Maastricht. This gorgeous southern Dutch city is the capital of the Limburg province in the country.
Upon arrival, you can get acquainted with Maastricht by joining a local walking tour through the city centre, Binnenstad. It’s one of the many popular things to do in Maastricht to learn more about the city. There are lots of historical points to see and admire in Binnenstad, such as the old castle walls and fortifications.
Afterwards you can also go on a tour of the underground caves of Maastricht. This tour will take you deep into where the famous Rembrandt’s Night Watch painting was kept hidden during the war. Make sure to have a warm jumper with you when visiting here, even if it is during summer. The underground can be really cold.
Once done with the tours, spend some time in the city centre of Maastricht to get a feel of the city. With heaps of unique boutiques and cosy restaurants, you can walk around or sit back and dine as you people watch. Depending on the weather, you can choose to go for an indoor or outdoor seating.
Being a car free zone filled with cobblestone streets, the city centre of Maastricht is a very pleasant area to explore by foot. If you fancy a coffee and a delicious piece of a Limburg’s vlaai to keep you going, visit the Bisschopsmolen bakery for the best options.
Distance from Brussels: 125 kilometres (77 miles) approximately.
Getting to Maastricht from Brussels: From Brussels, it takes only 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Maastricht by train. You can also rent a car and drive there, the journey is usually quicker with an average time of only 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Recommended Tour: Self Guided Tour of Maastricht with an Interactive Game
Recommended by Tjasa from The Travel Momento
The only remaining Grand Duchy in the world, Luxembourg is a small yet incredibly diverse country near Belgium. Being a destination of compact size, it can be easily seen in a day’s time. You can make the most out of your one day in Luxembourg by exploring the city on foot.
From the train station, it is a 15-minute walk to the city centre where you can find the majority of the most known sights of Luxembourg. Once there, spend your time touring the Palace of the Grand Duke and admiring the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral. The Luxembourg City Museum and The National Museum of Art and History are also interesting places if you feel like diving into the local history.
Afterwards, take a stroll in the beautiful gardens at the Place de la Constitution and spend your afternoon shopping around Place d’Armes at leisure. The hilly structure of Luxembourg separates the city centre into two parts: upper city centre or Haute Ville described above and the lower city centre, also known as the Grund.
For panoramic views of Luxembourg City, make your way to the 17th century Chemin de la Corniche, a beautiful walkway overlooking the Alzette valley. There are several medieval fortifications around it, and the view makes it a beautiful spot to take some pictures to remember your day trip by.
After hours of getting lost in small cobblestone streets and admiring the city from the top, finish the day by visiting local restaurants. Some Luxembourgish food to try includes Gromperekichelcher (potato fritters) and Stäerzelen (dumplings). For drinks, the traditional sparkling wine, Crémant, or one of the time-honoured Luxembourgish beers is good too.
Distance from Brussels: 198 kilometres (123 miles) approximately.
Getting to Luxembourg from Brussels: Only 3 hours from Brussels, you can easily reach Luxembourg by a bus, scenic train ride or rental car. Another popular option to get there is to book an organised tour. Just plan for an early departure so that you can make the most of your day trip to Luxembourg.
Recommended Tour: Guided City Tour with Wine Tasting
Recommended by Alex and Leah from Alex and Leah on Tour
Located close to the border with Belgium in northern France, Lille is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Being an important cultural and commercial hub, as well as a historical centre, it is a great place to visit from Brussels on a day trip.
There is plenty to see and do in Lille, but it is best to start your visit in the beautiful city centre. Reminiscent of Lille’s historical past, the buildings in the main square are truly breath-taking. Make sure to spend some time ambling around, admiring the stunning French and Flemish architecture. The compact size of the city makes it ideal for aimlessly exploring on foot.
If you are an art fanatic, make your way to the Palace of the Fine Arts (also known as Palais des Beaux-Arts), a municipal museum housing one of the largest art collections in the country. Depending on your interest and the amount of time you have to spare, you can opt to choose the walking trail of your tour accordingly. Just keep in mind that it remains closed on Tuesdays.
Once done, resume your walking tour of Lille and head to the picturesque streets of Vieux Lille to marvel at the interior of the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille, also known as Lille Cathedral. Next, to get a unique perspective of Lille, head straight to the Belfry tower and climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city.
Lille is also a great destination to visit for some shopping. Streets such as Rue de la Clef, Rue Masurel, Rue de la Grande Chaussée and Rue Basse in Old Lille have everything from luxury brands to antique shops. If you would prefer a closed space, the Westfield Euralille is a great alternative.
Finally, end your day by taking a stroll along the Canal de la Moyenne-Deule, or sit back for a picnic and watch the world go by. It is a beautiful area for relaxation.
Distance from Brussels: 111 kilometres (69 miles) approximately.
Getting to Lille from Brussels: Lille is extremely accessible from Brussels by both car and train. The latter is incredibly easy as the Bruxelles Midi train station has a direct line to both Gare de Lille and Lille Flandres. The journey costs around €20 and takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to get there on average.
Recommended Tour: 2 hour Guided Lille City Centre Tour
Recommended by Charu from Travel with CG
Although a day’s time is not enough to fully soak in the magic of the City of Love, it is still worth making the trip from Brussels to Paris if that is all you have. Home to iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame and the Louvre, the capital city of France has no dearth of places to see. If you leave early, you can still explore plenty in just a day.
Start your trip with a visit to Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Though it is not possible to admire the interiors of this Parisian symbol due to the ongoing reconstruction until 2024, just being able to stand beneath it to marvel at the architecture is reason enough for a quick stop. The construction of Notre-Dame Cathedral took nearly 200 years to complete.
Next, make your way to the nearby Louvre, the most famous art museum in the country housing the Mona Lisa. You can book your tickets in advance and visit the important parts of the museum in a couple of hours or simply take pictures with the pyramid from outside. While you are in the area, you can also grab yourself a seat in one of the restaurants overlooking the Louvre and eat with a view.
Once done, head towards Champs-Élysées to visit the Arc de Triomphe in all its glory. Being an historic landmark honouring all those who lost their lives during the French Revolution, it is one of the must-see spots in Paris. Besides, the architecture is striking and you can even climb the 284 steps to the top for an unmissable view.
Since no trip to the French capital can be complete without seeing the majestic Eiffel Tower, head to Trocadero for stunning views of the symbol of Paris. Located right across the Eiffel Tower, this free-to-visit platform is an ideal spot to take Instagrammable Eiffel Tower pictures. Later on, make your way down to the tower to see it up close, or purchase a ticket in advance to get a direct elevator access to the top. The view is seriously amazing!
Lastly, end your day with a cruise on the Seine. Starting at the Eiffel Tower, this one hour ride will take you past some of the most spectacular landmarks in Paris such as the Louvre, The Grand Palais, Musée d’Orsay, and Notre Dame Cathedral. There is even a bar onboard, so you can enjoy some refreshments as you sail beneath iconic bridges of the city like Pont de Bir-Hakeim, before ending at the Eiffel Tower.
Distance from Brussels: 312 kilometres (194 miles) approximately.
Getting to Paris from Brussels: There are multiple fast trains between Paris and Brussels every day, taking less than 2 hours. Driving is also an option, but it will take you nearly 3 hours and 30 minutes to get there, so it is best to take a train. Just book your tickets in advance as the fares can go up quickly.
Recommended Tour: Seine River Hop-on Hop-off Tour
Recommended by Charu from Travel with CG
While a little further away from Brussels than some of the other recommendations in this post, London, the capital of the United Kingdom, is still easy to reach because of the Eurostar. Boosting a plethora of world-renowned sights and museums, it is a destination with so much to offer that no amount of time is enough to see them all.
But, if you leave early in the morning from Brussels, then a day is still plenty to see the highlights of London on a packed itinerary. Upon reaching St. Pancras Station, the Eurostar terminal in London, take a moment to admire its Victorian Gothic architecture from outside. It is one of the most iconic stations in the world and you will quickly realise why once there.
Next, connect to King’s Cross Station and take a tube to Buckingham Palace to watch the famous Changing of the Guards. Starting at 10:45 am, it is a free ceremony that lasts for 45 minutes and takes place right outside Buckingham Palace. Once done, make your way to the Waterloo Station to visit two of the most famed landmarks of London: The London Eye and Big Ben.
Providing incomparable views of the city of London, the 30-minute London Eye ride will give you an ever-changing perspective of your surroundings as it rotates. There are both standard and fast track tickets available, so you can book whichever suits you best online and save time on the day.
Big Ben, the most famous chiming clock in the world, is also nearby. You can walk up to it and do a free tour of the bell tower as it chimes or simply admire the exterior from the Westminster Bridge. There are many picture spots in this area and you are sure to even spot the classic red buses of London when there.
After being on your feet for the majority of the day, make your way to Borough market and fuel up on local and international delicacies. Dating back to at least the 12th century, it is one of the largest food markets in the city. The Tower of London, a historic castle in the middle of the city, is also unmissable. You can stop outside to take some pictures of it by the Thames or go on a tour if you have time.
Lastly, end your day with a walk on the nearby Tower Bridge, the most beautiful bridge in London. There are several viewpoints to admire on either side of the river as well as many restaurants.
CG’s tip: If you are in Belgium on a Schengen visa, make sure to check whether you need an applicable visa for the UK to do this day trip from Brussels here.
Distance from Brussels: 377 kilometres (234 miles) approximately.
Getting to London from Brussels: The fastest way to get to London from Brussels is by taking a Eurostar high-speed train. There are also other trains available between the two cities, but you can reach in just 2 hours with the Eurostar.
Recommended Tour: Afternoon Tea Cruise on the River Thames
Currency: Pound Sterling
That’s a wrap on the best day trips from Brussels from me! I hope reading this post gave you tons of ideas about where else to go when visiting the Belgian capital. There really is so much to see near Brussels.
In case you have any questions or a suggestion to add, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or reach out to me via email or Instagram DM. I always love hearing from you and helping you out!
Happy day tripping,
Want to keep reading? You may like “Best Day Trips from Vienna, Austria” and “A Complete Bruges, Belgium Guide” too.
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