The Best Day Trips from Brussels

Anyone who has ever been in Brussels will tell you that it’s more than worth a visit either before, after or during your tour through Europe. However, if you’re getting a little burnt out in the European capital, there are plenty of nearby places worth a visit. Having been born and raised in Belgium myself, I can tell you all about them and before you can ask, yes, Brussels has a lot to offer. But so does the rest of Belgium, and it would be a shame to stay in the capital for your entire stay. 


Travel to: Belgium


These are the perfect day trips from Brussels that you need to make time for; as told by a local.

Are you ready to travel to Belgium? Take a look at our most popular tours here

Best day trip for the culture enthusiast: Ghent

  • How long it takes to get there by car: 50 minutes
  • How long it takes to get there by public transport: 30 minutes
  • Why you should go: Old buildings, art, nightlife and cuberdons
  • Fun fact: Roughly one out of every four inhabitants of Ghent is a student
  • Local places you need to eat: Holy Guacamoly, Ellis Gourmet Burgers, Wasbar, Jackie’s Bagel Bar

Ghent is one of the most important university cities in Belgium, housing various top universities and colleges which is part of the reason why it’s become one of the trendiest cities in Belgium. In other words, it’s the perfect place to stroll around for a day and take in the atmosphere of the city.

Be sure to grab a drink and enjoy the sun on Graslei, go for some food at the Holy Food Market, visit the medieval castle Gravensteen and hop on a water tram for the real tourist experience.

Best day trip for the history buff: Bruges

  • How long it takes to get there by car: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • How long it takes to get there by public transport: 1 hour
  • Why you should go: The Belfry, canals, medieval architecture, beer
  • Fun fact: Gotye, the famous singer and writer of pop hit Somebody That I Used To Know, was born in Bruges
  • Local places you need to eat: Sanseveria Bagelsalon, The Potato Bar, Blackbird

Bruges has often been called ‘Venice of Belgium’, and for good reason. The city is filled with small canals and well-preserved medieval buildings. In Bruges, you’ll quite literally feel like you’ve gone through a portal back to another era.

Don’t forget to consume an endless amount of Belgian waffles, take a chocolate walking tour to the city’s best chocolate shops, hire a bicycle to ride around the old town, bask in the glory of Market Square and City Hall and ride around in a horse-drawn carriage.

Best day trips from Brussels

Bruges

Best day trip for the modern traveller: Antwerp

  • How long it takes to get there by car: 50 minutes
  • How long it takes to get there by public transport: 45 minutes
  • Why you should go: Shopping, views, architecture, history
  • Fun fact: Antwerp is known as the diamond capital of the world
  • Local places you need to eat: Tinsel, Coffeelabs, Crumbles & Beans, Wild (vegan)

Whereas Bruges might be the perfect choice for people who are interested in history, Antwerp is the best alternative for travellers who want something different. Recently, Antwerp has even built a reputation as one of the hipster hotspots of Europe.

When in Antwerp, you should definitely check out the central station, get coffee at some of the many quirky coffee shops around, visit the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) and shop at the street fashion boutiques.

Best day trips from Brussels

Antwerp

Best day trip for the socialite: Leuven

  • How long it takes to get there by car: 30 minutes
  • How long it takes to get there by public transport: 25 minutes
  • Why you should go: Festivals, Christmas markets, nightlife, events
  • Fun fact: One of the world’s most famous beers, Stella Artois, is brewed in Leuven.
  • Local places you need to eat: Croque ‘n Roll, Debacker, Bar Stan, Vegaverso (vegan), Nosh, Soupaway

Even though Leuven might not be very well-known among tourists, there are a lot of pictures of this city on websites promoting Belgium that show the eccentric cobbled streets of Leuven. Don’t be tricked by these images, though or be mistaken that is is a quiet place. Leuven is, in fact, one of the liveliest cities in Belgium, known for its many events and vibrant nightlife.

While visiting Leuven, you really should go and see the Stella Artois brewery, check out the iconic university library, shop at the many weekly markets and go out at night at the Oude Markt.

Other notable events that you should make time for include the Leuven Jazz Festival (March), Leuven Beer Festival (April – May) and the International Short Film Festival (December).

Best day trip for the small village traveller: Durbuy

  • How long it takes to get there by car: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • How long it takes to get there by public transport: 2 hours
  • Why you should go: Because it’s one of the smallest, most charming cities in the world
  • Fun facts: Durbuy is a great place to try some outdoor activities, as it’s known for the river Ourthe which runs through the city.
  • Local places you need to eat: Le 7 by Juliette, Gastropub Gaspard, La Brasserie Ardennaise

Chances are that you’ve never even heard of Durbuy – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit, though. In fact, here are some reasons why you definitely should consider Durbuy for a day trip from Brussels.

In Durbuy, you can walk around the stunning old town centre, go kayaking on the Ourthe river, enjoy a stroll through Topiary Park and try some local beers and other products.

Best day trip for travellers searching to go off-the-beaten: Namur

  • How long it takes to get there by car: 50 minutes
  • How long it takes to get there by public transport: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Why you should go: The Citadel, views, history, old city centre
  • Fun fact: Namur became an important city in the tenth century when the Merovingians built a castle overlooking the city.
  • Local places you need to eat: Brasserie Edgard, L’Huile sur le Feu, La Maison des Desserts, Le Pain Quotidien

In spite of its status as the capital of Wallonia, the southern region of Belgium, Namur is still relatively unknown among foreigners. That means that you can enjoy everything the city has to offer without being bothered by other tourists. In other words, the perfect day trip for “off the beaten path” travellers.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the citadel, get lost in the old city centre, check out the abbey of Maredsous and have a drink at the oldest café in town (Le Ratin-Tot)

Is Belgium on your bucket list? Not sure where else you want to go before or after your first tour? Take a look at our most popular Europe tours here.