• Cortney Dowdle

24 Hours in Brussels

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Hey everyone. I’m starting to incorporate more travel blogs into The Savvy International. To be honest, they're just fun to write and I figured why not add them into this space as well. There are TONS of awesome travel blogs out there, and I'm actually working on a post about my favorite travel blogs that I use all the time when I'm on the road. Something different that I'll be touching on is managing the travel life/work life balance. Although I wish I was just traveling for fun or getting paid to travel and write about it, I'm often on the road for work and managing seeing new cities or returning to favorite cities with a busy work schedule.

You can always filter the study USA blogs or the travel blogs by clicking at the top of the any specific blog page. I know in the study blogs I’m usually talking to international students, parents, and educators around the world. The travel blogs are more about living the travel life and some of my experiences abroad. I'm excited to share why I think it's so important to travel the world!

Skyline of Brussels
Brussels, Belgium

I flew into Brussels for 24 hours before starting a work trip in Germany and around Europe. I chose Brussels, number one because the flight was a full thousand dollars cheaper than flying directly into Hanover (I’m savvy like that), and two because I have never been before. I landed around 9:00 AM, and my sleep deprived, jet lagged self had to pull it together to get organized for the day. I was doing about two and a half weeks on the road so I traveled with a medium sized luggage and a carry on sized luggage, plus my favorite Italian leather purse that turns into a tote (purchased in Florence earlier this year)…anyways, not a blog about the purse, just mentioning it...

I dropped my big suitcase at the luggage hold at the airport, took the train into Brussels Central, dropped my small carry on at the luggage hold in the train station, then went off to explore the city that’s famous for waffles, beer, and the statues of kids peeing. I think Brussels can totally be explored in one day, and it was a gorgeous city to wander around for a day. I started off by walking to the Royal Palace of Brussels.

Royal Palace of Brussels
Visit the Royal Palace of Brussels

The palace is quite beautiful, and the park across the street looked like a great place to go for a run (coincidentally reminded myself that I forgot my running shoes when I packed for that trip). I left the palace and headed towards Grand Place. On the way, I stopped and got a Belgium waffle with dulce de leche (my weakness, I could eat it by the barrel). I digress here – the waffle was cold so I just didn’t think it was up to the standards that I’ve heard people rave about in regards to the Belgium waffles. No worries, I tried again the second morning and the warm, thick, plain waffle was everything I had dreamed about and more. Yum.

Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place

Grand Place is the hub of Belgium and is pretty gorgeous, with the Town Hall and several other buildings that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.

Mannekin Pis, Brussels, Belgium
Mannekin Pis

I went from Grand Place to see the infamous Mannekin Pis (yes, what it sounds like), and I laughed when I found the little statue. It really is obvious how it’s been voted one of the most disappointing tourist sites in the world each year. It’s just a little boy statue and he’s peeing into a fountain. I don’t get it? I didn’t bother searching out the little girl peeing or the puppy peeing (also statues in Brussels).

From Mannekin Pis, I made my way to the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Guluda, which is a gorgeous building that is worth a walk by. This building was built in the Gothic style in the 13th century.

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Guluda, Brussels, Belgium
Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Guluda

At this point, I got a little detoured. I walked to the wrong location attempting to find the Comic Strip Walk (I went to the Comic Strip museum). Another couple of miles, and I was according to my GPS in the right location, but I could not for the life of me find the start of the 52 or so murals that are in Brussels. Any travel experts on Brussels reading this, feel free to tell me where I went wrong! This guy below was the only one I saw!

The good news is that I found an amazing little chocolate shop (they are honestly every 20 feet or so in Brussels) called Passion Chocolate, and I picked up some treats to take home. Definitely a must in Belgium!

I hit up the delicious Cafe Gorgette for a late lunch/early dinner of fish and chips and an amazing raspberry beer, then headed to my Airbnb. I had to go back to the train station, get my carry on suitcase, then took an Uber to the location. My driver dropped my off on the wrong street, so I had to hoof it a couple of blocks carrying my suitcase (those cobblestone sidewalks are hell on suitcases!) The Airbnb was an amazing location, so worth it in that aspect alone. Click HERE to see the flat I stayed in.

Randomly, a girl who I went to high school with was in Brussels on the same day and we ended up meeting up at Delirium, which is famous in Brussels for the massive beer selection (over 2,000!) and crowded tavern rooms. The beer lived up to the hype (try the staple brew or the lime cactus brew), and it was great catching up and marveling at how two girls from a tiny town in Eastern Ohio could end up in the same city. We hadn’t seen each other in about 13 years!

I made my way back to the train station this morning, picked up my big suitcase at the airport, and checked in! Lucky me got the absolute last row, corner seat on the flight, but since it was a quick one to Amsterdam (about 30 minutes), it was no big deal. So there you have it, some top stops in Brussels. I absolutely recommend spending a day in this awesome city, and I would go back any time for the amazing food, friendly vibe, and tasty brews.

Top 10 Things to Do in Brussles in 24 Hours:

  • Grand Place

  • Royal Palace of Brussels

  • Chocolate Shop

  • Manequin Pis – why not, right?

  • Delirium brews – Fortin Apple and Cactus Lime are ah-mazing

  • Walk through the Galeries Royales St. Hubert – gorgeous!

  • Waffles

  • Fries – with sauce

  • Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

  • Comic strip searching – there are over 50 comic strip murals in Brussels, and you’ll see them pop up all over the place!

Lesson learned in Brussels - Sometimes the smaller cities that seem to have less going on are totally worth a quick visit. They allow you to slow down the pace a bit and make the most of your time. In a good way, Brussels wasn't crazy overwhelming like a lot of European cities. You can easily navigate around and enjoy the city in 24 hours. Don't forget the waffles, fries, and brews!


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