Is your next holiday in the City of Light, Paris?
While there, how about you also hop on a short-day tour to Brussels, the Capital of Europe?
Yes, this is totally achievable. You can do a day trip from Paris to Brussels and discover the best of both cities.
In fact, with good preparation and early arrival in the Belgian capital, you’ll have enough time to explore the most popular landmarks in the city.
This thorough guide will show you our best practical tips and suggestions on how to plan a trip to the Capital of Europe, so you can maximize your stay.
Ready to dive in?
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Visa, Currency, and Language Tips for Brussels
Belgium is a member of both the Schengen Area and the European Union.
If you hold a U.S. passport, and its expiration date is in more than 6 months, you can stay in Belgium for up to 90 days (3 months) without a visa.
Consult the official website of the European Union for the entire list of visa requirements.
Besides an EU and a Schengen area member state, Belgium is also a part of the Eurozone. This means it uses the euro as its currency.
Brussels teems with ATM machines, so you can easily withdraw money from anywhere. But if you prefer cash-free payments, don’t worry. Paying with a card is possible virtually everywhere.
One of the most peculiar facts about Belgium is that the country has three official languages. Belgians speak French, Dutch, and German. In the capital, most people understand English well, so you won’t have any problem.
However, if you’d like to impress your Belgian friends, we’ve prepared a small table with five basic words and phrases for each language:
|Good morning||Bonjour||Goedemorgen||Guten Morgen|
|Goodbye||Au revoir||Tot ziens||Aufwiedersehen|
|Thank you / Thank you very much||Merci / Merci beaucoup||Dank u wel / Hartelijk bedankt||Danke / Vielen Dank|
|Excuse me / I’m sorry||Excusez-moi / Je suis désolé(e)||Sorry||Entschuldigung / Tut mir leid|
|Yes / No||Oui / Non||Ja / Nee||Ja / Nein|
How to Get from Paris to Brussels
You can reach Brussels from Paris in several ways. We’ve enlisted each one below:
Our recommended way to travel from Paris to Brussels on a day trip is by train.
All trains depart from Paris Gare du Nord and arrive at Brussels Midi/Zuid Station. Here’s all you need to know about this transport:
- The average train ride from Paris to Brussels is between 1:22 and 1:29 hours, depending on the type of train you choose.
- Over 20 trains run daily in both directions, every day of the week, even on Sundays.
- The first train from Paris to Brussels leaves Gare de Nord at 6:13 AM Monday through Friday, at 7:43 AM on Saturday, and at 8:07 AM on Sunday. The last one departs at 8:55 PM Monday through Friday, at 8:46 PM on Saturday, and at 6:46 PM on Sunday.
- The first train from Brussels to Paris is at 6:42 AM Monday through Friday, at 7:43 AM on Saturday, and at 7:17 AM on Sunday. The last one leaves at 8:16 PM Monday through Saturday, and at 9:13 PM on Sunday.
- Purchase your tickets in advance to lock the lowest prices. Tickets on weekends are sometimes cheaper.
- Important: Make sure to be at the train station at least 20 minutes before departure, so you have time to find your platform and board without stress.
Tip: You can also visit Brussels easily on a day tour by train from these gorgeous European capitals:
If you choose to fly from Paris to Brussels, here’s what you should know:
- Brussels Airlines is the only company that flies from Paris to Brussels and from Brussels to Paris. The flight duration is 55-60 minutes.
- The Belgian carrier flies from Paris to Brussels twice in the morning only – at 8:40 AM and at 10:15 AM.
- Brussels Airlines flies from Brussels to Paris twice per day, too. And again, it’s only in the morning – at 6:40 AM and 8:15 AM.
- It’s not possible to fly for a day trip and back, but you can mix different transportation modes.
- The airplanes land at Brussels Zaventem Airport. Traveling from Zaventem to the city center is 25-45 minutes depending on the time of the day.
- Your total trip duration should include waiting times at both airports, even if you fly with a carry-on only.
The fastest route from Paris to Brussels is via A1 and E19.
Driving takes about 3:30 hours, which is about as fast as flying. The distance is 193.7 mi (311.7 km).
Driving is among the best means of transportation for your day trip from Paris to Brussels. So we recommend it.
Buses from Paris to Brussels are direct and take between 3:45 and 5:00 hours.
The earliest bus leaves at 10:00 AM. This means you’ll arrive in Brussels in the afternoon. Unfortunately, this schedule won’t give you enough time for sightseeing.
That’s why we don’t recommend traveling by bus from Paris to Brussels on a day tour.
What to Do on a Full-day Trip from Paris to Brussels
Now that the nitty-gritty is out of the way, let’s dive into the exciting things!
While the population of Brussels is the humble 1.3 million, 10x more people visited it in 2019.
The capital of Belgium owes this influx of people to a blend of gorgeous attractions, top-notch food and beer, and a host of EU institutions. In fact, this amassment of European organizations has made the city the unofficial Capital of Europe.
There are a lot of things to do and see in Brussels. In the next few sections of this guide, you’ll get to know the best places for your day trip from Paris.
Note: While it’s not impossible to discover every single spot listed below, you’ll have to spend just a few minutes on each. That’s why we highly recommend you select only what interests you the most. At the end of the day, if you like Brussels on a day trip from Paris, you can always come back. If that happens, we’ve prepared an itinerary for 2 days in Brussels.
St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral – Heaven for Gothic Architecture Lovers
If you love imposing Gothic architecture, you shouldn’t miss St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral.
This Roman Catholic cathedral honors the patrons of Brussels – the Saints Michael and Gudula. The building is one of the finest examples of the Brabantine Gothic style of architecture.
The church’s construction started in the 11th century. Most of it was complete by the 16th century, but it received a cathedral status three centuries later – in 1962.
When you get inside, pay close attention to the splendid stained-glass windows. They originate in the 16th, 17th, and 19th centuries. Many of them depict scenes of the Legend of the Miraculous Sacrament.
Address: Place Sainte-Gudule, 1000 Brussels
The Royal Palace of Brussels – The Magnificent Opulence of the Belgian Capital
The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the Belgian King and Queen.
However, for a while now, it hasn’t served as a royal residence. Nowadays, the regal family lives on the outskirts of the capital – in the Royal Palace of Laeken.
That said, the Royal Palace of Brussels is the administrative dwelling of the King and Queen. Here, they welcome diplomatic delegations and discuss matters of political importance.
Here’s a Brussels fact you’ll love: every summer since 1965, the palace has been opening its doors to the public. The official opening happens after Belgium’s national holiday on July 21. The palatial complex remains open till the end of August.
So if you’d like to marvel at the Palace on your day trip from Paris to Brussels, you have to visit between July 21 and August 28.
Address: 16 Rue Brederode, 1000 Brussels
Grand Place – Brussels’ Pulsating Heart
When you’re done with the Royal Palace of Brussels, head to the Grand Place (Grote Markt). The drop-dead gorgeous square is a must-visit spot.
With measures of 223 x 360 ft. (68 x 110 m), the plaza is about as big as a football pitch. This makes it ideal for various events. The most amazing by far is the Flower Carpet. Over 500,000 plants and flowers, among which bark, grass, dahlias, and begonias, form the enormous carpet.
On each side of the Grand Place, you can marvel at striking guildhalls and eye-catching buildings. All these make the square one of the most breathtaking places in the world. It’s no wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When you visit it, don’t miss The King’s House and the Town Hall. The former houses the Brussels City Museum.
Tip: Want to know the best way to feel Grote Markt’s unique vibe? Sit down at one of the quirky cafés that fill the square. Get a cold Belgian beer or a waffle topped with chocolate. Enjoy!
Manneken Pis – The Weirdest Attraction of Brussels
Less than five minutes on foot from the Grand Place lies Brussels’ most peculiar landmark – Manneken Pis.
The small bronze sculpture is actually a boy peeing into the fountain’s basin. However, the urinating boy is a replica. To see the original, visit the Brussels City Museum on Grand Place.
Now, Manneken Pis might look like a weird attraction, but it’s among the most famous symbols of Brussels. Why? Because it personifies the independent minds and the sense of humor of Belgians.
Want to learn the strangest fact about Manneken Pis?
The bronze statue has its own dresser. He’s responsible for changing the boy’s outfits several times per week. Manneken Pis’ wardrobe consists of close to 1,000 different costumes. You can marvel at most of them in the City Museum.
Tip: Checking Manneken Pis off your travel list is a typical thing to do in Brussels. But if you fancy doing something more off-the-beaten-path, don’t miss Jeanneke Pis – the urinating girl. It’s just south of Grand Place on Fidelity Alley. Jeanneke Pis is one of the most unusual things to do in Brussels.
Address: The juncture of Rue de l’Étuve and Rue du Chêne
Park du Cinquantenaire – The Green Lungs of the Belgian Capital
Cinquantenaire from French means “fiftieth“. The park was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Belgian Revolution. The government commissioned the creation of Park du Cinquantenaire for the National Exhibition in 1880.
Most of the buildings in the park originated in the 19th century.
Belgians constructed the structures using only iron, glass, and stone. This wasn’t a random act: these elements were the symbols of the country’s industrial and economic supremacy in that period.
The Royal Military Museum awaits you in the northern part of the park. In the southern part, you can visit two unique museums:
Address: 21A Avenue de la Joyeuse Entrée, 1000 Brussels
The European Quarter – The Decision-Making Heart of the European Union
The European Union counts 27 Member States. But it makes most of its decisions in Brussels – in its European Quarter.
In 2010, Svet worked in the neighborhood and the contemporary architecture constantly left him astounded.
The area houses the headquarters of numerous EU organizations, for example:
- The European Parliament
- The European Commission
- The European Economic and Social Committee
- The Council of the European Union
- The Committee of the Regions
The European Quarter is not just EU institutions, though. In the neighborhood, you can explore peculiar museums, go on a shopping spree, or indulge in fine Belgian ales.
The quarter is also home to four gorgeous squares – Place Jourdan, Place du Luxembourg, Place Jean Rey, and Rond-Point Schuman. Each has its own unique vibe.
All these facts make many people believe the European Quarter is among the best areas to stay in Brussels.
Atomium – the Mind-Blowing Symbol of Brussels and Belgium
The Atomium is not only a modern symbol of Brussels. It’s a symbol of Belgium as a whole.
It traces its origins back to 1958 when local authorities erected it for the Brussels World Fair. Curiously, the initial plan was to demolish it soon after the exhibition.
However, Atomium’s unique design and humongous structure made it world-famous. So the government decided against dismantling it.
Nowadays, the marvelous piece of art and architecture is an important part of Brussels’ skyline. As you might tell from the name, the Atomium is actually an atom that has been magnified 65 billion times.
Getting on top will reward you with some of the best vistas of the capital.
Each year, more than 600,000 tourists visit the Atomium. That’s why if you want to avoid queuing, we highly recommend booking your tickets in advance.
Address: Square de l’Atomium, 1020 Brussels
Mini Europe – The Greatest European Landmarks in Miniatures
While you’re in the area of the Atomium, you can visit the Mini Europe Park as well.
Inside the park, European attractions 25x smaller than normal wait for you to explore them.
The collection covers close to 80 cities and more than 350 buildings. Popular ones are Big Ben, the Grand Place, the Acropolis, the Eiffel Tower, and the Brandenburg Gate.
By visiting Mini Europe, you can “travel around Europe” in an hour. 😊
Erupting Mount Vesuvius and live-action models like mills, trains, and cable cars further add to the beauty of the park.
Mini Europe opened its doors in 1989. The attraction welcomes about 350,000 visitors per year. If you want to avoid the masses, grab your online tickets from this link.
Note: Tickets correspond to specific entry hours, so please bear that in mind when booking.
Address: 1 Avenue du Football, 1020 Brussels
Food Tips for Your Day Trip from Paris to Brussels
Want to maximize your time in Brussels on a day tour from Paris? Prep some sandwiches, protein bars, and water, and you won’t waste time on breakfast or lunch.
However, you can also choose to take it slowly, visit 2-3 landmarks, and treat yourself regally in between. For that, we’ve prepared several food tips for Brussels.
Belgian cuisine is the epitome of deliciousness. Here’s a list of the best typical Belgian foods:
- Moules-frites / Mosselen met friet. In English, this means “mussels with fries”. And it’s Belgium’s most famous dish. Dare we say, Belgians are the best at preparing mussels (sorry, France). What’s their secret? Locals either cook or steam the mussels, and add an abundance of onions and celery. If that’s not enough to make you salivate, the golden-colored fries that just melt in your mouth will.
- Carbonade flamande / Stoofvlees. Love stews? Well, this will be your new love. The dish combines beef that simmers for hours with the finest dark Belgian beer. The result? Meat that’s more tender than the night. Carbonade flamande comes with bread or fries, and lots of mustard. Foodgasms are guaranteed!
- Chocolate. More than 2,000 small and large chocolatiers call Belgium home. Every year, the country manufactures the mind-blowing 172,000 tons of chocolate. These numbers mean one thing -> if you worship chocolate, there’s no better place to go nuts on it than Belgium. Your day trip from Paris to Brussels won’t be complete if you don’t try at least one of these decadent brands: Neuhaus, Leonidas, Côte d’or, and Guylian.
- Cheese. What do abbeys and cheese have in common? Well, that’s where Belgians started producing cheese back in the Middle Ages. In fact, many cheese brands still carry the abbey’s name in which they were established. Several of these abbeys – Westmalle, Maredsous, Chimay, etc. – manufacture both cheese and beer. That’s because locals love to pair the strong Belgian beers with a good cheese.
- Gaufres / Wafels. Belgian waffles could easily take the title “Best waffles in the world”. And you won’t need more than five minutes to verify this statement as you can find them everywhere in Brussels. For the ultimate seduction, grab a Brussels waffle or the Gaufre de Liège (Liège waffle).
No matter what food you pick to eat, tasting Belgian beer is a must. Belgium packs an extraordinarily abundant variety of beers on a territory as small as Hawaii.
In fact, the country takes great pride in more distinct beer types per capita than any other country on the planet!
Now, you can choose the safe route and get the popular Stella Artois.
Or you can be a bit bolder and try the sour-cherry beer kriek.
However, if you want to experience the real Belgian beer behemoths, opt for Kwak, Orwal, Duvel, Rochefort, Chimay, or Westmalle.
A Day Trip from Paris to Brussels – Delectable Food, Verdant Parks, and World-Famous Landmarks
When it comes to multicultural European cities, Brussels definitely takes one of the top places.
Its lush parks, quirky squares, regal opulence, and mouthwatering cuisine might even surpass your wildest expectations.
The city offers tons of things to do and see. A day trip from Paris to Brussels won’t be enough to reveal everything, but you’ll be able to feel the unique charm of the city.
However, if you follow the advice in this comprehensive guide, we bet you’ll maximize your time and admire both capitals in one trip.
Now, please share:
What would be the first thing you do when you go to Brussels?