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Best Tours and Day Trips from Brussels

One of the things I like most about traveling to Brussels is how close it is to other sites that you can visit on a day trip

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

8 min read

Best Tours and Day Trips from Brussels

Grand Place | ©Neil Thompson

There are several must-do things to enjoy during a trip to Brussels: touring the city on a guided tour, tasting its chocolate and beer, and getting to know its surroundings. Here is my selection of the best experiences so you don't leave anything undone:

1. Guided tour of Brussels

Manneken Pis statue | ©Francisco Antunes
Manneken Pis statue | ©Francisco Antunes

The first thing to do when visiting a city for the first time is to explore every corner of it. However, if we do it individually it is common that we miss many details and that there are monuments or places of interest that go unnoticed before the eyes of a tourist. To avoid this, the best option is to have someone local to guide us in our visit.

This guided tour of Brussels is one of the best options to get to know in depth the Belgian capital. You'll tour the most interesting landmarks of the city in a fully equipped vehicle, combined with a walking tour.

Details of interest

The tour is available several days a week and you can book your place online. Once your booking is confirmed you will receive an email with details of the meeting point and time to meet your guide. If your plans change, you have cancellation available up to 24 hours before the agreed time for your tour.

Why I like this tour

This experience is ideal for getting to know the city in depth in just half a day and enjoying commentary on its culture, history and customs, without the tiresome, long walks.

Itinerary

  • The great market
  • The Royal Palace
  • The Atomium
  • The Manneken Pis statue
  • The historical center

2. Beer tasting in Brussels

Belgian beer tasting | ©Victoria Reay
Belgian beer tasting | ©Victoria Reay

Who hasn't heard of Belgian beer? This is undoubtedly the most popular drink in Brussels and you can enjoy it in any bar in the city, but with a beer tasting organized by Brussels you will have the opportunity to be accompanied by a local guide who will take you through the most significant places in the city.

This experience is available in English and lasts about two and a half hours. The feeling is very similar to going out for a beer with a friend who also knows everything about the city and the production and importance of its star drink. During the tour, you will taste three different types of beer and you will have a free drink.

Once you book your place online for this tour, you will meet your guide at a central point of the city and from there the tour will begin, passing through some of the most central streets of the city.

Why I like this tour

This beer tasting tour is ideal if you already know the city and want to have a good time with the guidance of someone expert while tasting authentic Belgian beer.

Itinerary

  • Taste some of the best Belgian beers.
  • Learn what distinguishes Belgian beer from the rest.
  • Get together with a group of travelers looking to have a good time.
  • Get to know some of the most significant breweries in the capital city
  • Learn about beer brewing in Belgium and its importance in the country's culture.

3. Chocolate tasting in Brussels

Master chocolatier at work | ©Miguel Discart
Master chocolatier at work | ©Miguel Discart

If the drink par excellence in Belgium is beer, the best-known food is undoubtedly chocolate, and no better place than Brussels to taste it. In many cities, there is a chocolate museum aimed at tourists, but the experience of the chocolate tour in Brussels is not comparable to the one you can have in any other city.

When I took this tour I not only learned the theory of how chocolate is made, but I was able to see it being made live by even tasting the raw materials from which it is made. With this panorama, it is inevitable that you get an irresistible desire to taste it; for that, we were taken to different bakeries in the city to taste different types of chocolate and the also known Belgian waffle.

The tour starts from a central point in the center of Brussels, lasts two hours, and is available in English. The tour can be booked online.

Why I like this experience

I recommend this experience if you are a chocolate lover (like me) and you are curious to learn more about chocolate making and the differences between the different types of chocolates.

4. Excursion to Antwerp

The Antwerp Cathedral | ©beeveephoto
The Antwerp Cathedral | ©beeveephoto

Brussels is a very accessible city; it has several things to see, and all of them are close which makes it possible to see it all in one or two days. Does that mean that your trip is over? Not at all! My recommendation is that, in order to make some excursions to nearby cities you extend your stay in the Belgian capital a few more days. This day trip to Antwerp, for example, is essential to complete your trip to Belgium.

Antwerp is one of the most important cities in Belgium and is located about an hour's drive from Brussels. With this organized tour, you will be in Antwerp for about five hours with an English-speaking guide.

Why I like this tour

I recommend this tour if you want to get to know something else during your trip and want to leave other larger cities for a separate trip. Antwerp is the perfect size to see it on a day trip.

Itinerary

  • The Cathedral of Our Lady
  • The Stroom Museum
  • The Jewish quarter
  • The railroad station, considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
  • The 13th century Steen Castle
  • The Town Hall, Italian Renaissance style

5. Excursion to Bruges

Detail of the Central Market Square in Bruges | ©Neil Thompson
Detail of the Central Market Square in Bruges | ©Neil Thompson

Of course, there is Bruges. That storybook corner that will become a thorn in your side if you leave it out during your trip. This small city, called the cradle of the Western Renaissance, is almost as popular as Brussels itself and a tourist and cultural attraction in itself. With this tour to Bruges from Brussels you will be able to spend a full day in this city and, thanks to your trusty guide, you will not miss a single corner of it.

First the details: you can do it in English and it includes the services of an expert guide and the train tickets to Bruges. The train transportation is much faster than the road trip as it will take you only an hour and a quarter to get to Bruges. Once there, in addition to the guided tour you will also have time to explore the city at your leisure before returning to Brussels.

Why I like this tour

This tour is a must for anyone who has never been to Bruges and wants to visit it with the advice of a guide who will give you the historical and cultural context of the city.

What to see in Bruges

  • The Town Hall Tower and the Grand Place.
  • The central market square, preceded by beautiful views of canals and narrow streets of the city they call "The Venice of the North".
  • St. Savior's Cathedral, destroyed by fire and later rebuilt.
  • The medieval tower of the city, shrouded in a halo of mystery whose origin your guide will tell you.
  • The Burg square, one of the first inhabited places in the city.
  • The Basilica of the Holy Blood, which houses a venerated biblical relic.
  • The Church of Our Lady, the second tallest brick tower in the world.

6. Day trip to Bruges and Ghent

View of central Ghent from the canal | ©Ed Webster
View of central Ghent from the canal | ©Ed Webster

If you want to make the most of your time, in one day you can :::link|text=visit Bruges and Ghent departing from Brussels|element=pr-39281:::. This tour is designed for those who have little time and do not want to miss these two wonderful cities near Brussels. The trip in a private vehicle and the services of an expert guide will allow you to make the most of your time.

This tour is done in English (make sure to select your language, as there are other options available) and includes transportation. Lunch is on your own, you can bring a picnic or eat in one of these two cities during the free time you will have at lunchtime.

Itinerary

The first stop will be Ghent where you will see the cathedral of St. Bavon with its mythical painting of the Mystic Lamb, the historic center, the castle of the Counts of Flanders, the port of Graslei, or the church of St. Nicholas.

Then it will be the turn of Brujas, a city known as the "Venice of the North" for its architecture and the charm of its canals. At all times the guide will enlighten you with comments about the history and culture of the two cities.

Why I like this tour

This excursion fits you if you are one of those who want to see as many places as possible during your trip and you like to see them making the most of your time and learning about their history and culture without just a superficial view.

7. Excursion to Amsterdam

The canals of Amsterdam | ©Boudewijn
The canals of Amsterdam | ©Boudewijn "Bo" Boer

The Dutch capital is located about two and a half hours by road from Brussels. It goes without saying that Amsterdam deserves a trip in itself to soak up the city and get to know it in detail. However, if you want to revisit this city or have a first contact with it you can visit it with a day trip to Amsterdam from Brussels.

In Amsterdam, you will find a totally different panorama than Brussels. While Brussels is a stately and regal city, Amsterdam is modern and carefree. The canals and coffee houses are its main attraction, but they are not the only one.

This tour is available in English. The best thing about it is the local guide services as Amsterdam is a city with a rich subculture and to really get a feel for it it is good to have someone with knowledge of it to immerse you in its landmarks and meanings.

Why I like this tour

This tour is for you if you want to take advantage of your visit to Brussels for a quick look at the Dutch capital with the goal of completing your trip another time.

What you will see in Amsterdam

  • Damplein square and the liberation monument.
  • Anne Frank's house
  • The Heineken Brewery
  • The Royal Palace
  • The windmills
  • The red light district

8. A very popular activity to read more about: the Bruges tour

The beauty of the canals of Bruges | ©Hardie van Zyl
The beauty of the canals of Bruges | ©Hardie van Zyl

Visiting Bruges is one of the most sought-after experiences for people traveling to this area of the world, and honestly, it is something I highly recommend as its medieval European charm is something that will hardly fade from your memory. I have written a dedicated article about this tour with everything you should know before going to Bruges from Brussels, and you can read it here: Bruges Day Trips from Brussels.