Head out on a whirlwind day trip from Amsterdam to Brussels. The European capital has a lot to offer, and all of its mysteries lie within the confines of a remarkably walkable city. Pack a pair of comfortable shoes and an umbrella and let’s go!
Brussels, the multicultural and dynamic capital of both Belgium and Europe, lures in swarms of tourists each year – and rightfully so! Beyond the opulent Grand Place, the city streets are graced with Art Nouveau marvels, and it seems like every other establishment is a bar offering an array of Belgian beers.
You might think the capital of the Netherlands is beautiful, just wait until you see Brussels! Embarking on an Amsterdam to Brussels day trip is wonderfully easy and well worth the trip. As a local from Brussels, it’s a privilege to curate the best experience in my beloved city.
Good to know: In case you are a little curious and debating whether to extend your time, check out this full weekend itinerary to Brussels or 31 fun day trips from Brussels to explore more of Belgium.
Amsterdam to Brussels Planning Guide
BRUSSELS AT A GLANCE
- Public Transportation: Brussels inner-city public transport uses one single ticket across the various bus, metro & trams systems and gets you all across Brussels and the suburbs.
- Brussels Card: Includes the entrance to 49 museums in Brussels as well as all public transportation in the city. The Brussels Card is a great time and money saver.
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus: See the most important sites in a 100% electrical hop-on hop-off bus. Simply purchase your ticket in advance online.
It doesn’t matter what type of traveler you are Brussels has 10 areas that I would recommend choosing to stay in. As a local, I’ve got the inside scoop to help you make a decision!
Is It Worth Taking a One Day Trip From Amsterdam to Brussels
Brussels often takes a back seat to its more celebrated neighbors, Bruges, and a little further afield, Paris. Although it is the capital of Europe, the city is wonderfully compact ensuring you can get a decent feel for Brussels in just one day of exploring.
Therefore, taking a day trip from Amsterdam to Brussels is very much worth it! Architecturally speaking the two cities are wildly diverse, the former lined with quaint canals, the latter swimming in Art Nouveau.
If architecture is not your thing, simply imagine the plethora of cozy bars brimming with an extensive array of Belgian beers, and little chocolate shops serving delectable bite-sized Belgian chocolates. Truly the day trip is worth it for the food alone. Read why Brussels is worth visiting!
How to Travel Between Amsterdam and Brussels
Getting to Brussels from Amsterdam can be done in a variety of different ways. I always use Omio to check for the quickest routes and book at the most affordable prices.
Train Amsterdam to Brussels (time saver)
There are two types of trains you can take between Amsterdam and Brussels:
- HIGH-SPEED TRAIN: Eurostar – prior reservation needed – 2 hours.
Travel between Amsterdam Centraal or Amsterdam Schiphol and Brussels Midi. Ticket prices start at €49 ($53) single journey.
- IC TRAIN: Intercity Direct Dutch Railways – Book tickets right before boarding – 2h40
Travel between Amsterdam Centraal and Brussels Centraal or Brussels Midi. Ticket prices start at €25 ($27) single journey.
Bus from Amsterdam to Brussels (budget pick)
Flixbus runs multiple times a day connecting Amsterdam to Brussels. Busses leave from Amsterdam Sloterdijk; Amsterdam Bijlmer or Amsterdam Schiphol and drop you off at Brussels North Station. Travel time varies between 2h45 and 4h30 with prices starting as low as €10 ($11).
Drive from Amsterdam to Brussels for a day trip (convenience pick)
Driving from Amsterdam to Brussels for a day is something I personally have done multiple times. The drive is not particularly scenic, but it takes anywhere between 2h and 2h40 depending on where in the city you need to get to. Parking in Brussels tends to get very expensive though, so factor this into your budget.
8 Things to do in Brussels in a day
A day trip from Amsterdam to Brussels means but a short time in the European capital. Therefore I have opted to give you activities that are mostly within the historical center of Brussels. Scroll down a bit further to read about public transport in Brussels, always useful should it happen to be raining in Brussels when you visit.
1. Visit one of the many Brussels museums
There is a slight chance that your Amsterdam-Brussels trip coincides with a bout of gray and rainy weather. Fret not, Brussels has a plethora of really interesting museums to visit! Any sad thoughts about the weather will soon be banished. Here are a few of my favorite museums for a rainy day.
MONEY SAVING TIP | The 24h Brussels Card provides free admission to 49 museums.
Brussels City Museum: This museum is located right on the Grand Place. It runs through the history of Brussels and houses the original Manneken Pis.
Magritte Museum: The Magritte Museum in Brussels is dedicated to the iconic surrealist artist René Magritte, and offers an enchanting journey into the world of his imaginative masterpieces. It was recently fully renovated!
Belgian Beer World: Recently opened in the beautifully renovated former stock exchange of Brussels ( known as La Bourse// De Beurs). The most interactive museum of the famous beer in Brussels.
Victor Horta Museum: My all-time favorite museum in Brussels and an absolute must for all Art Nouveau lovers. Located slightly outside the historical center, but well worth visiting!
2. Oogle the Grand Place of Brussels
I may be a bit partial, but I must say that the Grand Place in Brussels stands as one of the most exquisite main squares in all of Europe. As a local resident, I’ve strolled past this square countless times, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Since 1998, the Grand Place of Brussels has held the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status. Most of the structures surrounding the square harken back to the 18th century, a time when the Grand Place underwent a substantial reconstruction funded by the city’s guilds.
While gazing at the ornate guild houses, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the Brussels City Town Hall. Afterward, pivot your view to admire the splendid King’s Building. Nowadays, the King’s Building serves as the residence of the Brussels City Museum.
What to do on the Grand Place: Visit the Brussels City Museum; Climb the spire of the Brussels City Town Hall; Learn about the history of Brussels via a guided walking tour.
Best views over the Grand Place: First floor of Café La Brouette; Inside the Brussels City Hall
The Grand Place from a different angle
If you are looking for a truly unique hotel, try staying at the Warwick Grand Place. Within walking distance from both Brussel Central Station and the Grand Place. Their terrace overlooks the Grand Place!
3. Take a stroll around the historical center of Brussels
Brussels is a wonderfully walkable city. Given the chance, I always choose to walk rather than take public transport. The historical center is bursting with pretty galleries, Art Nouveau houses, and – at times- tourists. Here are a few of my favorite places to visit, some blissfully off the beaten path!
ROYAL GALLERY OF SAINT HUBERT: The prettiest gallery in all of Brussels. Stroll through, stop at Cafe Dandoy for a hot chocolate and make sure to browse the 19th-century Tropismes Library. This gallery has a much lesser-known twin: Passage du Nord.
MONT DES ARTS: Head from the Grand Place to Mont des Arts, stop at the Galerie Bortier bookstore before traversing the little park lined with whitewashed trees. Head up the stairs and turn around for a beautiful view of Brussels.
SABLON: The Sablon is a more affluent part of Brussels centered around the eponymous cobblestoned square. Here you will find plenty of little coffee shops rubbing shoulders with antique stores.
TIME SAVER | These places are all included in the guided walking tour of Brussels run by locals.
4. See the trio of peeing statues
One cannot travel from Amsterdam to Brussels without seeing the city’s most renowned but surprisingly diminutive tourist attractions. A leisurely 5-minute stroll from the Grand Place takes you right up to the iconic Manneken Pis, also known as Little Julien. Follow the throng of people, eagerly trying to take a snap.
The tales surrounding the origin of Little Julien are numerous, but the most plausible one suggests that he pays tribute to the city’s tanneries from the Middle Ages. Back in those historical times, children’s urine was employed in leather processing, a fascinating tidbit you can now share with your friends.
Tip: Little Julien has two friends the other so-called “peeing-statues”. Jeanneke-Pis, a little peeing girl, and Het Zinneke, the peeing dog.
5. Take a food & beer tour
When people ask me what to do in Brussels in one day, I always recommend a food tour. The abundance of well-decorated tourist traps in and around the Grand Place ensures many travelers get a bad impression of the culinary scene in Brussels. A must-try are the chocolates, beer and waffles!
TOP RATED BEER TOUR: Mark’s Belgian Beer Tour
TOP RATED CHOCOLATE WORKSHOP: Brussels Chocolate Tasting & Workshop
TOP RATED WAFFLE WORKSHOP: The Brussels Waffles Workshop
PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION | I had a friend over and we booked the Hungry Mary’s Beer and Chocolate tour. It was honestly awesome, even as a local there were a lot of new places I had never been to!
6. Hunt down the comic murals and street art in Brussels
Exploring Brussels in a single day entails a good deal of walking, and as you traverse the city, you’ll undoubtedly encounter the striking murals gracing numerous walls. Interestingly, the city itself commissioned these monumental artworks, with a notable emphasis on the beloved character Tintin, an integral part of Belgium’s rich cultural heritage.
How to explore the street art on your Amsterdam to Brussels day trip
Free: Simply walk around town and look up. Works wonderfully, though you might not get to see all the artwork that is available.
$: Comic Strip Walk- Pick up the €2.5 brochure from the local tourism office. Use it as a guide to walk around the city and hunt down all the comic strip murals.
$$: Comic Strip & Street Art private walking tour with a local. Walk through Brussels with a knowledgeable guide and explore the coolest comic strip murals as well as some much lesser-known street art. Tours usually last around 2 hours. Check rates and availabilities
7. Marvel at the Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels
Apart from the unmistakable Comic Mural Art, you might have noticed the eclectic blend of architectural styles that define the Brussels skyline. Belgian cities often resemble a canvas where an expressionist artist experimented with an array of brushstrokes, reflecting our somewhat haphazard urban planning.
Yet, amidst the urban tapestry’s chaos, the city reveals its charm through the Art Nouveau houses scattered throughout. Originating right here in Brussels, the Art Nouveau movement left a profound mark on the city and Europe. Over 500 Art Nouveau buildings grace Brussels, notably in the Ixelles and Uccle neighborhoods.
I absolutely love Art Nouveau and its abundance in Brussels is one of the main reasons I love living in the city. If you have the time I truly recommend visiting at least one Art Nouveau house in Brussels.
How to explore Art Nouveau in Brussels in a day
FREE: Every Saturday of the year, the free 2-hour Art Nouveau Walking Tour takes you to the main Art Nouveau buildings in the city.
3-HOUR TOUR ($): Walk around the Bailli area and spot the prettiest Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels. Ends at the Horta Museum. Check prices and availability.
4-HOUR PRIVATE TOUR($$): For the real Art Nouveau Lovers: Get a fully personalized tour taking you through several areas in the city to hunt down the prettiest Art Nouveau buildings. This package includes a guided tour of the Victor Horta Museum. Check prices and availability.
RECOMMENDED | If you really love Art Nouveau, check out the Art Nouveau Pass Brussels has recently launched. Starting at €20 ($22) and allows you to visit 3 Art Nouveau houses.
8. See the Atomium
I have placed a visit to the Atomium at the end of this list as I never fully understood the glamour of this monument. Personally, I would recommend optimizing your day inside the historical center of Brussels instead of heading out to the Atomium.
The Atomium is a representation of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, it has since become an icon of Brussels. I do have to admit the inside is pretty cool. Explore the various spheres showcasing various exhibitions. Spheres are connected through a set of illuminated escalators.
The top sphere offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Brussels and houses a restaurant. Which to this day I have not tried yet! Avoid the lines and get your tickets online before you go.
Day Tours From Amsterdam to Brussels
Getting to Brussels from Amsterdam is actually super straightforward, especially on the train. That being said a return train ticket can easily cost €100 ($110) while the majority of the day tours are cheaper.
- AMSTERDAM TO BRUSSELS INCL. ATOMIUM: The best value/money day tour from Amsterdam to Brussels available. Includes a visit to the Atomium, guided walking tour of Brussels and a visit to a Belgian chocolate shop.
- RECOMMENDED: AMSTERDAM TO BRUSSELS INCL. CHOCOLATE TASTING: This full-day tour includes a pitstop at the Atomium, a guided walking tour of Brussels, and a demonstration by a chocolatier and of course tasting the famous Belgian chocolate.
- AMSTERDAM TO BRUSSELS PRIVATE TOUR: This is definitely a splurge compared to the above two tours. Customize your day trip to Brussels entirely to your liking on this private tour.
Where to eat in Brussels
READ | 10 Best vegetarian & vegan restaurants in Brussels; Locals guide to Brunch in Brussels
Brussels boasts a multitude of excellent dining and drinking establishments, making it a haven for food and beverage enthusiasts. The culinary offerings are so delightful that you could easily dedicate your entire day trip to indulging in sumptuous meals and libations.
It’s important to note that traditional Belgian cuisine tends to be quite meat-centric, posing challenges for vegetarians. If you’re a vegetarian planning a trip to Brussels, be sure to refer to the linked guide for valuable insights and recommendations.
- Noordzee, Saint Catherine: Authentic Schrimp Krokettes: Noordzee, Saint Catherine
- Choux de Bruxelles: Flemish Carbonade
- Mussels and Fries: Aux Armes de Bruxelles, La Quincaillerie
- Cocktails in an Art Nouveau Bar: La Belladone
- Lively bars with great beer selection: Zebra, Moeder Lambic, Café Belga
- Best Frietkot (for fries): Maison Antoine or Flagey frietkot
Where to store my luggage in Brussels
If your day trip from Amsterdam to Brussels is a pitstop on a longer journey, you might want to store your luggage while exploring the city. Brussels does not have a huge amount of locations where one can store their luggage. Your best bet is to store your items near Brussels Central Station or Brussels Midi station.
BRUSSELS MIDI (SOUTH): Lockers are located near platform 6. Prices start around €4/day for a small locker and €12/ for larger lockers. Storage is accessible 24/7. Payment can be done with (credit) card or coins.
ADDITIONAL LUGGAGE STORAGE FACILITIES: Check out Nannybag, which is slightly more expensive but has more locations to drop off your bag (payment is done online, in advance).
Where to store my luggage in Amsterdam
Unlike Brussels, Amsterdam is choc-a-bloc with luggage storage facilities. I did notice the closer you are to the Central Station, the higher the prices tend to get. Here are the facilities I have used myself.
INSIDE THE STATION: Amsterdam Centraal has a luggage storage area. It is located on the right-hand side of the Ijspassage, after the turnstile.
This is where things get tricky, to access the luggage storage in the station you need to have a valid train ticket. Practically this means you have two options: Option one is to store your luggage before you exit the station (more importantly before you exit through the turnstile); option two is to validate your train ticket and pass through the turnstile with your luggage and hand it over for storage before embarking on your day trip
Open from Monday to Sunday 05.00 AM to 00.45 AM. Small lockers start at €7.5 ($7.5) for the first 24 hours while the large size lockers go from €11 ($11)
NEAR THE STATION: If you have exited the station before storing your luggage, pop over to Drop&Go 500 meters from the Amsterdam Central Station. Open from Monday to Sunday 09.00 to 21.00. Prices start at €7 ($7) per piece of luggage.
Amsterdam Day Trip to Brussels Practical Tips
Distance from Amsterdam to Brussels
Amsterdam Centraal is roughly 215 km (133.59 mi) from Brussels Central Station.
Fastest way to travel from Amsterdam to Brussels
The fastest way to get to Brussels from Amsterdam is by taking the high-speed train (Eurostar) which takes 2 hours to travel between Amsterdam Centraal and Brussels Centraal. Check prices.
Alternative things to do in Brussels if you have been before
Where do I purchase my train tickets in Amsterdam
Purchase your ticket in advance via the Omio platform (especially for the high-speed train) or alternatively purchase your ticket at one of the vending machines in the station itself. For the IC train you can purchase a ticket on the train itself, however a significant surcharge is applicable.
Best tours to take in Brussels
How many train stations are there in Brussels
Brussels has three main train stations: Brussels Noord/Nord; Brussels Centraal/Central and Brussels Zuid/Midi. The high-speed train will drop you off in Brussels Midi. The closest station to the Grand Place is Brussels Central, which is a 2 min train ride from Brussels Midi.
Getting around Brussels for one day
Depending on the weather, you could easily spend your day simply walking around and forgetting about public transport altogether. Much of the historical center has been pedestrianized, making it both safe and comfortable to walk.
GOOD TO KNOW | You might have read that biking around Brussels is safe. Please rest assured these tips were not written by a local. Inexperienced bikers should not attempt to ride their bike around the city. The infrastructure is simply not there. Even I, as a local, do not bike around.
MAKE IT EASIER | Purchase the Brussels Card and get free access to public transportation in Brussels
Taking the metro and tram around Brussels
METRO: The Brussels Metro is made up of 6 lines. Runs from 05.30 am – 12.00 am on weekdays; 06.00 am – 12.00 am on weekends and public holidays. Metro stations are indicated by a blue sign with a large white “M”.
TRAM: There are 17 tram lines, all of which operate at the same hours as the metro. Lines 3 and 4 are what we call “pre-metro” as part of their journey is underground in the tunnels dug out for the metro. Tram stops are dotted along the way and easily spotted by following the track tracks.
Busses in Brussels
Brussels is serviced by three different bus companies: De Lijn, STIB/MIVB, and TEC. Each of these has a different system for purchasing tickets, making taking the bus a little complicated at times.
DE LIJN: Yellow and white busses. Tickets can be purchased on the bus (no cash payment allowed) or by sending a text message to 4884 with the words “DL” (only valid for Belgian numbers).
STIB: Orange and gray buses. These busses operate with the same tickets as the tram and metro i.e. if you purchased a one-day pass you do not need to purchase a separate ticket for this bus.
TEC: Bright yellow busses. Tickets can be purchased via their website or their app or alternatively on the bus (cash only).
Wrapping up Your Amsterdam to Brussels Day Trip
Brussels is one of the easiest trips from Amsterdam to take. Simply hop on the high-speed train in Amsterdam Centraal and two hours later disembark at Brussels Midi. From here continue your journey by taking a train into Brussels Central to start a day of exploring.
Although the Netherlands and Belgium share a joint history, the two capital cities could not be more different. One is lined with canals and gabled houses, while the other is filled with hodgepodge architectural styles and is one of the most multicultural cities in Europe.
Taking a day trip from Amsterdam to Brussels is well worth it, if only to compare these stark contrasting cities to each other and of course to indulge in delicious Belgian chocolate and a nice cold Belgian beer!
MORE INSPIRATION FOR VISITING AMSTERDAM & BRUSSELS
Brussels: A local guide to 2-days in Brussels
Brussels: 10 Most beautiful castles around Brussels
Brussels: Best brunch places in Brussels
Amsterdam: 6 Biking trips around Amsterdam
Amsterdam: Guide to public transportation in Amsterdam
Amsterdam: 15 Unforgettable weekend trips from Amsterdam