Head out of France on a day trip from Paris to Brussels. The capital of Europe has a great culinary scene, abundant museums and the very best beer on the continent. The city is blissfully walkable and the highlights can easily be seen in one day, without feeling too rushed. Time to get moving!
Brussels, a multicultural and vibrant capital serving both Belgium and Europe, entices swarms of tourists each year – and rightly so! Taking a day trip from Paris (France) to Brussels means exploring the opulent Grand Place, diving into an array of delectable Belgian chocolates and beers, and learning about the origins of Art Nouveau. Like the “French” fries, it actually originated right here in Belgium.
You might think Paris is beautiful, just wait until you see Brussels! Embarking on a Brussels day trip from Paris is wonderfully easy and well worth the journey. 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.
Day Trip Paris to Brussels Planning Guide
BRUSSELS AT A GLANCE
- 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 highlights of Brussels in a hop-on hop-off bus (100% electrical). Perfect if the weather is rainy. Get your tickets online before you go.
- Public Transportation: Brussels inner-city public transport uses one single ticket across the various bus, metro & tram systems and gets you all across Brussels and the suburbs.
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 Paris to Brussels
The distance from Paris to Brussels is a little over 300 km (186 mi) and can easily be traversed in a solid two hours. In practice, this could mean you have nearly an entire day to explore the capital of Europe. That is if you get yourself out of bed on time and jump straight onto the high-speed train.
Contrary to most capital cities, most of the main highlights are within walking distance from each other, ensuring you can cover a fair amount of ground in just one day. The Brussels Card gives you access to all the public transportation in the city, allowing you to easily reach further out attractions like the Atomium.
I have been living in Brussels for a few years and thoroughly enjoy the omnipresent look of utter surprise when showing around friends from abroad. For some reason, Brussels has garnered the rep of being both dull and uninteresting. It is anything but! Read why Brussels is worth visiting!
How to Travel Between Paris and Brussels
Getting to Brussels from Paris can be done in a variety of different ways. Personally, I would really recommend taking the train. Make sure to book your tickets in advance because they can be very expensive if you purchase them last minute. I always compare prices via Omio before I book anything.
GOOD TO KNOW | Brussels has three train stations: Bruxelles Gare du Nord (North Station); Bruxelles Gare Central (Brussels Central); and Bruxelles Gare du Midi (Brussels South Station). The closest station to the main highlights is Bruxelles Gare Central.
Train Paris to Brussels (time saver)
There are two types of trains you can take between Paris and Brussels and both of them require purchasing tickets in advance as they operate with reserved seats.
- HIGH-SPEED TRAIN: Eurostar – prior reservation needed – 2 hours.
Travel between Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels Gare du Midi. Ticket prices start at €40 ($45) single journey.
- TGV TRAIN: France’s intercity high-speed rail service – prior reservation needed – 2h15
Travel between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Bruxelles Gare du Midi. Ticket prices start at €40 ($45) single journey.
Bus from Paris to Brussels (budget pick)
Flixbus runs multiple times a day connecting Paris to Brussels. Busses leave from Paris Bercy Seine and the vast majority drop you off at Bruxelles Gare du Midi. Travel time varies between 3h50 and 4h15 with prices starting as low as €12 ($15).
Drive from Paris to Brussels for a day trip (not recommended)
Driving from Paris to Brussels will take anywhere between 3h30 and 5h30 depending on where exactly you need to be in Paris. Unless you are a fervent fan of driving, I would not recommend taking the car from Paris to Brussels for one day.
Brussels One Day Itinerary
PRACTICAL | If you are traveling from Paris to Brussels by train, your train gets in at Bruxelles Gare du Midi. If you are visiting Brussels for the first time, you will want to make your way to Bruxelles Gare Central to see the historical center and the Grand Place of Brussels.
As you have but one day, I have opted to add activities that are mostly within the historical center of Brussels and can easily be reached by walking. Scroll down a little further to find practical info on public transportation, luggage storage options, and a few of my favorite restaurants.
1. Explore the Grand Place of Brussels
I might be a bit biased, but I have to say that the Grand Place in Brussels stands out as one of the most exquisite main squares in all of Europe. As a local, I’ve strolled past this square countless times, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Your trip from Paris to Brussels should start right here, in splendor!
Since 1998, the Grand Place of Brussels has earned the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage status. Most of the structures surrounding the square date back to the 18th century, a period when the Grand Place underwent a significant reconstruction funded by the wealthy city’s guilds.
When you’re admiring the ornate guild houses, make sure to take a moment to appreciate the Brussels City Town Hall. Afterward, shift your gaze to admire the splendid King’s Building. These days, 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; Learn about the history of Brussels via a guided walking tour; visit the Brussels Brewers Museum
Best views over the Grand Place: Head inside the Brussels City Hall on a guided visit; the Brussels City Museum has a little balcony which is sometimes open to the public and offers a beautiful view.
The Grand Place with a cocktail
The Warwick Grand Place has a beautiful terrace overlooking the Grand Place of Brussels. The hotel is within walking distance from both the square and Brussels Central Station.
2. Get lost in the historical center of Brussels
Do not expect a vast urban sprawl like neighboring Paris, Amsterdam, or further afield, Rome. In fact, the historical center of Brussels is rather intimate, which adds to the overall charm. Absolutely bursting with Art Nouveau houses, hidden galleries, and ornate gabled houses. Here are a few of my favorite places to visit.
MONT DES ARTS: Walk from the Grand Place to Mont des Arts, and peek inside the Galerie Bortier bookstore before heading towards the little park lined with whitewashed trees. Head up the stairs and turn around for a beautiful view of Brussels. Grab a drink at the Art Nouveau Musical Instruments Museums at the top.
ROYAL GALLERY OF SAINT HUBERT: The gallery was inaugurated in 1847 and is in fact one of the very first shopping arcades in the world. The gallery houses an array of high-end boutiques, chocolatiers, and theaters. Make a stop for hot chocolate at Cafe Dandoy and sneak into the 19th-century Tropismes Library.
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.
3. Escape the rain in one of the many museums in Brussels
Your Brussels day trip from Paris might coincide with a bout of rainy weather. The good news however is that we are more than used to it, and there are tons of rainproof things to do in Brussels, starting off with a visit to one of the many museums.
MONEY SAVING TIP | The 24h Brussels Card includes entrance to 49 museums.
Brussels City Museum: Located on the Grand Place. The museum houses the original Mannekes Pis as well as the history of Brussels.
Belgian Beer World: Housed in the fully renovated former stock exchange of Brussels ( known as La Bourse// De Beurs). A highly interactive museum about Belgian beer (with tastings!).
Magritte Museum: The iconic surrealist painter René Magritte was born and raised in Belgium. This centrally located museum runs through his life & inspiration and houses a few original works.
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!
TIME SAVER | These places are all included in the guided walking tour of Brussels run by locals.
4. Find Manneken Pis and his friends
A Paris to Brussels journey is incomplete without encountering the city’s famous yet surprisingly small tourist attraction. Just a casual 5-minute walk from the Grand Place leads you to the iconic Manneken Pis, affectionately known as Little Julien.
The stories surrounding Little Julien’s origin are numerous, with the most plausible one suggesting a tribute to the city’s medieval tanneries. In historical times, children’s urine played a role in leather processing—an intriguing tidbit to share with friends nowadays.
LOCAL TIP | Do not try any of the waffles in the storefronts around Manneken Pis. They are decidedly not local and a true tourist trap. Instead, try Café Dandoy on the way from the Grand Place to Manneken Pis.
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. Taste Belgian food with a local
Brussels has tons of spots to grab a bite to eat. Sifting through the well-decorated tourist traps around the Grand Place, however, might not be as easy as it seems. In fact, a quick Google search will turn up a surprising amount of negative reviews on the Brussels Culinary scene. A real pity!
When friends come to visit, I always recommend them taking a food tour. The tours involve some of the best chocolate, beer, and waffle shops the city has to offer.
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 | When I first moved to Brussels I booked the Hungry Mary’s Beer and Chocolate tour to find the very best chocolate shops and local wateringholes. It was so much fun!
6. Oogle the many Art Nouveau façades in Brussels
The hodgepodge of architectural styles dotted around the city is what makes Brussels so quintessentially charming. The lack of coherent urban planning, a thorn in the eye of many a local, has actually allowed for a flourish of architectural creativity over the centuries.
A little closer look reveals the plethora of Art Nouveau façades scattered throughout the city.
Originating right here in Brussels, the Art Nouveau movement started in the late 19th century with notable architects such as Victor Horta, Paul Hankar, and Paul Cauchie.
Over 500 Art Nouveau buildings are still in Brussels, most of them in the Ixelles and Uccle neighborhoods. If you have the time I truly recommend visiting at least one Art Nouveau house in Brussels.
How to explore Art Nouveau in Brussels
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 ($): Have a knowledgeable local guide take you around Ixelles and Saint Gilles. Ends at 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.
7. Walk the Comic Strip Walk
A one-day trip from Paris to Brussels will include a fair amount of walking. As you traipse through the city, make sure to look out for the beautiful murals depicting comic strip figures like Tintin.
How to explore the street art on your Paris 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 at the VisitBrussels office.
$$: Visit the Comic Strip Museum – included in the Brussels Card. Make sure to grab a drink in the Art Nouveau Victor Horta Café on site.
$$: 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
8. Head inside the Atomium
I left a visit to the Atomium to the bottom of the list as I’ve never quite grasped the allure of this monument. Personally, I’d suggest maximizing your time within the historical center of Brussels rather than venturing out to the Atomium.
Constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, the Atomium represents a magnified iron crystal, expanding 165 billion times. Despite my reservations, I must admit that the interior is quite impressive. Delve into the different spheres hosting diverse exhibitions, all connected by a network 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.
Paris to Brussels Day Trip: Where & What to Eat
Brussels is home to a plethora of outstanding dining and drinking spots! The culinary landscape is so enticing that one could effortlessly devote an entire day trip to savoring delectable meals and beverages.
It’s worth mentioning that traditional Belgian cuisine often leans heavily towards meat, presenting a potential challenge for vegetarians. If you’re a vegetarian planning a visit to Brussels, make sure to browse the abovementioned guide for my favorite spots to eat (as a vegetarian).
- 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 Paris to Brussels is a pitstop on a longer journey, you might want to store your luggage while exploring the city. Brussels doesn’t offer an extensive array of locations for luggage storage, so your optimal choice is to find storage facilities near Bruxelles Gare Central or Bruxelles Gare du Midi stations.
BRUSSELS MIDI (SOUTH): Near platform 6, you’ll find lockers available for use. Prices begin at approximately €4 per day for a small locker and €12 for larger ones. The storage facility is accessible 24/7, and payments can be made with (credit) cards or coins.
ADDITIONAL LUGGAGE STORAGE FACILITIES: Nannybag is slightly pricier but does offer more locations where one can drop off their luggage (payment is done online).
Where to store my luggage in Paris
INSIDE THE GARE DU NORD STATION: If you happen to be taking the train from Paris to Brussels, you can store your luggage in the Gare du Nord station itself.
AROUND THE MAIN SIGHTS: Store your luggage around the Eiffel Tower, Gare du Nord, Gare Saint Lazare or the Louvre Museum. Prices start at €7.42 per person. Pick-up and drop-off times differ according to the location. Book online and in advance.
Paris Day Trip to Brussels Practical Tips
Distance from Paris to Brussels
Paris is roughly 320 km (200 mi) from Brussels.
Fastest way to travel from Paris to Brussels
The fastest way to get to Brussels from Paris is by taking the high-speed train (Eurostar) which takes a little under 2 hours to travel between Paris Gare du Nord and Bruxelles Midi. Check prices.
Alternative things to do in Brussels if you have been before
Where do I purchase my train tickets in Paris
Purchase your ticket in advance via the Omio platform. Tickets must be purchased in advance as the seating is fixed.
Best tours to take in Brussels
How many train stations are there in Brussels
Brussels has three main train stations, each of which has a name in both French and Dutch according to the bilingual nature of the city: Brussel Noord/Bruxelles Nord; Brussel Centraal/Bruxelles Gare Central and Brussel Zuid/ Bruxelles Midi. The high-speed train will drop you off in Bruxelles Midi. The closest station to the Grand Place is Bruxelles Gare Central, which is a 2-minute train ride from Bruxelles Midi.
Getting around Brussels during your day trip
Weather permitting, you can effortlessly spend your day exploring on foot, completely bypassing public transport. A significant portion of the historical center has been converted into pedestrian zones, ensuring a safe and pleasant walking experience.
USEFUL TIP | You may have read advice suggesting that biking in Brussels is safe. Let me make this very clear: It is not! Unless you know the city very well. Navigating the city on a bike is challenging due to the lack of suitable infrastructure. Even as a local, I don’t personally choose to 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 comprises six lines, operating from 05:30 am to 12:00 am on weekdays and from 06:00 am to 12:00 am on weekends and public holidays. Metro stations are marked by a blue sign featuring a prominent white “M.”
TRAM: With 17 tram lines, all adhering to the same operating hours as the metro, lines 3 and 4 are referred to as “pre-metro” due to a portion of their route being underground in the metro tunnels. Tram stops are conveniently placed along the route, easily identifiable by following the tracks.
Busses in Brussels
Brussels is served by three distinct bus companies: De Lijn, STIB/MIVB, and TEC, each with its own ticketing system, which can make bus travel a bit intricate.
DE LIJN: Identified by yellow and white buses, tickets can be bought on the bus (no cash payments accepted) or by texting “DL” to 4884 (valid for Belgian numbers only).
STIB: Recognizable by orange and gray buses, they use the same tickets as the tram and metro. If you have a one-day pass, there’s no need for an additional ticket for these buses.
TEC: Operating bright yellow buses, tickets can be purchased on their website or app, or alternatively, on the bus (cash only).
Wrapping up Your Brussels Day Trip From Paris
Brussels is a wonderfully easy day trip from Paris to take. Simply hop on the high-speed train in Paris Gare du Nord and two hours later disembark at Bruxelles Midi. From here continue your journey by taking a train into Bruxelles Central to start a day of exploring.
The capital of Europe is wildly diverse and very different from Paris in every which way. It’s a hodgepodge of architectural styles and cultures. Taking a day trip from Paris 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 PARIS & BRUSSELS
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