Are you struggling to find the best day trips from Brussels? Well don’t worry, I have lived in Belgium all my life and know exactly where you should go! Wether you are living in Brussels or you’re on holiday in our beautiful capital these day trips offer something for everyone. Even if you’re not staying in Brussels this guide can come in really handy since Belgium is in fact a teeny tiny country!
To help you plan I have split up the several day trips based off their distance from Brussels.
This guide will not only include some of our most well known cities but also a bunch of beautiful castles that you can visit in a day, hidden gems that not even the locals know of and the most beautiful places to visit right across the border.
If you’re here on a holiday make sure to also spend one perfect day in Brussels itself! But for now let’s focus on a few amazing day trips that will take you out of the city and off the beaten path.
19 Best Day Trips From Brussels You Shouldn’t Miss
Brussels Day Trips Within 1 Hour
When it comes to Ghent I might be a little biased cause I used to live in this beautiful city for over 6 years. With its cobble stoned roads and impressive canals flowing through the medieval centre it is often compared to Bruges. And even that most tourists tend to flock to Bruges and skip Ghent I truly believe it’s one of the best and first day trips you should do from Brussels!
During this day trip from Brussels you have to visit Gravensteen Castle and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. In the latter you can admire one of the most famous paintings in entire Belgium the “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”, painted by the brothers Van Eyck.
You can reach Ghent by train in no less than 50 minutes and from there you can either walk towards the city centre (30 minutes) or take tram line 1 which will drop you off at the Korenmarkt.
If you’re visiting Ghent by car I prefer to park underneath the Kouter. It’s one of the bigger underground parking lots and easy to reach when coming from the highway. Take note that parking spaces in Ghent are rather limited so if you’re visiting on the weekend make sure to arrive before 10am.
Within the city centre the maximum driving speed allowed is 30km/hour.
A visit to Belgium is not complete without a day trip to Antwerp! Often referred to as the Diamond City, Antwerp will leave you speechless as soon as you get off the train. The Central Station is considered to be one of the most beautiful ones in the entire world and I couldn’t agree more!
When it comes to architecture, Antwerp is an absolute paradise where both old and new styles are flawlessly combined. There is the central market which is lined with beautiful guild houses, the Antwerp City house and the majestic Cathedral of Our Lady. And on the other hand you have ‘het Eilandje‘, a neighbourhood that’s becoming more and more popular where you’ll find the MAS, a modern museum which offers an incredible view over Antwerp. From here you can also catch a glimpse of Zaha Hadid’s Port Authority: a historic building with a ship-like glass structure on top of it which also resembles a diamond.
If you’re traveling to Antwerp by train from Brussels you have to make sure to take one that doesn’t have too many stops in between, otherwise it will take you three times as long to get there. It usually takes around 50 minutes to reach Antwerp by train from Brussels. Within Antwerp itself I prefer to simply go around on foot.
If you’re traveling by car you’ll find several underground parking lots in the centre or leave your car in the South district.
Leuven is another day trip from Brussels that I might be a bit biased about since this is the city where I went to University. Obviously this means that I had some of the best and craziest times of my life right here. And while during the school year the city will be filled with students it tends to really quiet down on the weekend.
Leuven has one of the most beautiful city halls in entire Belgium and it’s a rather small city which is close to the beautiful castle of Horst. Especially if you’re visiting Leuven by car it’s worth it to also include this castle on your day trip.
If you’re visiting by train it will take around 30 minutes to reach Leuven from Brussels. Make sure to enjoy a fresh beer on one of the many terraces on the central market and don’t skip the beautiful beguinage!
Solvay Castle – Château de la Hulpe
Did you know that Belgium holds the record for the highest amount of castles per square meter? It’s crazy to think that a country this small holds over 2000 castles and more. It comes as no surprise that visiting one of these castles actually makes for the perfect day trip from Brussels.
The Solvay Castle is located in a beautiful park and is only 20 minutes driving from Brussels. It is surrounded by a beautiful park and offers the perfect contrast with the hustle and bustle of our capital.
To my knowledge there isn’t a real parking lot in the area but you’re able to park your car along side the road. I do not recommend visiting this castle with public transport.
Opening hours – 8am to 9pm (6pm during the Winter)
Due to new police regulations the park remains open for visiting on the weekdays but is closed on the weekend. Access to the terraces of the Château, the houses/gardens and closed-off meadows is forbidden.
Entrance – The park is free to enter
The beautiful city of Mechelen is located right in the middle between Antwerp and Brussels. Over the past years Mechelen has become one of the most vibrant and fun cities to visit in Belgium. You’ll find a ton of cool wine bars and lunch places in the city centre.
A day trip to Mechelen will not be complete without seeing the Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral, the Winter Garden of the Ursuline Nuns and the Museum Hof van Buseyden.
What a lot of people don’t know is that there is a beautiful castle located very close to Mechelen. The Castle of Zellaer is a more recent castle and surrounded by a beautiful park. It’s only 15 minutes driving from Mechelen but you can also get there with bus 520 which leaves from Mechelen Nekkerspoel.
The Villers Abbey is located in the small town of Villers La Ville and about 30 minutes driving from Brussels. The Villers Abbey was built in 1146 and shows how the Cistercian monks lived. This site is considered to be one of the most complete ones in entire Europe!
You can visit the Villers Abbey every day from 10am to 5pm and in the Summer months it even stays open until 6pm. There is free parking available right next to the entrance and the entrance fee for adults is €9.
The Hallerbos Forest, also known as the bluebell forest, is one of the most magical places in Belgium and the perfect day trip from Brussels. Once every year the forest transforms itself into a purple haze where the entire ground is covered with these pretty flowers.
The exact timing of the bluebells being in full bloom is a little different every year but generally the second half of April is the best time to go. Plan your visit so that you can be here at sunrise. Once the clock hits 10am the forest will be very crowded!
Brussels Day Trips Within 2 Hours
Visiting the Medieval town in Bruges is probably the most popular day trip from Brussels. The best way to see Bruges is to simply just wander around. While it’s main sights are absolutely stunning the charm of this town comes from the small cobble stone streets and the beautiful houses alongside the canals.
The most popular thing to do in Bruges is to go for a boat ride on the canals and while you’re at it grab yourself a waffle to take with you! Other sights you can not miss are the Belfort, Rozenhoedkaai and Minnewaterpark.
Bruges is 1,5 hour driving from Brussels and by train you’ll get there in 1h15 minutes when leaving from Brussels Central Station.
Dinant is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the South of Belgium, located by the river Meuse and with steep cliffs as it’s back drop. Go for a walk alongside the Meuse of enjoy a river cruise. Once you’re in town there is no need to worry on how to get around, you can pretty much walk through it in less than an hour!
You can get from Brussels to Dinant by train which will take around 1h43 minutes. But if you are in the position to go by car do so! This way you can also see some of the most beautiful castles in entire Belgium: Château Walzin and Vêves Castle. Both of them are only 20 minutes driving from Dinant!
Durbuy is located in the province of Luxembourg and is supposed to be the smallest town in the world. With its cobbled streets and timbered houses it’s also one of the cutest towns in the world and you’ll also find a beautiful castle and garden here.
If you plan on visiting Durbuy stay clear of Sunday afternoons, they tend to get very busy. You’ll much more enjoy your visit during a week day.
Other fun and beautiful places to visit near Durbuy are the Topiary Park and the Labyrinth of Barvaux-sur-Ourthe.
It takes around 1,5 hour driving to reach Durbuy from Brussels by car and I do not recommend taking public transport since it will take you almost 5 hours to get there.
Visiting Monschau is a more unique day trip from Brussels and one that will require you to go just across the border of Belgium with Germany. But believe me, it’s worth it. The small village of Monschau is so so beautiful and is nestled in a valley. Almost every house looks like one of the gingerbread houses from Hansel and Grettle and the Rur river.
A day trip to Monschau is not complete without also going for a walk in the nature park High Fenns – Eifel. A part of which is located in Germany and another part of it is in Belgium. It’s a an amazing place where you can honestly spend an entire day!
Japanese Garden in Hasselt
Do you want to visit Japan but you don’t feel like getting on a plane for over 8 hours? Then make sure to go on a day trip to the Japanese Garden in Hasselt. It’s the largest of its kind in Europe and offers the perfect setting to experience the Japanese culture.
The garden is open again for visitors since Covid-19 but it is required to buy your ticket in advance. You can do so here. Their policy is very strict, if you do not have a ticket you can not go inside.
After visiting the garden you can make a small detour to the outskirts of Borgloon where you’ll find a beautiful art installation called ‘Read between the lines‘. This is the perfect place to watch the sunset before returning back to Brussels.
Kinderdijk is another original day trip from Brussels and located in the Netherlands. Here you will find 19 windmills that were originally built in 1740 are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a beautiful place to visit and unique in it’s kind. A fun fact is that most of Kinderdijk’s 19 windmills are inhabited. In fact, having actual occupants is an important factor in the area’s authenticity!
You can buy your ticket online here and you can reach Kinderijk by car from Brussels in 1,5 hour.
The Hanging Gardens of Thuin
The Hanging Gardens of Thuin are such a hidden gem in Belgium that even most Belgians have never heard of it! But Thuin is actual a cute sweet with a very rich medieval past. It’s an enchanting place and definitely one of the most original day trips from Brussels. One where you can brag about when you return home or even show off to fellow Belgians!
Besides the Hanging Gardens, which are now turned into vineyards you should also visit the belfry, and the boatmakers district.
The Hanging Gardens of Thuin are a little over 1 hour driving from Brussels and you can combine this visit with seeing the Abbey of Aulne and Ragnies, one of the most beautiful town in Wallonia.
Brussels Day Trips Within 3 Hours
When you’re talking about waterfalls most people immediately think about either Iceland or Bali, certainly not Luxemburg! But I kid you not, this beautiful waterfall is located in one of the smallest countries and makes for the perfect day trip from Brussels.
Besides visiting the Schiessentümpel waterfall make sure to also pay a visit to Kuelscheier for a spectacular hike and Kallektuffquell. And while you’re at it why not end your day in the beautiful town of Vianden and have dinner overlooking the beautiful castle!
From Brussels it’s around 2,5 hours driving so make sure you leave on time!
By now you probably know that I am a sucker for beautiful castles and Burg Eltz happens to be one of my favourites in the entire world! Visiting Burg Eltz and it’s surroundings is one of my personal favourite day trips that I love to do once in a while. Besides visiting this magnificent castle you can also make a stop at Cochem and the Geierley bridge. If you have a little more time left make sure to also visit Drachenburg Castle!
For more details about these beautiful castles in Germany click here.
Burg Eltz is a 2h50 min drive from Brussels and there is a big parking lot at the entrance. You do not have to pay an entrance fee to enter the domain, only if you want to visit the castle on the inside as well.
Freudenberg is a town in Germany that lies on the Orange route, a holiday route that runs from Amsterdam through North and Central Germany and then back to Amsterdam. When visiting you do not want to miss Alter Flecken, the downtown core of Freudenberg which looks like a 17th century small village.
The town of Freudenberg is 2h50 min driving from Brussels.
If you want to experience ‘Old Holland’ then a day trip to Volendam is the one for you! It’s a cute and authentic fishing village north of Amsterdam and is the perfect day trip from Brussels. The best way to discover Volendam is to just wander through its ancient streets in the Doolhof and Oude Kom quarters.
For lunch taste a sample of the freshly caught seafood and after that resume your day with a stroll alongside the Dijk.
The beautiful town of Volendam is only 2,5 hours driving from Brussels!
Hoge Veluwe National Park
The Hoge Veluwe is the oldest National park in the Netherlands and the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful day in nature! It’s a diverse landscape of hills, forests, heathlands and sand drifts where you can easily spend an entire day. A must do is climbing the Posbank cause once you reach the top you will be greeted by a view that can reach up to 20km.
The best time to visit the Hoge Veluwe National Park is when the heather is in bloom. This happens from mid August to mid September and turns the meadows into a purple haze of flowers.
The National Park is a 2h50 min drive from Brussels.
Kelly Dienaar says
Wij zaten een beetje met de handen in haar, omtrent onze vakantieplannen nu met covid-19. Maar jouw tips hebben ons echt uit de nood geholpen! Bedankt!
Je hebt me met een heel andere blik naar ons eigen landje doen kijken. Ik wist niet dat België zoveel te bieden had.
Oh merci Kelly! Echt super blij om dat te horen! 🙂