What to see in Brussels in two hours

Heading to Brussels for the evening? Or have some time to kill before your Eurostar to London? If, for whichever reason, you’ll find yourself in Brussels with a couple of hours spare, how about a little self-guided Brussels in two hours sightseeing tour? After all, there is plenty to see and do in Brussels. And whilst you might not be able to see everything in such a short time, I’ve put together a little itinerary of what to see in Brussels in two hours. 

I’ve recently come back from a work trip to Belgium. Although my appointment wasn’t in Brussels directly, it was easiest for me to travel via Brussels. And for convenience, I’ve arrived the evening before. So that I wouldn’t have to get up at crazy o’clock to catch the first Eurostar out of London. But this wasn’t my first trip to Brussels. Over the years, I’ve been here a few times. Always for work. Once I’ve even done Brussels and back in a day. After all, it takes only two hours on the Eurostar to get from London to Brussels. Quicker than getting to some destinations in England. 

Anyway… now is as good a time as any to finally share with you my little Brussels in two hours walking tour. 

What to see in Brussels in two hours: Part One

I arrived at Brussels just after 6pm and had picked a hotel close to Brussels Midi / Bruxelles Zuid, where the Eurostar arrives. So, what better place to start our Brussels walking tour.

My first stop (about a 15 minutes’ walk) was the Manneken Pis (the ‘Pissing Man’). This tiny 55cm high bronze status dating back from the 17th century sits on top of a fountain on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue du Chêne. I remember the first time I visited. As Manneken Pis is one of the most famous landmarks in Brussels, I obviously had to go and see it. And was fairly underwhelmed as how small it actually was.

Manneken Pis regularly dresses up and has its own ‘Garderobe Manneken Pis’, a nearby museum that exhibits its various costumes. However, I’ve not been lucky enough to see him dressed up. Whenever I visited, the little man was always naked.   

With photos taken (good luck trying to take one that doesn’t have 20 other people standing in the way), head down Rue de l’Etude for the next stop on our Brussels in two hours tour. 

Halfway down the road, turn around and you will see the ‘Adventures of Tintin’ Comic Mural. 

There are comic murals all over Brussels, with another Tintin one at Brussels Midi and a second one later on our tour. If you have more time in Brussels (and are into streetart), you could do the Brussels Comic Book Route leading you through the inner city, Auderghem and Laeken. There are over 50 comic murals in total. 

The next stop on my Brussels walking tour was the Grand-Place /Grote Markt, the central square of Brussels, dating back to the 11th century.

Brussels in two hours - Travel for a Living

Surrounded by the neo-Gothic King’s House (containing the Brussels City Museum), the Town Hall, and several Baroque guildhalls, the Grand-Place has been a Unesco world heritage site since the late 1990s and is considered one of the world’s most beautiful squares.  Along the likes of the Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Red Square in Moscow, St. Mark’s Square in Venice and Piazza Navona in Rome (to name just a few of the top 10).

Brussels in two hours - Travel for a Living
Brussels in two hours - Travel for a Living

What to see in Brussels in two hours: Part Two

Spend as little or as much time as you want on Grote Markt (it really is a stunning ensemble of architectural gems). 

Once you’ve had enough of Grote Markt, let’s continue our Brussels in two hours walking tour.

Next up is Jeanneke Pis. Yes, you guessed it, another peeing statue. 

Jeanneke Pis was created in the late 1980s as a counterpart to the Manneken Pis (that’s gender equality for you). Also, a relatively small bronze statue (comparable in size with Manneken Pis), she squats and pees into a fountain at the end of Impasse de la Fidélité/Getrouwheidsgang, a narrow cul-de-sac off Rue des Bouchers. To be honest, unless you specifically head there to see the little statue, you’d probably just walk past without giving it a second thought (well if it wasn’t for the array of signs pointing you in the right direction). And once you have seen Jeanneke Pis and taken a photograph, there isn’t much else to do other than retract your steps. Or head into one of the nearby bars for some Belgian beer.

Since you might know how I feel about beer, I just left and continued my Brussels walking tour.

If you feel like completing Brussel’s trinity of peeing statues, you can also go and see Het Zinneke, the peeing dog. I originally had it on my itinerary for my Brussels in two hours tour. But eventually decided it wasn’t worth the detour. Only so many peeing statues I need to see in a day. 

My Brussels walking tour continued to the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert (Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries), which was just a short walk away.

This magnificent shopping arcade just off Rue des Bouchers was built in the 19th century. It consists of three glazed passages: the Queen’s Gallery (Galerie de la Reine), the King’s Gallery (Galerie du Roi), and the smaller Princes’ Gallery (Galerie des Princes).

The two main passages are each over 100m long. Although shops within the gallery will close in the evening, the passage itself is open 24/7. Meaning that you can add it to your Brussels sightseeing tour regardless of time of day (as someone that regularly does her sightseeing after work and out of hours, this is a big bonus in my book).

On my quest to complete my best of Brussels in two hours tour, I headed towards Central Station for the next comic mural. The colourful Smurfs Passage is located just opposite the station’s entrance.

If you are into street art, you will generally find loads of wonderful artwork all over town. Not just the comic book related murals.

The final stop on my two hour of Brussels walking tour was the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. 

Construction of this medieval Roman Catholic cathedral started in the 11th century and was eventually completed in the 16th century. Since I was visiting in the evening, I unfortunately was unable to actually enter the cathedral. The main façade on the western side of the cathedral stands proud with two 64-metre-high towers and three portals.

Brussels in two hours - Travel for a Living

If you still have some energy (and time), you might want to extend your Brussels in two hours tour by adding the Palais Royal de Bruxelles (the Royal Palace) and the Parc de Bruxelles. Which are only a short walk from the cathedral. But as it was getting dark and I was getting hungry, I decided to call it a day and head for some dinner instead. Plenty of dinner options around, just head back in the rough direction of Grand-Place / Grote Markt.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little Brussels in two hours self-guided walking tour. You could obviously spend a lot longer than two hours exploring this beautiful city, but let’s make the most of the time available. And let me know if you find my Brussels walking tour helpful on your next trip. 

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