Brussels, Belgium, is one of those cities that stays with you long after you’ve left. The beautiful architecture, the stunning Grand Place, the shopping, the eating… I could go on and on, really. There are so many wonderful things to do in Brussels on a budget – many of them are even free, which is a great benefit in a city that isn’t necessarily budget friendly. If you have a even 24 hours in Brussels, you can easily check off these 5 top things to do in Brussels on a budget and feel like you’ve gotten a good feel for what this city is all about.
If you can, plan to spend at least 4-5 days in Brussels to get a better perspective on the city. Once you’ve seen and done the 5 things we’ve listed below, you’ll definitely want to stick around to see, and taste, more of what the city has to offer.
We find that the best way to keep on budget for a trip is to find deals on the airfare, whether that means using your mileage plan miles or being a savvy shopper. Check out these JetBlue coupons for discounts on airfare to many places around the world, including Brussels, Belgium. If you’re flexible and choose the rights dates, you could save a bundle on airfare and have more to spend when you arrive.
Free City Tours
If you wish to see the most famous and beautiful places around town, but don’t want to wander around unsure of what you’re looking at, then a free city tour is just what you need. Sandeman’s is a company who have been setting up shop in many of the top cities to offer free city walking tours. We’ve been on a few of them and have always enjoyed them. In Brussels, they offer a free 2.5-hour city walking tour that covers all the main sights, and all you have to do is sign up online so they know you’re coming. They have tours at 11am and 2pm. The tour is free, but the guides always happily accept tips.
Indulge Your Inner Foodie
One of the most famous types of street food in the world has to be the Belgian Waffle. You can find them all over Brussels, at streets stands and kiosks in places that tourist frequent, like the train station and Grand Place. In fact, there is an awesome waffle shop with a street window jsut around the corner from the Manneken Pis, where you can pick up one of these beauties for around €1-2.
Another type of street food you have to try in Brussels is the frites. These aren’t you typical french fries. They can be found at friteries that are almost as ubiquitous as the waffle stands, all around the city. What you’ll get is a paper cone filled with pipping hot frites and a heap of your choice of dipping sauce – mayo or ketchup.
Visit the Grand Place and Manneken Pis
One of my favorite parts of Brussels — and soon to be yours too, I’m sure — is the Grand Place. Not only is it a massive and incredibly impressive square to look at, it’s also a really fun place to hang out. There are bars and restaurants lining the interior where you can sit with a yard of beer. There are chocolate shops that will make your eyes bulge with delight. There are souvenir shops with just about every imaginable trinket.
Only a short walk away, is the famous Manneken Pis – the statue of a naked little boy peeing into a fountain.. I can’t imagine walking around Brussels without seeing this little guy. He has over 900 outfits that have been sent to him by admirers around the world. When I was there last, he was wearing a police uniform. One note about visiting him – he’s located down a small side street and it can get crowded during peak days and hours, so go see him early or late in the day to avoid crowds.
Take a Chocolate or Beer Tour
Would you believe that there are more than 150 breweries in Belgium? Do a Google search right now and you’ll find a dozen or more guided beer and brewery walking tours for as little as $20. A tour is a great way to try a bunch of different beers and learn some history at the same time. Tours are also fun because you get to meet some people. But if you’re on a budget, you can taste beer relatively cheaply by sitting down at any of the bars or restaurants in the Grand Place. Look for one that has a sampler tray and you’ll end up with a great variety. You could do that every day of your trip and end up trying a dozen or more beers for a pretty low price.
Chocolate is another big draw for visitors to Belgium. There are dozens of chocolate brands in Belgium and each of them seem to have their own shop. If you just want to try a few brands in Brussels and do some sampling, head to Chocopolis underneath the Best Western Hotel in the Grand Place. They carry several brands and allow you to sample the chocolate. They also offer a discount the more boxes you buy. If you want to try a few more of the brands, chocolate tours usually drop in to up to 6 different vendors, trying up to 12 different chocolates. They can be pricey, so shop around!
Go on a Self-Guided City Photo Tour
Everyone wants to return home with fabulous pictures of their vacation to show their friends, and with the rise of Instagram these days, you want to be able to impress with your photography. The best way to do that is to go on a photo tour that will take you to the most photogenic and picturesque places in a city. If you do a little research online before going, you can put together your own list of top spots and embark on a self-guided photo tour.
Brussels is one of the most photogenic cities in the World. Within a small distance there are statues, world-class architecture, cathedrals, panoramas and street art. Instead of buying cheap souveniers, take photographs of the city back home with you. Some of the top spots to photograph include the Grand Place and its side streets, Brussels Cathedral, The Atomium in Heysel Park, and the train station (where you’ll find some interesting street art and graffiti).
How much do you want to pack your bags, get on a plane and head to Brussels right now? I definitely do!