Brussels might just be Belgium’s biggest tourist hotspot.  The city boasts a generous supply of attractions, it’s top being the adorable statue of a toddler weeing, Mannequin Pis. Delirium Café which brags a selection of 4000 beers, and not to forget, the delightful selection of professional chocolatiers throughout the city.

We’re a big fan of all these things, however, we believe it’s always great to explore outside of any country’s capital.

The great thing about travelling in Belgium is that most towns are reachable within two hours of Brussels! Ticket prices ranges from €7.90 to €23.30 one way, although if you’re just going for a day, a return ticket is always the cheaper option. You can check out all the train times and prices on Omio.co.uk.

With a combination of curiosity and accessibility, we decided to look outside of the capital for these beautiful Belgian towns we had only heard of. What did we learn? The legends are true. 

Belgium is beautiful. There is so much to explore with so many picturesque towns to discover. From the notorious Bruges, to the underrated town of Ghent. Allow us to tell you of these towns that are straight out of a fairytale.

5. Liège

Lille

About an hour south of the capital in the French-speaking region of Walloon you’ll find the sleepy town of Liège.

Is there anything interesting there? If you consider yourself a bit of an art connoisseur then Liège is the day trip for you!

Strolling through the peaceful streets and over canals you’ll stumble upon museums such as The Grand Curtis Museum, which is home to Mosan art pieces.

There’s a surprising yet interesting Aquarium Museum which has 2,500 different kinds of sea creatures in it. It also doubles as natural history museum with over 20,000 specimens from all over the globe. A good idea for any rainy day!

Liège is also one of the only places In Belgium which doesn’t shut down on a Sunday. Venture around Belgium’s oldest and largest market – La Batte. With colourful stalls stretching over 1 km long, you can pick up anything from cheese, chocolate and second-hand knick-knacks. Visiting the market is a great way of gathering an insight into Liège life as the vast majority of buyers are from the town itself. The market runs every Sunday from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.

Where’s a great place for a bite and a pint? Where in Belgium could there be a better time to take advantage of some delicious French cuisine? Liège is dotted with great French food spots such as L’Autruche and Le Selys.

For a good bar, you should drop by Le Pot Au Lait. Playfully decorated with an array of om-worthy Belgian beer and buzzing with a good atmosphere, it’s a foolproof spot to chill out before heading back to base!

4. Antwerp

Antwerp

Antwerp is just a stone’s throw from Brussels, located in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders and takes just over an hour by train.

Is there anything interesting there? If you’re looking to be completely captivated with stunning architecture then Antwerp needs to be on your itinerary.

A must-see attraction is the house of notorious Flemish painter Ruben. Whether you’re a fan of baroque art or not, the house itself is architecturally gorgeous. Be sure to check out the garden as well for some visual delights.

Have a gander down one of Belgium’s famous streets, Cogels Osylei. Renowned for its extensive beauty and quirky buildings it’s perfect for a stroll and is 100% Insta-friendly.

Where’s a great place for a bite and a pint? For a hearty dinner and pint head to Billie’s Bier Kafetaria. It has a good selection of local and international dishes, plus they have a fantastic array of Belgian beers.

3. Lille

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Got a craving for France? Well it’s completely possible to make a day trip to Lille, which is located on the French side of the French/Belgian border. The city it acquired the best attributes from both Belgium and France. Reachable from Brussels in just under two hours.

Is there anything interesting there? There’s a bubbling mixture of culture, sights and history all located in the petite city of Lille.

Explore Lille’s most iconic building, the Old Stock Exchange. Located in the centre of the city, this architectural masterpiece is accompanied by high-end boutiques and market stalls offering you the perfect opportunity to treat yourself. Don’t forget to drop in for a tango extravaganza on Sunday night too, where people of all ages and walks of life come to dance into the night.

You may have seen Quasimodo swinging from the Parisian Notre Dame, but Lille’s Notre Dame is a delight on its own. A compelling mixture of gothic and contemporary design makes this Notre Dame stand out from the rest of conventional Cathedrals.

Where’s a great place for a bite and a pint? Pancook is a highly renowned and affordable restaurant located in the University district of Lille. Perfect for any carnivore looking for their fill. Although they have some scrumptious veggies options too.

In need of a pint? We recommend hitting up Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde. A tre-cool French bar, filled with cosy coaches, good beer and a laid-back vibe. We don’t think there’s a better combination of things after a long day strolling around this charming city.

2. Bruges

Bruges

Located north of Brussels in the Flanders region, it is easily accessible by train and takes just a little over an hour to get to.

Is there anything interesting there? The city is an attraction in its own way. With canals flowing throughout this fairytale-styled town, all you need to in Bruges is take in your surroundings.

Grote Markt is considered to be the town’s centre. This is also where you’ll find the town’s huge clock tower which is worth climbing up. The honest truth is that it’s a pretty steep and narrow climb to the top, but the view from the top is unreal. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to the Belgian coast, watch the boats gently make their way through the town’s canals, while adoring Bruges from above.

Does chocolate shopping count as a thing to do? We think so. Bruges is overcome with authentic artisan chocolatiers. You can even visit the Chocolate Museum. Sure there’ll be no little orange men singing there, but it’d be really weird if there was anyway!

Where’s a great place for a bite and a pint? Park Restaurant may be a bit high on price, but it’s so worth it. They offer a fantastic menu of traditional Belgian food and have a selection of yummy set menus too!

For afterwards? Bar Des Amis has that hole in the wall effect. Take a seat by the window, with a pint of heavenly Belgian beer and watch bustling Bruges do its thing.

1.  Ghent

Gent

Ghent is literally halfway between Brussels and Bruges, making the trip only 30 minutes by train.

Is there anything interesting there? If you dig castles and gothic architecture you’ll dig Ghent.

Check out the Gravensteen castle. Built-in 1190 and home to a Torture Museum it’s safe to say the ambience is a little creepy. For those who love a ghost story will have a great time.

If spooky stuff isn’t your thing then check out the massive St. Bavo’s Cathedral in the town’s centre. Inside you’ll find the world’s most stolen art piece Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by Jan Van Eyck. It was taken by Napoleon, then nearly burned by the Calvinist, only to end up in the hands of the Nazis.

Where’s a great place for a bite and a pint? Sample the best darn seafood in town at George’s. Because of Ghent’s accessibility to the sea fresh fish is delivered each and every day!

T’Gouden Madeke is one of the best bars in Ghent. It’s cosy, full of locals and it has an awesome selection of Belgian beer.

There you have it folks – 5 Day Trips from Brussels. We hope this blog has given you some good ideas and perhaps a few more places to put on your wanderlist.

Ready to explore? Check here for the better way to travel.

Catherine Munnelly

Born and bred in Dublin, Catherine left the Emerald Isle in pursuit of exploration. Her hobbies include spending countless hours planning her next trip, travel blogging and Google deep diving.
Catherine Munnelly