How To Spend An Awesome Layover In Brussels

Picture of the THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. MICHAEL AND ST. GUDULA one of the places to see when spending a short layover in Brussels.

Waffles, chocolate, and beer – oh my! This combination makes for the perfect layover in Brussels, agreed?  I bet I have your attention now naming all those wonderful treats Brussels is famous for. If you find yourself stuck at the airport for a layover in Brussels, don’t stay in the airport, get your tush outside because there is plenty of sightseeing to do while there. 

Brussels is one fascinating city to explore- from Gothic influenced architecture, tasty waffles, and frothy cold brews – it is one city deserving of your visit! 

Text reads top Brussels travel guide for a quick layover in the city. Image of an orate building.

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Layover In Brussels Tips

Can You Leave The Airport During a Short Layover In Brussels

You may wonder if you can leave the Brussels airport during your brief layover. If you have at least 5-hours or more it should give you a sufficient amount of time before heading back to catch your flight. Anything less than that, I suggest you buy your waffles from the airport. 

Time spent in customs should be considered if you are not already flying within the Schengen region. If you’re required to have a visa, factor any issues that may occur entering the country. Waiting in lines and any unexpected obstacles in customs should be taken into consideration since they can diminish your time. If none of these apply to you then you can quickly leave the airport and come back without any problems. 

To get through the airport during your return it is a breeze. Security is extremely organized and quickly gets you through.

Picture of two Belgian beers on a table. Grabbing a Belgian beer is one of the things to do during a layover in Brussels.

What Money To Use During Your Layover In Brussels

Brussels is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. Cost of food and souvenirs are reasonably priced in the city, just make sure you have plenty of cash so you don’t have to pinch those pennies. 

You are able to exchange your currency at the Brussels Airport at Travelx. Money can also be exchanged once you’re outside of the airport at Eurogold, Ria, or DME Change. Check out their opening hours prior to your layover. However, many places in Brussels accept credit and debit cards.

What Language Do They Speak In Brussels

French, Dutch, and German are the official languages spoken in Belgium. During my layover in Brussels, I primarily heard locals speaking French. Being fluent in French or their other languages isn’t necessary, mostly everyone spoke a little English. But, it is polite to learn at least few common words just to be friendly. Locals tend to appreciate tourist who make some effort.

How To Get From Brussels Airport To Brussels’ City Center

Brussels metro station stop at airport that you will see during a layover in Brussels

Brussels is on top of their game and have one of the most tourist friendly airports I have explored compared to other countries.

Picture symbols guide your every step, whatever location you are looking for, signs are every couple of feet to know you’re headed in the right direction! The Brussels Airport is not far from Brussels city center. It is only 12-kilometers away, so you can arrive promptly to start your layover in Brussels adventure. 

Arrive By Metro

Taking the metro to Brussels city center is quick and cheap. To get to the metro follow the pictures with a metro train. Just incase you missed it (which you won’t), the Brussels metro is located on floor -1. When you arrive to the correct floor, you will see ticket booths in front. If you’re having difficulty purchasing your ticket officers are nearby ready to assist you with any questions you may have.

You need a roundtrip ticket for Brussels-Central/Bruxelles-Centraal and back to the airport for your layover in Brussels. Roundtrip ticket costs €25, after you purchased your ticket head to line 3, which gets you to the main center in Brussels.  Estimated time of arrival is 17-minutes. 

If you prefer to purchase your tickets in advance, check out the application SNCB National. Available for download in Google Play and the App Store. This application also keeps you updated on expected train arrivals and departures so you can monitor the trains for your return back to Brussels Airport. 

If you like to prepare yourself with their metro system prior to your layover, you can download the application for the Brussels Metro System right here.

Arrive By Taxi

Catching a taxi may be quick and more convenient than buying metro tickets, but comes with a price. Brussels has the most expensive taxis over Europe and roundtrip cab fare will set you back around  €90. 

Arrive By Uber

To arrive to Brussels city center by Uber is about a 25-minute drive. Unfortunately, the rate can vary depending on time of day and traffic. 

Arrive By Bus

I highly suggest avoiding the bus even though it may be the cheapest option costing only €3, but, it’s the slowest. A bus ride into the city center can take up to 30-minutes or more due to traffic.

Honestly, ditch all the other transportation and go with the metro. Save your time and money for beers and fries. 

Where Can You Store Your Luggage

If you happen to have carry-on luggage and don’t want to tote it around Brussels, lockers are located at the airport on level 0 and costs €10 to store your luggage for for 24-hours. 

You can also stash your carry-on at Brussels-Central/Bruxelles-Centraal Station. Lockers are located near the metro station exit. Cost varies depending on the size of your carry-on. Prices for luggage storage can range anywhere from €4.5-€5.5 to hold for 24-hours. 

What To Do During A Short Layover In Brussels

Okay, now you got the logistics down regarding currency, transportation, and such – it is time to get moving on this journey. Let’s discuss things to do in Brussels during your layover.

Go Shopping Off Of Rue Neuve

One of the free things to do in Brussels is strolling the Rue Neuve, a lively pedestrian only street filled with an overwhelming amount of shops, cafés, bars, and restaurants. It’s the second most prominent shopping center all over Belgium!

Rue Neuve Street crowded with people one of the places to see during a layover in Brussels.

Keep on walking for a good 10-minutes to arrive at Brussels’ main square, the Grand Place!  Walk down the cobblestone streets and bury yourself in the mixture of Gothic and Baroque architecture that surrounds the square. Brussels’ Grand Place is recognized being one of the most exquisite squares across Europe. Grand Place has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the late 1990’s. 

Eat A Belgian Waffle

So when in Brussels…get a waffle! We all know that waffles are one of the famous foods Brussels is known for so it would be shame to go and not at least get one of those sweet treats. For the absolutely best Belgian waffle you will ever taste go to Vitalgaufre,  which is an authentic Belgian establishment serving waffles to locals since 1998. 

Outside of Vitalgaufre.

This quaint corner store always has a long line. Forget butter and maple syrup, no need for their waffles since they’re.perfectly sweetened in each and every chewy bite.

At Vitalgaufre there are a variety of delightful flavors to choose from such as vanilla, raspberry, chocolate, cinnamon, and apple cinnamon! Skip coming here at all if you don’t want waffles totally ruined for you.

Vanilla waffle from Vitalgaufre one of the must things to do during a layover in Brussels.

I am a sucker for anything vanilla, so of course that’s what I ordered. My curiosity sparked my interest to also try the raspberry waffle. While both were delicious, the vanilla by far surpassed the raspberry in flavor. Vitalgaufre’s waffles are simply divine!

Cheers With A Belgian Beer

After chowing down on the waffles at Vitalgaufre wash them down with some good old Belgian beer. One great cozy spot to grab a brew is La Lunette and a great spot to people watch. If you’re not into touristy spots, then this place is for you. Order a pint to sip on and unwind from your plane ride.

Outside sitting is reserved for coffee and alcoholic beverages. So if you would like to order pome frites (French fries), which I suggest you do, you have to sit indoors.  

Two Belgian beers on a table at La Lunette.

Get Lost In The Back Streets 

Don’t just walk along Rue Neuve, find any alley and take a turn. Buildings  in the back alleys are inspired with Art Nouveau architecture and Gothic influenced statues. 

One corner to turn off of Rue Neuve is, Place des Martyrs a square located in the center of Brussels. Place des Martyrs symbolizes the 466 who sacrificed their lives for Belgium’s Independence.

Indulge In Belgian Chocolate

A layover in Brussels would not be complete without tasting some delicious Belgian chocolate. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Leonidas Fresh Belgian Chocolates along Rue Neuve.

Get your fix with Belgian pralines, truffles, and oh yes…butter creams! Their truffles are absolutely pure heaven, don’t take my word for it, go try them. 

Tour The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

Side of The Cathedral of St. Micheal and St. Gudula

Don’t forget to stop a take pictures of The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, Brussels most significant landmark. Once you see the colossal size of this cathedral,  it will leave you speechless.

This cathedral was built early in the 9th-century and was constructed with Gothic inspired architecture that took a whopping 300-years to build! 

If you happen to have some extra time during your layover in Brussels then take a tour inside. Cathedral of St. Micheal and St. Gudula is open daily to the the public Monday thru Friday from 7am – 6pm. Weekends doors open at 8:30am and close at 3:30pm on Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays. Admission is free, but to see the treasure of the cathedral it costs €3. 

Me standing in front of The Cathedral of St. Micheal and St. Gudula one of the must-see places during a layover in Brussels

Make sure to allow yourself at least 1 1/2 -2 hours for travel time and getting through security.

Our Layover In Brussels Is Up

I hope you find this layover in Brussels guide helpful. Brussels has delicious food and extravagant sites to see during your short visit. Don’t miss an opportunity to see one amazing city, get out and get a taste of Brussels! 

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To have all these spots I recommended for your Layover in Brussels follow my guide on how to plan a trip with Google Maps.

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10 Comments

  1. Great and detailed post! It always feels like a bit of a gamble leaving the airport for a layover of any kind but this article is so nice and thorough. It’s definitely better than sitting around for hours at the airport!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and the compliment. I usually book long layovers so I can squeeze in another city. It does beat sitting in that airport!

  2. I haven’t been to Brussels in a while, but this post makes me want to go there again. Thanks for inspiring me!

    1. I am ready to go back. Those waffles are delicious!

  3. Great post! I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Brussels earlier last year. Sadly I wasn’t the biggest fan of the city, though I’d love to revisit it and maybe try doing some other things. I did LOVE the waffles though!

    1. Sorry it wasn’t your favorite. I have those cities too. Definitely try visiting again.

  4. What a stunning Gothic Cathedral. I wished to spend a layover on those places some day!

    1. It was even better in person. Hopefully, you will have your layover there one day!

  5. It’s really great to read you article on Brussels. It’s one of my favourite cities in Belgium. Seeing your picture I’m already craving those delicious Belgium Waffles!

    1. Those waffles! I could definitely eat one now!Thanks for your compliment 🙂

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