This article includes links to our travel partners at Tripadvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Brussels.
With delicious craft beers, breathtaking architecture, and captivating museums, Brussels is one of the most interesting European capitals to visit. But is a trip to its city centre worth it on a long layover at Brussels Zaventem Airport?
Brussels Airport offers the standard fare of activities to keep you entertained between flights. Buy some souvenirs or duty-free perfumes in one of the many boutiques; try some delicious Belgian chocolate; or spend some time relaxing in one of the cafés while reading a magazine. Brussels airport also has free WIFI, allowing you to have a quick chat with your friends or read your favourite influencer’s latest posts. For more information on the airport itself, check out our Brussels Airport Guide.
Brussels Sightseeing Attractions
Below are a few of the top things to do in Brussels during your layover:
Known to be the most beautiful square in Europe, the Grand Place should be on every traveller’s bucket list. Registered on the World Heritage List of UNESCO, this square is home to two famous buildings, the Town Hall and the Maison du Roi both of which are open to tourists.
- Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Grand Place, book a tour or read traveller reviews.
- How to get there: You can easily reach the city centre by train within 30 minutes and then walk to the Grand Place. You will be able to arrive at your final destination within a 10-minute walk.
- Time required: This depends on whether you want to visit the buildings or just stroll around. A visit to the Grand Place can last anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours.
Built in 1958 for the Brussels World’s Fair, the Atomium is now largely considered Brussels’s main landmark. Today, most people visit this site for the breathtaking view over the city and the surreal ride through its modern interiors which will give you the impression of being in a sci-fi movie.
- Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Atomium, book a tour or read traveller reviews.
- How to get there: The Atomium is located in Brussels’ periphery. You can reach this site by bus from the airport and then enjoy a 15-minute walk.
Alternatively, you can opt for an Uber. Rides range from 35 to 50 euros.
- Time required: Give yourself from one to two hours to visit this site.
Les Marolles is one of the most authentic and vibrant neighbourhoods in Brussels. Browse through vintage jukeboxes, ancient paintings, and retro lamps at the city’s most famous flea market, Place Jeu de Balle; watch a contemporary dance performance at Brigittines Chapel; or try some delicious craft beer in one of Les Marolles’ many bars.
- Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Les Marolles, book a tour or read traveller reviews.
- How to get there: You can reach this site with a 20-minute ride by train and a 10-minute walk. Alternatively, you can opt for an Uber. Prices range from 40 to 60 euros.
- Time required: Of course, this depends on what you want to do here. Visits usually last from one to four or more hours.
If you have already explored Brussels or if you are simply not in the mood to visit a big metropolis, you can opt for a quick trip to Leuven. Here you can visit the majestic Town Hall, take a relaxing stroll in the botanical gardens, or enjoy a refreshing beer in one of the many bars in the city centre.
- Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Leuven, to book a tour or read traveller reviews.
- How to get there: You can easily reach Leuven by train within 30 minutes.
- Time required: Give yourself at least four to five hours to see the city without having to rush.
You can easily reach Brussels city centre by bus, train, or taxi. Let’s explore each one of these options.
- Trains to Brussels city centre take about 20 to 30 minutes and are operated by SNCB. You can find the train station below the Departure and Arrival Hall at level -1.
- Alternatively, you can opt for a bus. These are located right in front of the only terminal in the airport. Bear in mind that buses may take longer to reach the centre as, unlike trains, they can’t avoid traffic. Check this link for extra info.
- If you prefer to travel with comfort, opt for a taxi. Check Brussels Airport’s official page for more info or opt for an Uber, which will cost you from 40 to 60 euros.
Before You Go: Layover Tips
Now that you are excited about your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.
- Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
- When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
- What are security wait times like at the airport? Brussels Airport suggests you arrive about two hours in advance for Schengen flights and three for international flights. Make use of the airport slot advice tool to have an estimate of the best time to be at the airport.
- What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage will be checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Check out our Brussels Zaventem Airport Guide for information on luggage storage.
Other Useful Resources
Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly: