Short breaks in Brussels – 48 hours of shopping, chocolate and Art Nouveau architecture

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Whether you plan to indulge in chocolate or immerse yourself in Art Nouveau on your short break in Brussels, follow this itinerary for ideas on how to get the most out of your stay in a Brussels hotel.

Brussels short break day one, morning

Rise early at your Brussels hotel to beat the crowds to the Mannekin Pis – the 61cm-tall bronze statue of a peeing boy that is Brussels’ humorous mascot. Turn the corner to the photogenic Grand Place, framed by step-gabled guild houses once home to butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Leering gargoyles and lacy stonework guide the eye to the Gothic Town Hall. Watch the square’s action while eating a waffle hot from the grill and topped with whipped cream. Stroll north to the glass-roofed Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a trio of Art Nouveau malls harbouring cafés and speciality boutiques selling everything from handmade Belgian lace to leather gloves.

Start: Mannekin Pis
Nearest metro Anneessens or Brussels-Central


Brussels’ must-see art collections are in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, a 10-minute walk south of the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Choose between the Museum of Ancient Art showcasing paintings by Flemish masters like Rubens and Pieter Bruegel, and the Modern Art Museum spotlighting works by Picasso and Magritte. Take a breather in the stately greenery of Brussels City Park nearby, where avenues lead to bandstands, misty fountains and the Royal Palace.

Start: Royal Museums of Fine Arts
Nearest metro Brussels-Central


Wind down the day with a cherry-flavoured lambic beer in the mirrored Art Deco bar A la Mort Subite. A short amble south brings you to 1920s brasserie Aux Armes des Bruxelles, famed for its authentic Belgian flavours like moules-frites (mussels with chips).

Start: A la Mort Subite
Nearest metro Brussels-Central or De Brouckère

Brussels short break day two, morning

Well-to-do locals flock to the weekend antiques market on tree-shaded Place du Grand Sablon. Even if you miss it, it’s worth exploring the square to glimpse the filigree grace of Gothic Notre-Dame du Sablon church and track down the area’s first-class chocolatiers. Nip into Wittamer to drink thick hot chocolate, or Pierre Marcolini for herb-infused pralines, bitter cocoa truffles and featherlight macaroons. Linger for people-watching on a café terrace.

Start: Place du Grand Sablon.
Nearest metro Brussels-Kapellekerk


Walk off the indulgence with a 10-minute wander south to Brussels’ smartest shopping streets – Boulevard de Waterloo and Avenue Louise. Devote the rest of the afternoon to contemplating romantic Art Nouveau interiors at the Horta Museum, a few blocks west of Avenue Louise. The former studio and house of Brussels’ best-loved architect, Victor Horta, is an ingenious play on flowing lines, twisting staircases and intricate metalwork.

Start: Avenue Louise.
Nearest metro Louise


Hop on the metro north to the old fish market district around Place Sainte-Catherine. Follow your rumbling stomach to one of the unassuming little bistros dishing up fresh seafood and fish. A quick walk west brings you to the upbeat Rue Antoine Dansaert and L’Archiduc, a high-ceilinged, Art Deco jazz bar serving decadent cocktails and a top-drawer line-up of gigs. Ring the doorbell to get in.

Start: Place Sainte-Catherine.
Nearest metro Sainte-Catherine