Short city breaks have never been as popular as they are now. Our world is so well connected that it is easy to get on a train after work on a Friday and leave for the weekend. Come back on a Sunday relaxed and with a bag full of lasting memories. But you don’t even have to invest a weekend when you can easily do a day trip with the Eurostar London to Brussels train link. This little escape is a welcome break from the mundane routine of a 9-5pm workweek.
Eurostar has excellent offers to do a day trip from London to Brussels by train. This is perfect, as there’s no need to book an overnight stay. You can wake up in your London home, spent the day in Brussels, and fall asleep back in the UK.
Said and done – I booked myself a ticket mid-week and was all excited for a day in Brussels.
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London To Brussels by Train: When Is It The Best Time To Book Tickets For Eurostar?
The fastest way to get to get to Brussels from London is by Eurostar high-speed train which takes you to Europe in no time. I find Eurostar extremely enjoyable to travel with and if I have the chance to choose them, I will!
Eurostar can be pricey, but only if you have set dates in mind. It’s also not the best option for spontaneous travellers. Deals are rare and can occur at the most random of times. Therefore, I would suggest taking a flexible approach and checking out availability as far as three months in advance. Booking ahead can get you return tickets to Brussels for £40.
The Eurostar website is neatly organised and offers you a good overview of pricing with a +/- a couple of days forecasting. You get options and seat availability and can browse for the best deal. Comparing prices and different times are worth it, as mid-week services tend to be cheaper than Monday or Friday.
My cheapest fare for a return from London to Brussels by train came £60 for a Tuesday in July. What a cheeky, little treat! I booked the day off and got all excited for my mini-escape to Europe.
Keep In Mind: Your one-day Brussels adventure will be an intense day. My alarm woke me up at 4:40am to catch the train to Brussels at 8am from St Pancras International. The overall travel time for the day is 4h plus your commute to St Pancras and back home. For me, this means an additional 2h. Therefore you want to spend about 6-8h exploring Brussels to make the trip time efficient.
The Eurostar has different fleets and this one came with a modern and clean design. The seats were spacious and super comfortable with generous legroom and a plug to charge my phone. The high-speed train can reach up to 330km per hour and it ran so smoothly that I fell asleep on the spot. The overall travel time on the Eurostar London to Brussels link is 2h.
One Day in Brussels: Things To Do
I arrived at Brussels Midi (South) at 11 am and walked approximately 20 minutes to the centre. The beating heart of the city is Grand Place. Here you find a beautiful medieval marketplace surrounded by stunning buildings. There is the Town Hall with its gothic facade and gargoyles, as well as the impressive Guild Halls which are elaborately decorated with gold. The square itself is known for being covered in flowers but on the day I went, there was the Vlaanderen Festival taking place. Stages, music and lots of people were about!
The Grand Place is seamed by small, narrow side streets. This invites exploring the inner city in all directions. My first choice brought me to the famous Manneken Pis which was less than a 5-minute walk away.
The actual fountain is rather small, but if you know this, you’ll keep your eyes open. The area surrounding it bursts with Manneken Pis branded waffles- and souvenir stands. Apparently, there’s a female counterpart, the Jeanneke Pis, in a nearby shopping mall.
The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Afterwards, I walked over to the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. This is a lovely sophisticated shopping passage. Here you find one chocolate shop after another selling luxurious and divine treats. It took me a while to check them all out before I decided where I’d like to stock up my chocolate supply for home.
Corné Port-Royal was my favourite by a mile as their chocolate pralines were delicious. Every flavour combination ticked the box for me. I picked up a selection of assorted pralines as a gift set for my friends and family, as well as their own Florentines. Those have a wonderful crunch covered in the right amount of chocolate. They are not too sweet and just perfectly balanced.
Sightseeing In Brussels
On the steps of St. Michael & St. Gudula Cathedral, I took a little break from all the sightseeing. The Roman Catholic church reminded me very much of a mini version of Notre Dame and you can visit the inside free of charge.
I checked all the pictures I had taken so far and looked for directions to the Comic Strip Museum. The museum was only a short walking distance away, located in a beautiful 1920s warehouse. Once you’ve entered the Comic Strip Museum you felt as if you’ve stepped back in time.
The Comic Strip museum can be found at Rue des Sables 20 in the city centre. An adult ticket costs 12€.
The authentic and well-preserved art nouveau architecture was impressive and simply breathtaking. The museum itself hosts Belgium Comic history over three floors and I found my childhood memories of Asterix & Obelix, TinTin, The Smurfs and Lucky Luke. It’s a nice little museum to walk around, dwell in childhood nostalgia and spend some time.
Flemish Food In Brussels
In the late afternoon, I strolled along Brussel’s High Street, the Rue Neuve. It’s nothing special with the usual retailers but the window shopping was a nice change from the cultural sightseeing. By then I was pretty hungry, so I was also looking for a nice restaurant to sit down and get a bite to eat.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see many fries shops in Brussels. A restaurant that was recommended to me was closed. In fact, a few food places were closed in the afternoon and would not open until the evening. Strange, as the Vlaanderen Fest was in full swing and the city was a lot busier than in the morning.
A quick search for the top 10 places to eat in Brussels recommended me Fin de Siècle. The restaurant was only a short distance away from my current location so I gave it a try. Turned out to be a good shout! Tucked away from the touristy chaos, in a quiet side street lay a beautiful little restaurant with a 1920s charm.
The menu was in French, but the waitress happily translated for me. The menu for the day had authentic but hearty Belgian dishes listed. Pork, lamb shank, potatoes, meat and salad. Hearty, savoury and substantial food- exactly what I needed! I ordered a traditional lamb stew with vegetables, potatoes and feta cheese, which arrived boiling hot and with fresh, homemade bread. An absolute dream!
Sitting there enjoying my meal and the late afternoon, the time flew by and it was time to head back to the train station. I walked back taking a route via the Place de la Bourse which was busy with people celebrating the festival and tourists filling the nearby chocolate shops.
It was a buzzing atmosphere and a perfect ending to my day in Brussels. The journey back to London was just as smooth as the previous ride on the Eurostar and I arrived back in London just after 10pm.
Is The Eurostar London to Brussels by Train Worth Your Time?
Thanks to the connection from London to Brussels by train, a day trip is easily doable. 8hs were absolutely enough to see all the major sites of the city and get a first taste of Brussels. In comparison to previous city breaks, Brussels is rather small and easily walkable. I’m looking forward to coming back one day to see the Grand Place in its full glory with the flower carpets and I haven’t been to the Atomium yet, which I’d like to see.
So to answer the question, yes a one day in Brussels with the excellent Eurostar link is totally worth it.
Overall Costs for a One Day in Brussels Train Adventure
Eurostar Return tickets: mid-week deal, £60*
Chocolate/Souvenir shopping: £20+
Comic Strip Museum: 12€
*Prices and costs are correct as of 2017
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Till next time,
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