Four hours in Brussels: tips for time-starved travellers

From world-class beer and chocolate to architectural treasures and green spaces, Brussels has so much more to offer than just political institutions and its surprisingly popular peeing boy statue.

So, if you find yourself in the Belgian capital with just a few hours to spare - perhaps while waiting for a connecting flight, Eurostar train or after a business meeting - how can you squeeze the most of that precious time?

Drink some beer

Let’s cut straight to it - if you’re a beer lover, Brussels is the place for you.

One recommendation we received on our Facebook page in response to a post we sent out to see what our followers would do with four hours in Brussels, was Delirium Café.

Delirium, which is right in the centre of the city, offers more than 2,000 beers - the biggest selection of any bar in the world - including of course Belgium’s famous Trappist beers.

Stay on the beaten path

You will not visit Brussels as a tourist without stepping foot in the Grand Place.

This cobblestone square, surrounded by buildings from the late 17th century is, as Lonely Planet puts it, “one of the world’s most unforgettable urban ensembles”. Almost all the buildings have a historical significance.

Just a few narrow alleyways from the Grand Place is the Peeing Boy or Manneken Pis, if you're determined to go and see him.

Nothing but chocolate

You’re in the chocolate capital of the world, so if you’re a chocoholic, you could just spend all of your time satisfying your cravings for all things cacao.

Four hours is just the right amount of time for the popular Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop. As well as chocolate tastings at some of Brussels’ finest chocolatiers, this walking tour takes you through the historic city centre, stopping to learn about the stories behind landmarks like the Grand Place and Royal Palace.

This is followed by a one-hour chocolate making workshop led by a master chocolatier.

Immerse yourself in a world of trains

Even if you’ve just spent a couple of hours on the Eurostar, you should still make time for Train World, in the Schaarbeek railway station.

Describing itself as ‘the showcase for the railways of yesterday, today and tomorrow’, this modern museum is not just for train enthusiasts – it’s a particularly good way to spend your short stay in Brussels if you have little ones with you.

Enter the world of the EU

Here’s a slightly alternative way to spend your precious few hours in Brussels: head to the Parlamentarium museum to learn how European unification came about and how the European Parliament works.

Admittedly it’s not for everyone, but it comes highly recommended, is open every day, free to visit and has audio guides in 24 languages.

You could combine the Parlamentarium with a trip to the House of European History, which provides a journey through Europe’s history, from antiquity to the 20th century.

Escape to the park

Brussels is proud to be one of Europe’s greenest capitals.

You can escape to parks including Bois de la Cambre, which stretches from the upmarket Avenue Louise - which is filled with luxury boutiques - to the Forêt de Soignes.

Established in 1862, this park has a theatre, horse riding activities, a roller-skating rink and an island on an artificial lake, which is accessible by a small ferry.

So much more

We’ve just scratched the surface with these tips. If you know of a better way to spend a few hours in the city, get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we’d love to hear your suggestions.

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