There are some exciting cities to include in your Belgium itinerary that make for great day trips from Brussels.
In fact, you may have even heard of some of them, like Leuven or Dinant.
Belgium’s cities go far beyond Brussels, which is seen as a very international place with little Belgian tradition, according to part of the local population.
Well, that’s no surprise if you think that Brussels is the “capital of Europe” since most of the European Union Institutions (European Commission, EU Council, European External Action Service, and so many others) are located in Brussels.
Actually, there are two free museums about Europe and the European union that you can’t miss when visiting Brussels: the Parlamentarium and the House of European History. There are many positive benefits to the European Union.
Going back to day-trips from Brussels, depending on your availability, it is worth exploring some tourist cities near Brussels to get to know Belgium and its culture better.
There are also a few countries near Brussels to include in your itinerary. Suddenly, you can stop by one of the cities in France near Brussels. Or who knows, some German cities?
Continue reading and learn more!
Besides enjoying the sights of Brussels, some cities near Brussels are very cool to make a round trip, regardless of the season. Take a look at the five most famous:
The above list is in order of distance, departing from the cities closest to Brussels.
Leuven is the closest tourist city to Brussels (about 30 km), and Dinant is the most distant (approximately 110 km).
Belgium is a relatively small country. Therefore, the distance near or far for a Belgian is very different from the perspective of an American, Australian, Brazilian, Russian, or Chinese.
So maybe Dinant is close by for you to visit, especially if you have the time and the disposition.
In addition to Dinant, you can go to Oostende, Namur, Liège, and Hasselt, which are within a radius between 70 and 120 km from Brussels.
Despite being less touristy, these places near Brussels are also very interesting.
Find out more about Belgium’s cities in this article.
Day Trips From Brussels
Cities Near Brussels
Leuven is a charming and university city in Belgium. In fact, it is home to one of the best Belgian universities and one of the oldest in the world: Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven).
A walk through Leuven reveals old buildings, shopping streets, squares, and castles.
The main point of the city is the city hall building, well-lit at night and surrounded by shops, restaurants, and bars.
You can properly enjoy the city’s nightlife and come back to Brussels to sleep. Being very close to the Belgian capital, you can go by train, car, or even bicycle!
How to get from Brussels to Leuven: train (between 20 and 30 min) | car (30 km – approximately 30 min) | bike (1:40 hour)
Antwerp or Antwerpen (Dutch) is one of the cities near Brussels that attracts many tourists. In addition to being the second-largest city in Belgium, Antwerp is known as the international diamond center and the Belgian fashion capital.
This makes the city one of the liveliest and most modern centers in Belgium. There you can shop, enjoy the nightlife and see the combination of old and contemporary architecture.
The main attractions for your Antwerp walking tour or Antwerp bike tour are the Grote Market, the Museum of Modern Art, the Fashion Museum, and the city port. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the red-light district! They literary have a shopping mall for it!
How to get from Brussels to Antwerp: train (between 40 min and 1h10) | car (45 km – approximately 50 min).
Ghent or Gent (Dutch) deserves to be on your itinerary in Belgium or even tour in Brussels, for those who like places with a medieval atmosphere with canals, green areas and many historical monuments.
It is one of the largest cities in Belgium (third largest) and, like Leuven, it is also a university town.
In the summer or spring in Belgium, Ghent is one of the cities near Brussels that hosts several music, theater, and film festivals.
But, regardless of the season, it is worth taking a walking tour of the historic center and getting to know Gravesteen (medieval castle in the middle of Ghent) and Korenmarkt (main city square).
How to get from Brussels to Gent: train (between 35 min and 1 hour) | car (57 km – approximately 1h).
Is there a traditional route in Belgium without the beautiful city of Bruges? I think not!
After all, the city is very charming (Bruges is a UNESCO world heritage site) and it is on the list of cities near Brussels for a daily trip.
Surrounded by canals and with typical medieval architecture, it has its historic center reserved only for pedestrians and cyclists. You can set aside one day to get to know it or stay in a hotel in Bruges to further enjoy the city’s sights.
The main attractions of the city for you to explore are the Grote Markt, the old belfry, and the traditional shops, especially those of chocolate and waffles.
How to get from Brussels to Bruges: train (between 1h and 1h10) | car (98 km – approximately 1h20).
Dinant is one of the tourist cities near Brussels with beautiful natural landscapes. And it’s no wonder: the city is located along the river Meuse and several caves, offering a medieval and romantic touch to tourists.
Dinant’s main attractions include the Notre-Dame Church, Freÿr’s Castle, and the Dinant Citadel. There are those who say that walking around Dinant is like being in a fairy tale setting.
From Brussels, you can take an excursion to Luxembourg and Dinant or stay in one of the hotels in Dinant.
How to get from Brussels to Dinant: bus and train route (between 1h40 and 2h) | car (110 km – approximately 1h20).
If you are interested in visiting some tourist cities near Brussels, but not necessarily in Belgium, you have good options for countries to visit: France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
Some cities around Belgium are visited by travelers who are strolling in neighboring countries or by those who are staying in Belgium for a more extended period of time.
This is possible because Belgium is so small that you can do a day trip to other countries near Brussels and come back in the evening. Just take a look below!
Cities in France near Brussels
France is an exceptional destination for those looking to visit medieval cities, try sophisticated dishes, taste excellent wines, and get to know a fascinating culture and history.
One of the cities in France near Brussels is Lille, which is approximately 110 km from Brussels (1h30 by car and 1h45 by train).
The city is close to Belgium’s border and has museums, churches, palaces, and other attractions. To get to know it, take a city tour in Lille.
A little further away is the French capital, Paris (320 km from Brussels – between 3:30 am and 5 am by car or public transport).
As the city is quite large, I advise you to stay three or more nights to fully enjoy all that Paris has to offer.
German cities near Brussels
A Belgium itinerary may include some German cities close to Brussels as well. Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Duisburg are between 200 and 230 km from Brussels, that is, between 2:30 am (car) and 3:30 am (public transport).
Germany is one of the countries near Brussels that enchants many travelers. And as small as these cities near the Belgian capital are, they have a lot of history, art, architecture, and gastronomy.
Enjoy the city by taking a city tour in Düsseldorf or a beer tasting tour in Cologne. You can take a trip between Belgium and Germany or spend one or more nights in Germany to get to know the places better and, who knows, maybe to travel a few hours to Berlin or Hamburg.
Cities in The Netherlands near Brussels
The Netherlands is one of the countries by Belgium that attracts many tourists and makes for some great day trips from Brussels.
Windmills, tulip gardens, canals, and colorful houses that follow a style of traditional Dutch architecture are some of the attractions in the country.
Leaving Brussels, it is possible to make a round trip in Eindhoven, Tilburg and/or Breda.
These cities are within a radius of 100 to 140 km from Brussels, which means between 1 and 2 hours by car or bus (it always takes a little longer).
If you want to see the south of the Netherlands, go to Maastricht (120 km – 1h30 by car or 1h40 by public transport). Maastricht is where the Euro (the EU common currency) was created!
A little further away, you find Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, and the capital of Holland, Amsterdam.
These larger and more famous cities are within a radius between 150 and 220 km from Brussels. You can make the journey by car or public transport (train and bus).
I only recommend spending at least a night or two in each city to make the most of it!
How to create a Belgium Itinerary
To create the itinerary, first decide how many days you will have available for this trip, what is your ideal budget, and what attractions you want to visit. Then, you have the basis for putting together an itinerary that meets your expectations.
And being in the capital of Belgium, be sure to enjoy the best restaurants in Brussels, the great nightlife, and obviously, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the best Belgian beers!
For more on travel in Belgium take a look at my Belgium destinations page.
Another cool place to visit near Belgium is the Moselle Valley and Cochem.
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