If you’ve ever been seduced by those cheap flights to Brussels on Skyscanner or a leisurely ride on the Eurostar but still haven’t taken the plunge just yet, what better time than this scorcher of a summer? Belgium’s capital city is known for its illustrious parties, its chocolate-smothered waffles, and, oddly enough, its landmark statues taking a leak on the streets, but we bet our bottom Euro that you didn’t know some of the finest hidden gems that the city has to offer.
This year, to mark the first proper summer in nearly three years, Visit Brussels has put together the Volume Pass allowing you to explore some of the city's most famed sights and sounds for 48 hours non-stop. For €29, you’re free to roam any of the 10 nightclubs taking part in the Volume Pass, as well as a few extra daytime activities to ease you into the night.
So, whether you’re passing through on a quick 24 hour stopover or spending longer in the Belgian capital, we’ve got you covered. Check out our best tips in this hour-by-hour guide to Brussels.
1:PM - Walk along the comic strip route
If you’re a fan of street art - or maybe you grew up watching The Adventures Of Tintin on telly - you need to check out Brussels’ famous log of comic book murals. Brussels is known as the Comic City for a reason - head up through the city to Brussels’ Northern Quarter and you can catch wall-side paintings of Belgium’s most celebrated comic books, including The Smurfs, Tintin, and Astérix & Obélix.
3:PM - Have a picnic at Parc de Laeken
Feeling peckish? Brussels’ Parc de Laeken is one of the more picturesque settings in the city, as well as being home to Belgium’s royal family, and makes for a good picnic spot away from the hustle and bustle. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the two weeks of the year that the park’s unusual royal greenhouses are open, you can check out some of the most noble flowers this side of Belgium.
4:PM - Climb the Atomium
Just a short walk from the royal park is one of Brussels’ strangest but most-visited features, the Atomium. This strange atom-shaped structure peeks its head above the city with enormous retro-futuristic domes that you can scale and admire the views from. You can even use the Volume Pass to climb the Atomium, and check out the ‘miniature Europe’ theme park that sits below playing host to a number of teeny-tiny versions of European landmarks.
6:PM - Head on a beer tour
So you’re in Belgium, but you’ve yet to take a sip of the frosty pints you’ve heard all that talk about. Time to head out on a beer tour - expect to try some of the best beer you’ve ever had, and come out slightly bladdered on the other side. Some of Belgium’s beers hike above 10% alcohol, something the rest of Europe is not used to. Don’t forget to say ‘proost’ on your toast (or ‘à votre santé’ for the French speakers of Belgium).
8:PM - Make a pit stop at Délirium
Now you’re a little liquored up, why not head to the bar that houses 2,000 different types of beer? You definitely can’t get away with asking for a Stella here - Délirium holds the world record for the most types of beer under one roof and puts even the most practiced of Irish pubs to shame. Here you can find thousands of beers from around the world, if you stop by on a Thursday, you'll catch some live music, too.
10:PM - Grab a drink in the city centre
Speaking of Irish bars - one of Brussels’ best places to drink is right in the city centre, home to rowdy Irish pubs including Celtica, and dive bars like Le Cercueil (which literally translates to ‘The Coffin’ in English). Find yourself some food - preferably triple fried chips - and move through the city with drunken ease.
11:PM - Have a cocktail at Jalousy
12:AM - Head to Fuse
Ready to go out? Clubbing in Brussels is not too dissimilar to that in its neighbouring country of Germany, think of the riotous, kink-friendly clubs of Berlin and match that with the same great music and line-ups worthy of London’s biggest venues. Fuse is one to check out first with its mammoth-sized dancefloor and warehouse feel where punters dance on well into the night.
3:AM - Keep the party going at C12
Belgians don’t sleep until they’re told to, you’ll probably have noticed that by now. The doors don’t shut at this next club, C12, until the early hours of the morning, so head here for around 3:AM if you’re looking for a change of scenery. C12 is a surreal venue having previously showcased big hitters including Ben UFO, Pariah, Skee Mask, and more, home to the gloomier sonics and more boisterous crowds.
7:AM - Sunrise at Grand Place
If you want to get a bit more sightseeing in before your 24 hour expedition is over, Grand Place is a must-see. At this hour, other tourists will likely still be in bed, leaving you with free reign over the beautiful gothic plaza that sits in front of a monumental Baroque-era town hall as the sun trickles over the buildings.
8:AM - Grab a waffle
Your stomach probably hasn’t seen food since yesterday evening, so it’s a better time than any to make a stop at one of Belgium’s famous waffle establishments. There’s plenty to pick from - just grab this delicacy from a nearby waffle spot and enjoy the smooth, velvety treat at this ungodly hour.
9:AM - Enjoy the pissing statues
Still feeling giddy from your night out? There’s plenty more fun to be had in Brussels’ city centre, starting with the slew of pissing statues that line the streets of the city. One of the most famous, however, is Manneken Pis, Brussels’ favourite street tinkler who's often seen dressed in different outfits or holding random props.
10:AM - Relax at Nemo 33
If the morning sun just isn’t quite cutting it, Nemo 33 will give you the wake-up you need. What was previously the deepest swimming pool in Europe until 2014, Nemo 33 dips down a whopping 34.5 metres and requires you to put on a wetsuit and scuba gear to get to the bottom. The pool even comes heated, so get your flippers on and relax at this unusual attraction.
1:PM - Bike down the canal
You’ve made it to the end of your 24-hour journey! There’s nothing quite like feeling the fresh air hit your face at 30 mph after a night out, so your final pit stop should be via bike. Grab one of the many Villo bikes that you’ll see stashed around the city and take the scenic route down the canal where you’ll spot a beautiful array of houses, cafés, eateries, and bars.
And after you've had some rest, you can go again the following night with your 48 hour pass still valid for many more clubs and bars around the city, including Mirano, Dyoukes, Chez Ginette, Madame Moustache, Spirito, La Cabane and Bloody Louis.
Brussels' Volume Pass is available for just €29 allowing you to visit multiple venues and attractions over the course of 48 hours. Check it out here.