From Paris to Brussels: Your Guide to the Perfect Day Trip


Since France is bordered by The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium on the north eastern boundary, a day trip to Brussels while traveling Paris is a perfectly doable endeavor.

This day trip experience is gaining more and more popularity, especially amongst travelers who want to cover as much of Europe as possible without having to carry all of their belongings with them between cities.

Paying a travel company to organize your day trip can be costly, and the journey between Paris and Brussels is easily doable on one’s own. Here is everything you need to know.

Brussels – by Sahar Mann – Unsplash

The Journey Between Paris and Brussels

Paris is the capital of France, and Brussels the capital of Belgium. There are just over 300km lying between these two cites and, by European standards, this is a very short distance.

This is why a lot of travelers choose to include Belgium in their itinerary when traveling France, especially Paris. From Paris, Belgium is a faster and simpler journey to make in comparison to venturing to the South of France which takes time and much more money.

Covering this short distance between the two capital cities can be done in a multitude of ways, but I’ll take a deeper look at transportation options later on.

What to Expect in Brussels

Truth be told, Brussels and Paris are very similar to one another. Most locals would describe the essence of Brussels as simply a smaller, more manageable version of Paris in terms of scale and general day-to-day life.

A lot of Parisian locals who struggle to thrive in big city life actually opt to relocate to Brussels, where life is familiar but less overwhelming.

The language plays a large part in keeping these two cities united. French is the most spoken language in Belgium, with 80% of the population preferring to communicate in this way.

Brussels – by Alex Vasey – Unsplash

The cuisine in Brussels is also very similar to that of Paris. Belgium’s neighboring countries of France, The Netherlands and Germany have greatly influenced the local gastronomy. Likewise, Belgium has influenced Paris’ waffle scene, with classic Belgian waffles now found in many parts of the city.

Finally, Brussels is a city of great history and beautiful architecture. Because they city is smaller, it’s easy to see it all in just one day; as you probably know, the same cannot be said for Paris.

For more day trips from Paris, click here. 

Things to Do in a Day in Brussels

You don’t need to have your itinerary planned down to the minute upon arrival in Brussels.

I would recommend deciding where your biggest area of interest lies, and taking things from there.

If, during your day trip, you would most like to experience the city as a local, then you’re going to want to focus on the food scene, movie theaters, local artist’s exhibitions and the parks.

Brussels – by Stephanie LeBlanc – Unsplash

If you want a hearty dose of culture while you’re here, then a visit to the Grand Place, the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral or the Royal Palace of Brussels would be worth looking into.

Like Paris, Brussels has an abundant art scene and many museums to facilitate it. The Royal Museum of Fine Art is one for lovers of classic arts dating back to the 15th century.

I loved the Brussels City Museum as well as the Museum of Natural Sciences; it’s not as big as Paris’ but it’s definitely worth an hour or two.

Brussels – by Renee Van Wesep – Unsplash

When you find yourself for a few hours to kill before the last train heads back to Paris, make your way to an up and coming neighborhood called Les Marolles. Here you’ll find a lively scene full of cafes, antique shops and even the daily street flea market.

Getting There

Being such a short distance apart, one has a number of options for transportation between Paris and Brussels. Decipher your time constraints as well as your budget and then choose the right mode for your trip.

By Car

One doesn’t need a car to get around both Paris or Brussels, but getting between them with one would come very much in handy.

If you were to hire a car for your day trip, you’re looking at a 3 hour 45 minute journey, one way. The beauty of this is that you could leave Paris at the crack of dawn, and be in the heart of Brussels just in time for breakfast.

You can also head back to Paris late in the evening, after experiencing what Brussels nightlife has to offer. This is something that train, bus or air travelers can’t always do as the last journeys of the day tend to fall just at the wrong time.

Brussels – by Alex Vasey – Unsplash

By Train

Ideally, you want to take the train from Paris to Brussels. There is a high speed railway operating between the cities, getting travelers to and from in just 1 hour and 22 minutes.

Trains to Brussels depart daily from Paris Nord station from 6am onward, and the last train back to Paris from Brussels will usually depart around 9pm.

Timing wise, the train gives you the most time to enjoy Brussels and the least time in transit. Tickets depend on the season and how far in advance you book; you could get a roundtrip for €50 or a one way for €100.

Brussels – by Léonard Cotte – Unsplash

By Bus

Interestingly, the journey between Paris and Brussels by bus takes the exact same amount of time as traveling by car does.

Taking the bus will get you into Brussels in 3 hours and 45 minutes. This is also the most affordable way to make the journey, with tickets sometimes going for as little as €10.

Brussels – by Kaan Nyström – Unsplash

The downside is that the earliest bus to Brussels departs at 9am from Paris’ Gallieni station each morning. This means you’ll get to Brussels in time to only enjoy a full afternoon there, bus sometimes travelers prefer this since Europe is notorious for their late-start mornings.

Click here for more information on traveling between Brussels and Paris.