manneken pis brussels day trip
Europe,  International Travel,  Travel

A Manneken Pis Brussels Day Trip Itinerary

A lot of people decide to go on a Brussels day trip from nearby cities like Paris, Amsterdam or Antwerp. In my opinion, there’s more than enough to fill a two or three day Brussels itinerary and it’s one of the best cities to visit in Belgium.

But if you only have one day to visit Brussels, check out my Manneken Pis itinerary for your Brussels day trip!

see manneken pis in his mickey mouse costume on a brussels day trip

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support! And thanks to Visit Brussels for providing us with city cards and transit passes to make this Brussels day trip happen! As always, all opinions are my own. 

Is Brussels worth a day trip?

Yes! Brussels is absolutely worth a day trip – in fact, I think there’s enough to see, do and eat to fill a three day Brussels itinerary. While often overlooked for bigger cities, like Paris, or cuter cities, like Bruges, Brussels has a lot to offer. It’s central, has a beautiful main square, is home to delicious Belgian foods and drinks, and has a ton of culture, history and art to discover.

When is the best time to visit Brussels?

The best time to visit Brussels is early or late summer. Brussels can be a cold and rainy city most of the year. In fact, all of Belgium is known for being quite rainy. So if you want to avoid the rain (or better your chances of avoiding the rain), visit Brussels in the summer. However, summer is also the peak of tourism season. So to avoid the main crowds, I would visit Brussels in early or late summer, like May or September.

streets of brussels, belgium on a brussels day trip

How to get to Brussels: 

Brussels makes a great day trip destination because it’s central to a lot of cities in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg. It’s also quite easy to get to Brussels by train or plane, as it’s the capital of Belgium.

Note that the main train station in Brussels is Brussels Midi (also called Brussels Zuid or Brussels South). There’s also Brussels Nord (to the north of the city) and Brussels Central (central to Grand Place but not served by the major train routes). If you’re travelling by train in Europe, I always recommend visiting Seat 61 for guidance!

How to go on a Brussels day trip from Amsterdam

From Amsterdam, Brussels is just under two hours on a direct train ride via Thalys. Tickets start at €29 and can be booked four months in advance. There are also InterCity trains connecting Amsterdam and Brussels in 3 hours with regular tickets costing €50.

You could easily leave Amsterdam Centraal in the morning and be in Brussels before lunch. Spend your day in Brussels visiting the top Manneken Pis sights below and then head back to Amsterdam after dinner.

How to go on a day trip from Brussels to Paris

From Paris, Brussels is only 1.5 hours away by Thalys direct train. Tickets start at €29 and can be booked four months in advance. From Paris Gare du Nord it’s a short, easy and comfortable train ride to Brussels Midi for your day trip in the city!

Alternatively, if you only want to spend 1-2 days in Paris, you may choose to base in Brussels and head to Paris on a day trip!

taking the train on a brussels day trip from Amsterdam or day trip from Paris to Brussels

Can you do a day trip to Brussels from London?

Yes, you can! Believe it or not, you can reach Brussels from London by train in only two hours! Eurostar trains leave from London St. Pancras station with tickets starting at €57.

Considering the flight from Brussels to London is an hour, and you’d still have to commute to and from the airports, go through customs, go through security, board and collect your luggage, the train is the much faster and easier option!

Don’t miss my 3 day London itinerary

Other day trips from Brussels by train

As I mentioned, Brussels is well-connected by train and from Brussels you can easily visit other cities in France, the Netherlands, Germany and, of course, Belgium! You can easily take a train from Brussels Midi and reach popular day trip destinations in Belgium like Ghent (30 mins), Antwerp (40 mins) and Bruges (60 mins).

Besides Paris, Amsterdam, London and stops in Belgium, other great day trips from Brussels by train include Lille in France (35 mins) and Cologne in Germany (2 hrs). You can also reach Luxembourg in just over three hours by train, making it a long, but possible, day trip from Brussels!

Check out more great day trips from Brussels: 

All right, let’s jump into my itinerary for a day trip in Brussels all about the famous Manneken Pis!

But first: Who is Manneken Pis?

Manneken Pis is one of the symbols of Brussels and probably the most well-known tourist attraction in the country. He’s been featured in books, films, board games and video games. And he’s been a part of the city’s history for centuries.

He’s the little boy peeing, of course!

Manneken Pis is a small bronze statue (he’s only 22 inches tall!) of a naked boy peeing into a fountain. His name literally translates to Little Pissing Man. While no one knows exactly why he was made or when, he has a long history in Brussels and is a big part of the city’s culture today.

manneken pis statue in brussels, belgium

See Manneken Pis in person

Of course, the first stop on your Manneken Pis Brussels day trip is to see Manneken Pis in person! He’s located here, on the corner of Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat and Rue de l’Étuve/Stoofstraat, just a few minutes from Brussels’ main square, Grand Place. Alternatively, just follow the hordes of people heading to him.

The area around Manneken Pis is almost always crowded. Anyone visiting Brussels has Manneken Pis on their to-see list. So be warned that you’re unlikely to have a private viewing of the famous statue.

crowds taking a picture of manneken pis in brussels
Manneken Pis attracts a crowd!

selfie with manneken pis in brussels, belgium

Also be warned that Manneken Pis is quite small! As I shared above, he stands only 22 inches high. Many people assume that the star of Brussels’ tourist attractions will be large and impressive but he’s not. Despite his small size and the large crowds, Manneken Pis is still absolutely worth a stop!

Depending on when you visit, there’s a good chance that you won’t see Manneken Pis in the buff but you’ll actually see him in costume. The little guy sports up to 3 costumes per day, though all costumes are removed at night to prevent theft. More on his costumes in just a second!

manneken pis official dresser dressing the statue
We caught the Official Dresser in action!

Explore his wardrobe at Garderobe Manneken Pis

After you’ve fought off the crowds and got your photo of Manneken Pis, it’s time to explore his wardrobe. And lucky for you, you can do that at Garderode Manneken Pis right around the corner from the fountain.

Manneken Pis has over 1000 costumes in his extensive wardrobe, the oldest dating back to 1747 (though there is record of him being dressed dating back to the 1600s). Costumes are donated by countries, associations, folk groups and more with the little guy receiving 20-30 new outfits each year (way more than me!).

To donate an outfit, a group must apply to the City of Brussels and meet strict criteria. Once their application is examined and accepted, a sewing pattern is sent to the group and the costume is designed. The new costume is officially handed over to the city during a ceremony at Town Hall and an inaugural dressing happens at the fountain. The new costume then enters the permanent wardrobe collection.

costume display at Garderobe Manneken Pis

costume display at Garderobe Manneken Pis

Garderobe Manneken Pis is a small museum that houses a rotating 140 outfits from the 1000+ collection. With a quick audio tour, you’ll walk around the museum and learn the history of Manneken Pis’ outfits and the significance of some of his favourite pieces. Costumes are grouped by geographic region or theme.

There’s also a station where you can practice dressing Manneken Pis and believe me, it’s harder than it looks! With his hands and feet attached to the statue, and holes needed for the water pipe and his “other pipe,” it’s hard to tell which way things are supposed to go. It took us a few tries but we eventually figured it out!

While the museum is tiny, it’s well worth a visit. I loved seeing all of the different costumes in the display cases and searching for special Canadian ones in the database. And suffice to say we had an awesome time dressing him up!

dressing manneken pis in brussels at garderobe manneken pis

Meet Manneken Pis’ friends on your Brussels day trip

Did you know Manneken Pis isn’t the only peeing statue in the city? He’s got friends!

While not as popular or historic as Manneken Pis, two more peeing statues are stationed around central Brussels. First up is Jeanneke Pis, the female version of Manneken Pis. This statue features a little girl in pigtails, squatting and peeing into a fountain. You can find her here, down the little alley Impasse de la Fidélité/Getrouwheidsgang, where you’ll also find the fun and popular bar, Delirium.

Due to vandalism risk, Jeanneke Pis is now behind iron bars. Because of this and the fact that she’s down a small alley, it can be hard to get a good look at her!

Manneken Pis’ other friend is man’s best friend – a peeing dog! Het Zinneke or Zinneke Pis is a bronze statue of a dog peeing on a street poll. Unlike Manneken and Jeanneke, Zinneke isn’t part of a fountain. But he’s still a funny part of Brussels’ statue family and worth a visit on your Brussels day trip. Find him here.

Bonus: Manneken Pis street art! Brussels is home to lots of street art and you’ll find a few references to Manneken Pis throughout the city’s walls. One of the most popular (and coolest, in my opinion) street art versions of him is located just outside the Garderobe Museum, Manneken Peace.

manneken pis street art in brussels, belgium

Learn the history of Manneken Pis at Brussels City Museum – Plus see the original!

So your Brussels day trip is off to a great start: you’ve seen the famous Manneken Pis statue, you’ve checked out his wardrobe and you’ve visited his friends. But what if I told you that you hadn’t actually seen Manneken Pis at all?

That’s right, you saw a copy! The Manneken Pis statue currently sitting in the fountain is a copy that was created in 1965. The original Manneken Pis sits in a glass case at the Brussels City Museum – the next stop on your day trip to Brussels!

The Manneken Pis statue that lives at the Brussels City Museum is the original bronze statue from 1619. But Manneken Pis actually dates back even further. In the 1450s he was first noted in a document about water supply lines and in 1616 Manneken Pis was depicted in a painting.

The original Manneken Pis from 1619!
The original Manneken Pis from 1619!

From there, he had a turbulent history. Manneken Pis has been stolen, moved, broken, misplaced, and cut into 11 pieces over his 500+ year life. He’s been through it! The accounts of his troubled past can be found on a timeline at the Brussels City Museum. Cities revolted and people were jailed all because of a two-foot tall statue of a boy peeing!

Not only is the Brussels City Museum home to the original Manneken Pis but it’s also full of lots of other city history. I’m not a huge museum person but I really enjoyed spending some time here. There is lots to see, from medieval tapestries and sculptures, through to city plans, historic photos and a huge statue of an angel! Plus, the building itself is quite beautiful and right in Brussels’ Grand Place.

Bonus: Take home Manneken Pis chocolates and souvenirs from your Brussels day trip!

The best way to remember your Brussels day trip is with some fun Manneken Pis souvenirs. Since he’s the symbol of Brussels, you’ll find these souvenirs all over the city. Head home with a Manneken Pis magnet, postcard, shot glass, paper weight or box of chocolates!

We opted for some Brussels-themed chocolates from famous Belgian chocolatier, Leonidas. They made great gifts for our moms. We also picked up a magnet from Garderobe Manneken Pis of the little guy dressed like Elvis!

So there you have it, an awesome way to spend a Brussels day trip focused on Brussels’ favourite little guy, Manneken Pis. But remember, there’s so much more to see and do in Brussels. I truly believe Brussels is worth more than a day trip and should be one of your first cities to visit in Belgium.

Have you been on a Brussels day trip? What did you think of Manneken Pis in person?

And don’t miss these other awesome activities in Brussels! 



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