Did you know that our capital attracted 7 million visitors last year? In spite of this, not so many Belgian people travel to the capital on the pretext of "Brussels being more expensive" even though there are a range of activities at very affordable prices!

My aim: to spend a day in Brussels and to do as much as possible there, all on a modest budget. I head for the closest station: Charleroi-Sud. I board the train and I'm on my way!

In less than 50 minutes, I arrive at Bruxelles-Midi where I start my trek. 

Street art in the Marolles district in Brussels.

Street art and art galleries

Because I am interested in art and design and like picturesque districts, I start by exploring the district of Marolles. There I wander through the galleries and antique shops, which make this district so popular. After a 10-minute walk, I arrive at Hoogstraat where I stop for the "Andy Marhol" gallery. On the corner of the alleyway I discover a mural. A crazy shop window attracts my attention leading me to enter the Attitude Art Gallery.

Left: shop window of the Andy Marhol Gallery. Right: collage of the collection of the Brussels Slip Museum.

This gallery is divided into 2 parts: the one is located at number 123 and the other at number 99 and is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary artists. There you can explore the surrealistic works of Jan Bucguoy about "The sex life of Kuifje" or the collages made up by the collection of the "Brussels Slip Museum". In short, modern works and a bit of triviality.

Attitude Art Gallery

  • Admission: The gallery is open every day from 11 hrs to 18 hrs. Admission is free.
  • Address: Hoogstraat 99 en 123, 1000 Brussels

Flea market and vintage clothes shops

At the end of my visit I see a shop with vintage clothing, Melting Pot Kilo,€ 15/kg". As a true shopaholic, I can't help myself from entering the shop! Inside I am surprised: everything is neatly ordered and the colours are organised by category. So you don't have to turn everything upside down to find that unique gem. And the well-organised layout of the shop helps you to stay within your budget.

Nice vintage stuff from the Melting Pot Kilo shop in Brussels.

Melting Pot Kilo

  • Admission: open every day.
  • Address: Hoogstraat 154, 1000 Brussels

After exploring the district and a quick visit to the Flea Market (located at Place du Jeu de Balle and open every day of the year), I make for the centre to find something to eat. I take one of the 2 free lifts connecting the Marolles with the top of the city. Once there you have a breath-taking view of the capital.

Belgian Fries, the best a man can get

I continue on my way crossing the extremely pretty Place du Grand Sablon and then dive into the heart of Brussels. Destination: la Friterie du Café Georgette. And yes, when in Brussels, (in my opinion) it is obligatory to eat chips!

People enjoying delicious Belgian fries from Friterie Café Georgette in Brussels.

It takes some time as there is a long queue at the chip shop, but service is quite fast. To keep things simple, I opt for a cone of chips with the famous "Georgette" sauce (a mix of mayonnaise, ketchup, onion and ... pastis!). It costs me €6.50 for the chips and €1.50 for the sauce. This maybe seems a little expensive, but honestly a cone is big enough for 2 people. And the chips are fried in beef dripping and you can really taste it. It is wonderful.

Friterie du Café Georgette

  • Admission: open 7 days a week from midday.
  • Address: Greepstraat 37, 1000 Brussels
A guided tour of the Sewer Museum in Brussels.

Underground trip

With a full stomach, I take my time to allow my food to go down while I stroll to the Sewer Museum. The museum is located at the Anderlechtsepoort and the entrance is accessed via a pavilion

Manikin doll of a worker in the underground tunnels of the Sewer Museum.

You can visit free of charge with admission, if the weather has not been too rainy, to a storm basin of the Senne and a functioning collector. The other option is: a guided tour or the "Noises underground" tour in which a professional guide recounts the legends of the underworld of the city.

Good to know: every first Saturday of the month the guided tour is the same price as normal admission to the museum if you book by telephone. And, under the same terms, you can also attend one of the visits with guided narration on certain occasions. I went for this option and did not regret it. During our "rat story" the guide - story teller almost got me to even have an appreciation of rats.

The riolenmuseum (Sewer Museum)
  • Admission: open from Tuesday to Saturday. The price for adults is €8 (free for anyone under 18).
  • Address: Octrooipaviljoen - Anderlechtsepoort, 1000 Brussels

Pre-booking online and wearing a mask is mandatory.

A delicious waffle from the Waffle Factory in Brussels.

100% homemade Belgian Waffles

After the 1-hour guided tour and having browsed around the inside of the Museum, I return to the city centre as after all of that, I haven't even had time to admire Grand-Place. But before doing so, a crafty waffle is calling... Right, the hardest thing is not finding one but sniffing out a good one.

Rue du Lombard, after a seeing a fine array of temptations, just before turning into Grand-Place, I notice a crowd in front of the building called "Waffle Factory". You'd think because it was part of a high street chain the products aren't as authentic and tasty as from a small traditional retailer... but not the case, everything is "100% home made", the waffles are otherwise made in full view of everyone as they prepare them by the entrance.

And what can be said is that there are waffles for all tastes: sweet, savoury or even filled with Belgian dark chocolate. The sign also suggests menus with an attractive option: €4.50 for a waffle and a drink (coffee or 33cl soft drink).

Waffle Factory

  • Admission: open every day. 
  • Address: rue du Lombard 30, 1000 Brussels

With waffle in hand, I leave to sit down on the Grand-Place where I can enjoy my sweet treat with a magnificent view.

The Grand-Place in Brussels.

Souvenirs to remember

As the day is drawing to a close, I make one last detour through a little street to the rear of the square to find a little souvenir of this fine day out.

Colourful postcards.

I stop at the vintage post card and quirky posters shop "Avec Plaizier". Here, amongst other things, you can find authentically original photographs, art books as well as plenty of humorous books. It's not to be missed!

Avec Plaizier

  • Admission: open every day, including Sundays
  • Address: rue des Eperonniers 50, 1000 Brussels

Upon leaving this mecca of visual art, I'm only a few metres away from the Brussels-Central station. So that's where I continue my journey of the capital (my rail ticket allows me to get off and on the train at any station in Brussels).

Travel expenses: a meal, admission to the Museum, a snack and a vintage photograph of the Marolles district as a souvenir, all for only €21.50! Objective fulfilled ;-)

Did you know that the Weekend Ticket is a half-price return ticket? What a bargain!

*Discount only applied to the non-fixed part of the Standard fare. In 2nd class, the fixed amount is € 1,3709, per single journey. In 1st class, it is € 1,7822 (less than 37km) or € 1,9193 (37km - 51km) or € 2,1112 (52km and more) per single journey. The minimum price per single journey is € 2,50 in 2nd and € 3,30 in 1st class.