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Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

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new york
posts: 651
reviews: 701
Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

I may have to cross post this. I am interested in views from local experts as well as relatively recent visitors. Hoping to do all 4 cities in early May- 2 well into middle age adults. We like to stay as close as possible to city center/historic center - that is not need to take a tram, bus, etc. to get there. And we will be traveling by train so no car parking needed.

1. Where to start? We fly into Brussels of course but I believe the airport is equally distant really from Antwerp and from Brussels--does it make sense to start in one of those two cities and end up in the other? With Ghent and Bruges in between?

2. Is it best to stay 2 nights Antwerp, 2 in Brussels, one each in Ghent and Bruges? Can do 2 in each say. The main reason for our trip is the new Red Star Line museum in Antwerp where I suspect we will spend at least half a day. I am not a beer drinker, nor is my husband, so we don't need to tour breweries and the like. But there seems to be lots to see/do in each city. And I do like chocolates.

3. I guess we should buy a 10 pack of tickets in advance. Sorry if I sound super naive I've just started planning.

9 replies to this topic
Brussels, Belgium
posts: 19,364
reviews: 3
1. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

1. Not exactly: from the station below BRU (Bruxelles-Nat-Aéroport or Brussel-Nat-Luchthaven), trains take 12-20 minutes (depending on station) into Brussels, cost €7.80; and 34 mins to Antwerpen-Centraal, cost €10.40 (and 53-59 mins to Gent St. Pieters, cost €14.40). Which city you want to end at might also depend on whether you are flying out from BRU - and if so, at what time - or doing something else, e.g. continuing to the Netherlands.

2. It's a matter of personal taste how much you change hotels, but the longest journey by train between any of these cities is 1h20, between Antwerp and Brugge: so you can also stay in one and visit the others from there. The central point of the 4 is Ghent, but this is offset by the fact that the historic centre is a good 10+ min tram-ride away from Gent St. Pieters station, whereas in Brussels, Gare centrale is right in the area you would (from your other question) want to be staying in, being only 5 minutes walk from the Grand' Place.

I would not, personally, recommend "doing" 2 of these cities in one day but if you must, the easiest combination would be Ghent and Brugge from Brussels, given that they are on the same railway line: it's 1 hr from Bruxelles-Central to Brugge on IC trains headed for Oostende or Knokke/Blankenberge, and Ghent is just over half-way.

3. Don't know quite what you mean by "a 10 pack of tickets". If you are talking about train tickets, there is a 10-trip Rail Pass (€76), but this is 1 pass, not 10 tickets, and you can't buy it in advance, only at a Belgian station (note that Brussels-Ghent then Ghent-Brugge would be 2 out of the 10 trips). If you are talking about metro/bus/tram, Brussels is covered by one transport company (STIB) and Flanders - covering Antwerp, Ghent and Brugge - by another (De Lijn): they both have 10-trip cards also.

new york
posts: 651
reviews: 701
2. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

thanks I wouldn't "do" both cities in one day-think they deserve more time.-yes our trip will be fly into brussels--fly out of brussels - concentrating only on Belgium-and only part of Belgium

posts: 1
reviews: 11
3. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

I'm in the process of writing a booklet on this, you cany already download the (sometimes partly) finished parts on http://belgium.vanslycken.be/ - you can download some city walks already. The one in Bruges is only half finished - the first "loop" through the historic centre is complete but the "beyond the tourist areas" part is yet to be completed. Same goes for Antwerp, that's really only the touristy part.

The city walks in Brussels and Ghent are complete, both walks can be done in one day but that doesn't allow for much shopping or museum visits. I recommend one day for the city walk and one day for museum visits in each city (depending on your preferences of course). I'm particularly proud of these walks because I believe I've managed to combine the tourist must-sees with some more off the beaten tracks gems - or, as I view it as a photographer: yes, you'll have the photos everybody knows and expects, and you'll have seen at least an equal number of unexpected, unknown, fantastic places.

Also make sure to check the chapters on Waterloo and the World War I battle fields, they might be of interest but they aren't the easiest to reach by public transport.

new york
posts: 651
reviews: 701
4. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

Very generous of you

new york
posts: 651
reviews: 701
5. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

Stefaan, I love your guide. I have just started it. It is something of a snow morning in NY.

I adore the philosophy too. Are your plans to publish? To mention it more widely on TA? It is a treasure. Thank you.

Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 2
reviews: 1
6. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

I am a woman traveling solo, in and out of Brussels to/from States. I

have almost 6 weeks to travel (by train & Eurostar) and thought I would

use points and stay at the Hilton near the central station for a few days.

Thinking of taking the Eurostar to Paris for a week and then visit

other cities. Are there any picturesque smaller towns on main train lines in

any direction where I could rent an apt and then take day trips? I don't

want to change hotels too often. I prefer smaller cities. How far is

Strasbourg by train from Brussels or do I have to go through Paris. I

visited Aachen last summer and most of the German towns in the area.

Do you recommend visiting Antwerp as a day trip and is it safe for a

woman traveling alone? Leuven sounds like a nice town. Would anyone

recommend staying there. I am planning on getting a Eurail multi=country

pass in order to have the freedom to get on and off trains. I appreciate

all the help and recommendations. Thank you, Johanna

Brussels, Belgium
posts: 19,364
reviews: 3
7. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

Please don't "piggyback" on other questions - and please don't buy a Eurail pass to cover Belgium, it won't cover the Thalys between Brussels and Paris anyway, so you aren't going to be free to get on and off trains if taking high-speed international trains like that. In any case, you can be equally free buying individual tickets.

There isn't a Hilton Hotel "near the central station" in Brussels, there is a Brussels City Hotel which is not far from Gare du NORD (North Station). The Thalys to Paris leaves from Gare du MIDI (South Station) but your ticket would cover you on a local train from Nord.

It takes 4h55 on DIRECT IC train from Bruxelles-Nord to Strasbourg, this goes through Namur, Luxembourg and Metz; there is no need to go to Paris unless you want to take a high-speed TGV train.

Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 2
reviews: 1
8. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

so sorry....how should I go about posting &getting some help with

my itinerary regarding Belgium and surrounding areas. Thank you.

posts: 3,792
reviews: 9
9. Re: Advice on Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent

If you look at the Forum home page tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g188634-i204-Bel… you will see near the top an orange button labelled "Ask a question".

If you click on that button, it will open a message box into which you can type your question and start a new thread.

If you attach a new question on to an old thread on a different subject, people may not notice it, and so not give you the answers you hope for.

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