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Belgium - Getting Around

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My family of 4 (kids are 14 and 13) will have 3 1/2 days in Belgium in June. The 4th morning we will take an early morning train to Brussels airport for a flight out. We are staying in Bruges for all 4 nights but plan to leave town during the day and to enjoy the town in the evenings.

We want to visit Ghent and Antwerp and some of the countryside, maybe some of the coastline. Any recommendations of places to see outside the major cities would be appreciated! I do want to swing by my ancestral town which is between Ghent and Bruges, to the south of the main drag between the two. No train goes there, you'd have to take a bus from Ghent.

I know the train between the major towns is convenient but we are thinking of renting a car. If we do rent a car for the 3 full days, is it a pain to drive into Ghent and Antwerp and find parking? We have lived in NYC with a car so accustomed to city driving though I do understand some think Belgium driving takes it to a new level. Or would it make more sense to rent a car for just the time we want to spend outside the cities? I like the idea of the convenience of coming and going with a car but don't know if it really would be a big hassle to have to park it in the cities.

Thanks for any advice.

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