3 days in Brussels - Your Thoughts?

Mar 5th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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3 days in Brussels - Your Thoughts?

OK, let me admit something right at the start. My wife and I took a Grand Circle Travel riverboat trip (tour) last December and loved it. Although we have not abandoned independent travel, we are considering another river trip in April to see "Belgium & Holland in Bloom".

Now, my question ... I have read mixed reviews on Brussels, Belgium on these boards. They reviews tend to lean in the direction of Brussels not being a very exciting city for the traveler. Our trip will be for ten nights, with the first 3 in a Brussels hotel (NH Atlanta) and the remaining 7 on the riverboat.

I am concerned about the three days in Brussels and ask my Fodor friends to give me some help and tell me what they think of Brussels? I realize that everyone is different, but how did Brussels seem to each of you?

Thanking you in advance,

- dwz
dwzemens is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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Well of course I will be prejudiced as I live part time in Brussels and enjoy it. I think you could enjoy yourself as well with three days. Remember you can easily do a variety of day trips.
I would do a day in Brussels, a day trip to Bruges (even if it's on your trip itinerary, you'd probably enjoy a day on your own) and a day trip to Antwerp, Gent, Leuven or Ieper (to visit the outstanding interactive WW I museum). You can enjoy excellent dining in Brussels at all price levels...I have recommended several restaurants here.
You could even, if you're so inclined, steal away to Paris for a day trip...Paris is only 90 minutes away!

Brussels is best enjoyed if you make a serious effort to Get AWAY from the Grand'Place. Although it's certainly worth seeing, don't eat around there, and definitely don't shop around there.
BTilke is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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I love Brussels. I enjoy not only the city but the suburbs too. The normal touristy things downtown are great. I also loved walking through the Foret de Soignes ( you can take a walk through it by the International School of Brussels in Boitsfort easily reached by tram/bus from downtown). Also you can take the train out for a day in Ghent which is only 35 mins by train and a very walkable city. I know others will add their opinions. The restaurants are wonderful too! Enjoy the city and the country itself.
gregeva1 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 09:29 AM
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Thanks for the quick replies --- keep them coming!

- dwz
dwzemens is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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In Brussels don't miss the Musical Instrument Museum. Then go to the top floor and eat at the cafe overlooking the city. It has both indoors and outdoors eating. They also have a cartoon museum, the palace and many other museums. It may not have the excitement of some other cities, but I loved the time we spent there and found it very interesting. Of course the other side trips suggested are great, too. Just don't think you are going into a vacuum by going to Brussels. It has a lot to offer.
Ann1 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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I skipped Brussels because I heard it was boring and on the advice of a younger friend I went to Antwerp and think it is great travel destination, full of interst and life -- and not many tourists. In fact, the glorious old museum was empty -- and I mean empty -- the day I went there. The work staff was re-hanging some giant paintings on the grey velvet walls and it was interesting to watch.

But that aside, Antwerp is a truly wonderful mix of a beautifully preserved antique core and a very cutting edge design and modern art town. The food is fantastic, it attracts many young sophisticates (it rivals Milan in fashion design) -- and did I mention the food? A fascinating culture of beers, gins (none like you've ever tatsed), chocolates and restaurants that specialize in inventive cuisine.

I never got to the diamond district, but there's that, too.

I stayed at T'Sandt. Ask for a quiet room because some overlook a busy street corner.

I'm not high on Brugge, but it's an easy day trip there. If you base yourself in Antwerp you can certainly day trip to Brussels.
nessundorma is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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Again, thanks to everyone. I cannot change my time in Brussels because the three nights there are the ending three nights of the 10 day trip that includes the seven day riverboat trip from Amsterdam. So, Brussels it will be if I take this trip.

I was just trying to worry about every possible detail and agonize over the decision about taking this tour or not! Information overload!

The votes thus far make me think I will enjoy Brussels just fine ---

- dwz
dwzemens is offline  
Mar 5th, 2006, 11:10 PM
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You can get a lot of chocloate-tasting done in 3 days and if you get tired of that..don't forget the finest beer in the world..the Trappest beers..each with it's own style of glass. Take a daytrip to Brugge and don't forget Ghent. One can spend a lot of extra time eating and drinking..as fine as France.
fisches is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 07:23 AM
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I've enjoyed my time in Brussels - you didn't mention what your interests are.

If you like art, don't miss the Royal Museum of Art (for both Old Masters and Modern Art).

If you like Art Nouveau, don't miss the Horta Museum. You can even do a self-guided walking tour of Art Nouveau in Brussels.

The Musical Insturment Museum is interesting - make sure you head to the cafe MIM on the top floor for a great view (even if you don't eat there).

And lastly, don't forget the chocolates - Pierre Marcolini, Wittamer, Galler etc.

Brugge will be a great town to visit as a day trip.
yk is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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24 hours is ample time to spend in Brussels. We often travel 'through there' & may spend a night, but that is all. Bruges is nice & if it were a bit closer to summer, Oostende is a nice little town on the water w/a nice beach (and very inexpenseive).
SAnParis is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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I spent one day in Brussels as a daytrip from Paris, and found Grand Place and the nearby streets within the old part of the city to be charming. Otherwise, I didn't like the streets just outside this area. They had the look and feel as some of the grittier streets here in downtown San Francisco. I'm sorry if this offends the locals, but this is just my opinion. Perhaps one day was not enough for me to appreciate all that Brussels has to offer, but I did walk around and away from the Grand Place and still didn't feel as though I'd like to stay longer.
francophile03 is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 01:10 PM
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Having spent a week in the area of Brush St three blocks up the hill from Union Square, and having walked the other side of Union Square, I saw a few of Frisco's grittier streets. And they were pretty gritty!

Thanks to all for the comments....

- dwz
dwzemens is offline  
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