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kfusto Jan 3rd, 2011 11:59 AM

4 Days and Nights in Belgium - where to base?
We have 4 days and nights to spend in Belgium next November before flying home from BRU. We will be arriving into BRU as well and training to Luxembourg then visiting Cologne, Rudesheim and Amsterdam before heading to Belgium to wrap up the trip.

We have not been to this part of Europe before so would like some suggestions on where to base for these last 4 nights. We are two couples traveling and will be using trains and public transport to get around. We can stay in one place for all 4 nights and make daytrips (my husband's preference as he likes to avoid hotel changes when possible) or split the stay 2 and 2 or even 3 and 1 with the final night spent in central Brussels for easy airport access.

Our mutual interests are wine, food, architecture, public markets and being in a city/area where walking is the best way to explore. One couple is very interested in WWII and will be spending a week between Paris and Normandy before meeting us for the 13 nights we are traveling together.

Favorite large cities in Europe include Berlin, Rome, Munich and small cities we enjoy include Salzburg and Florence. We enjoy basing in areas that have lots of diversity for dining and accommodations and are well located for day trips within an hour or two as we like to get out and explore.

Based on what we enjoy can anyone recommend a location or two for this part of our trip? We are considering 2 nights in Bruges (arriving from Amsterdam) and then onto Brussels for 2 nights. Would it be better to base in Brussels for the 4 nights so we can easily visit Gent and Antwerp? Or either of these a more interesting place to base for 2-3 nights?

We enjoy a lively street atmosphere in the evenings, especially in a city that has a nice pedestrian only area with lots of cafes and restaurants.

Thanks for any suggestions!

joannyc Jan 3rd, 2011 12:14 PM

I was in Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Brugge, Namur and Dinant in Sept-Oct 2010. I'd pick Brugge as my first choice and Ghent as my second choice. You can daytrip to the others on your list.

Depending on your return flight time, maybe consider 3 nights in Brugge or Ghent and 1 in Brussels. I spent my last night in Namur.


Judy Jan 3rd, 2011 12:41 PM

Your description of what you enjoy seems to be a perfect fit for Brugge. We loved walking around the city, especially getting away from the pedestrian areas during the day, taking a canal boat ride and a horse drawn carriage ride.
We spent one night in Brussels before a morning flight out.

NanBug Jan 3rd, 2011 12:45 PM

Ditto the above recommendations for Brugge, with at least a daytrip to Ghent. Don't miss Van Eyck's altarpiece in Ghent.

kfusto Jan 3rd, 2011 01:29 PM

Our flight is out at 10:00am so we will overnight in Brussels so as not to be rushed.

Thanks for the responses so far!

jonesie Jan 3rd, 2011 02:24 PM

I would pick Brugge. I would not personally spend more than one night in Brussels.

iris1745 Jan 3rd, 2011 04:57 PM

I like two nights in Brugge. But also two nights in Brussels. You can vist Gent for half a day on the way to Brussels. in Brussels.

MyriamC Jan 4th, 2011 07:26 AM

Well, since you enjoy a lively street atmosphere in the evenings, I'm afraid Brugge is not your best bet as a place to stay. There is really nothing to see or do at night, especially in November when it can be cold and dreary and the days are short.
Antwerpen and Gent are much more lively. People actually live and work in the very city centre. But then again ... a lot from the weather conditions.

MyriamC Jan 4th, 2011 07:27 AM

sorry ... the word 'depends' is missing in my last sentence.

avalon Jan 4th, 2011 10:54 AM

I agree with my Belgian friend, Myriam! 2 nights in Brugge in November is 1 night too many for me. But I love Antwerp, lots of fine museums,lively street life,markets, interesting architecture and GREAT FOOD!

NanBug Jan 4th, 2011 11:08 AM

We've stayed in Brugge during the winter twice -- each time for several days. We've never run out of things to do.

Each time, our evenings were filled with strolling the streets, ducking into taverns, tasting amazing beer, playing board games at the bar, checking out art gallery openings, listening to concerts in churches, etc...

Definitely more quiet than Antwerp and Ghent, but I loved it.

kfusto Jan 4th, 2011 12:41 PM

In looking at Antwerp, it appears I can take a direct airport shuttle to BRU.

Perhaps two nights in Bruges and two in Antwerp would be a good option.

Any hotel recommendations for Antwerp?

joannyc Jan 4th, 2011 12:47 PM

I stayed at the Hilton in Antwerp using points. It was a good location, very nice hotel, and excellent concierge lounge.

Aramis Jan 4th, 2011 05:41 PM

Darn - we almost got through a whole thread without using "Bruges" to refer to the fine Flemish city.

RainyDay09 Jan 14th, 2011 11:32 PM

Antwerp is fantastic. Leuven is another interesting Belgian town close to Brussels, probably not worth 2 days, but fun to visit.

Smart3 Jan 15th, 2011 02:23 AM

Brugge for 3, last in Brussels. that's my vote.

kfusto Jan 16th, 2011 12:51 PM

I just discovered Leuven and am considering basing there for the night before our flight out of BRU. It's close enough to be convenient and looks quite charming.

We have decided on 3 nights in Brugge with a day trip to Antwerp.

Thanks to everyone who posted helpful info.

Aramis Jan 17th, 2011 02:22 PM

It didn't go unnoticed kfusto


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