Bruges, Ghent or Brussels?

Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 03:26 AM
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Bruges, Ghent or Brussels?

We are taking a Baltic cruise from Amsterdam next year and would like to spend a few days in Belgium beforehand. We spent a couple of days in Bruges in 2011 but my sister and husband who will be travelling with us have never been. I have heard that Ghent is also a very pretty town. The other alternative is to base ourselves in Brussels and do day trips although that is not my favourite thing to do. We will be using public transport. I would not mind a few days in Bruges again as I loved our stay there but maybe Ghent would be just as nice and maybe not as crowded at the beginning of June. Any suggestions Fodor's friends?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 04:03 AM
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For your friends' sake stay in Bruges - Gent is nice but is a fairly large busy city- vest-pockets of Bruges-like areas but not nearly so dreamy-day trip to Gent and return to magical Bruges at night when day trippers have gone.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 04:53 AM
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Definitely Bruges.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 05:05 AM
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Another vote for beautiful Bruges.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 05:30 AM
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I was sorry I went to Bruges the minute I arrived and I don't know how I would have felt if the decision had been made for me. I had only myself to blame for choosing it! If my friends had booked it without asking me, I would have appreciated, I'm sure, being located within walking distance of the train station so I could take day trips out, even if they didn't care to join me. I'd especially appreciate that if they'd been told that many people don't like Bruges (it comes up frequently on this and other forums, are opinions are quite divided on the town.)

I really my visit to Ghent and think Brussels makes a nice day trip, but Antwerp is my favourite Belgian city to stay.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 05:31 AM
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Meant to write: "I really liked my visit to Ghent"... etc
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 07:07 AM
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I loved Bruges too and would like to go back again myself. Ghent is lovely also. Brussels is OK, probably wouldn't want to spend a few nights there but some people do love it.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 08:31 AM
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I'd especially appreciate that if they'd been told that many people don't like Bruges>

Nothing could be further from the truth IME.

The average tourist from the New World will love Bruges a lot more than Brussels or Gent- basing this on leading over 1,000 Americans thru Belgium - all almost were floored by Bruges and some even went back after the tour was over.

Crowds stick to the main belfry square area and lace shops -yet there is a lot of medeival Bruges few get to- and there are paths on the old ramparts that still partly circle the old town for lovely walks with few others.

I can see jaded tourists not liking Bruges because of the mobs in the center- too bad these veteran travelers cannot put themselves into the shoes of the average novice traveler - which they once were and probably once would have loved Bruges - mobs and all.

Gent is neat but in many ways a much larger city with vest-pocket areas of Bruges-like ambience-kind of - the reason most American tourists at least love Bruges:

https://www.google.com/search?q=brug...w=1920&bih=974
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 09:23 AM
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If you can hold off I will be traveling from BRU by train to Brugge as I succumbed to the comments about it being especially lovely after the day trippers have gone. Will go to Gent for a day trip from there. So after 3 nights in Brugge will do a day transit trip to Antwerp on the way to Brussels where I will spend another 3 nights.

Will be able to comment directly in October after my trip.

Just FYI: I virtually always use booking.com so there is no deposit and make my reservations a year in advance, you might want to check out hotel rates as well.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 09:59 AM
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I'd do Antwerp - a really neat if not ancient-looking city - as a day trip from Brussels or Bruges to do it justice.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 10:12 AM
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I have been to Bruges a number of times and have no desire to set foot there again, though there is something to be said for being there at night and in the off-season.

I'm a fan of Brussels, big fan, especially for the food, but most people aren't. I've been to Ghent once and thought it very nice but wasn't there long enough to really get to know a lot about it.

But I would go to Antwerp.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 10:30 AM
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Like StCirq, I enjoyed a week in Brussels. I spent a day in Bruges and have no desire to return. Bruges is a place that people either love or not. I'm definitely in the "or not" category. For me it felt too artificial.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 10:33 AM
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Remember, the OP has already been to Bruges and liked it...
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 11:08 AM
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Thank you all so much for your comments. Jan47ete, we are only going in June next year so look forward to your comments after your trip in October. I also always use booking.com as it is so easy to reserve accommodation and then cancel if you change your mind. I agree about Bruges in the evening when all the day trippers have gone - we really enjoyed it. We also walked around the small quiet back streets where there were not lots of tourists so will do that again if we go. Who is the OP Andrew?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 11:15 AM
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Thanks also for the pics of Bruges PalenqQ. I am a passionate photographer and for me Bruges gives me such amazing photo opportunities. Looking at those pics now really makes me want to go back again.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 11:19 AM
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buzzcolin, you are the Original Poster (OP).

I think you'll find great photo ops in Ghent too - it is not exactly the same as Bruges, but it also has quaint canals, etc. Even if you just day trip there from Bruges, I recommend stopping in - easy to do by train. You can see some pics from my 2013 trip report (click on my name to find it). mr_go just posted some very recent pictures from Ghent from his recent trip - I recommend digging up his post and pictures.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 11:22 AM
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"OP" means original poster -- that is, you.

No one is questioning "OP" liking Bruges. OP is asking for a friend -- or in this case, a relative -- about whether it is the right choice. As this thread underscores, people's spontaneous & honest reactions to Bruges are divided. Nobody was more surprised than me once I got there to find out I'd made a mistake booking myself into Bruges for 3 nights.

Obviously there is no way of knowing in advance how these relatives will react, especially if they aren't asked. But Bruges is a small town, and the train station is either walkable or a short taxi ride away from almost any hotel -- and hopefully they will feel free to daytrip if they aren't all that taken with Bruges or with walking the back streets or waiting until nighttime to go out.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 11:29 AM
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Andrew and I were typing at the same time.

If you go to Ghent, seeing the Adoration of Mystic Lamb in St Bavo's is one of the most thrilling of art experiences to be had in Europe even if you are only slightly interested in art. Ghent is a tremendously lovely town to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere etc, but the Ghent Altarpiece is incredibly impressive to most people, even those who ordinarily don't travel to see paintings.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghent_Altarpiece
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 11:57 AM
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As this thread underscores, people's spontaneous & honest reactions to Bruges are divided>

This thread does not represent average travelers - especially Americans - the common non-jaded traveler will mostly be blown away with Bruges - especially at night and out of the busy season - June is still not the most hectic time - July and August are.

OP is asking for a friend -- or in this case, a relative -- about whether it is the right choice - as this thread underscores, people's spontaneous & honest reactions to Bruges are divided. >

They will likely fall into the category of novice tourists who will love Bruges just as OP (original poster) did.

Stay in Gent and day trip to Bruges they may have wished they had stayed in Bruges - rarely the other way around - again I'm on a about average American tourists like the overwhelming majority of folks on my trips who overwhelmingly loved it.

That said I can see understand why some veteran travlers may not and appreciate their takes - just talking about typical American tourists.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 12:15 PM
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Thanks again and by the way I am a (much travelled)South African so not the typical American tourist. I think at this stage I would prefer Bruges with a day trip to Ghent but who knows by next year we could have changed our minds. Thanks also for the OP explanation. I do not post that often so did not know that. I love this Forum - one always gets such a diverse range of advice. Many thanks.
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