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Brugge or Ghent?

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Aug 22nd, 2016, 08:22 PM
  #1
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Brugge or Ghent?

I would appreciate any advice on which to stay in. We are travelling there on March 10, only three nights, leaving on the 13th, and wish to just walk around and take in the sights. We will be flying into Brussels and then leaving from Frankfurt on the 14th, so overnighting in Frankfurt before coming home.
I had heard that Ghent was better, and being closer to both airports by train thought it might be the better option and just do a day trip to Brugge from Ghent by train.

But now others are saying they did not like Ghent at all, and to stay in Brugge the entire time.
Any direction would be great.

This is just a very small part of our 6 week holiday, we are two women in our 60s and will just be looking at the sights and wandering the towns, maybe some museums.
Thank you.
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Aug 22nd, 2016, 08:35 PM
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I really liked Bruges.
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Aug 22nd, 2016, 08:42 PM
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The big factor that people who dislike Bruges but like Ghent mention is how obnoxiously touristy Bruges can be. But in March, it might not be a big factor. I'm sure Bruges gets tourists year round but March can't exactly be high season. I was there in May and it was busy with tourists the Sunday I arrived - also a sunny day. I was there Monday and Tuesday which were a bit rainy and it was also much less busy with tourists.

I loved Bruges, even in the rain. I did a day trip to Ghent by train for a few hours and liked it - it's a very picturesque town - but it rained the entire time I was there, and the town seemed almost completely dead in May, whereas Bruges certainly was not.

Unless you are allergic to touristy places, I'd stay in Bruges. The train is only another half hour on from Ghent to Bruges anyway, so that's not a huge factor. Ghent's train station is a bit further from the center than Bruge's is from its center, so you might lose some of the time advantage by the time you actually get to your lodging in either city.
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Aug 22nd, 2016, 09:17 PM
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Hi Debbe - We did a day trip to Bruges from Brussels. After a full day there, we have no need to ever return. It felt like a historical set - like no real people lived there. This is what causes people to refer to it as "Disney-fied." Now some people love the place - that sense of walking into a real medieval town. I just found it very artificial.

I haven't been to Ghent, so I can't comment on it. But knowing what I know now, I'd rather go to Ghent than to Bruges.
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Aug 22nd, 2016, 09:47 PM
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The comparison is that of old movie where one brother becomes a priest and the other a gangster.

Bruges is quaint and remarkable how it has withstood the wars and treachery of Europe and now the now onslaught of tourists.

On these boards, there are always ironic complaints about too many tourists. It is like blaming the drug dealer for one's habit.

Ghent on the other hand has a grittiness, a lived-in feel, that makes it more alive and vibrant.

It is what you prefer.
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Aug 22nd, 2016, 10:24 PM
  #6
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thank you imdonehere, kathie, Andrew and Saraho.
I guess I have to just make a decision. Either way I am sure it will be wonderful.
Debbe.
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Aug 22nd, 2016, 10:39 PM
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I loved Bruges, liked Ghent a lot. I built my trip around visiting Bruges.

It is not fake or Disneyesque... it is a very real and charming town with real people living their lives. I can't see how someone could say that it felt artificial. Yes, it is touristy but for good reason. That is why staying there at night is so beautiful... all the day trippers have left. And many of the sites are illuminated so great photo ops at night.

Many sites worthwhile seeing in both towns.
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Aug 22nd, 2016, 11:57 PM
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For you, I would say stay in Brugge. It is beautiful, and because of this it attracts a lot of tourists. Close to 8 million a year, with a population of 117.000. So there are locals, but these are vastly outnumbered by the tourists. March is probably one of the less busy months, and staying overnight allows you to experience it once the daytrippers have left. There is a reason 8 million people visit Brugge.

Gent is also beautiful, less touristy, it's a student town. If you were in your 20s and looking for nightlife, I would have said Gent. Gent is more than twice the size of Brugge, and attracts around 1 million visitors; therefore much less touristy.
You can always take a daytrip to Gent, it's very close.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 12:00 AM
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ok. Bruges it is. Thanks all.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 01:27 AM
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I am with Tulips. Also with her spelling.
I prefer Gent (not Ghent) but the first city we visited was Brugge (not Bruges, albeit at least it corresponds to the French spelling).
When we have tourists at home we tend to show them Brugge more than Gent.
I love Gent however. Probably my favorite Belgian city (with Leuven).
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 01:30 AM
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Or Antwerpen
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 03:36 AM
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Brugge or Gent, it really depends on your preference. I love both. Brugge is so beautiful and cute I feel like it steps out from a painting. Gent is younger and livelier. You can do kayak yourself in Gent but not in Brugge. But Brugge gives more photo opportunities, in general. (I know, my 1D comparison is shallow).

Although Brugge is too touristic, in March it might be not so. Even in the peak of tourism season, you can always find tranquil corners and quiet moments, as did I:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...the-fierce.cfm

I haven't written about my Gent trip, but it was hilarious too.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 04:00 AM
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I don't think you could go wrong with either place. They are both beautiful.

We were there at the end of June and stayed 3 nights in Brugge. I went through the same dilemma and in the end I'm happy we chose Brugge because during the day it was inundated with people. So many people. So we spent the days visiting Ghent and Antwerp. And the mornings and evenings in Brugge were absolutely delightful. But that was summer and it shouldn't be as crowded in March.

I also loved Ghent and know I would have been just as happy staying there. But if we had done that and only visited Brugge during the day with all the other day trippers, I don't think I would have liked Brugge as much.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 05:22 AM
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We preferred Brugge which is smaller and seems to be more well preserved. You can easily take a day trip to Ghent, takes only about 30 minutes, which is a larger town which has been more modernized. Still charming but not so much life in another century as you get in Brugge at night.

If you do stay in Brugge be sure to stay in one of the canal houses where the wealthy families used to live; many are now charming small hotels, often providing a lovely dinner with local specialties.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 06:42 AM
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It's absurd to think that nobody "real" lives in Brugge. Of course they do. During our years in Brussels, we went to Brugge more than a dozen times and often stayed overnight. If you want to get away from the tourist crowds, simply go over to the other side of 't Zand and most of them will have dropped away. We had friends living there (the wife was born and raised in Brugge).

Also, there is nothing to compare with Brugge early in the morning and in the evening when the day trippers aren't there.

Ghent is fine too, I did some contract work with a company in Gent and while the city certainly has its own beauty, I still would pick Brugge.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 06:47 AM
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It's absurd to think that nobody "real" lives in Brugge

We often see that people want to visit somewhere what is "real" or quaint. My favorite post was about two weeks ago, someone wanted to a visit a "real" Spanish town but needed a hotel with a swimming pool.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 06:52 AM
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Ghent has the Ghent altarpiece. It is worth a pilgrimage.

We saw it on a frigid April afternoon, when even the locals were staying off the streets to avoid the sleet and wind.

There were never more than ten people in the room with the altarpiece, usually less.

Spring appears not have particularly pleasant weather in the Low Counties thus a good time to go.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 06:58 AM
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Exactly IMD.
And Brugge is actively living off tourism.
So you won't find any workers there, no unemployed people (prices drive them away) no ... Who make real people.
But you'll find doctors dentists vets architects etc. who are also real.
So the ratio poor/rich and blue/white collars populations is out of normality.
That is how I understand as a normal city. You will not even find the old farmer who speaks only dialect.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 08:40 AM
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Thanks everyone. I guess it is like comparing Tofino and Ucluelet, where I live (Vancouver Island) you can't go wrong with either, one is just more touristy. But as you say in March, like Tofino, there are less tourists.
Sorry for my spelling, it was midnight when I posted last night.
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Aug 23rd, 2016, 06:45 PM
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<>

No need to apologize for your spelling.

This is a delicate question, particularly with Flemish Belgians. However, the spelling varies from language to language

In Flemish the cities are Brugge and Gent. (and Antwerpen and Brussel for that matter).

In English, the cities are Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels.

In French, they are Bruges, Gand, Anvers and Bruxelles.

When writing in English, we should use the English terms. We use Cologne instead of Köln, Munich instead of München, The Hague instead of Den Haag, Rome instead of Roma for example. These have been used for many many years, just as the French have always used Londres and the Italians Parigi.

I understand the sensitivity of the Flemish to the use of "Bruges" as it is what the Walloons use, and is a reminder of the days when the Walloons and the French language were dominant. Living in another bilingual country, I recognize how divisive language can be.

However my point remains that unless there is a specific reason for not using it, it's usually best to use the English name for a place (when writing or speaking English). It's important to know the local name for a place when travelling, however (especially in Belgium where there are no translations e.g. Mons/Bergen, Liège/Luik).

Many of you will likely think I'm overly pedantic, so you can ignore my comments completely if you do.
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