Brussels and Antwerp

Old Dec 13th, 2014, 08:34 PM
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Brussels and Antwerp

Hello. In January I will be staying in Ghent for 3 nights. We are thinking of spending 1 day exploring Ghent, a day trip to Bruges and then a day trip to either antwerp or brussels. We are in our 30s and are happy to walk around the city. Interested in food, interesting buildings and natural sights, museums (but we do not over do it- just the good ones) we'll have been in amsterdam and somewhat museumsed out. Which city do you recommend to walk around for a day? Any advice appreciated.
Steve.
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Old Dec 13th, 2014, 08:47 PM
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Antwerp isn't particularly scenic in my opinion, though there are some good museums. Brussels has the wonderful Grand Place, a huge public square, especially beautiful at night when all lit up. Brussels lacks the charm of Ghent and Bruges but you'll already get that.

Some people love Antwerp. I'll let them chime in make their case. I spent a couple of nights there and enjoyed the Rubens House (museum) but I'm not a big museum person either so don't consider it essential.

For a walking-around town, I actually enjoyed Leuven more than Brussels or Antwerp. It's not nearly as touristy as Brussels and more interesting (just for walking around) than Antwerp. If I were going to do it over again, I would have spent the nights in Leuven and day tripped to Antwerp.
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Old Dec 13th, 2014, 08:48 PM
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Click on my name to find my 2013 Belgium trip report, which includes a lot of pictures of all of the places you mention.
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Old Dec 13th, 2014, 09:22 PM
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While I think Bruges deserves more than a day, Ghent does also.

I'd take the exra day to spend in Bruges. Antwerp was OK but maybe Dinant would be good too?
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Old Dec 13th, 2014, 10:43 PM
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Bruges is especially pretty at night. Stay as late as you can the day you go. Really bundle up. It can be quite cold in Bruges in winter.
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Old Dec 13th, 2014, 10:56 PM
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The official Antwerpen TI website has the museums of the city pretty well covered here:
http://www.visitantwerpen.be/Bezoeke...s-museums.html

Brussels obviously also has many great museums, but it depends on your interests which you will find more suitable for your taste. If you like Rubens, Antwerpen would be my first choice. For Margritte, Brussels. It would be best if you familiarized yourself with the museums and current exhibitions in both cities before you make your choice.

If you are into Art Nouveau, one specialty of Brussels would the several mansions you can visit and which have been restored or maintained in that style. This is a somewhat different experience to see the arts and crafts in their natural habitat, so to speak, than visiting a museum that had it showcased.

But aside from the major arts museums which are adjacent to the Old Town with Grand Place and Manneken Pis, the sights of Brussels are more scattered across the city. Atomium in the NW outskirts, Horta mansion in SW central Brussels, Park Cinquantenaire in the East near the EU institutions.. so it is not as "walkable" like Antwerpen.
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Old Dec 13th, 2014, 11:03 PM
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P.S. While the English spelling of most Flemish places is pretty close to the original one, it's worth to know the latter as timetables, displays and announcements will only give you the Flemish spelling in Flanders and the bilingual spelling when in Brussels (and only the French spelling in Wallonia).
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Old Dec 14th, 2014, 09:07 AM
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I would pick Brussels for its greater choice of indoor activities in case the weather is really bad.

The music museum in a Art nouveau department store building is said to be worth a visit. For sure, one should visit the Horta museum.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...960216715/show

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ms_in_Brussels
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Old Dec 14th, 2014, 09:59 AM
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Leuven is indeed really scenic and an beautiful, atmospheric place to walk (and eat, and drink great beer). I also like Mechelen, with it's riverwalk, it's central sights, and the Het Anker brewery (where Gouden Carolus is made). Both cities are on the same direct train line from Ghent.
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Old Dec 14th, 2014, 01:23 PM
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Thank you very much for your prompt replies. Ill read up a bit more about both, plus Leuven
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Old Dec 14th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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Antwwerp to me is more interesting for the average traveler than Brussels (and Gent) but some of its delights are well out of the city centre - like Middleheim Statue Park and the Cogels Osylei - a street lined with Art Nouveau facades from around 1900 - it also has tons of museums with old Flemish masters, a mini Amsterdam-like redlight district and what is called one of Europe's finest looking train stations - a kind of Grand Central station.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Coge...=1600&bih=1075

http://www.middelheimmuseum.be/Museu...he-Museum.html

And Brussels also has lots of Art Nouveau too - but many folks just find Brussels a modern busy city with very little of the old-world romance found in Antwerp and especially in Gent and especially especially in Bruges.

An extra day could also be spent exploring the North Sea coast - a string of neat old seaside towns that make most pleasant respsites from the rigors of sightseeing.
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Old Dec 14th, 2014, 04:35 PM
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An extra day could also be spent exploring the North Sea coast -

In January? Isn't that a gamble?
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Old Dec 14th, 2014, 05:43 PM
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If you don't care what most people think and don't want to be average, Brussels can be a great place to visit for a day.

I would recommend that, upon arrival at the Central train station, you buy the 24hr transit pass, and start your day by taking the 71 bus, (Delta).

The second or third stop will be near the Musical Instruments Museum, which I found to be a lot of fun, and the Magritte Museum, which I found to be a total bore. The Instrument Museum is housed in a great example of Art Nouveau architecture.

You will also be uphill with a nice view of Brussels. Also,in the area are the usual European things; monumental buildings and statues of some guy on a horse.

Get back on the 71 Delta and get off at the Ixelles Cemetary stop. If you like cemeteries, which are essentially open air museums, the Ixelles cemetery is a good one, with some amazing grave sites and a WW1 section.

This part of town is near the ULB campus and it caters to students and student life ie; lots of cafes, restaurants etc; (our daughter just finished a year at ULB, her residence was in this area) Meal hint: PANOS sandwich bars are good for a cup of delicious coffee and a fresh sandwich.

Back on the 71Delta bus, get of at the terminus stop (the Delta metro station) and take the metro to Merode station.

You will be a stone throw from the Military Museum and the Belgian Autoworld, both located in a very large park (Jubelpark). Visit the museums or just walk through the park toward the Great Mosque of Brussels and Berlaymont, the location of the European Parliament.

Take the metro (Shuman) back to either the Central Station or Burse station and make your way toward the Grand Place.

Interesting museums on the Grand Place itself are the Beer Museum (closes early) and the Museums of Brussels (interesting collection of ceramics, costumes, etc.)

There is always something going on, or around Grand Place. Galeries Royale St. Hubert is a fancy shopping area, and the kitchy Belgian Waffle serves surprisingly good waffles.

Hope this helps.

Mark
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Old Dec 15th, 2014, 09:34 AM
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An extra day could also be spent exploring the North Sea coast -

In January? Isn't that a gamble?>

Oops failed to note the month - Belgium as a whole is IME a very dimsal place to be in that gray grim months - especially the coast! (Unless into going to casinos).
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