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Day trip from Brussels: Antwerp or Cologne?

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Jan 24th, 2013, 06:37 AM
  #1
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Day trip from Brussels: Antwerp or Cologne?

Hello! I am excited about my upcoming trip to Europe and Morocco. In an effort to minimize costs, I am flying into Brussels, and I have an extra day there before moving on to Paris. This will be my fifth time in Paris and I have already been to Bruges, so I was looking for a day trip from Brussels and am considering Antwerp or Cologne. I want to walk around, check out some major sites, but I am also interested in great art museums. I love to shop and I know Antwerp is renowned for its avant-garde fashion and antiques shopping. But, I am also drawn to Cologne for the Cathedral and the Ludwig Museum (love Picasso), both of which are very close to the train station, making for an easy side trip. I haven't been to either city. For those who have, which city do you prefer? What are the highlights and drawbacks of each. Also, I haven't fully committed to staying Brussels. Would Brussels or Antwerp be more atmospheric/lively at night?

Thanks,
Smith
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Jan 24th, 2013, 07:31 AM
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I have been to both cities zillions of times and you cannot go wrong.

Personally I find Antwerp fulfills my love of old-world looking cities whilst Cologne, devastated in WW2 is basically to me a rather boring modern city with a few blockbuster sites - like the behemoth Gothic cathedral right next to the train station.

A joy of Cologne to me is the Rhine Ufer (sp?) - the walkways along the busy Rhine River.

Antwerp is a unique city in many ways - loads of great old Flemish art and one of Europe's most lovely train stations - the Art Nouveau Antwerpen Centraal station, redolent to me of Grand Central Station in NYC - across from the station is the Orthodox Jewish area with folks garbed in black - this is the Diamond Center - one of the world's foremost commercial diamond sellers and workshops fashioning the gems.

Antwerp is also a lot closer to Brussels and getting there will be a lot lot cheaper than taking trains to and from Cologne.

so you can't go wrong - but my take is Antwerp for me at least far excels Cologne in what I think is neat.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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Antwerp for sure enen the train station is amazing. Lots of sites easily reached. The rubens House is a special attraction.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 08:13 AM
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Antwerp wins hands down. Absolutely gorgeous old town center. The most beautiful train station you have ever seen. Nice setting on the river. Cute little castle. Nice vibe. Lots of shopping. Cologne was a total bore compared to Antwerp (compared to most European cities actually). Cologne cathedral is bigger than most, but I didn't think it any more interesting or beautiful.

http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/belgium Antwerp photos
http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/116266133 Cologne photos
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Jan 24th, 2013, 11:36 AM
  #5
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Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. It seems like Antwerp is a real winner. I will save the Cologne Cathedral and Ludwig Museum for another trip when I may be passing through that region and have an afternoon to spare there.

@PalenQ - Thanks for the comparison! Both cities do have their merits

@Avalon2 and @isabel- Thanks for the votes in favor of Antwerp. Isabel, your beautiful photos really won me over. Looking forward to walking around the beautiful city and perhaps picking up some treasures to bring home with me!
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Jan 24th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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And Antwerp also has a classic Amsterdam-esque Red-Light district with bosomy gals sitting behind red-neon-lit picture windows - not for everyone but something few cities offer.
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Jan 25th, 2013, 07:43 AM
  #7
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@PalenQ- Hah, thanks for the tip. My boyfriend and I (both males) may not be interested directly in their, um, wares, but as a cultural institution, it may be worth browsing, haha. Cheers!
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Jan 26th, 2013, 04:39 AM
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I think Antwerp is a great choice but wanted to mention for future reference that Cologne has 12 Romanesque churches in the Altstadt in addition to the Gothic cathedral and the Ludwig museum

My trip report from the fall of 2011 describes what we did in Antwerp (Day 8) and Brussels where we were based.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...etherlands.cfm
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Jan 26th, 2013, 06:48 AM
  #9
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@Vttraveler, thanks for the advice! I had actually already come across and read much of your wonderful trip report on Belgium. I definitely think Antwerp will be a great day trip this time, and I will have to make time for Cologne and its great sites on another trip!

thanks,
Smith
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