Day trip ideas please. :)

Old Apr 15th, 2019, 08:47 AM
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Day trip ideas please. :)

Hello, travel community!

I have finally finalized the details of our flights and Airbnb accommodations for when I travel with my 3 daughters (23, 22, 19) this July to Europe!

First, we fly to Brussels and will spend two full days there. It will be a Sunday and Monday and I know certain museums, etc. are closed Mondays and maybe even Sundays? We will spend Sunday in Brussels and plan to day trip to possibly Antwerp on Monday. Unless someone suggests something better for us!

Tuesday, we take the train to the seaside, Knokke-Heist. We will spend the day there visiting with the family my one daughter has been working for for the past two months and not leave this area until Thursday afternoon. I would like to day trip Wednesday to Bruges and maybe even Ghent. We leave Thursday afternoon to head back to Brussels to fly to Basel.

We arrive in Basel late Thursday and will visit with the family my other daughter will be working for over the next 12 months. We call this home base until the following Wednesday morning, so we should have 4 days to take day trips. One will definitely be Lucerne. It has been recommended that we do the Golden round trip there and it does look amazing. I know the girls would like to see as much as possible, so I was thinking maybe Strasbourg, France and Freiburg, Germany so we can visit the Black Forest. Other locations in Switzerland are an option as well. This is where I could really use some help! 3 or 4 suggestions of the best possible day trips and what to do there would be so appreciated, keeping in mind one of these days will be a Monday again. We aren't huge museum people, so I won't worry too much about that.

Wednesday morning we will fly to London. We have 2 full days there and go home Friday. I am also looking for the best and most fun way to spend two days there. So, again, suggestions are much welcomed and appreciated!

I want to make this a very memorable Mother-Daughter trip for us all!

Thank you for everything! This is such an amazing forum!

Connie
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Old Apr 15th, 2019, 09:13 AM
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Colmar or Eguisheim are smaller than Strasbourg but might be closer. Mullhouse is also worth a visit from Basel with some fine museums.
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Old Apr 15th, 2019, 09:30 AM
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bilboburgler Thank you! I forgot that I had another recommendation for Colmar over Strasbourg. I will make a note of it. What would you suggest is the best way to spend the day there? I will look into the other cities. Thank you!
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Old Apr 15th, 2019, 10:47 AM
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I was going to suggest you skip Brussels and go direct to Bruges and spend 2 days there. But then I saw you included it as a day trip later. Still, if it were my trip, I would skip Brussels and allocate the two days somewhere else.

Trips from Basel, like mentioned above, can include l'Alsace: Colmar, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Strasbourg. You can also go to the Bernese Oberland area of Switizerland, like Mürren, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen ( 2h 30min).
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Old Apr 15th, 2019, 03:30 PM
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Trains are great to all those places - long-distance trains should be booked far in advance for discounted fares (but can always buy full fare ticket and get on anytime - but booking in advance can save money. www.seat61.com has great advice for reserving your own train online - general info trains check BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.
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Old Apr 15th, 2019, 09:54 PM
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What sort of things interest you in London? Museums, galleries, shopping, markets, gardens??? The V&A is wonderful and if you like jewellery, there is a great jewellery exhibit there, I think it might have recently re-opened. You could check online if interested. Also a posh afternoon tea could be nice. We enjoyed one at Ham Yard Hotel last year. Not as expensive as a lot of other places and we really enjoyed it.

Also I don't know your flight times but if you arrive in London on Wednesday and leave on Friday, that doesn't give you two full days. You'll need to allow time on Friday to get to the airport and usually you need to arrive 2-3 hours prior to an international flight. I could be splitting hairs, maybe you get there super early Wed and leave midnight Friday?

Kay
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Old Apr 15th, 2019, 11:08 PM
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colmar has a small punt trip and a small historical centre, Eguisheim is structurally very interesting (a three ringed village, google map it)
but the real high points of the area is wine tasting and walking up the slopes of the Vosges
Strasbourg is really about the historical centre

Last edited by bilboburgler; Apr 15th, 2019 at 11:12 PM.
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Old Apr 15th, 2019, 11:42 PM
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I have a suggestion for your first day in Brussels. I am going to assume that the Sunday is the first day that you arrive in Brussels and you may be kinda tired so I have paced it for jet lagged people. You will find some businesses closed but the tourist areas will be open as usual and maybe some supermarkets in the morning. However, most of the museums will be open on the Sunday. So your day could look like this:

-arrive early and take bags to hotel (somewhere near Central? we can tweak details later). You can catch a train directly from Zaventem to Brussels Central.
-to start the day: a visit to Le Pain Quotidien (a (nice) cafe chain that does breakfasts really well with communal tables, amazing bread and three different types of chocolate spreads). Rue des Sablons 11. Either a breakfast or brunch, and get your bearings.

A gentle amble into Brussels. See Galeries St-Hubert on the way. If chocolate shops are not open around Place du Grand Sablon (and there are a few clustered there), there will be some shops open in the Galeries St-Hubert. From there a short walk to the Grand' Place - a splendid square and a photo opportunity. Maybe visit the Tintin shop near the GP - I am going to assume that will be open. In the event you want food there is no end of friteries (frites shops) or places to get a waffle but I will assume you are fed. You will have opportunities to get frites elsewhere and maybe also waffles. So you can have a look around the souvenir shops in the centre while you are there. If you need to see him, Manneken Pis is also in the centre but I find him underwhelming.

Then three different options. You need to get a dose of Art Nouveau to understand Brussels well as this is the dominant style in the suburbs and Victor Horta is the leading architect.

Option 1: visit the Musical Instruments Museum. It is a magnificent former department store ('Old England') which is by Horta, and the museum itself is actually a pretty good one, over several floors. However, you get more bang for your buck here because there is a rooftop restaurant with amazing views and traditional meals, so if you are still fed, you could come just for a coffee and a photo op. This is not far from your hotel if you are tired.

After this, late afternoon (are you still awake?) wander over to the Place St.-Géry (or take the metro to Bourse or De Brouckére), which is a district with a lot of cafés and have a mint tea or a beer (obligatory since this is Belgium, but if you aren't a beer drinker, try a cherry beer). Try Mappa Mundo or Zebra. Mostly you can sit outdoors and watch the world pass by. And if you haven't retired yet, then maybe those frites are calling: walk from there to Place Ste.-Catherine, which is the seafood district. Try the moules-frites! Take the metro back to Central.

Option 2: if you are staying near Louise or feeling intrepid, you could visit the Horta Museum, which is the house which Victor Horta designed for himself. This is really a stunning preserved example of his work and is worth the visit. However, it is situated in the residential areas and while it is still central Brussels it is a way out. You can catch a tram or a taxi. On the way home, stop near Louise and go to a restaurant in Rue Jourdan (not Place Jourdan), which is a small restaurant street. Back to the hotel, either nearby or take the metro from Louise to Central.

Option 3, or, I hate museums: change of pace. Take the metro to the Atomium, which is another photo op. You can go inside where it is quite 'space-age'. Also nearby is Mini-Europe, by which stage you will be tired. Take the metro back to Central. I don't have so many restaurant recommendations for this option but generally avoid the Rue des Bouchers (the restaurant street near the Grand' Place). If you can still power the night away, À La Mort Subite is a traditional estaminet (café) where you can get their own beer and light meals.

I recommend getting a map and scoping out the different destinations on your map. The metro is a good way of getting around so don't be intimidated by it. Buy a Mobib card at Central and load a 24 hour ticket onto it (I think you can actually load up to three on the one card), so you can come and go easily (métro, trams, buses but not trains). Do check the final times of the metro so you won't be waiting on an empty platform after dark.

Enjoy!

Lavandula

Last edited by lavandula; Apr 15th, 2019 at 11:53 PM. Reason: add another detail
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 06:43 AM
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PalenQ , thank you. I will check out that train info. I am not sure what would be considered a long distance train. Would Brussels to the seaside, Knokke-Heist, be considered long distance? We fly to Basel from Brussels, so that is not a factor for the train. While in Basel for our day trips, I don't think we will go anywhere too far, but I will certainly check out your links! Of course, we would love to save money wherever possible! Thank you!
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 06:45 AM
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KayF , my daughter suggested a tea tour which is on a bakery bus. B's Bakery maybe? I think she follows them on instagram. haha I will check out Ham Yard. I am sure we will take in some of the more major attractions,

As for flight times, we will arrive London in the early morning. We will have all day Wednesday and all day Thursday, which does account for two days. It will be a good taste of the city and a chance for the girls to see one more place before we head home.

Thank you!
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 06:46 AM
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Brussels:
All EU things, the atomium, th planetaium and mini Europe are open on Mondays.

Complete list of sites open on Mondayse lundi, journée musée ? Ces musées sont plutôt d’accord.· · UCL - Jardin des Sculptures· · UCL - Jardin des Plantes Médicinales Paul Moens· · UCL - Musée pharmaceutique Albert Couvreur· · ULB - Centre de Recherches et d'Etudes technologiques des Arts plastiques / CReA-Patrimoine· · ULB - Expérimentarium de Chimie· · ULB - Expérimentarium de Physique· · ULB - Jardin Botanique Expérimental Jean Massart· · ULB - Musée d'Anatomie et d'Embryologie humaines Louis Deroubaix· · ULB - Musée des Plantes médicinales et de la Pharmacie· · ULB - Musée de la Médecine· · ULB - Musée-bibliothèque Michel de Ghelderode· · ULB Culture - Salle Allende
May be that will take you busy for a whole day.
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 06:47 AM
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bilboburgler I was thinking wine tasting would be fun in Colmar. I am going to look into it, as well as the the Vosges to make sure we don't miss anything while there! Iwill check out Eguisheim on google. Are they close? Can they be done on the same day?

Thank you!
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 06:56 AM
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Basel:
Do you want to vist Alsace and Baden or Switzerland?
A somewhat decent visit of Strasbourg, Enguisheim, Colmar, Ribeauville, Riquewihr, Ecomusee d'Alsace and Mulhouse will take at least 2 (rather 3) days.
The same is true for Freiburg and the Black forest.
A visit of the city of Basel with close surroundings (Augusta Raurica, Museum at Seewen, Rhine river boat to Rheinfelden, etc.) will take about 2 days.
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 07:25 AM
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lavandula Wow! Thank you for taking the time to think this out for me! How generous of you and it sounds amazing.

We have rented an Airbnb right near The Grand Place. We cannot check in until noon (or flight arrives 6:30 but we will have to go through customs and collect luggage). The apartment is also next to the Central Train Station, so we will store our luggage in lockers until we check in. Do you know how long the train ride is from the airport to the central station?

We will see how tired we are, but breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien sounds like a great suggestion, as does the rest of what you have typed. I think my one daughter would love the Musical Instruments Museum, as well.

Of course, we have to have beer! Even though the girls don't really like it, I will advise them to try the cherry beer.

I also think we will probably want to see the Atomium. The girls (being in their early 20's) love photo ops. If we don't do it that day, maybe we do it on the day we leave Knokke-Heist before we go to the airport for our evening flight to Basel, although I haven't consulted a map and don't know if that will then be out of the way from our airport destination.

Since you seem so knowledgable about Brussels (do you live in Belgium?) would you recommend somewhere besides Antwerp for Monday? Tuesday morning we head to Knokke (and Bruges while we are seaside), so a somewhat close day trip is in order on Monday.

Thank you so very much for your planning! You have taken away some of the guess work for me and have given us some great options!
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 07:47 AM
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Yes, only a few miles between the two places. I suppose there may be places to taste wine in Colmar but only a few are really local, the rest are set up for tourists.
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by neckervd View Post
Brussels:
All EU things, the atomium, th planetaium and mini Europe are open on Mondays.

Complete list of sites open on Mondayse lundi, journée musée ? Ces musées sont plutôt d’accord.· · UCL - Jardin des Sculptures· · UCL - Jardin des Plantes Médicinales Paul Moens· · UCL - Musée pharmaceutique Albert Couvreur· · ULB - Centre de Recherches et d'Etudes technologiques des Arts plastiques / CReA-Patrimoine· · ULB - Expérimentarium de Chimie· · ULB - Expérimentarium de Physique· · ULB - Jardin Botanique Expérimental Jean Massart· · ULB - Musée d'Anatomie et d'Embryologie humaines Louis Deroubaix· · ULB - Musée des Plantes médicinales et de la Pharmacie· · ULB - Musée de la Médecine· · ULB - Musée-bibliothèque Michel de Ghelderode· · ULB Culture - Salle Allende
May be that will take you busy for a whole day.
Thank you!* I think we are going to Antwerp on Monday, as we will spend Sunday in Brussels, but this is a great list!* Thanks!
*
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 08:45 AM
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bilboburgler Wine tasting in the Alsace Region sounds like something we would like to do. Would you have a recommendation of where to travel from Basel in order to do this?
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 08:58 AM
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Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, anywhere along the Route des Vins, really. Most of them quite touristy. The tourist offices and google will reveal tons of information.
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 02:14 PM
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Glad to be of assistance - I don't live in Brussels now (I'm from Sydney) but I did live and work there for a while and have been back several times, the last time being July last year.

The train from the airport will take between 15 - 25 minutes (assuming you have come from Zaventem and not Charleroi, which is where the budget airlines land). It's an easy trip.

If you go to the Atomium and Mini-Europe, this is a metro ride to Heysel, which is a bit more than 20 mins. It is about 5 mins walk from the metro and you couldn't possibly miss it.

Antwerp is a really good destination. I wouldn't swap it out for anywhere else. There are people here on Fodor's who live in Antwerp or who have been recently and so I will leave it to them to give tips, it's not my expertise. But there is a good vibe in that city, and a long and interesting walk through the shopping district (along the Meir) from the station to the main square. It has a fabulous Art Nouveau train station and a drinking culture centred on jenever (gin).

You have enough options now to go on (also with neckervd's excellent list of museums), so you can shape your day as necessary. Have fun!

Lavandula
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 02:33 PM
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One will definitely be Lucerne. It has been recommended that we do the Golden round trip there and it does look amazing.>

Take the Golden Pass train one way perhaps but to go from Montreux via Interlaken to Lucerne will take a lot more time than the mainline direct route. I think the GP though a really scenic train IME does not rate in the awesome category except from Interlaken to Lucerne. Can't do everything - I'd recommend a cruise on Lake Lucerne maybe instead plus Lucerne is lovely to look around - maybe take the Golden Pass train Lucerne to Interlaken then mainline trains to Basel.

Cheers - overall looks like a brilliant trip - well done!
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