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Katie7 May 8th, 2013 03:05 AM

Day Trips from Brussels
Hi All:

We will be in Brussels for one week in mid June for a business conference. We have two free days before the conference and are interested in doing day trips those days. We have been to Brussels and Brugges several times before, so are looking for something different. We will have a car and will return to Brussel for the night.

We are two adults, interested in castles, windmills, gardens, mountains, rugged coastline (not beaches for swimming), outdoor scenery, shopping. We are especially interested in photography.

We are considering Kinderdijk in the Netherlands to see the windmills or Maastricht. We like small villages and do not care for big cities. Also thinking about somewhere in northern France or Germany that is in driving distance for one day.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks, Katie

jamikins May 8th, 2013 03:40 AM

What about Ghent? My friends spent a weekend there and enjoyed it alot!

PalenQ May 8th, 2013 07:30 AM

Luxembourg, the Grandy Duchy will fulfill nearly all your requisites save high mountains. Not Luxembourg City but the country - a k a Grand Duchy - you drive thru the Ardennes to get there but these are not high mountains.

tailsock May 8th, 2013 08:27 AM

Ghent, Antwerp, and Leuven are worth a look. You can actually pack a good amount of fun into a day trip to Ghent. The train ride is about half an hour to St Pietersstation. From there tram 1 will take you to the city center where you'll experience one of the largest car free areas in all of Europe. Canals, a castle, a medieval skyline dominated by Gothic churches, and less than half the tourists that frequent Brugge.

irishface May 8th, 2013 08:39 AM

A college friend was stationed in Brussels for several years so I had the pleasure of visiting her. We went to Kinderdijk and Gouda one day for a trip. It was not a rushed day.

One day we went to Gaasbeck and ? for a trip to castles.

Another day trip took us to Veves( a real medieval castle) and Spontin and Annevoie, more palace like with wonderful gardens and interesting stories and a quick stop in Liege.

I forget the spelling and one name. I will look them up later and get back to you.

irishface May 8th, 2013 09:13 AM

I just went back to my trip scrapbooks. Gaasbeek and Beersel were the first two I was trying to remember. Gaasbeek has wonderful gardens and an interesting interior. It was built on a medieval foundation. Beersel was built in the early 1300s and has had additions and renovations over the years.

Veves is a real medieval castle and is on a high point which makes it interesting to view as one approaches. When I looked at my pictures Spontin was more medieval looking than I remembered. Real moat, turrets, etc. Annevoie is more palace like with extensive gardens.

I too enjoy photography as a hobby so these were on my list.

As far as other cities, I went to Antwerp and Ghent on my own on the train. Ghent has a great old castle and a lot of old streets to wander and photograph. Note tailsock's description. It had a slight edge over Antwerp--for me anyway.. However, I was there on an anniversay of Rubens's birth (1977-400th anniversary)and there were all sorts of special exhibits at the museum of art there. I also visited his home. Apparently he was one of the few artists to be successful in his own time. I enjoyed seeing his house as if the residents might have just stepped out for a minute. The kitchen was especially interesting to me, but kitchens have a special place in my heart.

I also went to Ypres and took a tour with tourist office to WWI battle fields, which I found very emotional. This one, like the castles, would be better done by car.

Google "Belgian castles" and you'll come up with some good ideas. Wikipedia has a page of castles. They are grouped by area which will help you plan an efficient day trip by car. Besidee each entry is a thumbnail picture to help you see what might be interesting for your photography.

As you can see my trip to Belgium was more than thirty years ago, before internet, but it was a grand time. (I did go back again in the 80's when my friend got another posting there.)

irishface May 8th, 2013 09:17 AM

Sorry,n rereading, I think the Rubens info is not clear. That would be in Antwerp, not Ghent.

PalenQ May 8th, 2013 11:53 AM

Gent and Antwerp are fantastic cities I love but they are, especially Antwerp big cities - very big cities with OP does not like.

Saint-Niklaas is a largish city but much smaller than Ghen or Antwerp - it is known for having the largest town square in Belgium -a nice low-key place with relatively few foreign tourists.

lavandula May 8th, 2013 03:02 PM

Maastricht is wonderful, and if you want to drive into Germany, Aachen, Prüm or Monschau are lovely (the latter two are small).

I also second Beersel and Gaasbeek as close-by destinations. Also if you like castles, Freÿr is not far from Brussels, but you need a car.

There are no serious mountains in Belgium but the Ardennes (a big magnet for local holidaymakers) is charming and you could profit from a visit. Dinant (the gateway), Rochefort, La-Roche-en-Ardenne, Spa, Han-sur-Lesse, Namur - all are pretty. You can do a number of them in a day trip or spend longer meandering through. Bouillon also has a good fortress, as does Dinant.

You could also as PalQ says drive through Luxembourg on your way to some of these, and if you get as far as that, Trier in Germany is spectacular and really worth seeing.


Katie7 May 8th, 2013 04:20 PM

Thanks everyone! You gave some great ideas!

joannyc May 8th, 2013 05:05 PM

All good suggestions above.

I'll throw out another one, Dinant!

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