Last Minute Trip to Brussels

Old Aug 11th, 2001, 05:59 AM
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Last Minute Trip to Brussels

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel a long-planned and long-anticipated trip to Germany and Austria this summer (for which I was grateful to have received some excellent suggestions from Fodorites), due to a work emergency of my husband's. He must be in Brussels on business during the time we were to be in Germany. However, to try to make partial amends for disturbing our vacation plans, his boss has just offered to buy me a ticket to send me along to Brussels. The problem is, the departure date is one week from today and since I was not planning to go to Brussels I have very minimal knowledge of what there is to do and see in Brussels or in the vicinity.

I will be trying to do some mad research this weekend, but would appreciate any suggestions that Fodorites might have for sightseeing in Brussels & environs. We will be there for 2 weeks and I will sightsee during the day while he is at work; in the evenings we will meet for dinner. I enjoy art, history, architecture, walking tours, and just generally learning about new things about new places. I am also interested in some day trips that can reasonably be done by train from Brussels. (And on any days my husband isn't working we will have access to a car to drive outside of Brussels, if there is anything that you would recommend that can be visited by car but not by train). I know that Brugges can be done as a day trip by train from Brussels. Any other suggestions? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Old Aug 11th, 2001, 06:30 AM
wes fowler
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Belgium, a country about the size of Maryland, has one of the finest and most extensive rail systems in Europe. (It was the first country on the continent to introduce rail travel.) Opportunities for day trips are endless: Brugge, an hour away from Brussels and a city you'll visit more than once; Ghent, Louvain/Leuven and Antwerp, less than an hour distant and each interesting enough to fill an entire day's activities. After being exposed to the Flemish culture of Brugge, Ghent and Antwerp, a trip to Dinant, Liege or Namur will give you the flavor of Walloon Belgium. I can't think of anywhere in Belgium where you couldn't day trip from Brussels without feeling hurried and harried; granted, there are any number of places that certainly warrant more than a day. You could even consider taking the train to Luxembourg city for a day's outing.

Check the websites: and
for ideas and information

If you decide to stay overnight away from Brussels on a weekend, look at:

Hit your library or bookstore and look for either the Baedeker Guide to Belgium or the Michelin Green Guide to Belgium and Luxembourg. Look, too, for the Insight Guide to Belgium.

Drop me an Email if you've any questions; I may have an idea or two that may be of interest.

Old Aug 11th, 2001, 06:36 AM
Kevin Mathews
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Thanks to the high speed trains (and some of the slower ones!) you can go to a lot of places from Brussels. In fact, we used Brussels as a central point to see Paris, Luxembourg, and Amsterdam.

If you take any high speed trains, make sure you try and get a "mini-fare"'s about 1/4 the price of a full fare ticket.

Also, you can get pretty good airfare to other European cities.

I have a trip report on here somewhere from last year. If you can't find it, feel free to email me or visit my website at

Belguim is a great of my favorites. Have fun!

Old Aug 11th, 2001, 01:06 PM
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Maybe this will help you get started in your search ..

Anyone who knows, will tell you that you can eat better in Brussels than just about anywhere in Europe - so if you like to eat - Brussels is the place to go.
I understand that Belgian restaurants and mini-breweries are now becoming 'hot'
in the USA. Here are a very few restaurants...from reasonable to expensive

Near the Grand Place (Ilot Sacré) :
l'Ogenblik in the Galerie des Princes (off the rue des Bouchers, which is lined with restaurants both good and bad) Great food (tables are quite close together)

Aux Armes de Bruxelles - a Belgian institution - on the rue des Bouchers. Excellent

Rotisserie Vincent.... just off the rue des Bouchers. You walk through the kitchen to get to the dining rooms. ANother old Brussels favorite. They only take reservations for early in the evening - then it's first come, first served.

In the Place Ste. Catherine (the old fish market area)
François - great seafood

La Sirene d'Or - again , great seafood

If you decide to drive out to Waterloo to visit the famous battlegrounds and the Lion, and take the Chaussee de Waterloo - stop for lunch at the Brasserie Georges - a typical brasserie, excellent fresh seafood

If you want to get dressed up and have an elegant meal - try one of these. Lunch is always great to have because they usually have reasonably priced menus - Just be aware that you should make reservations sometimes a month in advance for dinner.
In the Grand Place - La Maison du Cyne

In the Bois (the forrest on the edge of the city) - La Villa Lorraine

Downtown - Comme chez Soi (often you need a reservation here two months in advance - it's a Michelin 3 star)

In the Sablon - (also a great area for antiques - and the antique market on the weekend) L'Ecaillier du Palais Royal.... speciality is seafood

Here are a few things to see in Brussels....

The Grand Place, of course. A beautiful square in the heart of the old town (l'Ilot Sacré) with all of the guild houses surrounding it. There's a sound and light show starting in the spring... and since they've cleaned the Hotel de VIlle, it's beautiful.

If you like Art Nouveau architecture and design....
Visit Victor Horta's house and museum on the rue Americaine.
See the Comic Book Museum, housed in a superb example of Horta's work, rue des Sables

Museums - Modern Art Museum, Beaux Arts, Cinquantenaire Museums (One is a fabulous antique car collection, the other is the Air Museum), Costume and Lace museum, Espace Méridien, Espace Yitzhak Rabin, Royal Museum of Africa in Tervuren.

If you're there on a weekend - visit the Antique Market in the Sablon on Saturday and Sunday... browse through the antique shops in the area as well. The rest of the week there is a flea market every morning in the Place du Jeu de Balle... you can find some great stuff if you're there early enough (like 6 am)

Like to shop ? Visit the Avenue Louise area... stores galore, including all the famous names like Hermés, Chanel, Versace, Delvaux (gorgeous leather handbags), Louis Vuitton, etc.

Enjoy the performing arts - there is ballet, theatre (much of it in English), rock concerts at Forest-National. Walking tours are also available in English (the one showing many of the Art Nouveau houses is great). Pick up a copy of the English language magazine The Bulletin for listings of all the above...


Old Aug 11th, 2001, 01:36 PM
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Follow wes fowler's suggestions. I couldn't have said it any better ... and I live there!
Old Aug 11th, 2001, 02:53 PM
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Besides all the frequent trains north & south, Amsterdam-Paris, there's an aest & west express train that goes from Koln - Aachen-Liege-Brussels-Bruggge-Ostende. You can still get a taste of Germany in Aachen and/or Cologne, & the seaside city of Ostende has some great restaurants.
Old Aug 12th, 2001, 02:38 AM
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You are going to have a great time. Good location for you. Everything is close. Amsterdam is but a couple of hours away. Make sure you see the lightshow in the Brussels square at night.
Old Aug 12th, 2001, 03:18 AM
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Forgot to mention that you can easily go to Paris for a weekend or so. From Bruxelles Midi to Paris Nord by Thalys train is only 1 hour and 25 min. and trains run very frequently (

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