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LoisL Mar 23rd, 2004 05:56 PM

One other city in Belgium, besides Brussels and Brugge
We are leaving for Europe in days, and find I have one as yet unplanned day to spend in Belgium. I'm looking for another city besides Brussels and Brugge. We will be staying in Brussels, so I'd like something fairly convenient to that. We won't be renting a car, but instead will be using public transportation. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Budman Mar 23rd, 2004 06:11 PM

Gent. Lots to do and see. Do a google search. ((b))

shellio Mar 23rd, 2004 06:18 PM

We were totally surprised at how much we loved Antwerp and hadn't scheduled enough time there. Visit the older part of the city on a walking tour and then see Rubens' house. Also the cathedral and some of the other churches. Lots of interesting shops and cafes. A fabulous if pricy hotel is Die Witte Lelie and a great meal at the Sir Anthony Van Dyck restaurant.

USNR Mar 23rd, 2004 07:14 PM

Another vote for Antwerp -- all the above reasons plus a marvelous museum of fine art, some of the best food we found anywhere in Europe, and a marvelous walking tour of the old quarter organized and departing from the chamber of commerce office next to the city hall.

davidx Mar 24th, 2004 03:59 AM

Both Gent and Antwerp are fine but I think there is too much in Antwerp and too spread out for a good day trip. On the other hand most of Gent's sights are reasonably close together and the historic boat trip is great [though short.]
Gent also provides an interesting contrast to Bruges. Bruges is a spectacular city trapped in a particular time whereas Gent's buildings of note cover many hundreds of years.

MyriamC Mar 24th, 2004 05:05 AM

Another vote for Antwerp (maybe I'm biased because I live in the area ...). The historical centre is easily doable in one day as it's small and all concentrated around Our Lady's Cathedral.

BTilke Mar 24th, 2004 06:06 AM

I have never been able to get my head around Gent. Just leaves me cold. I think Leuven is more interesting. I would suggest Antwerp or Leuven.
Someone may suggest Dinant to you, but let me advise you, this is NOT the time of year to visit Dinant. It will be grey and somewhat dismal and not worth the trip. In the height of summer or early fall, perhaps (though I've never found the place particularly appealing--but the nearby Jardins d'Annevoie are definitely worth an excursion!!).
My other suggestion would be Ieper (Ypres) for the outstanding WW I museum, In Flanders Fields. Very moving, even if you're not a war buff.
IF you decide while you're there that you've had enough of Belgium ;-) , don't forget that Paris is also a very popular day trip option, only 1.5 hours away. Or someplace in the Netherlands, like Delft, Leiden, The Hague or Amsterdam.
BTilke (Brussels)

LoisL Mar 24th, 2004 02:57 PM

Thanks so much for the suggestions!
I will check them out, and also check with train schedules. Is one of the cities more convenient to get around, from the train, than the others?

Regarding Paris and Amsterdam, funny that you mentioned, but we're starting our trip in Paris, and from there, will head to Belgium, during which time we are heading up to Amsterdam for three days. We are on the same wavelength BTilke!

joegri Mar 24th, 2004 03:02 PM

LoisL: We thoroughly enjoyed Gent, about 35 minutes from Brussels by train. The river walk (as well as a boat trip), the square, the cathedral, and walkng the old town were delightful. Not as "charming" as Brugge, but makes for a very interesting day.
Antwerp is clearly another option and about 45 minutes from Brussels by train. As has been noted, good museums, an interesting old town and a very chic modern section as well make this a good city to visit. Between the two, I would go with Ghent. Save the area South Of Brussels (the Ardennes) for better weather. Have a great trip.

Nomadic1 Mar 24th, 2004 04:14 PM

I cast my vote for Antwerp. It's a nice city to wander as there are so many narrow streets and squares. The walk along the river is also a good option for strolling.

As mentioned, Antwerp has awesome food and you'll find a decent nightlife. The cathedral, museums, cafes will keep you entertained for one day. The Belgian chocolates are so good. Nothing can compare.

Have a good trip. David

hopscotch Mar 24th, 2004 08:37 PM

Another urge for Antwerp. There are two trains stations. Get off at Centraal, not Berchem.

The Steen is an old fortress now used as a fascinating maritime museum.

mmcarr Mar 24th, 2004 08:50 PM

Gent is not as interesting, a little bit fragmented. But Antwerp is great.
It doesn't receive as must publicity as other spots but find a B& B near old town. No car. Just walk and look. The churches are magnificent. Not gothic. White and wonderful paintings.
If possible go in the Hotel D'Ville.
Tres Magnificent. Wonderful museums!
Just wander and look at all. Of course go in the early spring or fall to avoid the most tourists and have a little space. Enjoy!

baldrick Mar 24th, 2004 11:43 PM

Gent or Antwerp seems to be the big dilemma...
First of all, as someone said, I would not go to Dinant because of the weather uncertainties in this time of the year.
Both cities have lots to do and see and it is impossible to weigh one monument against another.
As for the 'obvious' city center, the area of a 500 m radius around the town hall or the cathedral, which you discover by simply strolling around, it is difficult to unpart one city from the other. Maybe the presence of the harbour in the city center could favour Antwerp.
What does each city has that the other doesn't have? I think that, according to your interests, you should look what both cities offer as unique, besides the obvious 'flemish medieval city catalogue'.
And while I am writing all this, I tend to favour Antwerp, for its Ruebens paintings, the Vleeshuis with its outstanding collection of musical instruments (17 and 18th century harpsicords) (Vleeshuis closed till 01.april.2002), the Plantin-Moretus museum for the history of printing. Also for shopping, I would favor Antwerp, if this is of any importance to you.

MyriamC Mar 25th, 2004 12:27 AM

mmcarr, I think a rectification is in its place here as to the "not gothic" churches in Antwerp! Our Lady's Cathedral is the largest gothic church in the low lands (Belgium/Netherlands).
Also the lesser known St. Jacobs church (the tomb of the Antwerp painter Rubens can be seen there) and St. Andries Church are both gothic churches.

LoisL, there's some good information on

Tulips Mar 25th, 2004 02:31 AM

Another vote for Antwerp, but also biased since I live nearby. There are a lot of exhibitions around Rubens at the moment. The old town can easily be seen on foot in a day, and the shopping is great. There is a new fashion museum, and lots of interesting off-beat shops in that area. If you go, don't forget to see the Carolus Borromeus church, on the Conscience Plein; very beautiful, short walk from the cathedral.

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