Three weeks in Belgium and Romania

Nov 7th, 2019, 06:21 PM
  #1  
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Three weeks in Belgium and Romania

Hi all,

We are planning to travel to Belgium and Romania in July/August of 2020 for three weeks.

How would you split your time between these two countries and what should we visit in esch the time we have?

We will be driving through both countries and fly between Brussels and Bucharest. We enjoy culture, castles, museums, walks, architecture, scenery and food.

Thank you.

Andrea

Andrea
AirBalloon is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 06:56 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by AirBalloon View Post
what should we visit in esch the time we have?
None of us can decide that for you, Andrea. You need to do some research to identify what YOU want to see and experience.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 07:05 PM
  #3  
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I have done some research and I am asking because both have so much to offer. I am hoping that for those who have travelled to these two countries can offer their advice on which country to dedicate more time to.

if you have been to them, what would you do based on my listed priorities.

Thanks.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 07:27 PM
  #4  
 
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Hi,

Belgium and Romania is quite an odd combination, but why not. It'll give you a big contrast and a change of scenery,

You could easily spend 3 weeks in Romania alone or even in Belgium, but considering that Belgium is much smaller with short distances and efficient transport you can see a lot more places in a given time than in Romania.

1 week in Belgium and 2 weeks in Romania what I'd say, but actually you should simply start planning your trip(where to go, what to see in the first stage) and see how much time you need in each country.

culture - very rich in both countries, Belgium more sophisticated, urban culture(think of Flemish paintings) Romania - excels in the well preseved rural folk culture

museums - much better and more numerous in Belgium

castles - better preserved and probably more numerous in Belgium, but Romania has a few dramatic castles which stand out and rival anything in Belgium

walks and scenery - Romania has amazing scenery and walks, Belgium pales in comparison

architecture - better in Belgium

food - much better in Belgium

Driving around Romania is a good idea, but in Belgium taking trains is much better than driving. I recommend you to focus on the cities in Belgium and on the countryside in Romania. This would give you the best of both countries.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 07:56 PM
  #5  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by AirBalloon View Post
I have done some research.
More than just talking to someone over dinner? That's great, Andrea -- what an awesome change! In that case, I think it would be tremendously helpful if you would share some of the specific things and places that call to you. That would put us in a MUCH better position to be helpful.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 10:14 PM
  #6  
 
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In Belgium:
Brugge - packed in summer, but stay two nights to enjoy the quiter mornings and evenings. Possibly do a bike ride to Damme. If it's warm, add a day on the coast, possibly Knokke by train. There you can cycle through a nature reserve to the Netherlands.
Gent - possible as a daytrip from Brugge. Check the timing of the 'Gentse Feesten' and either avoid those days or not (if you like a party)
Antwerp - lots to do and see, there is a whole summer activity programme, pop-up 'beach' bars by the river, Rubens' House, interesting architecture. And it's quiet compared to Brugge.
Brussel - plenty to see and do, but not as 'easy to like' as the other cities
For nature, scenery and walks; check out the Ardennen in the south west of the country; I'm not as familiar with that part of Belgium, so I'll leave it to others to comment. Look into Dinant, Durbuy.

Stick to trains for the cities in Flanders. If you want to visit the Ardennen, a car would be better.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 10:34 PM
  #7  
 
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I would never think of combining those two countries into one trip - but you have your reasons.

Maybe tell us a little bit of the 'why' you chose to put Belgium and Romania in to one trip . . . because your >>culture, castles, museums, walks, architecture, scenery and food<< criteria could be found in almost any European country.

How to divide up the time . . . that is entirely up to you. You must have a list of musts/wants in each country (or why pick them in the first place) - so how long do you need to cover your wish lists in each?
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Nov 7th, 2019, 11:45 PM
  #8  
 
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'check out the Ardennen' in the south EAST of Belgium!
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Nov 8th, 2019, 01:48 AM
  #9  
 
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I suppose you will fly into Brussels and out of Bucharest.
In this case, I wonder whether it's a good idea to fly from Brussels to Bucharest.
May be a flight from Charleroi to Cluj Napoca, Sibiu or Ias,
from Brussels to Ias, Bacau, Brasov or Sibiu,
or from Eindhoven or Cologne to Ias
would be a better solution.
All will depend on your itinerary within Romania
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Nov 8th, 2019, 09:05 AM
  #10  
 
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The Ardennes is a beatiful and exciting mountain range if you're coming from a flat country like the Netherlands, but compared to the wild Carpathians of Romania the Ardennes is the Disneyland of mountains. (It has its own underrated beauty of course and even historical interest and in case this would be only a Belgium trip seeing the Ardennes would be a must.)

The roads of the Ardennes in summer often feel like one long traffic jam of Dutch campervans, motorbikes and bicycles interspesed with full parking lots and campsites. At least a peaceful traffic jam, but it reminds one of the traffic jams of military vehicles in the spring of 1940 when the panzers of Rommel were rolling over to take France.


The highest peak of the Ardennes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_de_Botrange

The highest peak of the Carpathians in Romania:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldoveanu_Peak

Welcome to Wild Carpathia » WildCarpathia

I don't think there is a better way to approach this tour than to focus on the best each country has to offer.

The urban delights of Flanders in Belgium. The rich art and architecture of the medieval cities, great food(it is said that Belgian food is just as good as French but in bigger portions) and beer and chocolate.

The easiest, most effective plan for a week in Flanders would be setting up one base in the city of Ghent, which is a great city and less touristy than Brugge and it is in the hub of the rail network of Flanders allowing you to take daytrips on a whim to Brugge, Antwerpen, Brussels, the trains are running very frequently and these trips take only 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In Romania rent a car as you planned and do a road trip taking in the delights of nature and the culture of rural villages, the folk architecture, music, dance, the painted monasteries of Bucovina, the fortified churches of Transylvania, castles, the well preserved Saxon towns of Hermannstadt, Kronstadt and Schässburg, the amazing Transylvanian rugs hanging in the churches. Now here is the connection between Flanders and Transylvania! Spot the Ottoman rugs on the paintings of Memling, Holbein and the lot in the churches and museums of Belgium and than see them hanging(the rugs, not the paintings) in the churches of Transylvania.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transylvanian_rugs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orient...sance_painting

Last edited by BDKR; Nov 8th, 2019 at 10:04 AM.
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Nov 8th, 2019, 09:16 AM
  #11  
 
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I've cycled through both countries and both are interesting. Romania has a few very special sites (especially the painted monasteries and Transylvania). Belgium has a whole lot more to see and it is hard to list them all here so I would plan it 2 weeks and 1 week with the majority of time in Belgium.

I too would use a car in Romania, you can do a fair bit on the train system but it isn't a great system. Belgium can be done in the north by train, it gets harder and harder in the south.

In both countries do not get fixated by borders. For example, if you end up in the west of Romania why not pop over the border to Tokaji. (check with car rental service before leaving the country). Similarly, it is worth visiting places in France, Germany, Netherland and Luxembourg from Belgium (you will find car rental services far less worried about changing countries).
bilboburgler is offline  
Nov 8th, 2019, 09:50 AM
  #12  
 
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"Belgium has a whole lot more to see and it is hard to list them all here so I would plan it 2 weeks and 1 week with the majority of time in Belgium."

OP, it's great that you got a different opinion on splitting your time. Take your time to consider all the pros and cons and just keep going on doing your own research, to make an informed decision fit for your interests, personality and travel style.

"In both countries do not get fixated by borders. For example, if you end up in the west of Romania why not pop over the border to Tokaji."

I absolutely agree and can't emphasise enough to travellers(not only overseas, but even Europeans) not to get fixated by borders (which are a breeze to cross inside the Schengen Area anyway), but think in terms of regions, cultural and geographical and historical units.

In this particular case though, given the limited time of the OP I would urge them to just focus on the 2 countries. Tokaj is at least a 3-4 hour drive from Nagyvárad(crossing the Schengen border is often tedious in summer) and more from Kolozsvár. Would I recommend Tokaj for an oenophile staying more than a few days in Budapest or Eastern Slovakia, absolutely. For someone touring Transylvania in 1-2 weeks, I would tell that make a separate trip to Hungary if you want to taste Tokaji wines.(Not to mention that unfortunately nowdays only few wine lovers can appreciate the naturally sweet wines of Tokaj, they're totally used to dry wines).
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Nov 8th, 2019, 06:02 PM
  #13  
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Thank you all so very much. Except for one very rude and completely uncalled for comment, the rest of you have been so wonderful to donate your time to help me out. There is obviously more research I have to do and the ideas and links you offered are going to make planning this trip so much fun. One thing I have learned is that great dinner conversation often leads to new and exciting travel suggestions!

I know that Belgium and Romania are a strange combination, but we have always wanted to see both and because they are quite different from each other, we thought it would make for an excellent, interesting and varied vacation. We also know we will not have time to do it all and we are now thinking about 9 days in Belgium and 12 days in Romania. We will be flying from Brussels or Antwerp to Bucharest, where we may or may not spend a night or two (is it worth a few days?), and from there, rent a car and discover Transylvania on our own and maybe even further afield if we have the time.

One question we have is whether we will have the time to do both Antwerp and Brussels? We are very interested in art, so which of these two cities have the better museums that would house the more extensive and nicer collections?

As we continue our planning, I will come back here to ask questions that will help us make the best of our time as you all have very extensive knowledge that really helps people like me plan the perfect trip.

Thanks again.

Andrea

Last edited by AirBalloon; Nov 8th, 2019 at 06:09 PM.
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Nov 8th, 2019, 09:08 PM
  #14  
kja
 
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Whether you do research outside of Fodor's is your choice, Andrea. I am puzzled that anyone would choose to lie about it, but I'm puzzled by many things that some people do. For example, I'm puzzled by people who repeatedly tell Fodorites that they should "get a life" rather than respond to posts (and say it with such venom that post after post must be deleted), but then repeatedly come to Fodorites for trip planning advice. I'm also puzzled by Fodorites who provide detailed advice to a poster who routinely attacks regulars here, again, with such visciousness that their posts -- and sometimes entire threads -- must be deleted, but then, those deletions probably make it impossible for many Fodorites to recognize the pattern. JMO.
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Nov 8th, 2019, 11:04 PM
  #15  
 
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Brussels is much larger and has more art museums than Antwerp. But in Antwerp the main fine arts museum is due to open again late this year after a years-long renovation, and should be spectacular. There are also the smaller museums (Rubens, Mayer vd Berg and others). Antwerp is more walkable than Brussels, but I live in Antwerp and am a bit biased perhaps.
With 9 days you have plenty of time to do both; it's only 50 minutes by train between the two. With 2 nights in Antwerp, you can see the major sites easily.
For Gent, the Gentse feesten are 17/26 July; you may want to avoid these dates in Gent. It's a major festival in the city center.
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Nov 8th, 2019, 11:29 PM
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by AirBalloon View Post
Hi all,

We are planning to travel to Belgium and Romania in July/August of 2020 for three weeks.

How would you split your time between these two countries and what should we visit in esch the time we have?

We will be driving through both countries and fly between Brussels and Bucharest. We enjoy culture, castles, museums, walks, architecture, scenery and food.

Thank you.

Andrea

Andrea
These photos might give you some ideas.
https://flic.kr/s/aHsjp7vvcd
There is a trip report attached to them. If interested, click on my name and look through my trip reports to find the one on Hungary and Romania.
Michael is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 03:44 AM
  #17  
 
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You mention flying from Brussels to Bucharest. Where are you flying home from?

If that's Bucharest, then do as someone above suggested and fly Belgium to either Cluj or Sibui. Then you're in Transylvania to start with, a nice contract to Belgium. It is an easy train ride from Sibui to Brasov, then you could rent a car and explore more. We really enjoyed Brasov, and it's a nice base.

Bucharest, we just spent a night there, the open air museum was interesting, we stayed across from the Parliament and walked the outside a few times. Very depressing what that building represents, a megalomaniac ruining a country.

We've spent time in both Belgium and Romania, and enjoyed both. Romania will probably offer a break from the crowds in Belgium.
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Nov 13th, 2019, 05:04 AM
  #18  
 
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I am often in Belgium and have been a lot to Romania.
But i will follow Kja guidelines.
I don't want to appear I have no life.
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Nov 13th, 2019, 08:39 AM
  #19  
 
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You'll find some interesting differences in style and conversation between the dutch and french speakers in Belgium. While the racial differences in Romania are well documented, while in Transylvania visiting the "saxon villages" is a worthwhile thing to do and I would hire a local guide to give you at least one version of the stresses inherent in the situation now and over the last 500 years. When we were there we chose a "German" to talk us through the issues but I'm not sure if there are any left now. Also, keep an eye for farm gates which are pretty.
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Nov 13th, 2019, 04:47 PM
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There are still a handful of natives left in the Saxon villages and in summer quite a few of them return for a holiday or volunteering from Germany, but to experience a minority culture in Transylvania which is alive and vibrant you'd better go to the Hungarian speaking Székelyföld region or to Kalotaszeg or Torockó(Rimetea in Romanian) village. The churches are smaller and less impressive than in the Saxon villages, but you'll find welcoming locals proud of their culture(many wearing traditional costumes on Sunday and holidays), traditional music and dancing, more or less traditional(nearly organic) methods of farming, locally sourced food from the garden to the table and surrounded by a beautiful landscape of hills covered with forests and pastures. It's no wonder that Prince Charles of Britain goes there for holiday when he's seeking the pleasures of simple life close to nature. If you like the world as it used to be you're going to feel at home in these villages. People are honest, down to earth, amazingly hospitable.

Last edited by Moderator3; Nov 14th, 2019 at 12:39 PM. Reason: Edited to remove potentially offensive comments.
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