Advise for 4 days in Belgium

Old Nov 20th, 2022, 10:04 PM
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Advice for 4 days in Belgium

Hello,
We are considering topping off a 2-week trip to the UK (England and Scotland) with 4 days in Belgium. Our four days would be Friday through Monday in later April.

What advice does anyone have about where to make our "home base" in Belgium. We would prefer to unpack once and do day trips via train or group tours from the central base.
Activities that interest us, in addition to seeing Bruge, Ghent, are walking, possibly biking, WWII history, museums (not more than an hour at any one museum).
From reading the forums, so far I'm considering making either Brussels or Ghent the home base, It sounds like Bruge would be heavy with tourists that time of year and with the weekend.

Also, any suggestions about best way to get to Belgium from Edinburgh? Fly direct? Fast train?

Appreciate anyone's thoughts.
Thanks.

Last edited by papier1; Nov 20th, 2022 at 10:11 PM.
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Old Nov 20th, 2022, 10:57 PM
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Hi papier1, I have a few ideas for you. First of all - your base. You could pick Brussels or Ghent; Bruges does not make a good base as it's so far in the west of the country. However, if you are in Bruges after sunset there are fewer tourists, so the number of tourists ceases to be an issue after dark. Brussels is a good base if you want to go anywhere east like Liège, Namur, Dinant, or see Antwerp or Leuven or Lier slightly to the north - north-east, or indeed see Ghent, Bruges or Ieper to the west, as it is a rail hub. If you pick Brussels as a base then hotels anywhere around Brussels-Central station would be good for you (safe area, easy access, close to main sights in Brussels also). However, Brussels is less romantic a city than Ghent or Bruges. Ghent is suitable also as a base, as it's very central and has a wonderful atmosphere, however the town is a distance away from the station and you either have a 25 minute walk or a tram ride. You can mitigate this by taking a hotel near the station, but then if you want to dine in Ghent itself you are faced with the same long walk. So pluses and minuses for Ghent and Brussels. Location-wise both are OK if you just want the Flemish cities.

From the station in Bruges it is possible to rent bikes and cycle out to nearby Damme. Brussels is not really a cycling city, they have tried with bike rental but it's quite a hilly city with crazy traffic in parts, so your best bet is walking or the metro and tram system.

If you are interested in WWI history, then an excursion to Ieper is in order, but if you are interested in WWII history then Bastogne in the east is significant - from there, WWII sites can be accessed, but a car would be best for that.

There is a train from London to Brussels under the English Channel (the Eurostar), but you would still have to get from Edinburgh to London and I don't know Scotland myself. You would have to weigh up the cost and travel times to see what wins out. Perhaps someone who has done this can take part here.

Lavandula



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Old Nov 21st, 2022, 12:06 AM
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Thank you Lavandula, for your detailed response to my questions. Especially for the information regarding Ghent and proximity to the train station---good to keep in mind! I don't think we'd mind walking to get a train in the morning, but would if we had to walk in to town to find dinner.
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Old Nov 21st, 2022, 12:35 AM
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OK, then I would not hesitate to use Brussels as a base. There are lots of hotels and bars and eateries in the area around Central train station, and it's usually quite alive with people (not 'thronged'), so no worries about safety (or boredom). Grand' Place is the big drawcard and as you can imagine, the tourism follows that.

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