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7 Days in Belgium - Rent an Apartment in Brussels with Day Trips?

My mother-in-law, daughter (11), and I got great last minute tickets to Brussels (8/11 - 8/19), with 7 full days of travel. We usually like to rent an apartment and travel by train, etc., instead of renting a car and moving from place to place (it worked great for us in Paris). In addition to Brussels, we'd like to visit Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, and Antwerp. My dad was born in Flanders, so I'd like to concentrate there. I visited when I was 4 years old and would love to see these places again.

Should we rent an apartment in Brussels and just do day trips to the other locations? I'll rent a car if that would give us more flexibility to get to smaller towns. I haven't quite figured out the train system yet. Taking a day-trip via Thalys to Paris would be great, but without a strict itinerary at this time, I don't know how late I can make a reservation.

Please let me know any must-see suggestions. We're all great walkers and love history, art, etc. Our daughter complains when we don't give her enough time in museums. We'll be there during the Brussels Flower Carpet (will that cause us any headaches?). Also, hopefully there is a place that makes vegan frites. I grew up eating tons of them, and we never used beef fat to fry them. As vegetarians, we'd hate to miss the experience.


Posted by
16893 posts

How great to be able to see the flower carpet! All those side trips are easy by train, with the longest being Ostend at 1.25 hours each way by direct train. Train tickets are cheap to buy in the station and may have roundtrip discounts; see the Belgian rail web site. Between Brussels and Antwerp, avoid the "Thalys" train departures, which cost more, require a connection, and don't run nearly as often as other choices.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks Laura for the railway link. It looks really helpful. I've wanted to see the flower carpet for year sand can't believe the airline prices went down just as it was taking place. So excited!

Posted by
100 posts

Jackie- I was in Belgium two weeks ago (first time) for four nights....had been in London, then 3 nights in Bruges, 1 in Brussels before my flight back to US. Moving around is tough, but I'd do a couple nights in Ghent or Bruge. One thing I enjoyed was spending a day exploring the various towns along the North Sea coast via the Kosttram commuter train...boardwalks, resort towns, a pier 200 yards into the water with a restaurant for lunch in Blankenberge, and spent 2 hours visiting the Atlantic Wall built by the Germans and used in both World Wars. I took the train to Knokke roundtrip...the tram is great, cheap and you can get on and off all day as they come by every 10 minutes. However you do it, though, it will be great!

Posted by
11294 posts

It's great that you'll be able to see the Brussels Flower Carpet. I saw it in the movie Pauline and Paulette, and it looked really neat!

As always when the subject of Brussels comes up, I give my highest recommendation to the Art Nouveau tours by ARAU: They get into buildings closed to the public, and link far flung sites in various parts of the city.

You'll want to see Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent, but also look into other places (it's a small country with frequent train service, so you can see almost anywhere in Belgium as a day trip from Brussels). I enjoyed Tournai, although it may be tough without at least survival French. As compensation, there were almost no tourists.