We're doing an Amsterdam to Belgium river cruise in April 2016. One of the days we stop in Antwerp for a walking tour in the morning and then have the option of taking an afternoon excursion to Brussels. I'm curious as to whether it is worth the time and effort to go to Brussels or if we would be better off to just spend the afternoon wandering around Antwerp on our own.
We are making plans for a Belgium / Netherlands trip in late April as well. Talking to someone who had traveled there previously, Antwerp was highly recommended over Brussels. With a 40+ min train ride each way to Brussels and back, and only an afternoon to spend there, I doubt you would have time to see much (in Brussels.) If the excursion is by bus, it would probably be even less time. Obviously it depends on your interests, but we have already found enough things to keep us occupied for the 1.5 days we plan to spend in Antwerp.
There are a few things that can only be seen in Brussels, like the art museums and the historical museum. But Antwerp has several very fine museums, even though Antwerp's best art museum is closed for renovation. The other museums, like MAS, Fashion and UNESCO WHS printing museum appeal even to those who don't care for art.
You will have no trouble running out of time to do things in Antwerp, including lovely walking (in good weather.) There is even a Beguinage in Antwerp (I haven't seen it), if not one of the more famous ones. A lovely city with affordable food, if you don't have time to go back to the ship for lunch. Even if you're not an art fan, you should pay to go into the big O.L.V. (Our Lady) Cathedral to see the large Rubens paintings. Whatever interests you, architecture, photography, fashion, bicycling, sculpture, is available.
If you get too far away and don't want to walk back, multiple people can share a ten-trip Tram fare card by validating it repeatedly. But you need the right change to use the farecard machine.
Antwerp and Brussels both in one day? No, stay in Antwerp. Enough to see to fill more than one day.
Thanks for your responses. I think we'll just stay in Antwerp. We're not big on rushing around so we'll just let Brussels wait for another time. It will give a good reason to return.
We just got back from a trip that included Antwerp. They have a great zoo, next to the central railroad station. We also enjoyed the Red Star Line Museum. The Rockoxhuis Museum is a great little art collection. The Museum Plantin-Moretus gives you a look into an early printing company and, if anything, has even better art than Rockoxhuis.