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Antwerp and Ghent OR Luxembourg City

I know this is a pretty wide ask for suggestions, but my wife and I are traveling to Belgium for two weeks. We had planned to stay in Brussels for five days and then take a train to Luxembourg City -- frankly becaus no one we know has gone to Luxembourg and thought it might be off the beaten path a bit. But I am thinking it might be better to do Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp (we have not been to Ghent or Antwerp). We like to explore a bit. Don't have to se every site in a location and are not huge museum people. Just like to immerse ourselves into a place and learn about it and enjoy it. Could we do four or five days in both Ghent and Antwerp, with some side trips, and have enough to do? Again, I am sorry for the broadness of this request. PS--figure we could do a day trip to Luxembourg??

Posted by
7677 posts

I would stay in Ghent and Antwerp and just day trip to Brussels and Luxembourg if just curious

Posted by
7057 posts

I liked Luxembourg city well enough, but the stretch of Belgium you mentioned has much more to do. Unless you're also hitting Trier, I'd consider skipping Luxembourg. You didn't explain how "Belgium for two weeks" and "five days in Brussels" work out. It would be nice to know the month of the year, especially because the KMSKA museum in Antwerp reopens in September, 2022.

Many posters here find Brussels unimpressive, but the main point is that you only need one hotel room to see everything between Leuven and Ostend, if you have the days for unreserved local train daytrips. A certain proportion of posters consider Brugge the most beautiful place in the world, but I don't rank it quite that high. I personally would sleep in Antwerp, because you can fill three days with just Antwerp if you wanted to - a nice place to wake up in.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/belgium/day-trips-from-brussels-768c7c85-75b9-4374-ad13-ae36967bc521

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/belgium/day-trips-from-brussels-besides-bruges-and-ghent

BTW, if I were sleeping in Brussels, I would go to Cologne (or Aachen) before Luxembourg - there's much more to do there, even if it isn't "off the beaten path." What do you hope to find "off the beaten path?" Remember that advance purchase train tickets are much cheaper than walkups bought after standing in a long line at the station.

Posted by
5687 posts

Some years ago, I did a whirlwind trip (that's often how I do solo trips) where I took the train from Paris to Luxembourg City for a night, then train to Brussels for a night, then a few nights in Bruges and a few in Antwerp.

My general impression of Luxembourg City was that it was more interesting interesting than lovely. It was nice and unique because of the steep ravine surrounding the city, but otherwise I didn't get a warm impression from the city. (And usually, I LIKE cities.) I spend the short time I was there otherwise visiting some small towns like Diekirch (small, cheesy, but fun Battle of the Bulge museum) and Vianden (which is lovely). The countryside of Luxembourg is beautiful, and the towns are charming. I also enjoyed a quick side trip from Luxembourg City to the suburb of Hamm to the US military cemetery there. (many US war dead from the Battle of the Bulge are buried there; General George S. Patton survived the war but is buried there too, an outsized memorial to him.)

In Belgium, I found Bruges and Ghent the most charming, by far. The Brussels Grand Place (huge main square) is dazzling when all lit up at night. Brussels is OK but didn't do a lot for me. I also didn't much care for Antwerp, to be honest. I'm not really a museum buff, either, but there were a few museums I was interested in there and both were closed at the time. The town itself just seemed disappointing to me - for some reason, there were few people about (in May) so the town seemed kind of dead at night, so for me at least there didn't seem to be much energy to the place. There's also not much "water" aspect to the town, something that seems to add to the appeal of a place for me (e.g. the canals in Ghent and Bruges).

I took a day trip from Antwerp to the college town of Leuven, which I found charming and kind of wish I had stayed over there instead of in Antwerp.

Posted by
72 posts

Thank you for your responses. We plan to go to Belgium at the end of September and first two weeks of October.

Posted by
14445 posts

If you decide on Brussels for full days, you can check out the Royal Army Museum, ie the Belgian military history museum, plus Waterloo south of the city.

In 2015 the reenactment was massive for its centennial. I saw Waterloo only once, in 1984, spent all afternoon from noon to 7 pm , by which time I had to leave. There is much more now in the town connected with the battle than was the case in 1984.

Posted by
973 posts

I went to Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent. I only gave myself 5 days in Belgium. That was not enough time to see the museums that looked appealing to me. If you don't like museums, you can limit your time in Antwerp and Ghent and make time for a train trip to Luxemburg City. It would help if you post a day-by-day supposed itinerary listing the museums, major landmarks, and sites you want to see each day.

Posted by
521 posts

I just came back yesterday from a trip similar to what you have planned. I went to all three of the cities you have listed in your title. In my opinion, Ghent was my favorite, followed by Luxembourg and then Antwerp. For me the best part of Antwerp was the train station. Ghent was just amazing!! Luxembourg was nice, including the US cemetary (we also went to Bastogne, so this was a must see for us). I think four or five days in Ghent and Antwerp is too much time. Is spent only a half day in Antwerp and almost felt like it was too much. Ghent was a full day. Luxembourg was a full day. That leaves you a couple days to do something else. My home base was Brussels with day trips to Ghent, Antwerp, Brugges and Hasselt (to the open air musuem which I do not recommend). Good luck with your trip.

Posted by
6113 posts

I am currently in Antwerp and head home tomorrow. We have had 3 nights in Bruges, stopped at Ghent en route to Antwerp and had 4 nights here. We were due to spend 3 nights in Ghent but the B&B cancelled 36 hours out and we struggled at such short notice to find suitable accommodation, so we flipped to Bruges, luckily.

We were underwhelmed by Ghent (not helped by being there on a very wet Monday when some museums were closed).

I had a long weekend in Brussels years ago and was so underwhelmed that I haven’t been back to the country since.

Luxembourg City is compact and not particularly interesting. It’s a busy place, but generally locals rather than tourists.

We purchased the 3 day Antwerp Card, but check if this would work for you. Read the small print of each museum. Several of the museums are closed wholly or partly or only open at the weekend. The KMSKA has reopened and was busy but isn’t covered by the Antwerp Card. The Reubens House is closing in January for 4 years (!).

Getting around Antwerp isn’t easy as it feels like the whole city is a building site and there are many road closures with public transport being rerouted. The trams that were meant to run every 10 minutes but some had a 30+ minute wait between services. MAS and the Red Star Museum were the most interesting that we visited. The contemporary art museum wasn’t our thing and we were in and out in 10 minutes - glad we hadn’t paid €10 each for it. Three full days here is enough.

Posted by
7057 posts

Antwerp: Well, don't forget the UNESCO WHS Plantin-Moretus museum, the Mayer Van den Burgh museum, the Rokoxhuis, Vleeshuis, and ModeMuseum, among others. There are many lovely medieval corners, and many fine churches. I will agree that tram interruptions would be a serious problem. There are some underground lines that might be unaffected, along with the unusual pedestrian tunnel under the river.