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Belgium: 3 parts (Ghent/Bruges)(Wallonia)(Luxembaurg & Trier)

Hi. We want to visit Belgium for approx. 2 weeks (possibly longer). It will be sometime in 2024. We would like to have 2 (or 3) home bases - that we take day trips from. Currently, our tentative plans are: (a) Ghent/Bruges. (b) Wallonia. (c) Luxembourg.

We are not sure of the number of nights in each location. Currently, thinking of 4-5 nights in each location. We are very willing to modify, more time, less time, depending upon how much there is to see, travel time on day trips, etc.

We are thinking that we would FIRST stay in Ghent (or Bruges). We would take a day trip to the city that we are not staying in. For discussion sake, we'll say that we will stay in Ghent. One day to to Bruges. One day trip to Antwerp. Or, possibly out to the coast. Brussels dose not interest us that much. (so many people, and all that comes with large cities). We have heard and read of the many pros and cons of Ghent vs Bruges. Both have River Cruises. Both have famous art work that we recovered during WW2 (Monument Men). Ghent might be more affordable, college town, and possibly more suited for younger crowd, etc. Bruges, not college town, more focuses on Tourists (not sure if that is good or bad). Actually, both seem very attractive to us.

SECOND stay would be in the Wallonia area. Similar to Ghent, we are hoping that we could stay in ONE small city and venture out (day trips) to a couple of other small towns). I've read and researched, and it seems like Namur and Liege are larger, somewhat more Industrial, and not as small and quaint. I am currently leaning towards Dinant as a base to stay. Day Trips might include La Roche-en-Ardennes, maybe Durbuy. The problem is that we would prefer not to rent a car. I've read on other threads that you cannot see Wallonia unless you rent a car. However, I have read, and found that there are some regional public transportation (buses and trains). Is is possible to get from Dinant to La Roche-en-Ardenne, or Durbuy, on local bus or trains?

When we were in the Czech Republic (earlier in 2023), we took the Tram in Prague - all over Prague. #22 is your best friend in Prague. Also, we took a public bus from Prague to Cesky Krumlov. Then, we took a private Shuttle Bus from Cesky Krumlov to Vienna. We had a private driver from Salzburg to Hallstatt and then to Vienna. We have taken the Underground in the UK, and the underground in Vienna. We are comfortable with taking most LOCAL Public Transportation. It seems like there must be buses, trains, shuttle vans, or even private drivers - that can take us from one Wallonia city (Dinant) to other Wallonia Cities. Some initial research shows: #15, and B, and L/IC, and E80 that run in areas of Wallonia. We are hoping that someone has taken the time to research and evaluate local transportation in Wallonia.

Our THIRD area that we want o visit is Luxembourg. For discussion sake, assume that we stay in Luxembourg City. Then take Day Trips to Vianden, Boarscheid, Clervaux, E Sch-sur-sure, etc. We would surely not make it to all of those smaller towns, but if we could visit 2 or 3, that would be great. The same situation for Transportation. We would prefer not to rent a car. (Above, I gave examples of public transportation in Czechia, the same efforts would be used in Luxembourg - if possible.

Lastly, i recently discovered Trier (the oldest city in Germany). It has Roman era ruins. And, there are trains from Luxembourg to Trier. Possibly a Day Trip from Luxembourg?

We are open to feedback and recommendations.

Thanks

Posted by
66 posts

A day trip to Ostend and the Atlantikwall (WW2) museum in Raversyde could be a thing to do when you're in Bruges.

In Wallonia public transport is a lot worse and less connected than in Flanders. If you don't want to lose too much time and if you don't want to rent a car, your only option is to stay in Namur. Namur has a good connection with Dinant (30 minutes) and a decent connection with Durbuy and La Roche (1 hour - 1h30 one way). If you stay in Dinant La Roche will be like 3hours (one way). If you rent a car Rochehaut and Bouillon (Semois area) are also nice to visit.

Trier-Luxembourg is certainly doable for a daytrip (by train).

Posted by
66 posts

If you stay in the cities you won't be needing a car but you can't compare Wallonia with big cities like Prague, Budapest etc.

Other nice cities to visit are Mechelen and Leuven. They're both well connected by train and have quite a few things to offer (Cathedral, Beguinage,...). The Ypres region (Flanders Fields etc,...) is also quite nice to visit.

As for Brussels it's not that unsafe, even though a lot of people seem to think it is. I've been working in Brussels for years in the Brussels North region (300 m from the station) and I was never harassed, robbed,... It looks shady at times but that's just because you have some poorer people living there. It doesn't make it unsafe.

If you get off the train in Brussels central and stay in the city centre Brussels is very safe. In my opinion cities such as Detroit, Chicago are way more dangerous than Brussels. To conclude, don't miss out on Brussels. It has a lot to offer and it's safe for tourists.

Posted by
5 posts

If we do rent a car, so we can see Dinant, Durbiy, and La Roche - which city would be the best home base ( of those 3), and how many nights? We prefer not to rush (see all 3 in one day) - unless there truly is not a lot to see in each location.

When we were in Czechia, we spent one night in Cesky Krumlov. It gave us ample time to see some of CK the first day. Then, after spending the night we had additional time the next day to see more of CK.

When we were in Hallstatt, in Austria, we did not even spend the night. There's really only one street, and we saw a lot in a few hours. As beautiful as it was, we could have spent a night or two. But it would have been for the purpose of relaxing in beautiful Hallstatt.

With Wallonia, even as I watch multiple videos, I can't really get a good sense on if a few hours, each location, is enough. Or, if 2-4 days is more appropriate ( for all of the 3 or 4 cities that interest me).

Thanks.

Posted by
7060 posts

I suggest Lonely Planet Belgium (book) for additional research.

Posted by
66 posts

Durbuy would make the most sense as it's in the middle of Dinant and La Roche. 1 day for each village should be more than enough. The villages are lovely but they're quite small. However, in the vicinity of each village there is more to do and see (e.g. castles, breweries/monasteries, hiking trails,...)

Posted by
60 posts

We are in Ghent right now, and went to Bruges today. We wish we’d stayed in Bruges. The train between the two places is 30 minutes and I highly recommend you stay in Bruges.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Carol (and others) for the replies.

As for Ghent and Bruges, we have all seen the many, many discussions of "Bruges -vs- Ghent". And, I suppose that it is personal preference for most folks.

Carol - if you don't mind my asking, what are the reasons why YOU would have preferred to stay in Bruges?

I see you comment about 30 minutes between them. For me, that does not seem like a 'long' period of time. In some cities that we have visited, it can take 20-30 minutes just to walk from your hotel to a good historical site. Is it mostly the time (30 minutes)?

Or are there other factors for you?

We have never been, so we are VERY curious what reasons people have for one location over the other. It could prove to be an issue for us, as well.

Thanks

Posted by
2599 posts

I have 5 nights in Bruges coming up later this month. I have planned a day trip to Ghent. I’m happy to report back on my experience.