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Belgium & Europe in late November

Our daughter is going to study abroad in Antwerp in the fall. We are planning to visit in late November for about 10 days (our first European visit). Looking for recommendations, worried about the weather, plan to visit Brussels, Brugge, Antwerp & Namur?. Thinking we will also spend 4 or 5 of the days in another base city. I'm intrigued by Bavaria area (Munich, Salzburg, ..). But concerned about cold...

Posted by
12040 posts

Belgium isn't usually particularly cold in November, but it is very damp. Expect a lot of gray skies and frequent light rain. Don't expect the countryside to come alive, but weather will have much less of an affect on the cities you named. The only thing I would add to your list of cities is Ghent. Opinions vary, but of the major cities of the Flemish region, Ghent is easily my favorite.

Bavaria is pretty far from Belgium, particularly the area you mentioned. Unless you fly, it will take you all day to get there. If you wanted to look into basing out of another area, for a first visit to Europe, I would consider Paris, somewhere in the Netherlands, or the lower and middle Rhine in Germany.

Posted by
6022 posts

As the first poster noted, you need to go to Google Maps and get an idea of the driving times around Europe. Also, please put your home state in your profile so we can see roughly where you live, to compare things. Antwerp is a great place to start your visits to Europe, although it's a smaller "great city."

Belgium is a compact country, but that does not mean that Namur is a good choice. Although Amsterdam and Antwerp (in different countries) have a lot in common, the travel time would be better spent going to Amsterdam. As noted, Paris is very accessible from Antwerp, and is the favorite European city of many people. It is not true any more that you must speak some French to visit Paris. The only German city I would recommend (travel wise) from Antwerp is Cologne, a nice place with the most visited sight in Germany.

Do you know our "host" on this site? His many books, most available in libraries, have great, simple to understand, tips for a family's first visit to Europe. He also has a decent amount of free pages on the main part of this site.

Posted by
2487 posts

Like the above, I'd recommend you to stay in or near Belgium. There's enough to keep you busy. As said, getting to Bavaria will cost you the best part of a day, and the region has too much to offer to do it any justice with the three or four days which are left.
In the unlikely case Belgium gets boring, neighbouring Netherlands is a short distance away. You can have a leisurely breakfast in Antwerpen and enjoy lunch in Amsterdam (although nowadays many prefer nearby Haarlem as a place to stay), and underrated Dordrecht - with the windmill complex of Kinderdijk a bus ride away - can be done in one hour on one of the frequent intercity trains.
Use www.belgianrail.be/en/Default.aspx for your train planning.

Posted by
14217 posts

I'd probably vote for Paris: very easy from Brussels or Antwerp, and late November will be a good time to miss the bulk of the tourist hordes. It'll be chilly-to-cold but not as damp as Amsterdam - which was plenty chilly, windy and damp for us in mid September.

There's plenty to do in Belgium, though. Great little country.

Posted by
504 posts

I quite enjoyed Namur. The citadel.is fascinating, with layers of history. Nowhere in Belgium is far by train.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the suggestions, we are from the mid-atlantic (PA & MD) so used to cold in the winter. We will be traveling with our 17 year old daughter, but we are generally pretty active. Enjoy hikes, walking tours, which certainly seem possible in our stops according to Rick Steve's suggestion. I did forgot to include Ghent as a stop. Thought Namur would be a different region of Belgium and different from the other cities. Was thinking of possibly flying into or out of Paris, so that probably does make a lot of sense as a second base city. Thanks again for the thought, really appreciate it as we try to make our plans.

Posted by
12040 posts

Thanks for the suggestions, we are from the mid-atlantic (PA & MD) so used to cold in the winter

You can expect very similar temperatures in Belgium for that time of year. Days, of course, will be much shorter and grayer.

Posted by
616 posts

I like Namur a lot and you can easily take the train to go to the Ardennes and have a treat of game méat.
Liege is even better with Its Palace of Prince-Bishops.
Both Liege and Namur are in Belgium in another region ( French speaking). However Liege is very near Antwerp.
Between Namur and Liege are two nice towns: Andenne and Huy. If you have time visit them.
In the Flemish region there is also Tongeren which is quite near from Antwerp as well.
One day in Amsterdam as a daytrip is enough. I do not like Amsterdam that much though I judge it interesting. I prefer Antwerp or Brussels.
Another city outside Belgium which you could easily visit for a weekend is London with (if you go by boat) a stopover in Rye, a cute little town of Southern England.

Posted by
616 posts

I like Namur a lot and you can easily take the train to go to the Ardennes and have a treat of game méat.
Liege is even better with Its Palace of Prince-Bishops.
Both Liege and Namur are in Belgium in another region ( French speaking). However Liege is very near Antwerp.
Between Namur and Liege are two nice towns: Andenne and Huy. If you have time visit them.
In the Flemish region there is also Tongeren which is quite near from Antwerp as well.
One day in Amsterdam as a daytrip is enough. I do not like Amsterdam that much though I judge it interesting. I prefer Antwerp or Brussels.
Another city outside Belgium which you could easily visit for a weekend is London with (if you go by boat) a stopover in Rye, a cute little town of Southern England.

Posted by
3696 posts

If you are there late enough in November you might be able to do the Christmas markets. One of my favorite was in Brugge. The weather was chilly, but we expected it and dressed in layers and it was actually more pleasant than I thought. Days were short, but that enabled us to enjoy more of the city lights. I am usually a morning person, so I liked having early evenings. The real benefit of this time of year is the ability to see these cities without the hordes of tourists that you find in the summer.

Paris is great also at this time of year.... especially if you can hit the xmas market there. Lots of interesting displays and kiosks with fun french gifts...

Posted by
11613 posts

Love that Brugge Christmas market! Have you looked at flying in and out of Amsterdam, and making that your second base city?