We have a chance to get a very good price on Airfare+Hotel for a week in Brussels in August. What are some suggested day trips besides Bruges and Bastogne? Other Belgian locations, or neighboring countries?, Thanks, Ken
Almost all of Belgium is day trip distance from Brussels. I saw Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Tournai, and recommend all of them. Antwerp was my favorite, but the subject of Belgium's "big touristic four" (Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges) and which ones are and are not worthwhile is eternally contentious. I therefore recommend you see them all, at least for part of a day, and form your own opinions.
And while you're in Brussels, if at all possible, take an Art Nouveau tour with ARAU: http://www.arau.org/en/tours. It was definitely the highlight of my time in Brussels.
Amsterdam is only 2 hours away by the fast, direct Thalys train. It can cost over $100 each way per person, but some August departures are available for booking now at $66 each. Travel time to Cologne is also under 2 hours, and tickets cheaper, also offering advance discounts for specific dates and times.
Just coming back from Belgium and The Netherlands, I would highly recommend Amsterdam. We spent 7 nights in the city and outside of some rainy days, we were always having fun. We also spent 4 nights in Brugge, which was also wonderful, but four days was plenty.
Not that we had any regrets, but in future Belgium travels, I would definitely consider Ghent and Antwerp. These were on our agenda, but did not get to go to this time. By the time we were in Brussels, we did not go to any museums, as we have been in Europe for two weeks and already had our fill or art and made the decisions to visit Brussels museums in a future travel.
For future Netherlands travels, we will consider more day trips. We planned to visit Keukenhoff Gardens, Haarlem, and Arnhem, but due to weather and having so much fun in Amsterdam, we also decided to save these destinations for future travels. We did visit Alkmaar on Friday for the cheese market and enjoyed the half-day trip, but would only recommend this if you were interested in cheese and honestly, would not visit again unless I had a desire. We spent one night in Delft and really enjoyed the experience. We will definitely spend more time in Delft (2 nights at least) in the future.
We also did Paris, which was a 90 minute Thalys train ride from Brussels. If you have a desire to go to Paris, I would recommend booking early as the cheap fares sell out the quickest. We were lucky, and found 2 second class seats for about $95.
Have fun in Europe!