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Belgium is packed between Christmas and New Years!

Not really a question but more of a heads up, book in advance for Belgium sites! In both Bruges and Ghent so far we have had issues getting into all the sites due to holiday travelers. We had to wait 4 hours to see Castle of the Counts and the Ghent alter piece in St. Bavo! In Bruges, popular museums and experiences sell out day of (or maybe even before) so book maybe a week or so in advance for Beer Museum, Brewery Tour, etc. It’s also just more crowded in general because of the Christmas markets and holiday travelers. Dinner (and even lunch) reservations are necessary!

TLDR: Book your day trips/meals in advance - train tickets and sites you want to see as the guidebook doesn’t advise this. We had issues with train tickets selling out as well!

Posted by
1012 posts

“ We had issues with train tickets selling out as well!”
Can you please clarify what train tickets you’re talking about? Train tickets for domestic trains in Belgium can not sell out, it’s literally impossible. This is because domestic trains in Belgium are mass transit, like the subway in New York. If you want to train from Bruges to Ghent, you buy a train ticket from Bruges to Ghent and you’re allowed to use every train from Bruges to Ghent on that particular day. If you buy a weekend ticket, your ticket is valid all weekend.
Trains have free seating, but if all seats are taken you will need to stand. And if the train is crammed full, you will need to take the next one. That’s why train tickets in Belgium can’t sell out.
International trains are a different matter. Tickets for trains to for instance Paris and London go on sale 4 months in advance and these can sell out.

Posted by
4 posts

Yes, apologies. Trains between France and Belgium were sold out. We did have to stand on Belgium trains. Luckily we already had international train tickets. Point is for folks to make sure they buy tickets ahead for some of the sites (especially in Ghent) as there are very long lines and wait times which impacted our ability to see some sites. Still had an amazing time though!

Posted by
1504 posts

I’ve been traveling through some smaller places in this area the least few days and for the most part haven’t hit the crowds (Mainz, Aachen, Maastricht, Liege and Leuven) except for today when I got to Brussels. This place is heaving with tourists and hotel rooms at least for tonight are hard to come by and expensive. I don’t want to think what summer in Europe is going to be like especially with the pent up travel demand and the projected arrivals of folks from China. Will have to see how Ghent and Antwerp are in the next few days. I haven’t found any issues with booking train travel.

I for one will look to North Africa and S America to enjoy more leisurely travel this coming year