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Belgium Must-Do's? Have a week, and already been to Brugge and Antwerp...

I'm eying Namur, Ghent, Liege, and possibly Lille, France. I'd like to get off the beaten track somewhat, as this is our 2nd trip to Belgium, but i'm not sure we'll have a car the entire time - train access for each locale is probably a priority.

(We'll be staying in Brussels the latter part of the trip, so that's why it's not included in the opening)

Posted by
4684 posts

All those are pretty easy to get to by rail from Brussels. Don't know about Lille though - there may not be any cheaper trains other than expensive Thalys or Eurostar trips.

Posted by
12040 posts

Namur and Gent are worth a visit. Unless you're a sociologist studying post-industrial urban decay, you might want to give Liege a pass. If you go to Namur, check out the Maas/Meuse river valley further upstream.

Tournai, Ieper, and the Belgian coast are also worthy of your consideration.

Posted by
24 posts

The list now includes Tournai, Ieper (Ypres), Namur, Ghent, and Leuven. Thanks for all your recommendations! All are within an hour or so of Brussels, so they all seem like good day trip options.

Thanks again!

Posted by
6830 posts

I went to Lille, France, from Antwerp, and it took two changes and about three hours. I got what I wanted, which was their famous art museum, but not much else in one day. It's a pretty city, nicknamed "Little Paris."

A city not mentioned is Lier, which is particularly attractive for day-trip by public transportation. It has small canals, some quirky little museums, and a local pastry specialty. Even the town-hall art museum has some interesting pieces, like marquetry cabinets and paintings by Rik Wouters' best friend in art school, Since you likely won't be going to some of the more westerly medieval town centers, this might be nice. It's true that Gent makes a fuller day, with more important art. Science and engineering students might particularly like the hand-built, building sized astronomical clock in Lier. AFAIR, it's dozens of specialized faces included a few religious touches.

If you want to do two cities in one day, Lier and Turnhout are doable. Turnhout is a minor town, but is surprisingly attractive, and has good restaurants, if you can delay your return until after eating. It has a lovely Beguinhof, with an old-folks center where you can get coffee and cake, as well as it's own museum.

In the unlikely event you get tired of Gent in less than a day, Mechelen has a magnificent cathedral and medieval square (Saturday market), some good museums, and fine churches, and is on the way. (Some walking from station to square.)