I plan to drive from Aachen to see some sights in Belgium. bruges and ghent are on the to do list. Are there any recommendations for staying outside one or other of these cities and tram or train to the city center....I am concerned about parking. suggestions????
We were just in both of those towns and loved them so much. What a dream come true to finally see places I only read about. We did not stay in Ghent because we pretty much saw everything in 1 day but we did spend 2 nights in Brugge. We stayed at a lovely B&B with Ronny and Marie Rose DeBruyne. Their house is amazing and they are so welcoming. For only 90 + euros a night for 3 of us, we couldn't have found a better place. They are only a short walk from the city center. They are full of good advice and giving directions. I loved how much pride they took in their beautiful town! I highly recommend!!
Unless you want to see really remote country areas, I'd suggest travelling by train instead of driving. I would certainly go by train if you only want to see cities like Bruges and Ghent.
Usually best way to move around in Belgium and the Netherlands is public transport. But if you want to use a car look first for a place to sleep and ask if parking a car is a problem or not. In Ghent, in the so called “Miljoenenkwartier” just south-east of St. Pieters railway station there are a few B&B’s/hotels like B&B Lieven Bauwens (have to say no experience with them), the tram stops nearby and goes directly to the city centre. It’s a bit an upmarket area and driving to the main roads is straight forward.
In Bruges you can park the car next to the railway station for €3,50/24h in case your host can’t offer a better solution. I visit Bruges a few times a month and often park my car there during daytime, I think it is safe during the night too, but to be certain ask before if this is indeed the case. Driving to the main roads from there is quite easy.
In Bruges, the Hotel Adornes has parking for their guests.
I am staying at Bed in Gent, which looks very nice and is only 55 Euros a night. The owner told me that there is some street parking very near by for 3 Euros a day in the Sint-Macharius area. http://www.bedingent.be/index.shtml
right now thinking car. Could drive Aachen to Ypre (Night) next day catch Dunkirk, then onto bruges and a night there. Go go Ghent or Maastricht...any thoughts????
Car is fine for Dunkirk and Ypres. It will be liability for Bruges and Gent. You are right to look for Park and Ride, but I've been to both of those cities, repeatedly, by train. I don't know anything about the options for Park and Ride. Local highways are just as unpleasant as in the U.S. On the way from Antwerp to Beerse, standing still in rush hour traffic, my wife's rental car mirror was torn off by a swerving motorcyclist. He just roared on, broken arm (?) and all.
Do you understand that, for example, the Open Air museum in Bokrijk (which has its own rail station), the Netherlands city of Maastricht, and a few small medieval centers, like Hasselt and Diest, could be said to be near Aachen. Even Leuven might be reachable from Aachen. But Gent and Brugge are not really "near" Aachen.
I realize the Dunkirk is in France. However, it is a part of my Belgium trip. Is it worth the time???