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Bruges or Ghent

I am going to ask a very subjective question. I know the answer starts with "It depends ..." But I am going to ask anyway.

We have 3 nights to spend in either Bruges or Ghent. I have researched both places and they sound wonderful. It is a win/win situation. This is our first trip to Belgium, but we have been several times to Amsterdam and surrounding areas.

We plan to visit both cities (stay in Ghent visit Bruges or stay in Bruges visit Ghent). We will be there Oct 2 - 5 so hopefully fewer crowds, but also realize some closures or limited hours.

Would you stay in Ghent or Bruges? ... Just pretend that someone said we're sending you to either Bruges or Ghent. Pick one :)

Thanks!

Posted by
1486 posts

Ghent.

You've described the dilemma perfectly. Both charming places, and preferences for one over the other are purely subjective.

But my suggestion to stay in Ghent is based on logistics. You don't say where you are coming from or going to, but Ghent is almost certainly going to be closer to your previous and next destinations.

If you stay in Bruges, you will pass through Ghent on your way there and on your way back, so your additional day trip to Ghent is extra time on the train (unless you decide to stop in Ghent on your way to or from Bruges and squeeze your visit into that time).

Posted by
5573 posts

Ghent might be cheaper and friendlier, Bruges might be marginally more attractive, if you can afford to stay in the old town. I agree with the first answer, but you could also let the room price, charm, or proximity to the train station help you decide. This is not a high stakes decision in shoulder season.

Posted by
4955 posts

Both are great. Bruges is much more touristy especially during the day. I assume if you stay over in one you'll day trip to the other. (you should if you can!). If possible, try to see Bruges at night (there are a lot of trains, takes about 30 min each way). It's much less crowded then and more pleasant. It may be busy even in October. That is one advantage of staying over in Bruges: you'll see it at night for sure, and you might not hate it because you visited only in the crowded daytime and think it's just Belgian Disneyland.

But there is no wrong choice here.

Posted by
4165 posts

There is no wrong choice. Bruges would be quieter in the evening and less crowded while Ghent might have more of a night life, be livelier, and have more restaurants. Both are equally enjoyable. Check to see which has more sights you want to see and let that make the decision for you.

Posted by
11292 posts

Antwerp.

But I know that wasn't one of your choices, so Bruges.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks so much to all of you. No matter which town we select, we will do a long day trip (that lasts into the early evening) to the other.

We will be travelling from Amsterdam so I see the logic in stopping in Ghent rather than passing through and back tracking. I am researching hotels/B&Bs/AirBnBs in both cities and find it odd that I am turning up more in Bruges at a lower price. I am using TripAdvisor, city websites, and booking.com.

It is nice to know that it will be a great decision ... sounds like both are wonderful. Wish I had allowed more than 3 nights!

Oh yes. We plan to stop in Antwerp when heading back to Schipol. We will have most to the day since our flight is the next day. We decided to stay at Schipol to avoid any stress of getting back to the airport on time for our 12 noon flight.

Thanks again to all.

Posted by
4165 posts

The main things to see in Antwerp (cathedral and Grot Markt) can be seen in a half day. In Bruges, we stayed at Huis Koning B&B. Outstanding hosts. In Ghent, we stayed at Hotel Harmony near Gravensteen castle and on the canal. Great location for exploring the historic center.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for lodging suggestions. I saw both of those listed by others in previous topics. Unfortunately, neither is available for all of our nights (Oct 2-5). I am sending an email to Huis Koining today .... just in case.

If others have any suggestions for lodging, I would certainly appreciate it.

Posted by
28108 posts

If you stay the night in Bruges (French and English spelling, locally spelled Brugge in Flemish) you can walk around the cobblestoned streets with the town lit up. There has always been a decent (traditional, before AirBnB and their ilk) B&B culture in Bruges as well as hotels. Most places are an easy bus ride from the station.

If you stay the night in Gent (Flemish spelling, Ghent in English, Gand in French) you can eat some of the best fresh cream filled chocolate treats you will find anywhere - because they are made and sold at a shop near the Cathedral (I will share on request to serious chocolate afficianatos) and see the not only the city lit up but also reflected in the beautiful river.

When you are in Brugge you can visit the foundations of the ruined St Donatian's Church (AD 950-1799) under the present day Crowne Plaza Hotel on the Burg.

I enjoy both cities.

Posted by
307 posts

We visited Ghent and Bruges this past April.
We stayed in Ghent at the Carlton Hotel - a small hotel run by two brothers with easy access from the train station.
They were very helpful in getting us to the center of town and provided us with the bus tickets.
They also offer a wonderful made-to-order breakfast.
Highly recommend this establishment.
We then took the train to Bruges and spent about six hours and pretty much covered the town.
The bus tickets that were given to us at the Carlton Hotel were also valid in Bruges.
They really know how to take care of their guests!

Posted by
242 posts

I usually stay away from the large chain hotels while on holiday, however, I will say the Ghent Marriott is one of the only Marriotts I would recommend in Europe. Great location, right by the river in the historic core.

you can eat some of the best fresh cream filled chocolate treats you will find anywhere - because they are made and sold at a shop near the Cathedral (I will share on request to serious chocolate afficianatos”.

Nigel, are you referring to Chocolaterie Luc Van Hoorebeke, Sint-Baafsplein 15, 9000 Gent, Belgium? If you consume a cup of their hot chocolate without uttering words “the best” or “my god”, you may want to see a otolaryngologist. 😁

Posted by
28108 posts

that's the one ...

(shhhh - just between us, ok?)

Posted by
5573 posts

Antwerp is good for multiple days, depending on whether you like Baroque art, fashion design, medieval cities, art deco architecture, outdoor sculpture, history of shipping, waffles and chocolate, modern art, photography, early music, a big zoo, catholic chapels, Breughel, the UNESCO WHS print shop, beer ... ...

Posted by
13 posts

Many, many thanks to all for your input. I am going with Bruges .... it was a difficult decision since we do like "lived in" places better than tourist places. But, I found far more places to stay in Bruges at very good prices and hopefully early October will be somewhat calm (e.g., the Marriott in Ghent is $801 per night!) I narrowed my choices to Martin's Relais, Hotel Karel de Stoute, and B&B Setola in Bruges. I am pretty sure I will go with Setola. They had great reviews, a few rooms so offer a personal touch, and a wonderful breakfast.

Hopefully, my choice of Bruges and the B&B Setola will be great. And we do plan to spend a day in Ghent. I will report back in October so hopefully others can benefit from my research/choice.

My mistake was in allotting only 4 nights after Amsterdam to visit Belgium. As I said in my opening note, we enjoy visiting Amsterdam and LOVE Paris. Since Belgium is between the two, I am sure another visit to Belgium will be in our future if it is as wonderful as it seems in the reviews.