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Christmas travel

We are considering a family trip to Belgium over Christmas, and are excited to explore the Christmas markets since many in Belgium are open until early January. We plan to make a “home base” in Brussels or Antwerp and then do day trips to Bruges and Ghent and others to avoid changing hotels frequently, and having some consistency for our daughter who has not yet traveled overseas.

However, I don’t have a good feel for what to expect will be open or closed around the holidays. Are stores and restaurants likely to be closed or will we find things open as usual? I should note I’m mostly asking for the larger cities here - I realize things will vary widely in smaller towns.

Posted by
1154 posts

“ However, I don’t have a good feel for what to expect will be open or closed around the holidays”
What do you mean by “around the holidays”. When exactly do you want to visit Belgium? Before Christmas? Or do you want to spend Christmas in Belgium? And what about New Year? I ask this because what will be open depends on the day and date.

Posted by
5 posts

Sorry for not being more specific - our plan is to be in Belgium over both Christmas and New Years. However we haven’t booked flights so if absolutely nothing will be open on Christmas, for example, and we will end up stuck in a hotel room then we can reconsider.

Posted by
6183 posts

The last time I was there over Christmas was 2002 when my son was stationed in Brunssum, Netherlands. On Christmas Eve most restaurants were closed except for the ethnic ones, Chinese, Balkan, etc. It gets dark early so it limits how much time you have sightseeing if driving, unless you don’t mind driving at night on unfamiliar roads. Weather can be a factor with the day starting out nice yet ending in a blizzard. We took day trips to Brugges, Cologne, Amsterdam, Trier, and Heidelberg. There may have been others. Overall we had a good time.

Posted by
342 posts

On Christmas eve or Christmas day you might also try some of the large hotels to see if their restaurants are open.

Posted by
1154 posts

This year, Christmas Day is a Sunday. This means that some restaurants won’t be open, but you definitely don’t have to resort to takeout food in your hotel room. Lots of museums in Belgium are closed on Mondays, but the Christmas markets and other activities will be open.
Celebrating New Year’s Eve in a restaurant is a big thing in Belgium. Restaurants will serve a special multi course meal that will last until right before midnight. Champagne is included and there often is live music. January 1st may be the most difficult day. It’s a Sunday and a holiday, but since it’s also “the day after”, lots of restaurants, museums, shops etc etc will be closed or won’t open until the evening.