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Day trips from Bruges

We will be in Bruges for nearly three months (starting in the last week of April). We are staying close to the Begijnhof (Beguinage). We have been to Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels and will visit them again. Any suggestions as to other places we can visit by train or bus?

Thanks.

Posted by
12040 posts

Try the Belgian coast. Some of the towns are quite lovely (not Oostende, though). I particularly like the town of De Haan.

Ieper is vaguely like a smaller version of Brugge (although completely rebuilt after WWI). Might be worth it to catch a tour of the battle remnants and memorials.

Tournai (Doornik in Dutch) gets my vote for the most attractive city in the Walloon region.

It would be a longer daytrip, but the open air folk museum at Bokrijk (between Hasselt and Genk) is, in my opinion, one of the best of these sorts of things in Europe. To get there, you would need to take a IC train to Hasselt, then take the local commuter train towards Genk. Bokrijk has it's own rail stop.

With three months, Dinant is probably worth a visit. Other than being really attractive, there isn't much to see there, however.

If you decide to rent a car at all, consider exploring the Ardennes with either Spa or Durbuis as your base. And check out Zeeland in the Netherlands. I particularly like the beach town of Domburg.

Posted by
489 posts

Thank you for your suggestions. I will look into them. Any others?

As an aside, we are taking side trip to Haarlem in the second week of May.

Posted by
4684 posts

Yes, the Belgian coast would be very nice if you have good weather. You can explore along the coast using the world's longest streetcar line, which follows virtually the whole coast in the country. If you are interested in surrealist art, try the Paul Delvaux museum in St Idesbald.

Posted by
2487 posts

Having been intrigued by it for ages, a few years ago I stayed a few days in Mons (which in Brugge is known as »Bergen«) to see the old Canal du Centre with its unique late nineteenth-century system of hydraulic boat lifts. It was a very pleasant walk along the canal from Thieu to La Louvière. Unesco World Heritage, but I was the only one enjoying it, apart from some locals taking their dogs out. The area has some more memorials of their impressive industrial past, such as Le Grand Hornu in Saint-Ghislain. Not the usual touristy stuff, but interesting and illuminating.

Posted by
5556 posts

Busses in Belgium can hit annoying business-day traffic on highways.

Mechelen (warning to check museum openings ...), Lier, Leuven, Turnhout. Lille, France is very nice, and there are ways to get there without detouring through Brussels, way too far. In three months, I would go to Oosteende, for seafood, modern art, and the life of James Ensor. Some attractions that may be open for visitors only one day a week (often Sunday): Volksmuseeum Deurne, Antwerp; Town Halls in places like Antwerp and Leuven; Lillo, Mortsel fort, Antwerp.

Do not overlook sights which are not contiguous to "downtowns", like Antwerp's Middelheim sculpture park, Zurenborg historic townhouses, Poldermuseum, the commercial Port of Antwerp. I'm interested in the Delta Project in the Netherlands, but haven't been there. Very hard by public transport, the chilling Nazi-era prison near Mechelen, Fort Breendonk.

Posted by
2487 posts

Delta Project in the Netherlands. Very hard by public transport
I never did it on public transport, so I checked. To my pleasant surprise the famous Oosterscheldekering (Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier) is relatively easy to reach: half an hour by bus from Middelburg. Give »Neeltje Jans« as your destination on http://9292.nl/en#
The Oosterscheldekering is also the venue for the young tongue-in-cheek tradition of the National Cycling against the Wind Championships Last year had the perfect conditions with a stiff force 9: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMJ1LZBg5es

Posted by
1681 posts

Excellent info so far.

Despite you can make many daytrips from Bruges by train or bus in some cases a car can make life more easy.

For a visit to Zeeland / Delta Region you certainly need one as public transport from Bruges is a bit poor. Maybe a bus ride from Middelburg to the Oosterscheldekering takes only a half hour, but from Bruges to Middelburg needs at least two hours including a ferry ride of an half hour. For visiting a few places more driving around with the bus will consume too much time to my opinion.
Like Tom already said Domburg is a nice seaside place to visit as well as Veere and Middelburg. Not to miss there are the streets around the Oostkerk and a walk through the Kuiperspoort.
More north is the already mentioned “Oosterscheldekering” or Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier as part of the famous Delta Works. Another impressive feat of hydraulic engineering and not to miss with a guided tour is the Maeslant Barrier west of Rotterdam. To better understand the reason of the Delta Works you can visit the flood disaster museum “Watersnoodmuseum” east of Zierikzee, btw a lovely historic harbour that is certainly worth a visit too.

Closer to Bruges: If you like biking there are plenty of options like the well known bike trip along the canal to Damme and I can recommend also a bit further lovely Oostkerke. The trees along the canal more north of Damme are older, have more character and give more atmosphere to the place, so it’s worth to bike a bit further. There is also a 50km castle route to explore at the southside of Bruges. However most are from the 19th century with a medieval look, but Kasteel Wijnendale is authentic with a rich history like the "Koningskwestie".

Posted by
489 posts

Thanks again for all your great suggestions. I will check them all out. We have been to a few of the places suggested but not many. This is not our first visit but the longest.

At the moment, we have no plans to rent a car. And unfortunately, I never learned to ride a bike which is actually too bad since our landlords are avid bikers and will be offering electric bikes.

Posted by
504 posts

I don't know much about the town itself, but Ostend is the location of the Atlantic Wall museum (see http://www.visitoostende.be/en/provinciedomein-raversyde), which inludes fortifications from both world wars. If you're interested in military history, it's well worth the trip.

Bruges is also the jumping-off point for Quasimodo Tours' Flanders Fields tour.

Posted by
1940 posts

Try to spend at least one weekend in Luxembourg, and make Ettelbruck your base. In 2014 our train from Bruges to Liege to Ettelbruck took about 5 hours.

Ettlebruck is a transportation hub in Luxembourg, and this little country has a marvelous public transportation system. When we were there it cost just 4 euros per person for a 24-hour pass that you could use on any train or bus within the country. Ettelbruck itself is a charming little town with some good restaurants (and even good gelato!). Find a place to stay that's convenient to the train/bus station, and then take some day trips.

You could go up to Clervaux, and see the Family of Man photographic exhibit, which has travelled the world and is now on permanent exhibition in a chateau there.

You can go to beautiful Vianden and climb up to the castle.

You can make a day trip into Luxembourg City.

And you must visit Diekirch for the most remarkable World War II museum. After the Battle of the Bulge, farmers in the area collected all the equipment/supplies left in their fields and stored them in their barns, until someone suggested combining them in a museum. There are actual jeeps, trucks, parachutes, weapons, with interesting life-size dioramas and fascinating letters and photos from Americans who fought there. You could easily spend hours there.

Luxembourg is a beautiful little country with friendly people. I hope you take the opportunity to spend some time there.

Posted by
5556 posts

Actually, ton, "very hard by public transport" was in the next sentence, and was meant to modify the clause about Fort Breendonk! But I'd rather have a car for the tide barrier, just to get around and move quickly. I felt that way when we went to Kinderdijk, which is "well" served by a city bus. But I never did see the bus! (For GPS users, be sure to Enable the Avoidance of Ferries. My Garmin did a poor job on Kinderdijk, which is quite accessible by land.)

Posted by
489 posts

Try to spend at least one weekend in Luxembourg

We stayed in Luxembourg City for four or five days many years ago and have since returned as a day trip out of Colmar. It is a bit far from Bruges for a day trip. But thanks for the suggestion.

Posted by
1940 posts

Yep, it's too far for a day trip, but the central part of Luxembourg (skipping Lux City, since you've already been there) would make a great weekend getaway.