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First Time Belgium

We would like to visit Belgium for the first time from New York- New Jersey. We would like to see Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Delft, whatever possible in 4 full travel days. What is the best time-saving route? Into which airport should we fly? Then should we go by train to other cities? Should we fly into one airport and out of another? Our available dates are July 1 - July 6, 2018. Travel dates are not flexible. Is there any point to flying into Paris and taking the train to Brussels? We would appreciate any and all help. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
139 posts

Pretty sure you want to fly into Brussels, not sure any NY area flights go anywhere else without first landing in Brussels. Train is a great way to get around Belgium. Two reasons to fly to Paris instead: You want to see Paris or you get a cheaper fare (including transportation from Paris to Belgium).

Posted by
8889 posts
  • Delft is in the Netherlands, between Rotterdam and the Hague, not in Belgium
  • Brussels is the obvious airport to choose, no point in flying into Paris and immediately getting a train to Brussels if you can avoid it.
  • "Then should we go by train to other cities?" - yes, Belgium has a good train service, there really is no alternative city to city, as you can't drive or park in the cities. For train times and prices see the SNCB (Belgian National Railways) website: All main routes have 1-2 trains per hour.
  • "Should we fly into one airport and out of another?" - No, Brussels is the one big intercontinental airport in Belgium, so no point
  • 4 full days is not very long. "available dates are July 1 - July 6, 2018", I assume that means land 2nd July, leave early 6th, so that is 5 nights, 4 full days as you say.
  • I would suggest: Brussels 1 night, Ghent 2 nights, Brugge 2 nights, then back to the airport. No time for anything else.
Posted by
1811 posts

Given your short timeframe, I would not suggest moving around at all. You say 4 full travel days, but that's only if you count your arrival day as a full travel day. You will only have 4 nights, July 2, 3, 4, and 5, on the ground. To spend part of that limited amount of time relocating would be foolish and unnecessary, since distances are small and trains are frequent.

Fly in and out of Brussels. Pick one of the cities you're interested in as your home base. Ghent is a good choice because it is equidistant between Bruges and Brussels.

Delft, as has been previously mentioned, is not in Belgium. You could visit by train, but if that's a priority, I'd suggest Brussels as your home base, as you can get there more quickly from there than from Ghent. But I think you will have enough to do with just visiting Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels in your 4 days (more like 3 1/2).


Posted by
7486 posts

I agree that you don't need to change hotel cities. But you should use Google Maps to check that, maybe, your hotel is an easy walk to the train station. You have a very short vacation for an overnight flight at each end. Antwerp is almost as famous for painting as is Delft. So add Antwerp if you possibly can. But Bruges is the most physically similar to Delft of the cities you have listed.

Investigate your homebound trip to the airport now, for checkin three hours before departure. Our host has free travel hints on the top left menu.

Posted by
292 posts

I’m actually doing the same with the same tight schedule. I love Europe and sometimes I lived in
London so I can go somewhere different every weekend. Alas, from North America, with limited vacation time, we must make do.

I say life is too short and if you can go overseas for the weekend, then why not.

I would fly direct to Brussels.

I’m flying from Montreal direct to .Brussels and arrive early June 30. I plan to spend the day in Brussels and am doing a walking tour with chocolate making workshop. I plan to spend the next two days doing Bruges and Ghent and then home on July 3.

So yes, it is a very quick trip. But, I got the flights on points so those cost very little and my hotel isn’t super expensive and it’s a chance to see somwhere I’ve never been as I’ve only done Flanders in ?Belgium.

Posted by
106 posts

Adding to the chorus. Fly to Brussels (Zaventem is the airport), use the trains to travel to Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp. You can day trip them all from Brussels if you don't want to change hotels. They are really no more than about an hour away from Brussels. This is probably what I would do.

Posted by
6 posts

Many thanks to all of you for the great information. We feel we have a better idea of how to proceed with this trip.

Posted by
1850 posts

Ghent is a great city to base yourselves in. Love that place. Easy as pie day trips to Brugges, Antwerp, Mechelen, and many charming little towns. Train station is a little out of the center so get used to the trams, which a easy enough.

Also Belgium is a fabulous country! The rest of Europe pokes fun at Belgians, but man o man they are in general the nicest folks in Europe. Bend over backwards to be accomodating. You'll have a great time!

Posted by
6787 posts

Ghent is a great city to base yourselves in. Love that place. Easy as pie day trips to Brugges, Antwerp, Mechelen, and many charming little towns. Train station is a little out of the center so get used to the trams, which a easy enough.

You must be talking about the Gent-Sint Pieters train station, which is a bit of distance from the center. However, the Gent-Dampoort station is very close to the city center. I stayed at a B&B that was a few blocks from the station and was easily able to walk to the city center in about 5-10 minutes. And you can get anywhere in Belgium from the Gent-Dampoort station - I traveled to Bruges and Antwerp while I was there. There are many direct trains to most major cities, although sometimes you may have to stop at Gent-Sint Pieters, depending on which train you take.