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Five-day Belgium itinerary

I will be in Belgium for 5 nights at the beginning of my three-week trip that also includes the Netherlands and Norway this May.

I arrive at Brussels Airport at 12:45 pm on a Sunday. I have an airbnb booked in Ghent for three nights. Then on Wednesday I move to Antwerp, where I have an airbnb booked for 2 nights. On Friday I move on to Delft.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to use my 4.5 days. Aside from enjoying my time in Ghent and Antwerp, I plan on a day trip to Bruges and one to Brussels.

Here's what I'm thinking right now:

  • Sunday, late afternoon and evening in Ghent.
  • Monday day trip by train to Bruges. I have to be somewhere on a Monday, when many museums are closed, and Bruges seems like a place I can enjoy without hitting too many museums. Maybe rent a bike and pedal to Damme.
  • Tuesday in Ghent
  • Wednesday early train to Brussels. Stow luggage at train station and explore for most of the day. (I'm also interested in the Musical Instrument Museum and all three of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts.) Then on to Antwerp.
  • Thursday in Antwerp
  • Friday to Delft

Questions:

  1. Does this seem like a reasonable approach? Or should I swap Monday and Tuesday? Or should I plan on a full day in Brussels (say on Tuesday), and spend more of Wednesday in Ghent before departing for Antwerp?
  2. Or, if I'm not too jet-lagged when I get off the plane, should I spend a few hours in Brussels on Sunday afternoon before heading to Ghent?
  3. Are there any other short excursions I should try to include, either from Ghent or from Antwerp? It doesn't feel like there's lots of time to do that, but I sometimes like just hopping on a train and finding some town somewhere to explore.
Posted by
703 posts

ghent was a perfect base for us, and we did a day trip to bruges , by train. that worked well. I think you will enjoy ghent. it seemed less 'affected' by tourists and still had the interesting things to explore. Bruges was very busy, interesting, we were not 'blown away; as such. we enjoyed it and we made time to go and see the lace making. Brussels was not breathtaking, but OK. we weren't there long. the instrument museum sounds very good. shame we did not go there.

can't comment about Antwerp or Delft.

hope this helps, have good time.

Posted by
191 posts

If you are doing a lot of museums in Brussels, you may need some more time. Both Antwerp and Delft are lovely. I really liked Antwerp (beautiful large church) where I only spent a few hours... I could have spent more.

Posted by
4714 posts

Your itinerary may be a little too "overthought." One beauty of this region is that the cities are so close and easy to train between that the place you sleep isn't that important. You will benefit from flexibility. There are enough attractions in the cities you named that you will not be able to do justice to them if you think you will add others on this particular trip. Note that your interest is historic cities with, often, medieval town centers. There are no more charming wooden villages in Flanders, like you saw in WW II movies.

Note that the most important attraction in Gent is, AFAIR, seven days. Try to see it on Monday. The three art museums (I think you left out BOZAR, which is also very good, if sometimes more ethnographic ....) are VERY big. You could spend the whole afternoon just in the Ancient Art one! There are other good museums in this walkable section of Brussels. Antwerp is jammed with good museums, although the main art museum is closed for renovation. Make sure you get to a Begijnhof, perhaps in Brugge.

Posted by
1340 posts

Thanks for the useful input.

Glennlorrainer, thanks for helping me feel good about my decision to base in Ghent and not Bruges!

Stephanie, it sounds like dedicating a full day to Brussels is the right choice (as opposed to stopping there on my way to Antwerp).

Tim, thanks for reminding me to stay flexible and not overplan! I really like being spontaneous. I meant to ask for assurance that I'm allowing enough time for the things I'm interested in, not so much looking for help on how to cram more things in.

And by the way, today's news from Brussels, tragic as it is, will not stop me from moving ahead with my plans. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this.

Posted by
616 posts

It seems it is impossible to write a long message here, so I will decide here.
You are missing a lot:
In the North of Belgium, there are not only Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent but also Damme, Lier, Mechelen, Tongeren
Then You are skipping all the South of which I will speak in my 2nd post.

Posted by
616 posts

In the South, it has smaller towns and villages.
visit Huy ( nice church, Meuse bridge), Andenne ( very Beautiful church), Malmedy (Abbey), Eupen, St Vith (crockery) Lake of Robertville,
Baraque St Michel ( nature), Chimay, Beaumont (Castle) St Hubert (braiti fun church), Bastogne (World War II) La Roche en Ardennes, Coo, Virton area ( nature) . Do not miss Brussels with Iris main Square ( Grand Place), Petit et Grand Sablon, Beaux arts, Musee di Cinquantenaire, Musee d'Afrique Centrale in Tervuren. Galerie St Hubert, tue des bouchers And Petite tue des Minimes, Avenue Louise ( for the Fashion designers).

Posted by
1340 posts

Thank you francoisedegrelle! I only wish I had time to visit all those places, but I will surely keep them in mind and try to make a side trip or two if time allows.

As with all trips, you have to make choices, and you can't go everywhere and see everything. When I have retired I hope to spend longer periods of time in foreign lands and look forward to seeing the places I missed the first time around.