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Ghent or Antwerp

I am planning train trip thru The Netherlands and Belgium in April. If I am pressed for time should I visit Antwerp or Ghent?

Posted by
7078 posts

I loved them both but if had to choose one it would be Ghent. I stayed in Brussels when I visted them, but if I went back I would stay in Ghent. I love college towns and Ghent had a really nice young vibe that I fell in love with. I am glad that I visited Antwerp though and both of them are good places to visit or stay.

Posted by
7653 posts

My last trip, I went to Antwerp as a daytrip from Gent, but I stayed in Gent.

Posted by
5687 posts

I spent two nights in Bruges with a day trip to Ghent, then two nights in Antwerp. I had rain for most of that trip, but I still found Ghent lovely and picturesque. For some reason, I didn't care for Antwerp. (Some of the few museums I was interested in there were closed while I was in town.) The canals in Ghent add to its picturesque charm, and Antwerp isn't like that at all. It has some pretty squares and buildings.

Posted by
1046 posts

In 2019, I went to Ghent as a day trip, but stayed in Antwerp. Enjoyed them both very much.

Posted by
1422 posts

Without knowing what you’re interests are and what you like to see and do, this question is impossible to answer. I live close to the Belgian border and have visited both cities countless times. I like them both, but for different reasons.
If you provide us with some details about you, your interests and the rest of your itinerary, we can help you better.

Posted by
7569 posts

Is Monday (a frequent closing day) involved?

Have you already seen Brugge?

Is the Mystic Lamb a deal-breaker for you?

Antwerp cannot be exhausted in one or two days. It has much more to do than Ghent.

Posted by
6816 posts

My wife and I spent only 2 nights in each and for the time we had I preferred Ghent to Antwerp. Both have some very nice places to visit. You can’t go wrong whichever you choose.

Posted by
57 posts

If I wanted one home base which city would be better - Ghent, Bruges or Antwerp?

Posted by
1422 posts

Paul, please understand that the more info you provide the better we can help you.
It’s difficult to answer your questions without knowing what your plans for Belgium are, how many days you have etc etc. Please help us to help you better.

Posted by
33335 posts

any of those three works well as a base - it all depends on what you want to do from each - it is up to you, what you want to do, how long you have to achieve them

Posted by
7653 posts

We stayed in Bruges/Brugge/Bruges the first trip. Without my husband on the second trip, I stayed in Gand/Gent/Ghent, and I’m glad I did. Central location that was good for daytrips, and a nice city, too.

Posted by
7078 posts

Depends entirely on which places you want to see. For purely logistical reasons Ghent is the most centrally located, with easy quick access to Bruges, Antwerp, and Brussels.

Posted by
2494 posts

If I wanted one home base which city would be better - Ghent, Bruges or Antwerp?

I think it depends on how long you would be staying and what day trips are you interested in?

Posted by
7569 posts

If I wanted one home base which city would be better - Ghent, Bruges or Antwerp?

In a general sense, this is the wrong question. This area is so well served by five or more unreserved commuter trains per hour that they are equal in terms of access. That said, Bruges always surprises people that it is not a direct, long-distance-train stop on their trip from Amersterdam to ... wherever. It's a distant, spur, trip. But it's not all that far, after all.

It could be argued that since Antwerp is served by many direct, and premium/high speed trains (i.e. Paris and Amsterdam) that it may be a good home base. But trains to Brussels (with a change there) are not a big deal. There is also an hourly bus between BRU and the side of the Antwerp Centraal train station. Also, Antwerp is on the line to Lier and Turnhout, if you plan to visit either of those.

An alternative question to the quoted one might be, "In which city would I prefer to wake up multiple days?" I answer that with Antwerp, but that is a matter of opinion. And affording a nice hotel within easy reach of the train station (for daily daytrips, I mean) is a factor. Gent is more of a university town, so it might be cheaper, except around graduation. Bruges is a romantic, luxury destination for people who won't stay anywhere else. Maybe hotels tend to be higher there?

Perhaps I should add that (pre Covid, anyway) those commuter trains can be very crowded at business and school rush hours. I've stood many times. And long-distance luggage racks are rare. The steps on the double-decker carriages are troublesome with luggage.

Posted by
996 posts

I spent 3 nights in Antwerp, and 2 nights in Brussels with a day trip to Ghent. I would have been occupied with one or more more nights in one or both cities. I went to Ghent on a Monday, the wrong day of the week. In Ghent I had time for a guided walking tour, and most of the Gravensteen castle. I vote for Antwerp: it has more and better museums (sniders-rockox house, Rubens house, another art museum that was closed for renovations when i was there, the planetus-moretus museum of early printing presses, and others.