Please sign in to post.

Ghent or Brugge to base for ~5-6 days

We will be making our first trip to Belgium after spending a week in Paris (flying out of Brussels). We will probably stay 5 or 6 nights in one of these two cities before heading to Brussels and getting a hotel at the airport before our morning flight back to the US.

My question is which city should I base in? I don't feel like staying in multiple cities just because it will be our 4 year old and my 74 year old mother - and hauling luggage to a different place, etc. Since the cities seem fairly close together I figured we could likely swing staying in one, and taking a train between cities. Originally I planned on staying in Ghent and we could take a day trip to Brugge and to Brussels and even Antwerp if we liked, and then 2-3 days in our home base. We are slow travelers, and aren't looking to pack a bunch of different things into our trip, more of strolling and absorbing the culture at our own pace.

I just got Rick Steeves book and it suggests three nights in Brugge and just a day trip to Ghent - some other youtube videos show people spending multiple days in Ghent. That got me thinking would it make more sense to stay In Brugge - it would make our day trip to Brussells a fairly long day.

Even if we made two day trips to Brugge from Ghent - it seems like just a short trip it wouldn't be a big deal - obviously depending on how far our hotel is from the train station.

thanks!

Posted by
2774 posts

I have 5 nights in brugge booked for later this year. I prefer smaller cities and brugge looked like a great place to wake up early and wander.

Brugge to brussels is only an hour away by train. So, not a bad day trip if you wanted.

Posted by
77 posts

Bruges is my favorite small town in Europe. Fell in love with it ages ago and it is a nice place to travel slow. Brussels is nice, but I don't think your group would enjoy staying overnight there, unless you added one more night to Brussels and stayed near town rather than at airport. Then you would have more time to explore Brussels in a leisurely way. Ghent and Antwerp are both nice enough cities, but not nearly as scenic as Bruges to me, maybe do a day trip to each of those?

Posted by
91 posts

@Laura - looking at spending the night near the airport, simply because our flight leaves at 10am - so just want to wake up, and head over. We likely will come into Brussels as late as possible the previous evening (depending on check out time at previous accommodations)

Probably would make a day trip earlier in the week - although I know that is making the trip twice, which from Ghent wouldn't be a big deal, but from Brussells, a little further, BUT that might save us an additional trip between those two cities. See below options

Option 1. (or some mixture of these) - could swap a day in Antwerp for an extra day in Ghent or Brugge
Day 1 Paris to Brugge - afternoon to explore
Day 2 Explore Brugge
Day 3 Trip to Ghent
Day 4 Explore Brugge
Day 5 Day Trip to Brussells
Day 6 Day trip to Antwerp
Day 7 Train To Brussells to spend the night
Day 8 - head home

Option 2
Day 1 Paris to Ghent - afternoon to explore
Day 2 Explore Ghent
Day 3 Trip to Brugge
Day 4 Explore Ghent
Day 5 Day Trip to Brussells
Day 6 Day trip to Antwerp
Day 7 Train To Brussells to spend the night
Day 8 - head home

They probably have similar time spent on train - and would like option if we enjoy the city to cut out a day trip to Antwerp and stay at our base an extra day.

Posted by
6723 posts

If it was me, I’d choose Ghent since one can easily take day trips to Brugges and Antwerp. We too spent our last night in Brussels since it is closer to the airport with multiple ways of getting to it in the event of a train strike.

Posted by
7493 posts

You are right about a 10AM flight. You might look into a last night in nice Leuven if the transit is there, taxi $$ backup?

Posted by
186 posts

Watch some YouTube videos. For what it’s worth, we preferred the charms of bruges to the larger Ghent, and were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed a day trip to Antwerp.

Posted by
9429 posts

I’m with Laura and SusanM… we loved Brugge, spent 4 nights there and felt it wasn’t long enough. We rented bikes for 48 hrs and rode all over Brugge (it’s not just the center where tourists are). We rode all through the residential areas, through beautiful parks, along canals and out into the countryside passing windmills to a lovely village where we had lunch. The city center is also very enjoyable and fun. So… Brugge is my favorite.

Posted by
6823 posts

I would second the recommendation for Ghent. And so much more of a lived-in city, unlike Brugge, which fills ups with tourists. I spent three nights there and bsolutely loved it. It was a wonderful place to base myself and I made several day trips from there. I really enjoyed walking around in the evening, eating at the various restaurants and watching the people out for evening strolls. It’s a lovely place.

Posted by
375 posts

I second (or, third) Mardee’s positive comments on Ghent. There are enough things to see and do in Ghent for a week or more but being in position for easy day trips to Antwerp, Brussels and Brugges make Ghent the clear winner IMO as a Belgium base. Also, we flew home via Brussels once and getting to Brussels airport from Ghent isn’t that difficult.

Posted by
65 posts

I also vote for Ghent. We are returning to Ghent in late May because even though we've been there two or three times, we have not exhausted all the things to see and do there.