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Going to Bruges from Amsterdam is a stop in Ghent worthwhile?

My wife and I are in our sixties planning our first trip to Europe in March. This is also our first time on the train. We are planning on using the train over our three week trip. Six cities four countries. I'm hoping we didn't already put too much on the agenda.
Our first leg on the train is between Amsterdam and Bruges. I can get a train that goes through Ghent. Is it worth our time to jump off at Ghent for a few hours before heading into Bruges?
We are staying in Bruges two nights then heading to Paris for three days. We could split that trip into two legs with a three or four hour layover in Brussels like we could in Ghent a few days before.
Are these good ideas or should we go straight through on both the Bruges and Paris trips?

Posted by
11352 posts

Stop in Ghent, skip Brussels l.That short of a layover works better for the smaller city.

Posted by
375 posts

So, I am a huge fan of Ghent, as it is my favorite city in Belgium. With that said, if you are only able to stop over for a couple of hours, I would recommend a quick stop in Brussels. A quick walk to Grand Place from the Central train station and maybe hit a museum or cafe is an idea. Brussels doesn’t seem to get a lot of love on this forum IMO, but it makes a great stop over when passing through. If you had an extra day or two in Bruges, then I would recommend a full day trip to Ghent.

Posted by
7496 posts

It's interesting to me that you have two nights in Bruges and three nights (only) in Paris. I realize that this is your first trip to Europe, but you may be trying to cover too much ground. Have you added up the time you are going to spend on trains? (I mean, you might do that and say, "Yeah, that's worth it.") (If you don't want your total itinerary to be subject to suggestions, don't post it.)

Our first trip to Europe (in our 30's) was a week in London and a week in Paris. We did not "exhaust" either city on that first trip.

So the point is, how much effort is the stop in Ghent? That's partly a question, how big are your bags? But like Bruges, Ghent is a walking city. And the train station is not in the historic center, you have to take a cheap bus ride, maybe 3/4 mile. Also, have you figured Monday (and other) closings into your plans?

I certainly agree that Ghent is prettier than Brussels. But the unified main art museum in Brussels is a must for serious art fans. Be prepared for chill and rain in March. And there are plenty of pretty sights in Brussels, as well as a grey capital of the European Union.

EDIT: Note that our host here specializes in first-time travel. If you want to determine which of his books to buy, you can often find a few in public libraries. Most of the "first-time" advice is the same in many of them. But the country-specific stuff doesn't go out of date; I mean, you can't depend on ANY pre-printed museum hours, you have to check them yourself, whatever the date of the book you buy. That's one of the "first-time" things he teaches.

Posted by
6825 posts

I was also wondering about your allocation of time. Do you have 3 actual full days in Paris? Because if it's 3 nights, you probably will only have 2 full days, which is a real shame because Paris is worth so much more time.

I enjoyed Bruges but I went there on a day trip while spending 4 nights in Ghent, which I loved. I found that a day trip in Bruges was enough for me. Your mileage may vary, of course, but comparing the two, I would definitely allocate more time to Paris.

Posted by
377 posts

I liked Gent a lot. I spent 4 nights in Gent with a daytrip to Bruges. However, I don't think I would have especially enjoyed just walking around Gent for only a couple hours without enough time to visit the major art attraction -- the Gent alterpiece -- for which timed tickets are usually needed, or tour the castle, or take a walking tour or canal boat ride. As already noted, the historic center is about a 20 minute tram ride from the train station. If the Gent alterpiece is of interest and you had time for that plus a few hours to walk around, then yes it would be worth it (for me).

Posted by
46 posts

Thank you all for your advice. I was on the fence with our agenda and time in each town or city. We are spending three days in the larger cities to get two days in each location and two nights in the smaller towns for one full day at those locations.

Knowing about the station and tram is great information. It makes the decision easier to make. Skip it this time.
And yes we are only getting two full days in Paris. So I am thinking now we take the early train from Bruges to Paris then we have that afternoon in Paris.
Then it is on to England. ( London 3, Bath 2, Liverpool 1(lifelong Beatles fan and couldn't live with myself without seeingit), St Andrews 2 (I have to see the old course) then the final 3 days in Edinburgh.
Crazy right?
We're from Oregon so I figure the weather will be much like it is today. Wet and cold. So perhaps a few less stops won't hurt.
Thanks again