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HELP PLS! First time in Belgium

We are arriving in Belgium on July 9 via Crown Princess from 8am-6pm.

Would love to see Brussels and Bruges? Anyone has a reputable tour company I can use pls for 4 Adults and 2 kids 7 & 8 yrs old.
How far is Brussels and Bruges from Zeebrugge?
Private car from Princess is $1,800.....

Thank you so much for any advice!!

Posted by
11708 posts

Zeebrugge is a suburb of Bruges and only 17 km away so you wouldn't have any problem there. You do not have time to see BOTH Bruges and Brussels so stick with just Bruges: plenty to do there to fill your day. You do not need a tour company as the scenic old center of Bruges is not very large - although offers much to see - and it's easy to do on your own with just a map and a guidebook; do some reading before you go. At most, I'd hire a driver just to get you from port to the old town and back.

It will not cost you anywhere NEAR $1,800!!!!! I'm not necessarily recommending this as I haven't done it personally but just doodling with a test booking on this round-trip Viator shuttle offer comes up with a price of $92.48 for 4 adults/2 kids.

https://www.viator.com/tours/Bruges/Return-Cruise-Shuttle-Service-from-Zeebrugge-to-Bruges/d4836-22540P1

Hopefully someone can recommend a driver from firsthand experience. I know you can also do this via public transit but private transfer will probably be more efficient for a group your size.

If you need some ideas of interesting things to see, give a shout? You'll find lots of help here. :O)

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you so much, Kathy! So sad we will not have time to see Brussels. Would love to see Bell Tower, The Church of Spilled blood
and Choco museum for the kids!!

Posted by
11708 posts

So sad we will not have time to see Brussels. Would love to see Bell
Tower, The Church of Spilled blood and Choco museum for the kids!!

But you will, if you meant the Basilica of the Holy Blood. That's in Bruges, not Brussels.
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/basiliek-van-het-heilig-bloed-basilica-of-the-holy-blood

http://www.holyblood.com/?lang=en

Bruges' belfry:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/belfort-belfry

And the Choco Museum:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/choco-story-chocolate-museum

Lots and lots to do!
https://www.visitbruges.be/en

Posted by
11708 posts

Oh, a fun place for lunch on a nice day?

http://www.thofvanrembrandt.be/en
Grab a table (or two, for your group) on the sunny patio!

Menu:
http://www.thofvanrembrandt.be/uploads/artikels/menueten1122012.pdf

Yummy croque monsieurs and frites, and I'd recommend trying the Flemish stew (Carbonnades flamandes). It's a traditional dish of Belgium, and it was drop-dead delicious in both places I've had it (both in Antwerp).

Eiermarkt 10, just around the corner from the Markt.

Posted by
28 posts

Kathy, so kind of you to help me out! I really do appreciate your input and suggestions. Thanks again!

Posted by
11708 posts

You're very welcome. It's how we roll here in Ricknik Land. :O)

We loved Bruges - spent 4 nights there - and I hope you do as well. It can be very busy but if you take the time for a stroll on the side streets, you'll find some welcome breathing room.

Posted by
3841 posts

We had a partial day in Bruges - I just want to mention - we did the Historium. Unless you want to spend a bunch of money to watch a weird 'movie' (as you move thru different rooms) about a guy, an artist's model, a parrot and some other silliness - give it a pass. I was expecting more of a traditional history museum. I didn't look it up beforehand, we just thought it sounded interesting. The best part was the view...

(I love this trip advisor review...sums up my thoughts...lol - "The tour is walking through 7 or so rooms watching some story of a boy who wants to hook up with some hot girl and loses his green parrot. That's literally the whole story. Don't waste your time.")

Posted by
11708 posts

Nicole, we skipped the Historium as it didn't look to be worth the $$$. I'm a bit surprised that it averages halfway decent ratings on TA but maybe the better reviews are from visitors not terribly interested in the city's history? Anyway, there are far better things in Bruges to fork over entry fees for, IMHO.

Posted by
3841 posts

Oh - totally agree Kathy. We did a canal ride, and after doing the Historium, we walked by somewhere offering chocolate walking tours (or maybe it was the choc museum)...and we were kicking ourselves - if we hadn't just ponied up 26 euro for the H (which was like $40 Canadian) we would have joined up with that tour - I'm googling and seeing something called the Choco-Story...maybe that was it...ah well, next time. We quite enjoyed Belgium - we went with absolutely no expectations, so really liked it (maybe better than NL!) and most likely will return!

Posted by
433 posts

In Bruges you can also see the Michelangelo madonna, it's a quick visit and there was no line when I went in April.

Go to the belfry early to be ahead of the line, once it fills up people have to wait until someone leaves. It was fun to be inside when the bells rang.

If you have time you can walk around to see the windmills and old city gates but it's a bit of a hike.

Posted by
28 posts

Sounds wonderful, Beth! My kids (7, 8) can hike 6 miles so this should be all fun.......Thanks !!

Posted by
11708 posts

Oooh, yes, a walk around the perimeter of the old city is fun! Along with the windmills, some of the old city gates are still there.

http://visit-bruges.be/see/places-interest/bruges-city-ramparts-and-town-gates

A couple of other really interesting things (although you're going to need to be selective):

Sint-Janshospital: a look at a Medieval-era hospital and small but priceless collection of Hans Memling Primitives.

https://www.visitbruges.be/en/sint-janshospitaal-saint-johns-hospital

Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde:
A fascinating look at an institution which offered women Medieval widows and single women a rare opportunity to live outside marriage, family or a convent. It doesn't take long to walk the grounds and admire the architecture.

https://www.visitbruges.be/highlights/beguinage

One of my favorites, Jeruzalemkapel, has been in the same family since it was built 600 years ago. Count Maximilien de Limburg Stirum, 17th generation of that family, just happened to be manning the ticket booth the day we were there.

http://www.adornes.org/en
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/jeruzalemkapel-brugge-jerusalem-chapel

Posted by
1464 posts

As far as I know cruise ships docks just for one day/limited time in Zeebrugge, so as Kathy already says there is actually no time to visit both Bruges and Brussels. Some cruise companies provide shuttle services, have no idea with yours this time, if not you have to rely on taxies or public transport.

Easy to do and also fun for the kids too is taking the coastal tram to the railway station in nearby Blankenberge. From there the train to Bruges, the historic centre is at walking distance. The tram stop opposite the church in Zeebrugge is some 10min. walking from the cruise terminal and during summer season there is every 10 minutes a tram to Blankenberge (direction De Panne, clearly visible at the frontside). The driver sells the tickets but there is a ticket booth too, but not always open. Good value for 6 persons is buying a “Groepsbiljet”, a ride will cost you €1.25/person instead of the €3 for the usual single ticket. The driver validates the tickets, if not use the yellow boxes at each entrance.

As the trains are operated by another company you need to buy seperate tickets. Return tickets for adults costs €6.20 and children €4.40. Within 15min. you will arrive at the station in “Brugge”. Think about 1h total travelling time from the ship to the centre of Bruges. If nevertheless having the idea of visiting Brussels a train ride from Bruges takes 1 hour, but keep in mind that you will travel on a Sunday during high season so a whole bunch of Belgians will head to the coast and back, so there is always a risk of delays. Take the tram with direction Knokke on the way back to the cruise terminal.

Seen the costs it’s worth considering a minibus (have to say no idea how much they cost), usually they are are waiting just outside the docks along the main road you have otherwise to walk to the tramstop in Zeebrugge.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you so much, everyone. Now I have a plan! I have a guidebook, but couldn't prioritize. The food ideas were an added bonus! Thanks again for all your input! Blessings.

Posted by
11708 posts

One more thing...
Food? Having a Belgium wafel is practically mandatory. Unlike the U.S, where waffles are most often served for breakfast, wafels are eaten as snack food/street food. They are SCRUMPTIOUS, have a different texture than what you may be used to, and come with a variety of yummy toppings. I didn't take this shot but here's an example?

http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/8f221da82b7e42bc82b380cf36ef3463/bruges-east-flanders-belgium-europe-display-of-belgian-waffles-on-bx11ke.jpg

Frites are also a common street food plus come with practically everything you order in a restaurant. Always served fresh - not sitting under heat lamps - they're usually eaten with mayonnaise and go really, really well with beer.

http://www.eatori.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/P1120223.jpg
(not my shot either)

We ate and drank (oooh, the BEER!!!) entirely too well in Belgium. It was only the miles and miles we put on our feet every day that saved our waistlines! Great little country that we can't wait to see more of.