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Lodging And Day Trip Recommendations in Bruges

Yesterday I booked a trip to Europe in December with a friend. The goal is Christmas Markets and other sightseeing. We will be starting in Bruges before moving on to Germany. Because of the timing of things we won’t be there on the weekend, so I know we will miss the Christmas market in Bruges. With only 3 nights there I’m thinking we will spend one day in Bruges and one day in either Ghent or Antwerp.

I’m looking for recommendations for lodging that’s convenient to both the old town and the train station, either by walking or a bus. We need a room with two beds and would prefer to keep costs under €150 per night. Location, safety and cleanliness are the priorities.

Which would be better for a day trip, Ghent or Antwerp? I haven’t been to either except for changing trains in Antwerp many years ago.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Posted by
14151 posts

Do you have any interest in the Van Eyck Altarpiece Adoration of the Mystic Lamb? To me it's one of the most powerful pieces of art I've seen. It's complex and beautiful. For this reason I'd vote for Ghent and a timed entry to the altarpiece in Sint Baafs Kathedraal. Get the Augmented Reality tour for a few euro more.

https://www.sintbaafskathedraal.be/en/buy-tickets/type-tour/

I did a day trip to Antwerp last year on a Road Scholar program. Our focus was the Reubens House which is now closed for a reno but I didn't enjoy it as much as I like Ghent. I know many on here prefer Antwerp but it just seemed like such a big city to me, lol.

Posted by
10325 posts

Thanks Pam. I was already leaning towards Ghent because my friend doesn’t care for large cities. We spent a week in Paris years ago and her two favorite places were Monet’s garden in Giverny and the grounds, etc. at Versailles.

Posted by
14151 posts

That's probably a good choice. The thing I liked best in Antwerp besides the Reubens House was the sculpture park which we got to on the tour bus and is probably not a real fun venue in winter, hahaha!!!

Posted by
6702 posts

We stayed at Huis Koning B&B when we visited Bruges. It gets booked up early. It’s a five minutes walk to the main square and a mile from the train station. Ghent is closer to Bruges than Antwerp.

Posted by
2767 posts

I have the dukes’ academie booked for my upcoming trip.

https://www.dukesacademie.com/

I’m not sure of Dec. prices. It might be slightly over your budget, but it’s in walking distance to the train station and old town and has great ratings on booking.com.

As your friend doesn’t like large cities, you might want to look at Mechelen.

https://visit.mechelen.be/en

Posted by
6784 posts

I'm with Pam on the day trip - I absolutely loved Ghent! In fact, I stayed there and made a day trip to Bruges. It's quite beautiful but also very friendly and warm. It has a very charming vibe to it, and there is a lot to see and do.

Posted by
394 posts

Hi Andrea,

Another fan of Huis Koning B&B (mentioned earlier), however I don't believe they have a room with 2 single beds. When we stayed there last Sep, all four rooms were doubles. Bruges' train station isn't really near its old town, but nothing a €20 taxi can't remedy to get you to the station for 25-min I/C to Gent-Sint-Pieters. Ghent would get my vote over Antwerp, but both are very enjoyable in their own rite. If you choose Ghent for daytrip, be sure to stop into Het Waterhuis for Avec les Bons Voeux, a beer I still think about eight months after enjoying on their patio. :)

Posted by
10325 posts

Hey Matt,

Thanks for your response. It means a lot that a friend has stayed there and recommends it. I’ve been emailing back and forth with Lynn. She told me that the bed is 2 twins pushed together with separate bedding. We can handle that. In fact that method seems to be common. Thankfully my friend and I have known each other for over 40 years and this will be our 3rd trip to Europe together.

It looks like a day trip to Ghent is in order. I know Marie will enjoy it more. You know I don’t drink beer, but I’m sure Marie will be willing to have one for you. 😉

Posted by
33113 posts

If you want to do a boat ride, or your friend does, I think they still run into the winter. Not sure.

If they are I prefer, having done both, the one in Bruges. All the boats, no matter which boarding area you use, do the same route. We prefer the boarding area near the fish market. They are very hokey, and the "guide" has the same multilingual patter, but the route is actually very scenic. I love the buildings and atmosphere of the town, even if there are lots of tourists around.

The boat in Gent is a bit more focussed on the University area and a lot of what you see is modern. Scenic too but I prefer the other..

While similar in many ways the two towns are very different. That's good - makes for variety.

When you are at the Burg in Bruges there is a Crowne Plaza on the corner. I like it and its breakfast buffet quite a lot, but really chafe at their underground parking price which is astronomical. In the basement - available by lift and stairs - is Roman artefacts in situ. Nothing fancy but worth a peek. (nice toilets down there too) ask at the desk and they will point you in the right direction.

It has been a few years for us now. Most often we stayed at B&Bs (real ones) in Bruges and hotels in Gent. In Bruges the two hotels we have used are one, a former RS book suggestion which was so bad it was removed from the book and I won't name it. The other, the Crowne Plaza when we felt flush. Also a couple of 1 star tourist places a few miles away. (we have been to Bruges lots, and visit Gent for the best chocolates, now staying on the outskirts since the Harmony made its way into the book and we can no longer afford it).

Posted by
10325 posts

Nigel, thanks for the tips. I’ve only been to Bruges once before. It was also December, just after Christmas. We lucked out that it was the weekend and the Christmas market was going on. It was COLD! We didn’t go on a boat ride. As a matter of fact some canals were frozen over. Hopefully we can do it this year.

I booked the B&B Huis Koning and am excited about staying there. They have only 4 rooms. On booking dot com they have a 9.9 rating, though it seems almost impossible to book that way. I booked directly with the B&B.

Posted by
162 posts

I loved both Ghent and Antwerp but if I had to choose between them for a day trip, I would go with Ghent. The Altarpiece alone is worth it, plus the town itself is a gem. In Bruges...and this was just about a month or so ago... I stayed at B&B Setola and it was great. I had a big room (with an extra loft bed) and was served a fine breakfast every morning. There's a free shuttle (van) to the train station...the stop is a short walk away. Well within your budget. Friendly hostess.

Posted by
10325 posts

Thanks for the recommendation, Don. I already booked a room at Huis Koning B&B.

Posted by
3 posts

Hey Andrea, when you go to Bruges around Christmas check out the Winter Glow festival before you arrive https://www.visitbruges.be/en/winter-glow
There are the Christmas markets, a light trail and other things and there's a map with all of it on the website.

If you're going to Ghent or Antwerp check out https://www.belgiantrain.be/en (official website) for the trains and keep in mind that for Ghent you also need to take a tram into the city centre.

Posted by
18 posts

We were just in Bruges and stayed at Hotel Adornes. It was perfect, great location, nice staff, clean, safe and reasonable priced. I would recommend it.

Posted by
10325 posts

Thanks Muniman, as I mentioned on 7/2 I have booked a hotel already.

Posted by
10325 posts

wessler.erik, thank you so much for the link to visitbruges. I’ve bookmarked it and I was happy to see that the Christmas markets do occur during the week. There are other events that look interesting as well.

Posted by
33113 posts

I neglected to mention way back when we started talking on this thread, that the last winter I was in Bruges (pre plague) the Grote Markt was converted into a small Christma Market around a medium sized skating rink in the centre.

Posted by
10325 posts

Thanks Nigel. Being the California girl I am, I don’t ice skate. I am very much looking forward to seeing Bruges at its festive best. We were there the weekend after Christmas in 2008 and enjoyed the Christmas Market, but the reality is that on our 2 week trip I was so cold (it was unusually cold according to locals) that the weather has become the what I remember most. This trip I plan to be better prepared.