Our family is really looking forward to spending 2 or 3 nights in Brugge this April. We are going to splurge and hire a private tour guide and driver for one of our days there. Is there a charming or historically interesting town or site in the Netherlands within 60-90 minutes of Brugge that anyone suggest we visit? Thank you so much in advance for any suggestions, this forum really is such a generous community of travelers!
If you want to travel a little longer around 120 minutes I'd go to Kinderdijk or Den Bosch (hometown of Hieronymus Bosch) or why not tour other areas of Belgium?
We stayed in Antwerp and really loved it. Cute old town and several very cool museums, including the Plantin House museum that chronicles early printing. We also liked our day trip to Ghent. Neither of these are in the Netherlands but are super easy to get to. Enjoy!
It's not the Netherlands but Ghent (Belgium) certainly would fill the bill, and is a lovely city. I don't think I'd sightsee it by car, though; it's another best-seen-on-foot city like Brugge, IMHO. Have you been?
We've not been to it ourselves but I'd read some nice things about Middelburg, Netherlands. That would fall into your desired journey time, and maybe someone else here has been so can say yea or nay.
You can visit the nearby historic town of Damme by riding the four-mile bike trail there from Bruges. Damme was Bruges’ port centuries ago and is as old and as photogenic as Bruges. Although Flemish, Damme is not in the Netherlands.
Being where you will be in Belgium, I would stick to Belgium. From Bruges, to take the best advantage of a car, I would head towards Ypres. The main draw is WW1 sites, but the towns around there are nice, and there are several breweries if you like beer. Other options would be Dunkirk, or some of the seaside towns.
Go to Ghent! One of the most charming places I've ever stayed. In fact, I liked it better than Bruges - I found it more livable, less touristy and it is very easy to get to from Bruges.
Please ignore the nay-sayers. There are in fact several historically interesting and very charming Dutch towns within reach from Bruges. First of all there is Sluis, only 30 minutes away from Bruges. Sluis is a fortified town with a beautiful belfry. More info here; https://www.zeeland.com/en/visit/islands/zeeuws-vlaanderen/towns-and-cities/sluis
A 60 minute drive to the northeast of Bruges brings you to Hulst, another fortified town. The earthen walls protecting the town are still intact and you can take a circular walk on top of the defense ring. More details here https://www.zeeland.com/en/visit/islands/zeeuws-vlaanderen/towns-and-cities/hulst
If you’re up for a longer drive, you can even reach the beautiful historical city of Middelburg. During the days of the East India Company, Middelburg was one of the most important cities in the Netherlands. You can still see many historical buildings from that time. Or you can visit the Abbey, the market square and many other things. Details here; https://www.zeeland.com/en/visit/islands/walcheren/towns-and-villages/middelburg
Thanks Dutch_traveler, luckely someone who knows he is talking about and better informed about the places that can be of interest for the OP.
You can indeed bike to Damme and continue further along the canal to Sluis just across the Dutch border. Like Hulst you can walk on top of the earthen defensive wall surrounding the historic centre as well as following a foot path just outside of it. The first walk takes about an hour. Nearby tiny but charming Sint Anna ter Muiden is certainly worth the extra few kilometers. Ofcourse Sluis is to reach with a car too and taking a bus (line 42 from the railway station in Bruges) is an option too and calls at both places.
If visiting Middelburg include a visit to Veere too, very charming historic former seaport town with to my opinion one of the cutest town halls in the Netherlands and a huge church dominating the place. Not to miss in Middelburg is the Kuiperspoort, a hidden alley between Dam and Rouaansekaai, and the streets around the Oostkerk where you have the feeling being straight back in time. For visiting both places you need a car.
To my opinion go for Middelburg and Veere.
Hey Wil, I was hoping you would chime in also. I’m glad you did, despite being told here that there is nothing where you live. Ouch!
Although I’m not born there, my parents come from Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, near Hulst. I still have a lot of relatives living there and I visit often. I’ve visited Sluis, but I’m much more familiar with Hulst and surroundings. I’m also very familiar with Middelburg because I have friends living there. Every time I’m there, I’m reminded how beautiful the former island of Walcheren is. With Middelburg, Domburg, Veere and the beautiful beaches it really is one of my favorite parts of the Netherlands.
What a surprise Dutch_traveler! Good to learn you often visit and feel connected with the region your parents come from. Before this post had totaly no idea your roots are Zeeuws-Vlaams, seems I can’t be more wrong. Nearby Hulst, is that Clinge, Graauw of Kloosterzande?
Well I walk several times a week along the coast here and in Sluis, but sometimes go to Hulst too. My birthplace is Sluiskil and if in the rest of the Netherlands people think there is nothing (in Sluiskil) I have no problem agreeing. But for the rest is Zeeuws-Vlaanderen a good place to live, a bit busy with all those tourists these weeks, “maar dat brengt wat leven in de brouwerij”
Agree with mentioning Domburg.
“But for the rest is Zeeuws-Vlaanderen a good place to live, a bit busy with all those tourists these weeks, “maar dat brengt wat leven in de brouwerij””
Couldn’t agree more. That’s why it’s very funny to read that some people on this forum believe that there is nothing in the Netherlands 60-90 minutes from Bruges. They clearly have never visited Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and/or Walcheren!
I am humbled that so many of you gave such thoughtful and detailed suggestions. I cannot wait to spend the next week diving in to all of them. So glad our trip is not until April! This forum really is invaluable!
It might be useful to know if the OP mistakenly thought that Brugge was in the Netherlands? It's downright odd to visit Brugge and not have the slightest interest in Gent or Antwerp. And nice places like Leuven, Mechelen, LIer, Turnhout, and more.
Having a driver eliminates parking problems, but he can't guide if he's watching the car. I also question the wisdom of business-day auto use in the busy corridor leading to Brugge. If I had a car and driver in that area, I might visit the Delta Works, but that's kind of a special interest. If I were interested in art, I might go to Antwerp or Lille. In the summer, I might go to Ostend, and ride the beach tram, too. But that would waste the car.
I just want to thank you all for sharing your experiences and wisdom. Someone above mentioned Mechelen, Belgium so I looked it up. And it answered my unrelated question of where I should go for a quick day trip by train from Brussels. Now I am super excited to go.
Unrelated but in case anyone has been, I was also thinking of walking 2.5 hours from Brussels to Grimbergen (because I want the exercise and to just randomly walk through neighborhoods on the way) to visit the town and drink the beer. And hopefully get some yummy carbonade.
That sounds wonderful, I will be looking into it!
Not to urge you one way or the other, but because the Nazi-era prison near Mechelen (Breendonk) is quite hard to get to by public transportation, that could also be a high-mileage walk from the last bus stop-if you want to see it. We had a car that day. And I should say that it is a sobering visit, almost in a class with a Camp. But it's also part of another Belgian story, the Mechelen Trials, which were about alleged collaboration, among other topics. That is, the prison was more about intimidating the occupied territory, rather than Extermination.
The prison is quite ready for visits, with an education center and English buttons on the free audioguides. Alas, the adjacent restaurant had gone out of business, so you'd have to settle for the snack bar if on foot.
Wow, I had no idea. Definitely looking into that. Thank you!