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Planning a trip to Belgium, need some help!

Never been but planning a Belgium trip spring 2025……would love your thoughts as to where to go, do not miss this, stay here for this number of nights….i am a seamstress so the lace spots are interesting to me ……we are willing to add Amsterdam and any other location that would be a good idea….we are WW2 buffs and WW1 as well….would love any addition to our trip that might cover that history as well. Thank you so much!

Posted by
7921 posts

how many days and when exactly; I like that area better near the start of May, that way you can see the flowers blooming for they are harvested around the 2nd week of May

Posted by
7584 posts

The big four cities in Belgium for most are Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and Antwerp. Ghent is a wonderful city and makes a good base for visiting each of those cities, but if you have an interest in a city, it is worth a couple nights to stay there. For example, since you are interested in Lace, 2 or 3 nights in Bruges might be warranted, since there is a museum there. Trains get you around all these places.

For WW1 interest, the Ypres area is especially interesting, with a good museum or two, memorials, and remnants of trenches. You can get there by public transport, though I found a car handy for that part of the country. For WW2, most sights are in the Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge area, about 3 hours by train, so an overnight or two is probably warranted. There is a decent military museum in Brussels, but it cover a wide range of Belgian military activity, less so WW1 and WW2.

Covering the areas above is a full two weeks. The Netherlands is close and lots to see, Amsterdam is 3 nights minimum without seeing everything, depending on when in Spring, the Tulip fields are a draw.

My advice would be to make a short list of "must Sees" or "dos" and figure out what the maximum amount of time you can allow (A week? Two? Three?, a couple Months?). Might also narrow down if Spring is March, May, or somewhere in between. With that, you can get more detailed advice.

Posted by
93 posts

We went to Belgium last year with the main goal to see Chrissy Hynde and the Pretenders.

We landed in Brussels, took a train to Bruges and stayed 2 days, the city is gorgeous to walk around the restaurants and Museums are awesome (Royal Museum of Fine Arts with excellent Brugel paintings, Brugge also has great beer halls and we went to an excellent restaurant called DeStove).

Then on to Antwerp via train for 2 more days and had some great meals, cool art scene this is where we saw the Pretenders. Also, they have a great Printing Museum that is a must see.

Then headed back to Brussels for 2 days and toured around visiting the capital, good beer and nice restaurants.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
877 posts

Thank you so for your advice……this sounds great!

Posted by
7394 posts

I wonder if you meant to cite the combined Ancient and Modern Art museums in Brussels, rather than Bruges? There is also an excellent Royal museum (KMSKA) in Antwerp.

Posted by
6636 posts

I would second the recommendation for staying in Ghent. I was there for three days and loved it. It’s a very attractive city, with a lot to see and do and many good restaurants and cafés. You can get to other cities from here by train quite easily.

Posted by
785 posts

For your lace-making interest, be sure to pick one or two Béguinages for your itinerary. These all-female communities were often epicenters of lace, and UNESCO has awarded World Heritage status on Flemish Béguinages. Here is a very nice article summarizing some of the best sites. We visited the one in Kortrijk and really enjoyed learning about these unique places.

Posted by
1817 posts

For WW2 buffs there is also an interesting sight near Oostende: Raversyde, where a part of the Atlantic Wall has been preserved.

https://www.raversyde.be/en

It is easy to get to by public transit as it is on the coastal tramway line. Can be combined with a visit to the Belgian coast.

Posted by
93 posts

Correction - Yes, thanks Tim - I meant the Royal Museum in Brussels!

Posted by
7394 posts

I think you're going to have to do some research on lace, and make sure the web pages you find are up to date, and then check the hours for any such museums. I personally know nothing about lace. Here are two links to get you started:

http://www.headfordlaceproject.ie/blog/142-st-charles-borromeo-lace-museum

https://taxandriamuseum.turnhout.be/exhibitions

(Note that it is extremely easy to get to Turnhout by public bus from Antwerp (Rooseveltplein Bus area), and the train goes there for slightly more Euros, many times a day. Turnhout also has a very nice little Beguinhof, but the specific Beguinhof Museum is not open every day. We had coffee and cake in the Senior Center in the Begiuinage. It's a pretty little city, but an "advanced topic" for a Rick Steves traveler, I think. Turnhout is on the same train line as Lier, also a nice visit, with a long walk from the Lier train station to the historic area. It is possible to visit both towns the same day, if you have enough time.)

Posted by
10 posts

We are going to Belgium this spring. We will be staying in Ghent and visiting Bruges. We'll also stop by Boom on the way in from The Netherlands to hike through the hidden Trolls of De Schorre (info below), and will stop in Dinant on the way out when going to Germany. This will be my first time but I can share a few unique things we plan to see/do in addition to the typical tourist stuff and what Rick Steves recommends in case they may be of interest to you or others that read this thread.

Hidden Giant Trolls of De Schorre
https://charlieswanderings.com/travelguides/hidden-trolls-de-schorre/

Middelheim Museum, Middelheimlaan 61, Antwerp, Belgium -- Open air art museum
https://middelheimmuseum.be/nl/praktisch

The Procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges
An event in which people come from all over the world to participate in a parade-like procession acting out Bible stories and other stories related to the Holy Blood that is displayed in a church in Bruges. We hadn't planned for this but learned that it will occur while we are there. https://www.bloedprocessiebrugge.be/en/

Posted by
1813 posts

My mom is a lace enthusiast, and she deeply enjoyed the lace related activities in Bruges. I read that way back in the day the entire city was woven out of lace, but eventually they laid stones to keep out the wind.

Well probably not actually true, but my mom did say some very nice things about Belgium and lace, and apparently I listened about as much as any son being regaled by his mother of stories of lace ;)

Posted by
1998 posts

Besides looking for places with WW1 and WW2 history is Waterloo south of Brussels worth to consider too to my opinion. The battlefields are outside this place, the headquarter of Wellington in it’s center.

Posted by
4902 posts

If you're going to the Netherlands, prime tulip time is mid-April, runs into early May. Perhaps check out the Keukenhof Gardens website.
Also, many places are closed Sundays and Mondays, so we chose those days for our international flights.
Once you get your destinations prioritized, check out the market days schedule for each town.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
14580 posts

In regards to your WW1 interest. I would suggest the town of Mons.

Depending how close to the Franco-Belgian border you are, on WW1 and especially if you are motorised, I would suggest the little town of Lambersart, outsdide of Liile, France.

Posted by
36 posts

It would be a shame to miss Keukenhof Tulip gardens if you are in AMS in April to early May. They are spectacular, easily 3 hours at the gardens, if you have any interest in flowers or gardening. The gardens are impeccably groomed and enormous.