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Three nights in Belgium

I'm getting into planning our April trip. We will have 3 nights in Belgium. Not sure which direction we will be going (either coming from Paris or Netherlands). We most likely will arrive in the late afternoon/early evening, then have two full days before moving on.

So if you wanted to base yourself in a good spot for transportation/day trips for 3 nights, where would you choose? I really don't want to move around with only a few nights.

The only thing really on my list to see (for now) is Bruges, so anywhere else is a bonus...maybe Ghent, maybe Antwerp...looking at google maps, Ghent seems to be central to these places...so maybe a place with a little bit of charm that we can explore in the morning or evening, then head out for the rest of the day to sightsee elsewhere...

Posted by
4684 posts

Staying in Ghent would be enjoyable, but really Belgium is small enough and the rail network comprehensive enough that you can stay anywhere, unless you want to explore really isolated countryside areas.

Posted by
2487 posts

This summer I stayed in Gent for a few days. Lively place and an excellent base for everything you're likely to be interested in: half an hour from both Brussel and Brugge, and one hour from Antwerpen.

Posted by
7078 posts

On my last trip to Europe I flew into Brussels and spent 3 nights there before continuing on to Germany. I did a day trip to Bruges and 1/2 day in each of Ghent and Antwerp. I spent 1/2 day plus the evenings in Brussels. My reason for staying there was mostly for the convenience and I didn't really know anything about the other towns, except for Bruges of course (hard not to know something about Bruges). If I had it to do over again I would stay in Ghent. I loved the time I spent there and I really liked the vibe of the city - I'm a sucker for college towns, love the youthful vibrancy of them. It just seemed more like a real livable city than Bruges. I also liked Antwerp and wouldn't be averse to staying there, but I think Ghent is a bit more centrally located for day trips. You can't really go wrong with any of the 4 (Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent).

Posted by
1005 posts

Ghent is centrally located and has loads of charm--I'd stay there. When considering day trips, don't forget Brussels. The lack of tourist hordes makes it much more enjoyable nowadays, and they've turned the city center into a pedestrian-only zone.

Posted by
3941 posts

Of course - I'm contemplating using air miles for our hotel stay in Belgium (the flights available thru air miles for us to go over right now aren't syncing with what I want to do for flights - and I think I may get more value using them for hotel stays).

Ghent/Gent may not have any available for the days we stay. There are actually some nice ones in Brussels (Best Western or Sheratons) that fall within my miles range, one in Bruges, none in Antwerp (but one in Lier?). So whichever days we settle on will determine availability in each place. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Ghent tho since it seems like a nice central option.

Thanks for the help!

Posted by
4535 posts

Ghent or Brussels would be good. Brussels is an overlooked destination and a great city. Not just the Grand Place area, but fantastic neighborhoods and incredible Art Nouveau architecture. Ghent is a great small city with a lively historic center and scenic river. Very centrally located for short daytrips.

Posted by
2744 posts

Nicole, I only did Ghent as a day trip and really enjoyed it. I spent four nights in Brussels and just loved it. I know it's not universally loved, but I fell in love with it, so you might too. The Grand Place may be my favorite site in Europe, and I loved all the streets surrounding it. Great window shopping and great food and beer. As the poster above mentioned, there are many interesting neighborhoods.

Posted by
11294 posts

Reactions to the "big four" in Belgium - Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent - are very individual and varied, and you won't know how you feel until you see them for yourself. Personally, I loved Antwerp, liked Bruges a lot, was slow to warm up to Ghent but liked it by the end of my day there, and found Brussels a snooze, except for my wonderful Art Nouveau tour by ARAU: http://www.arau.org/en/tours

As said above, with a base in one you can get to the others in an hour or less, so you can see any of them as a daytrip. So, since you're using points for your hotel, stay in whichever city has a centrally located hotel good with your points.

Posted by
3941 posts

Thanks for all the opinions - I really am leaning towards Ghent/Gent...maybe I can use my air miles for our Paris visit or for somewhere in the Netherlands.

Posted by
703 posts

we used ghent as a base, last year in may/june, for about 3 days and it was ideal. easy train ride to bruges, and a nice city to explore and stay in, we were glad we stayed there.
we found it less 'touristy' than bruges. exactly how others had described Ghent.
with only 3 nights I would stay in one place IMO.