Hi, I am heading to Germany in January, but when booking my flight, I was able to schedule a 24 hour stopover in Belgium. I arrive at the Brussels airport at 9 am and fly out again 24 hours later. Initially, I had planned to stay at the airport's Sheraton airport and spend the day in Brussels after dropping my bags at the hotel. However, I am now considering other options. I have been to Brussels before and would prefer spending the day somewhere new. I was looking at train times, and it seems I could go to Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges, etc. instead.
So my questions are:
1. If I love smaller cities that aren't very touristy and I love walking around and soaking everything in, which town would be the best place to spend the day?
2. Would I be better off staying at the Brussels airport Sheraton, dropping my bags, and then just traveling to my destination town and back in the same day OR should I travel with my bags and stay in the destination town? How soon before my flight would I need to get to the airport? And would there be trains that early?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions! :)