Brussels or Bruges

We are planning a trip to Europe for next summer and want to begin in Belgium. We have been to Europe numerous times but never to Belgium. I have allowed two and a half days. Do I want to stay both nights in Brussels and day trip to Bruges or focus primarily on Bruges and stay there.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2313 posts

I have been to both. I would not return to Brussels (a big commercial center) but would go back to Bruges in a minute.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1606 posts

You could stay in either place. But if you stay in Brugges, make sure you day trip to Brussels. The Grand Place is one of the top sites in Europe.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24153 posts

Barbara, My suggestion would be to stay primarily in Bruges and do day trips to Brussels and/or Ghent (depending on exactly what sites you're most interested in seeing). If the weather is good, one very pleasant activity is a bicycle ride from Bruges to Damme (about half an hour). Have a pint or two and a meal in one of the Pubs and then return to Bruges. Happy travels!

Posted by bronwen
maplewood, new jersey, usa
792 posts

Loved Ghent. Brugges was pretty dead at night.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
2877 posts

Depends on your travel style. Brussels is a big, business-focussed, city and many areas are heavily modernised, although there are a number of very attractive early-twentieth century buildings if you like that era. Bruges is much more historical in appearance in the centre, but can have an overpowering atmosphere of tourist resort.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11066 posts

I discover something new and interesting everytime I've visited Brussels. I loved Brugge the first time, but the returns have diminished substantially on each subsequent visit. That being said, for a first time visitor, Brugge or Gent would probably make better home bases. Stay in Gent if you want some night life, stay in Brugge if you want the place to yourself after dark.

Posted by Crash
Vance, Alabama
146 posts

Barbara, I'm with the majority here. If you have never been, then Bruges would probably be better, with day trips to Ghent and Brussels. If you ride bikes, Ken's suggestion of the riding a rental bike to Damme and back to Bruges would be great in the summertime, if the weather's not too hot. If you like beer, Belgium is the place! But, I'm with Tom, about Brussels. The place does grow on you, the more you go. The flea market, held at Place du Jeu de balleat, has really, really cool stuff for sale. And one of our favorite places to drink beer is the Poechenellekelder Bar. (It's close to the pee'ing boy statue.) An old puppet theatre turned into a bar. To say it is strange and eclectic inside is an understatement. If the weather's nice, you can sit outside at the tables.
The thing about Brussels is, you have to get out of the big touristy areas by doing your homework. Good Travels.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

Personally, I would spend more time in Brussels than in Bruges, but that's just based on my own interests and tastes. Regardless, here are a couple of lodging options for you: Brussels – Chez Dominique and Bruges – Absoluut Verhulst.

Posted by JS
Bay Area
2365 posts

Bruges is one of my favorite european towns. It has it all. allow at least 2 nights. i stayed 3 and could have easily extended it as it was so good.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
1116 posts

Brussels was worthwhile for less than one day for me, while Bruges captured my attention and of the two is the city I would first return to when visiting Belgium next. My opinion is to day trip from Bruges to Brussels.