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Bruge vs Ghent

Docking in Bruge for one day on a cruise. Looking at a few ship excursions vs exploring on our own. We have done European 3 week trips on our own in the past and get along fairly well. Wondering if we should stay in Bruge or travel to Ghent? What are some of the things we shouldn't miss in either place? Saw some excursions for Chocolate Making or a tour of Ghent. Any and all advice is most welcome. Many thanks.

Posted by
4677 posts

Bruges has more miles of medieval streets, and some important pieces of art. Gent is also very attractive, and has the Mystic Lamb and a more comprehensive art museum (I mean by that that most art in Bruges is Gothic or Medieval, not counting the Michaelangelo Madonna.) Gent is considered number 2 behind Bruges in most rankings. Gent has one or two sights I consider second-rate (like Castle of the Counts) but parents with children enjoy that castle a lot.

You didn't say river or ocean cruise. Many ocean cruises require transport to Bruges - proper. I mention this because a river cruise to Bruges is the rare case of a stop in a town where the trains to Gent are SO FREQUENT that it's not as risky as usual to do an INDEPENDENT excursion - where they will leave without you if you don't get back in time. It's not reasonable to plan to do both in eight or less hours. Check whether anything is closed on the cruise stop day of the week.

Posted by
11465 posts

If you are docking in Bruges, I'd spend your time in Bruges. The old center - where you'll want to spend your time - is picturesque and offers a lot to see and do. I'd skip the chocolate-making thing and spend your time exploring the town's architecture and more important historic sites.

I liked Gent too but you'll have more sightseeing time if you don't use a piece of what time you have getting there and back.

We stayed in Bruges for a few days so you can't fit everything in that we covered but a few personal must-dos besides a walk through the Markt and Burg:
Sint-Janshospitaal:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/sint-janshospitaal-saint-johns-hospital

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk:
https://www.visitbruges.be/highlights/churchofourlady

Jeruzalemkapel:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/jeruzalemkapel-brugge-jerusalem-chapel

Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/basiliek-van-het-heilig-bloed-basilica-of-the-holy-blood

Sint-Salvatorskathedraal:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/sint-salvatorskathedraal-saint-saviours-cathedral

Groeningemuseum (for the Flemish Primitives and some other fine pieces):
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/groeningemuseum-groeninge-museum

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks everyone. I think you've convinced me to stay in Bruges. Visit 1 or 2 museums as well as the Anne Frank House and take a canal ride.
To answer the question of what type of cruise we're on it is a large ship rather than a river cruise. It's a great way to get a cursory glance at places you've never been but the downfall is the limited time spent in each port.
Kathy, I so appreciate all the web sites. I will be viewing them today to try and sketch out an itinerary.

Posted by
1005 posts

Your ship docks in Zeebrugge, not Bruges. If you don't want to pay €50 for a taxi or the cruise excursion to Bruges, catch the coastal tram right outside the port gates (look for a church steeple) and ride the tram to Blankenburge, where it stops right in front of the train station. There are trains leaving hourly for Bruges, and the train ride is only 15 minutes. While there are also trains from Zeebrugge to Bruges, you still need to take the tram to get to the station, and they don't run as frequently as trains from Blankenburge--so smart travelers just ride the tram to Blankenbrege instead.

Posted by
11465 posts

Visit 1 or 2 museums as well as the Anne Frank House and take a canal
ride.

The Anne Frank House is in Amsterdam, not Bruges, and requires tickets purchased far in advance. I also see that you've posted your Bruges/Gent question in the Netherlands forum versus Belgium, where those two cities are located. Just making sure you don't have your locations scrambled?

Posted by
11153 posts

"Your ship docks in Zeebrugge, not Bruges. "

Yes! Don't make the mistake a coworker made. She and her husband spent their few hours in "Bruges" walking around the town where their ship docked, wondering what the fuss was about. Only when they got back on the ship and compared notes with other cruisers did they realize they had spent the day walking around Zeebrugge, and not gone to Bruges at all!

The subject of "Bruges vs Ghent" is an eternal one. Look at videos and read about each one, and see which one draws you more. To me, Bruges is more crowded but more picturesque and appealing; I took some time to warm up to Ghent, but ended up liking it just fine in the one day I had there.

Posted by
907 posts

Interestingly, my Belgian co-worker used to tell everyone to go to Ghent. He said Bruges was filled with tourists but Ghent was a real city. Haven't been to either but I'd go with Ghent or whichever is easier from the ship.

Posted by
11465 posts

We loved Bruges but like any other city, it probably helped to be staying versus day-tripping there. The morning and evening hours the trippers were absent and the canals quiet were golden. We'll give Ghent another shot, though. That one deserved a bit more time than we gave it.

Posted by
4637 posts

Just one little thing: Bruge and Ghent are in Belgium, not in Netherlands. Bruge is a tourist town. Almost everything there is for tourists. Ghent is quite bigger, living town, also with tourists but locals prevail.

Posted by
164 posts

We stayed 3 nights in Brugge and although we enjoyed our time there, it was very touristy. Our B & B host advised us to avoid restaurants in the Town Square.
We did a day trip to Ghent because I wanted to see the Ghent Alterpiece, after learning about it from the movie The Monuments Men. Seeing it was a highlight for me during our time in the area.

Posted by
13925 posts

Are there canal rides in Bruges? I don't remember any.