Short Trip - picking between cities

Hi, My husband and I will be in London in Sept for business and would like to tack on a 3-4 day (plus additional half days on each end for travel time) trip to one of the following cities: Budapest, Stockholm or Brussels/Ghent. We've never been to any of these cities or their countries. We've already traveled extensively in England so we do want to head to the continent. Eurostar access to Brussels is a plus, but flying somewhere is fine too. Yes, it's a short trip, but that is what we can do this time around. Any thoughts on which would be a nice quick getaway location? I will be using hotel pts for the stay and all of the above are well-suited for that with good central Hiltons. We like cultural sites like castles and historic districts, learning about local customs/culture, LOVE walking tours, and are willing/happy to hire a local guide. We speak only English and a bit of Spanish. We're open to all sorts of food. Love to see neat architecture. We will probably limit ourselves to one or two museums (prefer military, furniture, clothing, etc., to art-only). No kids on this trip. We're not really into music and night-life for us more like a pretty walk or sharing a desert in a café than a nightclub. If it helps, my favorite European cities are London and Istanbul. My hubbies are the same. I'd love folks to share their thoughts/ideas, or even a suggestion not on my shortlist. To keep folks from wasting their time, on this trip we're not looking to return to: Italy, Czech Rep., Scotland, Ireland, or France. Thanks so much.
Melanie

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
331 posts

I vote for Brussels/Ghent. First easier access. Lots of Architecture. Beer and Chocolates. Side trip to Bruges. Stockholm is very very expensive...not really that exciting unless you are Swedish. It does have a world class art museum and a Viking ship. BudaPest is fabulous but deserves more time...lots of history...the best food and drink.

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
892 posts

I loved our trip to Stockholm (have not been to Budapest or Brussels). It is expensive, I will agree, but we found so much to do there: VASA, Skansen, the art museum, taking a boat ride in the archipelago, taking a boat ride to the palace, old town, the military museum. Much more. It is also a beautiful city with friendly people.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2892 posts

Brussels/Ghent/Bruges would be a good choice simply because you have the ease of traveling by Eurostar which makes it a good choice for a short trip. Stockholm is a beautiful city and it would be a good choice for a few days. If you do fly, I'd avoid the Ryanair flight that goes to Stockholm Skavsta (which is really in Nyköping) and choose a BA or SAS flight into Arlanda. Gamla Stan (the old town), the Vasa Museum, and the Cityhall (Stadshuset) are all very worthwhile sites. If you want to visit a palace you can go out to Drottningholm. If you want to see a castle, take a day trip to Mariefred and see Gripsholm Slott. Skansen is an open air museum and tends to be better on the weekend than on the weekdays. You can take a boat tour around the archipelago if the weather is nice. I think there is a lot to do. I'm not sure what Viking ship one of the previous posters is referring to. I don't know of any Viking ships in Stockholm. There is one in Oslo. Stockholm does have the Vasa ship, but that is not a viking ship ... it is from the 1600s and sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage. The story of how they raised it in the 60s is fascinating. I've never stayed at any of the Hiltons in Sweden, but there is one on Södermalm near the Slussen tunnelbana (subway) that would be quite convenient. You can just walk over the bridge to Gamla Stan.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2848 posts

I liked all three of your top choices. Well, I didn't like Brussels, except for my Art Nouveau tour through ARAU: http://www.arau.org/en/tours. But it's easy enough to get to Bruges and Antwerp, which (in their different ways) I liked a lot. If you can take advantage of the Stockholm a la Carte promotion http://www.destination-stockholm.com/, Stockholm is not any more expensive than other cities. For a very reasonable price, you get a hotel room and a card good for transit and admissions to almost everything you want to see. In addition, many restaurants feature lunch specials, and most hotels include breakfast; dinner is the only meal you have to spend serious money for (and yes, it will be more expensive than Belgian or especially Hungarian food). I went in summer 2003, when this promotion was available every day; I think it's only weekends in September. For me, despite all the fuss about Belgian food, the best food of the three is definitely Budapest. I'm sorry I can't help you choose further; if I were in your situation and trying to choose which one to go back to, I'd probably start pricing flights and trains, and just go with the cheapest.

Posted by Melanie
Dundas, Minnesota, USA
103 posts

Thanks for the answers so far. They've been helpful. I agree that the easy transport makes Brussells appealing. I've heard that there isn't that much to do there - but I'm sure there is plenty for just a few days. Keep the thoughts coming. I learn so much from hearing about everyone's varied experiences!