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7 days for Brussels, Bruges,Amsterdam

We are hoping to be in Belgium mid-September. With 7 nights on the ground ,does this seem reasonable? 2 night in Brussels,, 2 nights in Bruges, ending up in Amsterdam/Haarlem for the last 3 nights? Thanks. Just beginning to plan. We will fly into Brussels. We will use the trains as our transportation. Also is there only one inter-national airport in Amsterdam?

Posted by
15037 posts

You will never see it all, so I think you're allocation is fine, provided you know what you want to see and do. I have been to Belgium twice (Bruges and Ghent) and never stepped outside the train station in Brussels. Trains are frequent and distances are short, so you won't waste a lot of time going from place to place. The international airport is Schiphol, it's about a 20 minute train ride from the Amsterdam Central Station. It's the only one. From Haarlem, there's a direct bus that runs every 10-15 minutes and takes 30-40 minutes. By train, you'd have to go to Amsterdam and change there.

Posted by
236 posts

Thanks for your reply, Chani.... Now I am thinking Brussels will only be a place to land and will go to straight to Ghent for our 1st nights in Belgium.

Posted by
809 posts

YES - go to Ghent. LOVED Ghent. I didn't find anything special about Haarlem. Amsterdam is obviously great. Bruges didn't thrill me - way too touristy. I would say definitely two nights in Ghent and three in Amsterdam. I would fly into AMS and stay three nights, then Ghent two nights, Bruges one night and Brussels the last night - fly out of Brussels. My sister and I did a long weekend a few years ago in October and expected it to be chilly and we were wrong - ended up in tank tops the whole weekend.

Posted by
2081 posts

hi, if thats all the time you have, then thats it. in my opinion (imo) you are spreading yourself thin, but you may like it that way. Schiphol is a big airport. Im using it as my hub to Europe. happy trails.

Posted by
809 posts

7 days is plenty! Especially gluing from east coast - I have done long (4 night) weekends to both Belgium (stayed in Ghent, Bruges and Brussels) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Delft and Leiden) and had a blast.

Posted by
236 posts

Thanks for those responses... We are just back from a business trip in Northern Italy where we were in Milan 3 nights, Florence 3 night.. and took 3 day trips... and yes, we were tired but it's all we had, so we pushed it.. So glad we did. Grateful for any and all ideas.

Posted by
236 posts

If we get to Bruges and find it too touristy, maybe a day trip to Lille would be a thought? In Italy, I found Bergamo(old city) to be a little manufactured for tourists? Any similarities there?

Posted by
207 posts

Just returned from Amsterdam , Belgium et al....Schipol easiest airport I ever used in Europe, Hals museum in Haarlem (15 minute train ride) has one of the best exhibitions right now that I have ever seen. Reopened Rijksmuseum fantastic, go early. One night and most of two days in Brugges might be enough (we hate "tourist towns", Brugges is our chief exception. Try Cafe de Reiger across the canal from Anne Frank, Amstel sign on corner bistro about one block into the neighborhood-great people watching everywhere...Trams easy and frequent. Best wishes...

Posted by
672 posts

If you find yourself with extra time in Bruges, and are into history, you could consider taking a Quasimodo tour to the WWI fields/sites in and around Ypres.

Posted by
516 posts

I would skip Brussels and spend the extra time in Ghent or Antwerp. Brugge is so beautiful at night.

Posted by
236 posts

Wold you recommend 2 nights in Ghent versus 1 night in Ghent and 1 night in Antwerp? This is very helpful!

Posted by
951 posts

2 days in Ghent for the win!
We spent 3 hours in Antwerp and couldn't wait to leave. Although many who post on this forum love Antwerp, we didn't. If there is charm, we didn't see it. Ghent and Bruges are very charming. 3 ams, 2 Bruges, 2 Ghent is a good trip.

Posted by
252 posts

Hi, In your original message you stated 2 nights in Brussels and 2 nights in Brugges...So, I am replying to that one. I would spend 2 nights in Brussels, one in Brugges, and one in Ghent. Why? I loved all 3!!! I also like to be on the move and see as much as I can when travelling...I am not sure if it is the same for you. Trains runs very often and distance are short for these cities!
And for Amsterdam...of course...3 days or more! Wonderful city. Loved Van Gogh museum. (other major museum was closed when I was there...sadly...) Bon voyage!

Posted by
511 posts

I hate checking out of hotels, so I'd pick just two places. I've never been to Belgium, but it's easy to do 4 nights/3 days in Amsterdam. We were there in early April and in three days visited the Hermitage Museum (the Van Gogh Museum was closed by the Hermitage had a Van Gogh exhibition), the Anne Frank house, a walking tour of the Jordaan (using the Rick Steves guidebook), the Urban Adventures tour of Dutch snacks, a canal ride, and a walk through the Red Light district (this one unguided). Order your Anne Frank House tickets at least two weeks in advance and you can skip the lines. Have a great trip!

Posted by
15037 posts

Ghent is about half-way between Brussels and Bruges. If you stay in Ghent (which is the cheapest for lodgings), you can day trip to either or both. You can also leave Ghent (or Bruges) early in the morning, spend the day in Brussels (check your luggage at the station), then get a late train to A'dam. That gives you an almost-full day of sightseeing in Brussels without an extra hotel change. Ghent is quieter than Bruges. Ghent is a university town with many Gothic buildings that are floodlit at night, and it's pretty and serene. Bruges is more picturesque especially during the day but is packed with tourists and lined with tourist shops. Everyone's tastes are different. Some people here were bored by Brussels, others can't wait for their 3rd or 4th visit. That's about the same for just about every destination. Imagine, there are even some people who don't like Paris! Borrow a guide book or two from the library (even the old ones are decades newer than almost all the tourist sights) to get an idea of what to see and do, then you'll have a better idea of which places might interest you more. Frommer's website also has descriptions of the main sights in each destination and rates them.

Posted by
28083 posts

Wold you recommend 2 nights in Ghent versus 1 night in Ghent and 1 night in Antwerp? I try to avoid 1 nighters as much as I can. Two nights gives a decent one full day experience, with one-nighters you can't get under the skin of a place.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Ghent is quieter than Bruges." I would disagree. Whereas tourism is the main business in the old center of Brugge, Ghent is much more of a "living city". When university is in session, many of the clubs and cafes of Ghent are hopping at night. Old Brugge is mostly dead after the sun goes down.

Posted by
236 posts

Thank you all, for your input! We have pretty much decided it will be 2 nights in Ghent, 2 nights in Bruges and 3 nights in Amsterdam. I too, hate 1 nighters! Where Amsterdam is concerned, what are your favourite areas of Amsterdam to stay? Does any one Hotel come to mind as a must do? Would have to stay under $200.00/night and prefer less... Our preference is the clean family type place. I saw several possibly good choices in Rick's book.. Anyone familiar with Boorgards B&B?

Posted by
672 posts

Boogards comes HIGHLY recommended on this site! Type Boogards in the search box to read all the great reviews.

Posted by
809 posts

I though Bruges was a snooze - we had much more fun in Ghent. Much livelier. I don't mind one night stays. We get up early and jump on a train and get to our next stop by 10-11.