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When to stay in a small Belgium town

A first for us after many years of independent travel always using a car - we're landing in Bruxelles but going straight to Bruges for 3 nights. We'll use local trains to explore that little area. Second week in June if that matters. After we leave Bruges we'll be heading to Trier to meet up with a RS tour. We have 4 days to fill and no idea where to rest our heads. We need a town on a rail line (which I gather will be easy) and with enough to do to fill our days wandering. We have been to Antwerp/Bruxelles in days long past and as the RS tour will be taking us into large cities we want to stay small and charming. So - near the French border? Luxembourg? Around Leuven? We've spent time in the Netherlands and have no desire to go back. Not pleased with myself for being so wishy-washy about this - really need
some direction(!). TIA

Posted by
12040 posts

Have you considered Spa in the Ardenne? It's a rather attractive town, if small, but there's also plenty of hiking in the area. And one of my favorite Belgian beers, Bobeline, is only available in the immediate vicinity. Also perhaps Dinant in the Maas river valley, which is probably the closest thing Belgium has to the more famous Mittlerhein or Mosel river valleys. The nearby Abbey of Maredsous is worth a visit, although they don't brew the well-known beer that bears the abbey's name on site. I've spent a lot of time around Leuven, but this area isn't as good for walking. There's a large forest preserve to the south of the city that is criss-crossed with hiking trails, but from the city, you would need to walk at least 30 minutes or more to reach the start of the trail heads. PS- I would describe Leuven as more of a mid-size city (for Belgium) than a small town.

Posted by
252 posts

Hi mimi, I am not sure what your interests are...but look up Ghent...my favorite city so far in Belgium: http://www.visitgent.be/en/do
I think 3 days in Brugges is a lot...but that is just me. If you have time, you can also take a direct train to Dusseldorf or Koln.

Posted by
503 posts

Look into the town of Dinant. Very picturesque and on the rail line.

Posted by
5472 posts

It would be helpful to know specifically which Rick tour, or which countries he's going to cover for you. It's also not clear if you actually would prefer to stay in Belgium until Trier. There's a lot to see in Belgium besides Bruges/Antwerp/Brussels. Assuming: it's "Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 14 Days Tour", which starts in Trier. This tour actually skips over half of Germany, so I'd consider going to Aachen or Cologne before Trier, which are very trainable from Brussels. You definitely don't need a car for the Rhine, while one is helpful in the Belgium countryside. It sounds like you are willing to splurge, so consider a place like Weinromantikhotel Richtershof for a night or two before meeting the tour. (Just don't go to Burg Eltz, since the tour will. This kind of place is good for concierge-ing tasting reservations at the better wineries, that won't take walk-ins.) Although it's an historic city, I don't like Trier as much as Rick does, so I wouldn't stay extra nights there if you have a safe shot at showing up on time.

Posted by
16790 posts

I was going to suggest Cologne, although it is a big city, its easy to get to Trier from there via Koblenz. Tim's suggestion looks enticing. The Mosel valley really is beautiful. You'd get there by taking a train from Brussels to Trier via Luxembourg. That hotel is in Muelheim(Mosel) which requires a 50 minute local bus ride down the winding Mosel. Bus leaves from Trier Hbf. You can get back to Trier for the start of the tour by bus as well.

Posted by
175 posts

...great ideas, thanks all! Chose to stay in Brugge for 3 nights so we can get de-jetlag. We'll be dropping into Ghent and doing the bike trip to Damme - those plus the museums should fill two days easily. We have friends in Neustadt-a-d-Weinstrasse and have spent time in the Palatinate so we'll stay in Belgium; although Nancy/Metz look interesting! I'll look further into Dinant too - such a small place and still spoiled
for choice...and Spa looks intriguing. Dither, dither... Thanks again!

Posted by
121 posts

If you decide on Luxembourg, there is a very nice youth hostel in Larochette. Larochette has a couple of nice churches, lots of great hiking trails and you can easily spend a half day or more exploring the castle ruins that over look the town. Stop at the Portugese grocery for good food.

Posted by
8 posts

Brussels is a good starting point. Depending on when you arrive, Brussels museums are free the first Wednesday of every month. The Royal Gallery and Magritte Museums are both worth seeing. Bruges is a great place to spend a few days. Don't miss the Half Moon Brewery where they are brewing Straffe Hendrik in a triple and quadruple which are great. As far as Germany, Koln (Cologne) is nice, has a great rail service, beautiful church, and close enough to Trier. Trier can probably be done in a day. Koln will give you more hotel options and an easy point to catch other trains if you so desire.

Posted by
12040 posts

PS- If you're considering Dinant as a base, you will probably want to rent a car. It does have a rail connection, but it's the terminal station on a stub line. Dinant itself, although cute, is small and you can see it all in about two hours. If you rely only on rail, your exploration options in the area are limited to Namur.

Posted by
175 posts

Yes, Tom, Dinant and environs calls for a car and if we go that route we'll have to get one. In the meantime, it's back to the Big Map and an Ouija
board. Thanks, everyone!

Posted by
813 posts

Tongeren is a really cute walled town. Sundays are their famous antique fairs, one of the most famous in Europe. It's centrally located and worth 2 full days of sightseeing. Been twice in the last year just for the antique market.

Posted by
12040 posts

I would describe Tongeren more as a town that has fragments of a wall remaining, rather than a "walled town". But I agree, it is a pleasant small city. I have not visited the antique market, but I know a woman in this area of Germany who regularly travels there soley for the market, so it must be something special.