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Belgium & Holland Tour

Hello all,

I recently joined this September 13th tour. Due to a big savings in airfare, I am arriving in Brussels on the 9th, and would love some suggestions for hotels and things to see in Brussels. Thank you for your suggestions and time.

Posted by
13225 posts

I thought this tour was excellent. Let's see..you've got 4 nights ahead of the tour? I'd go to Ghent at least 1 night if not 2 nights ahead.

For Brussels, I'd stay near the Grand Place. I stayed in the Ibis near Grand Place but there are several other hotels around that square that are good and convenient both to Grand Place and the Central station. Although I was traveling with my brother when I stayed there I'd easily stay there on my own.

For Brussels - Grand Place, Galeries Royale Saint-Hubert (a very old shopping "mall", lol), do Rick's walking tour of the area. I've enjoyed the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. There is a musical instrument museum if you are interested in that topic. On the tour you will do a day in the WWI battlefields which are very interesting BUT next time I go to Brussels I want to either go out to Waterloo on my own or take a day tour to visit the area of the Battle of Waterloo where Napoleon met his defeat. That might not interest you at all, though!

Posted by
23 posts

Pam,

Thank you for your help. I will look into the Ibis. I am doing this trip for the art and want to definitely see the Musee Old Masters and am looking forward to adding on the Hague at the end of the trip. I will add more time to Ghent before the tour begins.

Posted by
1 posts

I went on Belgium/Holland tour in May 2022. It was wonderful.

I also started in Brussels for the museums. It was a charming town. I stayed at the Le Dixseptieme, which was one of my favorite hotels ever. Great location near Grand-Place. I really enjoyed the Magritte museum.
I also went to Ghent a day early to explore the city more before the tour started.

Posted by
13225 posts

Deb, if you like art, then definitely go to see the Ghent Altarpiece ahead of the tour. The tour includes it but it is so spectacular that for me, I needed to visit twice. There is an awesome augmented reality presentation in the crypt of Sint Baafs before you go upstairs to see the Altarpiece and yes, I did this twice. IF you have small travel binoculars take them with you. Get your ticket ahead of time if you go on your own. It can sell out.

I also visited the MSK Museum in Ghent. I went on my own before the Rick tour (walked from the hotel but there are trams) and it has a nice collection. I visited again with a Road Scholar tour for a guided tour which was good as well. The first time I went there they were still restoring the Altarpiece and I could have stood forever at the viewing windows watching them work with what looked like dental picks and Q-tips. Fascinating! That was over when I visited the 2nd time so just saw the permanent collection.

The Musee of Fine Arts in Brussels is excellent as well. Just a head's up. When I went in May 2022 this was a museum that made me check my normal travel purse. I don't mind doing that if I know ahead of time and can have valuables stashed in a money belt but I hate it when I'm caught off guard. It was just a Le Sportsac Everyday Deluxe bag (9.75H x 14W x 5D in https://www.lesportsac.com/products/deluxe-everyday-bag ) but was deemed too big. It was not stuffed. Some in my group (Road Scholar) were able to keep their purses with them. Anyway, after that I downsized to a smaller Baggallini for my last 2 trips although I was not back in Brussels, lol. So...consider what you will carry for your purse. The website is not clear on what they will and will not allow.

https://fine-arts-museum.be/uploads/pages/files/20220614_visitors_regulation.pdf?_gl=1*1ugvw4e*_gcl_au*MTY0MTMxMTczNS4xNjkxNjAyNzQ1

There is a free afternoon in Delft and most of us took the tram to The Hague to go to Mauritshuis. The guide explained how to take the tram and during the walking tour of Delft the local guide pointed out where the tram stop was. At the end of the morning activities we were near the TI office where Ellen, the guide, ushered us in to buy tram tickets. Very, very easy. Download the Mauritshuis app and purchase your ticket on that.

Do get tickets ahead for the Van Gogh in Amsterdam if that is of interest to you. They do not sell tickets at the museum any more. They are all purchased online and of course you can just show the bar code on your phone. I also went for a 2nd visit to the Rijksmuseum after the group tour. This museum is a favorite. It's well laid out and so much to see! Download the Rijksmuseum app and again do your ticket purchase thru it.

What a great time you will have!

Posted by
324 posts

You won't be sorry that you ended up flying into Brussels. It's much simpler and less congested than some larger European airports. If you stay at or near the Ibis Grand Place as others have suggested, you will be very close to the Central train station (Gare Centrale) and to all of the activities near the Grand Place. If you don't have much luggage, this is the one place that I take a train from the airport vs. taking a taxi. The reason is that the trains aren't overly crowded so I can always find a seat by myself for security reasons. (Don't like being jammed in a crowded train with my luggage and trying to avoid pickpockets!)

Even if you're not ordinarily musical, the Musical Instruments Museum is fabulous. Beautiful Art Deco building houses 5 floors of priceless instruments, many of which have been restored. When you walk near the instrument, your headset plays a recording of that instrument playing a period piece. It's right around the corner from the fine arts museum. From there it's a short walk to the Place du Sablon and Wittamer chocolate shop. Also look at the Place du Petite Sablon just across the street. It's a gorgeous little park. Look up the story behind all of the heads.

On the other side of the Grand Place down a small side street heading toward the Bourse, be sure to stop at the Dandoy shop for their traditional speculoos cookies. My boxes never make it home. 😁 Continue down the street to the rear of the Bourse, walk behind it, then go on the street up the side of the Bourse and stop at the Falstaff Tavern. Go inside to see the amazing stained glass. It's also a reputable place to eat.

Belgium is a beer culture, but there are options if you're not ordinarily a beer drinker. Try the Kriek or Framboise, or my favorite, the Hoegaarden Rose. I bring that one home with me, and if I choose to share it, no one initially recognizes that it's beer!

Have fun on your trip. You've chosen a great area, full of art, history, and lovely people.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions.

I did book the Ibis as suggested and am spending two full days in Brussels and heading to Ghent two nights before the tour. I am staying in Amsterdam for two extra nights at the end of the tour. Do you know if you receive a museum pass or Amsterdam pass as part of the tour? There really is a lot to see there. At first I was going to go to the Hague from Amsterdam but after reading reports, it does make more sense to go from Delft. Should tickets be booked ahead?

Thank you again for all of your ideas and thoughts. It is very generous of you. Deb

Posted by
3970 posts

Pam and Linda, thanks so much, I'm heading to the Low Countries next spring. Will bookmark your great info. Thx for sharing!