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Brussels or Ghent or Luxembourg??

Hi Everyone,

I'll be doing the RS Belgium/Holland Tour in June. I'm getting ready to make reservations for my hotel since I arrive for the tour one day ahead of time. I haven't really decided if I should just go directly to Ghent from the airport, stay in Brussels overnight then go to Ghent the next morning, or perhaps, train to Luxembourg and stay there overnight before going to Ghent.

I enjoy photography, people watching, just walking around and getting the feel of a place, and an occasional museum.

I wouldn't mind going to Luxembourg since I doubt I'll get there again any time soon and it looks beautiful, in terms of photography opportunities. I'm not sure how far it is from Brussels airport and if it makes sense to travel "all that way" for just one evening, especially as I'll be jetlagged?

Or, should I stay in Brussels overnight and check out things there? I've heard there's actually not tons to do there. Or, should I just head straight to Ghent and get ready for the tour.

FYI, other than an afternoon in Brussels about 20 years ago, I haven't been to any of these places.

Any advice???

Thanks as always!

Posted by
134 posts

Travelling from Brussels to Luxembourg by train takes 3 hours. It is 150 miles away from Brussels.
Both Brussels and Ghent are very interesting cities to visit and have very beautiful museums.
If interested by African Art, the museum of African art in Tervuren in the outskirts of Brussels is very interesting. The arboretum in the same village is also of interest if wheather is nice.The board museum in centre of Brussels has many interesting old paintings. If you go in Belgium, do not miss Bruges and Antwerp.

Posted by
6372 posts

For me a lot would depend on what time you land in Brussels and what time the next day you plan to be in Gent to meet up with the tour. For instance, if I landed at Brussels before 9am and didn't have to meet the tour until dinner the next evening, I might consider a train ride to Luxembourg for an overnight just to do a 'look around' and say I'd been there. However if you land in Brussels after 9am and plan to meet the tour the next day before 4pm, I would just go to Gent (if I could get a room at the tour hotel) and relax and enjoy something that is not on the tour itinerary. I am not much affected by jetlag and am usually pretty ambitious on my first day, but not everyone is the same. If you've traveled to overseas before and know you'll be dragging the first day, then you know what to do - settle in and relax.

Posted by
8674 posts

I have been looking at the RS Belgium/Holland tour as well! I spent an afternoon and a morning in Brussels last June and it was not enough time to really see anything. I did love the people-watching in the Grand Place! My word! The antics of the selfie-takers elevated that activity to a new level. I also liked going back to the Grand Place around 7 the next morning to see it without the crowds. Depending on what time your plane gets in, I would vote for a Brussels overnight. From the itinerary you just get the one day trip in to Brussels and it looks pretty full.

Of course, I have not been to Ghent since the mid-70s so others may think this a better option!

editing to add: If you are traveling solo, I stayed at the Ibis off Grand Place. Altho I was traveling with my brother I would have felt comfortable there on my own.

Posted by
5012 posts

Since Rick includes Gent and Brussels, it might be better to stay somewhere else. I agree that it's wise to travel a day early to meet a fixed-schedule tour. Luxembourg is missable, but if you got a low price from Luxembourg Air, that's a good reason to visit a nice-enough city.

These are not your only choices. Two hours from Brussels is superb Cologne, Germany-good for three or four days. (Buy train ticket early for really cheap seat.) OTOH, right beside the Brussels airport is Leuven, a historic (if past fire damaged) and welcoming university town, with prices held down by the dominance of student life there. Great smaller art museum, famous city hall and cathedral, first-class Beguinage. Almost as nice on foot, Mechelen, once upon a time one of Europe's major cities. Bigger than either of these, Antwerp, which Rick doesn't (check me on this) include on the tour you're taking. But it's nearly as nice as Bruges, and has multiple times as many things to do.

On weekdays, trains are frequent and cheap. Your only problem is long lines at the human-windows because you can't use your US card to buy a ticket at a machine.

Posted by
260 posts

Although Brussels as a city kind of boring (which may have been due to being at a R.S. hotel in the downtown most touristy area), I regretted not having enough time for the excellent art museums - right downtown too. Also have a wonderful musical instrument museum if that is of interest to you. So if art is your thing, Brussels is fine. People watching, etc - meh. At least in the area that I was in.

Posted by
556 posts

Thanks for the thoughts so far.

FYI, this will be my fifth RS Tour, so I know what to expect. However, in terms of jet lag, it seems to be different each time. Last year, I arrived in Paris, took a two-three hour nap in the afternoon, and was good to go the rest of the whole tour. The tour before that, it took me 2-3 days to get over it.

"Florence", the arboretum sounds nice! That might be about the pace I would want for the first day.

I arrive in Brussels around 9:30 am and the tour starts the next day at 3:30 pm. What would you do Nancy?

Pam, sign up for the June 24th tour - I like meeting people from the Helpline!!! :)

Tim, would you go to Cologne for only one day? If not, which of the other towns you mentioned would you prefer to spend the night in?

Laura, which part of the city did you stay in?

Thanks for all the thoughts so far. :)

Posted by
6372 posts

"What would you do Nancy?"

Wow, I forgot all about Antwerp, thanks Tim for the reminder. I loved it there, only had 1/2 day, but would love to go back and see more. That would be a great option for an afternoon, overnight, and morning and just a short train ride to Gent to meet the tour. And since it's not on the tour itinerary it's a chance to see another Belgian city that you might not get otherwise.

Posted by
8674 posts

Gretchen, rats,...I have signed up for a program in Yellowstone near that June date but WOW it would be fun to meet up with another helpliner! A friend and I met up with a helpliner in Paris in Sept and it was so much fun.

Posted by
26449 posts

Another vote for Antwerpen. Be sure to leave enough time to look around what I think is the super-neato-keen train station. I've never before or since seen a station with so many different floors for the trains. It used to be a dead-end station and a few years ago they drilled tunnels at a lower level so that Thalys and other through trains could go right through instead of making the connection in Berchem. It is well worth checking out, (plenty of escalators and lifts), and there are lots of really nice architecture around the town. Look at the Cathedral and find the sculpture dedicated to the builders.

If, in the unlikely event, you get bored with Antwerpen, just a few minutes train ride just over the border is the absolutely beautiful Bergen-op-Zoom, Netherlands. See if you can find the little house which used to be a candy shop (look for the candy floss / cotton candy), or the really big relief map sculpture outside the ice cream shop.

Posted by
5012 posts

Gretchen, if I had a free add-on like Frankfurt-Cologne to my international flight, and could get there in the morning, yes, I'd consider Cologne for one night - not if you have to go to Brussels/Gent the same day. For example, the Koln Dom is the most visited single monument in Germany. But I've been to Cologne twice, for three days each time, in connection with other destinations. Note, however, it is NOT a location to take a Rhine dayboat from. For some reason, no one here combines Cologne with the scenic segment of the Rhine. As a result, Cologne is seldom mentioned at all.

As I noted, I love Antwerp. While it has a mild case of Amsterdam (i.e. some soil and homeless), it is more attractive than Brussels, and there's much more to do than in Gent. (The Castle of the Dukes of Brabant is overrated.) It's exceptionally nice on foot, while Brussels is more spread out. Watch the flashmob video in the Centraal Station Antwerp online somewhere.

Posted by
31 posts

Gretchen. While I think the tour should spend more time in Brussels I think you should head for Ghent and make sure you see the Ghent Altarpiece. Hotel harmony ( hopefully that is where you are staying )is a lovely place right on the canals. In Ghent you are taken on a walk through the old town and a lovely canal cruise but really do not visit any churches or museums on the RS tour.

The tour does a very good job of showing you a lot of Brussels in a day and there is time at the end to visit other museums

My husband and I did the same tour last year. We arrived in Ghent 2 days early and took the train to Antwerp for one if those days. We really enjoyed the ambiance if Ghent.

Have fun. It is a lovely your

Jennifer Anderson

Posted by
9 posts

Gretchen:

I think we are on the same tour as you! June 24th?

We are also arriving early for the tour. I decided on two nights in Brussels and then we have two nights in Ghent before the tour starts. (although there are always the possibility for day trips somewhere... these are the places we are sleeping at least!) I just made our hotel reservations during one of our snow storms!

I'll be traveling with my mom, and my 16 year old daughter.. we too are multiple tour alums.
I don't usually post here but couldn't resist connecting with a fellow tour member!

Erin