Hello, I'm planning a trip to Belgium for 5 days and would love some insight.
My plan is to stay in Ghent for the first 2 days and buy a Go Pass 10 (so I can go to Bruges for one day and Antwerp on the other), then go off to Brussels for the remaining three days. Does this sound doable or is it better to stay in Brussels and take the day trips to all other cities?
I'm traveling alone on a student's budget so cheaper the better.
Any recommendations of places to stay? Things to see? Where to eat?
Hi! I'm living in a suburb of Antwerp and went to the center yesterday. You might see some police men and soldiers but alle the shops, bars, musea and restaurants are open. In Brussels, everything is closed. Even the schools and universities didn't open their doors today. Because the metro also doesn't work, I recommend you to either stay in Ghent en visit the other cities with the train or booking something in Antwerp or Bruges. Staying in Brussels will not be very pleasant now because the streets will be very empty. It would be a pity to see the city like that.
I know Antwerp quite well and lost my heart there so I really recommend to visit the city! Some 'to do' things are: Centraal Station - Astrid (officially the most beautiful one in the world), The (little but cosy) Plantentuin botanical garden, the ModeMuseum (museum for fashion), Rubenshuis, thehouse of Rubens, the neighbourhoud around Nationale straat,.. To eat and drink go to the Waalsekaai or the Vlaamsekaai. Dogma Cocktails (wijngaardstraat) is a really good cocktail bar! If you want to eat cheap, just go the supermarket (Albert Heijn on Groenplaats for example) and go sit in the shopping centre on the other side of the street, the Grand Bazar.
I hope you have a wonderful stay here and aren't bothered to much by the current police-presence.
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Considering what you had to say about you budget, I can say there are some great hostels in Brussels. The facilities were nice, and the fellow travelers were great. Trains to all the locations from Brussels you've mentioned are only an hour or less.
A lot of your decision may be based on where you're flying in, or out of. Do you need to get off the plane and rest right away; or do you want to stay near your departure point so these is less stress on the day you fly out (that's me!)?
Also, there were places I planned to visit for several days, but were done with in one day. If this should happen to you how do you feel about moving your things about? It usually doesn't bother me, but some people (my sister, for one) want to put their things in one place and never move them until they depart.
I'm sure if you consider these things you'll decide what's right for you.
Bruges is beautiful. Although I visited the Straff Hendrick brewery and the Groeninge Museum (both of which I enjoyed immensely) my favorite thing was to simply stroll through the town. Walking along the canals is quite picturesque. There are canal boat cruises available. I picked up food in a local shop and picnicked by the canals.
Brussels is quite metropolitan, yet never looses it's old world charm. This is especially true in the Grand Market. There are several beautiful parks. I enjoyed the Parc de Bruxelles, the Palace de L'Albertine, and the Parc du Cinquantenaire. If you enjoy art, try the Royal Museum of Arts. The Musical Instruments Museum is fascinating. There is no text, no brochures; just headphones. As you approach an instrument you hear it being played. Very cool!
There food everywhere to look; good food, not crap! Try the Pomme Freits with some interesting, or unusual sauce. The chocolates of Belgium are so good! So good in fact there not worth dying for; there worth killing for (just kidding!). For a sit down meal, head down to the Restaurant Row (Rue des Bouchers, I believe). There are lots of choices, reasonably priced, all good. AS you stroll though the alleyway just be prepared for the Headwaiter to approach you, put his arm around your shoulder and extol the virtues of their respective establishments. It's all part of the experience.
Don't neglect to try the extraordinary Belgian Beer. One of my favorite places for this is the Le Bier Circus, located at Rue de L' Enseignemet 89. Their beer menu is like something you'd an a Micheline stared restaurant. There in an incredible beer place on the Impasse de la Fidelite across from the Jeanneke-Pis. I don't remember the name (or how I got back to my room that night), but they had a beer list that looked like a telephone directory.
Whatever you do, enjoy your trip!
Nightlife is most lively in antwerp so this can be a good option to stay, and also centrally located with Brussels, Ghent and Bruges all within one hour by train.
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