Hello! We are going on a trip to Belgium. We will pass by Brussels, Bruges and Ostend. We have the choice of spending half day in Bruges and half day in Ghent, or a whole day in Bruges. I am wondering if it is better to spend a whole day in Bruges. What do you suggest? Is Ghent not to be missed? Is it very impressive?
What can we do in Bruges? Is it expensive to take a tour in the canals? I heard it is very beautiful. Is it easy to go around by public transport or walking? What are the best attractions?
What is there to see and do in Ostend? What are the best attractions?
Are Ostend, Brussels and Bruges expensive cities? Are there many nice places to eat? Are these cities safe? Any ideas and suggestions?
Thanks a lot!
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 26, 2008, at 10:03 AM by audry79 ]
Ghent is definitely worth a visit, however, you'd be hard pressed to visit both Ghent and Brugge on teh same day. They are not far apart by train, though, if you do try it. Both cities are small enough to get round on foot. In Brugge, I didn't bother with a canal tour, as you can get really good canal views just from walking round. If city vistas are your thing, definitely go up the Belfort (on Markt, so you can't miss it), though it does involve LOTS of stairs so you need to be feeling fit. Stairs that get ssteeper and narrower the further you go...
In Ghent, the best place for a city view is by visiting Het Gravensteen, to the north of hte centre, on Sint Veerle plein. Het Gravensteen is a castle, but at one point you go out onto the roof, with good views of the city.
I did manage to see Ghent in an afternoon, though Brugge took a full day. Partly because hte sheer volume of tourists means getting through is sometimes difficult. Ghent is actually quite similar in a way, but without touroists.
There's not much really in Oostende, though if you can get a glimpse of teh marina on a clear day as the sun is setting behind it, that is the one thing that makes it worth vitising - beautiful.
Brussels needs several days at least - I spent 5 months there and there's so much I didn't see. It's not overly expensive. Get a day ticket for teh public transport (about 4€ when I was last there, last summer), as Brussels is too spread out to get round on foot. Snacks, such as frites, sandwiches etc, are really cheap, and probably te best way of filling up. Most of the restaurants were slightly out of my student budget, and food in teh supermarkets is also a bit more expensive than in the UK. In Brussels, I recommend seeing teh Africa museum in Tervuren (Tram #44 from Montgomery (on line 1B on the métro, from teh centre, in teh direction of Stockel / Stokkel) to the Tervuren terminus, tehn it's just a few mins up teh road. If you reach teh British school, you have gone too far! The Grande Place . Grote Markt is not to be missed. The Mannekin Pis neabry is also a tourist pull. A walk round teh Marolles district looking at the paintings on walls is good (though it's not the nicest of areas). The Basilica in Koeklberg is good, and from teh roof you get good views. Get métro 1A or 2 to Simonis (it's teh terminus for line 2 - from teh centre it's a lot quicker on line 2), tehn either walk, or get tram #19 towards Groot Bijgaarden for a few stops, as the entrance to teh Basilica is round teh back from Simonis.
1. Ostend has its charm. If you like (modern) art, the cities art museum (several locations) are interesting. But the 2 other cities have much more to offer.
2. Ghent and Bruges are both very impressive cities, with a very long history, dozens and dozens of buildings, musea, spots, canals, churches, abbeys, ... to be visited. It is absolutely useless to spend less then 2 days in EACH. There is so much to see, but things are not concentrated around one place, certainly not in Gent. I repea, I can not give any information about one or 2 'must see' places, because the thing with these cities is that the (medieval) history needs to be discovered by walking for hours and hours through different historical quarters of the city, definitely not by rushing through them like headless chickens do (and Japanese tourists usually).
3. Prices are 'normal' for western european cities, but in the touristic heart of Bruges things can get more expensive.
4. Bruges is a city that should be explored entirely on foot. There are some bus lines, but you don't really need them. The boats on the canals are not for transport, just for tourist tours. The same goes for Ghent, but to get to some sights you'd like to take the bus or tram. These are 'out of the way', and there is absolutely no chance that you'll figure out what bus to take to go to for instance the 'SMAK' (museum site, you'll neasily need 2 hours there) in half a day, leaving the historical centerthat in itself requires more then a day.
5. Everybody has a different taste, so between Antwerp, Bruges, Gent, Brussels, Leuven, Mechelen (the belgian 'art cities') it is difficult to choose. Probably the 'best' is still Bruges.
6. My suggestion would be : arrive in Bruges in the afternoon, and do some exploration first. Roam the small streets in the evening. The next day, spend a whole day in Bruges. The 3rd day, travel to Gent, and spend a whole day in Gent. If you plan to visit many musea, spend a 2nd day in Gent.
7. Brussels is a spread out city, with a 'heart' that is difficult to find. do NOT choose Brussels as your first destination, but only after you have got to know Belgium a bit already.
8. A whole day in Leuven, a whole day in Mechelen, 2 days in Antwerp : the art cities can easily fill up a week.
9. If your visit is going to be really short, then GET PREPARED, and buy a guidebook, read all about the city before going, and try and memorize part of the city map.
Thank you very much for your replies. We really appreciate the help.
Actually, we are going on a tour and we don't have much choice in the matter of going to places other than the listed. We will stay in a hoetl in Bruges. It is a 4 day tour, being the first day spent on the road. On the second day, we have the choice of spending the whole day in Bruges or pay extra and go to Ghent and spend the second half day in Bruges. The third day will be spent in Brussels and the last day, we will spend the first half in Ostend and then head to Calais to take the ferry back to UK. Considering your answers, it seems better to spend the whole second day in Bruges.