ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT A SHORT TRIP? Brussels, Bruges and Ghent ARE WAITING FOR YOU
A weekend break? But where to go to get the most out of your days off? Belgium and its capital, Brussels, are excellent candidates for your short trip: good connections, a good size to get around the city and the country without wasting much time, and a great offer of interesting places to visit, special spots to discover, not to mention its rich cuisine. Three intense days, from Friday to Sunday, that will give you total satisfaction. You will be eager to come back to Belgium!
FIRST DAY: BRUSSELS
The good connections of the Belgian capital will allow you to find enough airports all around Europe with many direct flights. The two most frequently used airports to travel to Belgium and get to Brussels are Zaventem Airport (or National Airport) located 12 km from Brussels, and Charleroi Airport (a city south of Brussels), located 55 km from the capital, especially used by low-cost companies such as Ryanair.
A good option to maximise you time could be to book a transfer to either airport. With this service, Nice Day Tours offers you the possibility to have a chauffeur waiting for you at the arrivals hall in the airport. He will leave you at your hotel. Once you leave your luggage at the hotel the best idea is to go to the heart of Brussels, the famous Grand Place.
If you are the kind of traveler who likes to thoroughly get to know a city, to discover its history and to understand what hides behind its great monuments, then you should join the Nice Day Tours free tour in Brussels , availabe every day of the week at 10:45 am. The meeting point is the tourist office, located in the basement of the Town Hall in the Grand Place. This is a perfect way to start you trip, enjoying a stroll through the historic places of the European capital.
The Grand Place, considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in the world, will be the beginning of the tour, with its breathtaking architecture and its many legends. Afterwards, we will visit the Manneken Pis, the aristocratic district of Sablon, the huge Palace of Justice (Law Courts), the Place Royale and its museums, the nearby Royal Palace and the beautiful Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, among other monuments.
Once you finish the walk around Brussels, you will enjoy the cuisine of the country. In Belgium there are very interesting dishes and a great cuisine. Our guides will recommend you some restaurants in the city centre, but away from tourist places where prices are extortionate and the quality is low. You can head then to Sainte Catherine and Saint Géry, the most Belgian part of central Brussels. Authentic bars, quality restaurants and a unique atmosphere that makes Brussels a city with a different character from other capitals of central Europe.
We propose that you devote the afternoon to visit the symbol of Brussels, the Atomium. This impressive structure, dating back form the Brussels World’s Fare in 1958 (Expo 58), is located in an area far from central Brussels. The best way to get there is the underground. The journey time is about 25 minutes. The underground station for the Atomium is Heysel, at the end of line 6 (dark blue line). Inside this monument, the most interesting feature is the views over Brussels. But if this is not enough for you to go inside this building, you can keep on walking around the area until you get to the Royal Palace of Laeken, where the Belgian kings Mathilde and Philippe live. Nearby is the Chinese Pavilion, the Japanese Tower and the Museum of Japanese Art.
Back to the centre, and once you rest a bit in the hotel, it will be the perfect time to enjoy Brussels nightlife. Brussels at night, unlike many other cities, is not boring at all. It is a very young city, with many activities, full of life at night and where there is always a place to drink a good beer. In the city centre, you will discover the Delirium Tremens, which has the Guinness Record for the largest variety of beers in a room with more than 3,000 brands. After a good dinner and a fantastic Belgian beer (or many), it will be time to go back to the hotel and get ready for your next visit.
SECOND DAY: BRUGES / GHENT
In our second day in Belgium, we will discover two jewels of the Flemish region, Bruges and Ghent. A full day, as there is much to see in these two famous cities. So we will have to get up early. We will leave at 08:30 am towards our two destinations. The meeting point will be Brussels Central Station (Gare Centrale) located in the heart of the city, within a 5-minute walk from the Grand Place.
We will head to the North Sea and after about 100 km west we will arrive in Bruges. When arriving, we will have time to go to the toilet and have a coffee break. We will then begin our tour exclusively in English. A trip back in time around the "Venice of the North", a magical medieval enclave full of canals and small bridges, where we will discover the romantic Lake of Love, the small town inside Bruges called Begijnhof, the traditional beer factory Brugse Zot, St. John’s Hospital, the fascinating Church of Our Lady of Bruges, Tanners square, the beautiful Gothic Town Hall, the medieval Bell Tower (Belfort) and the monumental Grote Markt.
But there is still much to see. So once we finished our visit to Bruges, we will have some free time to have lunch in town. After lunch, we will continue our trip to Ghent, our second destination.
When arriving at the city where Charles V was born, we will begin our tour in the fortress of Gerald the Devil, which was part of the wall of Ghent in the Middle Ages. We will then walk towards the fabulous Saint Bavo Cathedral and the famous altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers, "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”. In front of the cathedral we will admire the great bell tower, a World Heritage Site. We will also visit the Church of St. Nicholas, the medieval harbour and canals of Ghent, the Meat Market and the Fish Market. We will finish our tour in the Gravensteen, the Castle of the Counts of Flanders.
At 19.00h we will be back in Brussels. You may go to the hotel to rest for a bit and get ready to enjoy the last night in the city. Before you have dinner, we recommend that you take a walk around the area of Louise. It is the most luxurious part of the city and where you can find a large number of Art Nouveau style buildings. From there, you can continue towards the Palace of Justice and stop at the Sablon neighbourhood, where you will enjoy the luxurious and elegant atmosphere of this part of Brussels. It has the best chocolate shops in the city, restaurants with a very elaborate, local cuisine. It will be a perfect night to say goodbye to Brussels and get to know its most elegant part.
THIRD DAY: BRUSSELS
For our farewell Sunday in Brussels we can choose between two different options.
The first option is to go to the European area. We recommend that you the metro from the city centre and stop at Schuman, four stops on lines 1 and 5 from Gare Centrale. You will leave the underground just in front of the Berlaymont building, where the European Commission is located. From there you will be just 100 metres away from Parc du Cinquantenaire, one of the most beautiful parks in Brussels, built to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of Belgium. There you will find the fabulous Army Museum, with numerous references to Word War I and II and the Car Museum. From the Army Museum, where admission is free, you can access the fabulous views from the top of the Cinquantenaire Arch.
Once you leave behind the park, it will be time to return towards the centre. This time we recommend that you walk and stop midway in Luxembourg Square, where the European Parliament is located. This is the real business district and the European area of Brussels.
The second option is ideal for those who prefer to spend the morning in search of "treasures" and curiosities. Sunday in Brussels is the best time to enjoy markets. The most interesting is the flea market, located in the Jeu de Balle Square, in the popular neighbourhood of Marolles. A place where you could find antique items and many other things, including second-hand clothes. The atmosphere is very cheerful, with terraces and bars full of visitors and neighbours. To get there from the city centre you have to go through the Rue Haute, where you will find various second-hand clothing shops, very famous in the city. Once there, you mayBy then, visit Rue Blaes, full of magnificent antique shops.
By then, with some "treasures" ready to be kept in your suitcase, it will be time to come back to the hotel and pack your bags and go the airport.
* Rainy Option: The rainy option is always a good option to consider in Belgium. So with bad weather, a possibility to consider is to visit a museum or any other sheltered place. In Brussels art lovers will find plenty of interesting museums. The Magritte Museum, the Victor Horta Museum and the Belgian Comic Strip Centre are highly recommended, due to their close connection to the idiosyncrasy of the country. Similarly, Brussels has admirable covered galleries, Saint Hubert Galleries, to stroll and enjoy its beautiful windows, lace shops and great chocolate shops.