Earlier this year we had were lucky enough to meet a friend from South Africa in Belgium. We were only able to spend one night there and decided that taking the Eurostar was the best option to make the most of our short, very cold but super sweet trip.
As mentioned in my Amsterdam post we LOVE taking the Eurostar. Our return tickets to Brussels from London was £101 each and was a short 2-hour journey. Once arriving at Brussels station we bought return tickets at €16 for a 30min train ride to Ghent. You can do this online too if you would prefer to avoid the hassle of standing in line at Brussels station.
We knew that Bruges was a must-do, but having heard good things about Ghent too, Jenny suggested that we stay in Ghent which was a great idea and is the number 1 tip in my 5 tips for a trip to Bruges & Ghent:
- Don’t miss Ghent! This city had a more authentic feel than Bruges as you are amongst locals most of the time. It’s absolutely beautiful and with more accommodation and restaurant options, it was also more affordable. We stayed in the ibis Gent Centrum St. Baafs Kathedraal in the perfect location overlooking the popular St Baafs Cathedral at €78 for our room (lower than what we normally pay in Europe). The room was spacious, clean and the staff was very friendly so a big thumbs up for this hotel. No. 5 is another reason why you can’t miss Ghent!
- Go early and leave early. This one is for Bruges. Our train back to Ghent (which goes all the way to Brussels) was already packed around 16:00 and there were plenty tourists still heading towards the station.
- What’s breakfast? We had no idea but breakfast restaurants are far and few between in Ghent (and supposedly this is fairly common for the rest of Belgium too). We walked around on a Sunday morning in a very quiet, very cold town. We finally found a restaurant serving breakfast, but the food was average and overpriced. If you are an early bird I suggest opting for breakfast at the hotel and to treat yourself to a great dinner instead.
- Don’t settle for the first waffle. Another one for Bruges. This little tourist hub can be expensive! It took us some time, but we were very happy that we shopped around before finding a warm meal. It’s not always what you feel like when you are cold but absolutely worth it.
- Experience Ghent by night. This really was the highlight of our trip to Belgium. Ghent has a special light strategy for the city, yes, that’s correct. It’s called the Ghent Light Plan and was designed to get more people on the street to increase safety and have lead to a decline in energy use. We’ve never seen a place light up like this, and not in the awful Christmas display kind of way. It’s magical, romantic and really not to be missed.
Would love to visit Belgium again in summer. Let us know if you’ve been and have any other tips to share.