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Day trips from Brussels

by valtor Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 7:42 AM

At end of October we shall be in Brussels, and we have three free days. We already have been in Belgium, so we visited Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Bruges. We are interested to see beautiful architecture, picturesque streets, churches, castles. We shall travel by train and we would like to do day trips, probably 3 trips. I am not sure which of the below towns to visit (I have a list of 6 and need to select 3). Can you please tell me your opinion about these places , which of them is more beautiful and interesting and can be visit in a short day trip (at end of October the days are short).

1. Aachen 2. Mechelen 3. Tervuren 4. Tournai 5. Liege 6. Maastricht

Maybe have you other suggestions about nice towns to be visited?

One more question: I see that in Belgium there are train tickets for seniors. If we are not from Belgium or from Europe, can we still buy those tickets?

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18 Answers
  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by Beausoleil Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    I can't compare your choices, but we visited Aachen as a day trip last fall and absolutely loved it. It's a gorgeous historic city that is very compact so you can walk from place to place. Take the English tour of the Cathedral if you can. Do take the tour because you can't see some parts unless you are on a tour. There was a great gelato shop near the Cathedral. I'll see if I can find the name.

    Another place we really enjoyed was the canal village of Damme. Check it here on VT for photos and info.

    Whatever you choose, have a great time.

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  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by Nemorino Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    I'm American, and last summer I used the senior tickets on the Belgian railways from Bruges to Gent and again from Gent to Liège, with no problems. Nobody asked to see my identification, which is no wonder since I look my age, LOL.

    Aachen and Liège are both worth visiting and both have good opera houses, but I think it would be a bit stressful to catch a train back to Brussels after the opera. (Brussels has one of the best opera companies in the world, by the way.)

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  • MacedonianUK's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by MacedonianUK Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    I live in Aachen (3 years) and is all you are looking for. Old Royal Seat, Charlemains with Castle, Chatedral, narow old streets,arhitecture everything! http://aachen.de/ Also lived in Maastricht for 6 yrs and I absolutely LOVE that city. vvvmaastricht.nl/home.html?l...">vvvmaastricht.nl/home.html?l... Liege is not bad at all as well..Worth Day out too. All of those Cities are on about 25-30 miles of eachother. There is Bus and train connection with cheap Euroregio ticket. Another good Day out is Thorne the white village some 25 km North of Maastricht, also Valkenburg town , 10km South of Maastricht on the way to Aachen off A79, there is local bus going there. Worth stopping as well, the brown up castle, the catacombs, churches, midevel streets...

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  • MacedonianUK's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by MacedonianUK Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Oh I forgot, one of my all time fav places Monschau on German-Belgian border,http://www.monschau.de/ and close by Shtolberg both withing Germany...

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by Beausoleil Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    MacedonianUK, what is the name of the terrific ice cream shop in Aachen? I'm sure you are the one who told us is about it. It was cold and rainy the day we were there and we got ice cream just because you spoke so highly about it. It was delicious!

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  • MacedonianUK's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by MacedonianUK Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Oh, you remember that? If was Frigo icecream parlour. Now they moved from PetereStraße, to just oposite the Aachener Dom ( Chatedral) they are indeed great. Best ice cream in town! :)

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by Beausoleil Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Yes, that is it. Frigo ice cream right by the Dom. We were freezing but still got the ice cream and were so glad we did. It was wonderful. Thank you so much for telling us about it and I hope the current poster has a chance to try it too. We loved Aachen, probably the most of all the larger cities we visited on this last trip. The Charlemagne Walk following the little metal plates in the sidewalks was great fun. Then seeing the throne inside the Dom was amazing. Everyone was so friendly and helpful in Aachen. Great town.

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  • Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by valtor Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Thank you all for the answers. I shall include Aachen in my plan, it seems to be what I am looking for.

    It seems to me that Monschau is not so easy to be reached by train, I still have to check more about this.

    I am glad to learn about the icecream shop. For sure I'll go there.

    Thank you again!

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  • Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by valtor Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Thank you all for the answers. I shall include Aachen in my plan, it seems to be what I am looking for.

    It seems to me that Monschau is not so easy to be reached by train, I still have to check more about this.

    I am glad to learn about the icecream shop. For sure I'll go there.

    Thank you again!

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  • MacedonianUK's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by MacedonianUK Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Moncshau is easily reachable by bus from the Center go Aachen. Take Bus from Elisenbrunen where Tourist Info Office is situated. Monschau is indeed worth visiting. When in Aachen, do have Coffe and Sandwich in NOBIS backery, about 20 metars from the Dom and icecream shop, and you must try Printen. Printen is local sweet biscuit simmilar to Ginger bread with bit of liquerish taste & Spices. Best Printen in NOBIS! If you have more Q about Aachen or Maastricht, please do ask i do my outmost best to answer them all. Have good trip.

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by Beausoleil Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    I'll second the suggestion for Nobis. We had sandwiches there for lunch since we had only a short time before the English tour of the Cathedral left. We ate the sandwiches and then got a spice bread (gingerbread in the US) and although it was almost too pretty to eat, we ate it anyway. Expect crowds at Nobis; it's very very good so extremely busy.

    We enjoyed Monshau but didn't spend a whole day there. We moved on to Steinfeld Monastery and were completely enchanted by that. I suspect you may need a car for the monastery though. That entire area is just beautiful. Enjoy your trip.

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  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by johngayton Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Oostende is another to consider. It's a bit of a mish-mash of modern and old but a friendly little seaside city with good food, a working harbour and some great pubs.

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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by gwened Online Now Feb 23, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    you have many nice cities to visit in 3 days kind of rush for me. And some additional cities to boot from posters. Brussels is very central so the choices are limitless. Bruges, Antwerp are nice too, really all of Belgium is within a few hours ride. You can buy senior passes with a photo id showing your proof of age as backup in case an inspector ask you, but normally they dont. My father never had a problem and he has been to Belgium too. You can look at all these destinations in VT above right for tips by posters like us in any of those cities

    Hope it helps your planning

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  • floche2001's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by floche2001 Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Tournai is. Very good choice off the beaten path. Not only for the cathedral or the belfry but take some time for musea and for sure to the fine arts museum. There are world class paintings like Monet ! I live in the neighborhoud and can suggest you good ideasif u want

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  • annase's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by annase Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    The national railways probably offers cheaper tariffs over the weekend (€5-10 return to many destinations). I spent 6 months in Brussels and went to many places I had never been to before such as the whole Wallonia region (French speaking southern part of the country) such as Dinant, Namur, Liege & Mons. Dinant was a bit far away, but it was really pretty, tiny little place. Namur has some wonderful shopping: lots of charming little shops and a very continent feel to it. Liege was not hugely pretty at first, because it it much larger than the rest of the towns I mentioned, but it has got its charm too. It has got slightly more modern and industrial feel to it compared to Brussels. It must be because of the architecture is quite 'modern' rather than very old.

    Mons was very pretty and historic. There was some sort of connection to Victor Hugo if I remember right. They are all worth a visit, if you want to see French speaking Belgium and don't want to sit hours and hours on the train (well apart from Dinant perhaps since it is a bit further away than the rest). I found a lovely part of earrings in a lovely little shop in Dinant though so I really liked it. The town also has nice little cafes and a historic fortress which may be of interest to you.

    Wallonia looks and feels totally different from the northern Flemish speaking Flaanderen and it is amazing how these two regions can actually form one country, as they are often living words apart from each other - mentally and physically. The towns in Wallonia have more rustic feel to those in the north, but they also also very quaint.

    Also Leuwen is lovely, very charming and all towns and cities have churches where you can light candles

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  • annase's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by annase Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    I don't know how easy it is get to Maastricht from Brussels so it may not be best for a day trip. I remember making a day trip from Liege to Maastricht, but it may be a long way from Brussels. Maastricht is nice though. It has not quite got the charm of Bruges or Ghent, but it is pretty. For some reason it reminds me of Tallinn, Estonia.

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  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by Nemorino Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    When I went to Maastricht last summer I had to change trains in Liège. I like Maastricht, but I agree that Bruges and Ghent have more character.

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  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    Re: Day trips from Brussels

    by Nemorino Online Now Mar 11, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Yes, Victor Hugo visited Mons by stagecoach in 1837 (also Dinant and Liège) on his way to Cologne. He later wrote about this trip in his book Le Rhin. I have translated a few passages on my Liège page, among other places.

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