This summer we made the third edition of the girls trip (plus two boyfriends this time ^ __ ^). After following the trail of the Volturi by the Toscana and fly to Neverland in Disney Land Paris, we have fulfilled our dream of seeing the Potato Chip Museum and follow the steps of Flanders dog. That is, in this getaway we take advantage of the bridge of August 15 to travel to the Flanders region in Belgium. It was four days and we visited four beautiful cities: Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels and Ghent, city in which we stayed. I already anticipate that you should spend at least a couple of days per city because there is so much to see. Even so, here you can read a summary of our getaway and practical data so that you are encouraged to travel to this beautiful European region.
How to get from Charleroi airport to Brussels
On the way, by schedule, we fly from Barcelona to Charleroi airport with Ryanair. There are several ways to go from this airport to the center of Brussels:
1. Walk a few minutes to the bus stop A (€ 5), which in 20 minutes takes you to the Charleroi train station. From there, you can take the train to the main train station in Brussels. The train takes 54 minutes to arrive and costs € 9.20.
2. Get on Brussels City Shuttle, a bus that takes an hour to connect Charleroi airport with the Brussels Midi station. If you buy the ticket on its website, the price can range from € 5 to € 14 each way. If you buy the ticket once in Charleroi, it will cost you € 17 each way.
3. We went in shared taxi. At the airport gate there are van-taxis that, once filled with seven passengers, leave at full speed. The price may vary. We pay € 15 per person. However, Xavi arrived later, late at night and, as there were almost no customers, he was only charged € 7. Upon returning we flew with Vueling from the Brussels airport.
Illustration by Azuki Górriz
How to get from the center of Brussels to Brussels airport
Brussels airport is twenty minutes by train from the center, making this option the best. The train costs € 7 and passes very often.
Where to stay in Flanders
In our case, we decided to establish our base in Ghent. We stayed there because the city is beautiful, it is very well connected with the rest of the cities we wanted to visit and, being a university city, it has a lot of activity, restaurants and bars. Since there were five of us, we decided to rent an apartment, which we booked at Wimdu.es. Was a loft huge design with three rooms located in the center of Ghent. As in the Fallas in ValenciaThe good thing about staying in an apartment is that each one has its privacy zone and at the same time a common area. We also took advantage of the kitchen, where we prepared breakfast and dinner, and thus saved a little money in meals. The apartment cost us € 30 per person per night.
How to get around Flanders
The best way is by train. The rail system is fantastic. There are many lines that connect the main cities very regularly and in all stations there are schedules available. Perhaps the only drawback is that the train is a bit expensive, but it makes up for the good service it offers. To organize a Flanders trip, you can check the schedules, prices and buy tickets on the website of Belgian railways. If you do it in advance, you can buy the discounted tickets. In train stations tickets can be purchased both at the ticket office and at dispensing machines.
The ticket to go from Brussels to Ghent It costs € 17.40 round trip (or € 10 for advance purchase on the web) and stops at the main station, the Sint-Pietersstanton. There are more direct trains that take about 30 minutes to arrive, so it is important to look at the stops you make.
Since Ghent you can take the train to Antwerp at the station Sint-Pietersstanton or at the station Dampoort, which is about fifteen minutes walk from the center. The train takes less than an hour, passes quite frequently and costs € 18.40 round trip (or € 10 for advance purchase on the web). From the train station you can walk to the center, which is about twenty minutes walking.
For go to Bruges from Ghent, you can also take the train at the station Pietersstanton or in that of Dampoort. The ticket costs € 12.60 round trip (or € 10 for advance purchase on the web). Bruges train station is about fifteen minutes from the historic center, taking a pleasant walk.
Antwerp train station
Visiting Ghent, our base in Flanders.
Once you arrive at the station Sint-Pietersstanton train, which is the main one, you have to go out through the exit Centrum and on the left is the tram stop. At the same stop you can buy the tram ticket that costs € 1.30. Tram No. 1 leaves you after eight stops at the station Gravensteen, right next to the castle, and in front of the Ghent tourist office.
What to see and do in Ghent
If you have little time as in our case, it is best that you sign up for Guided visits organized by the Ghent tourist information office. They start at 2.30pm and you can check the days that are made in this link.
One of the jewels of the city is Cathedral and the Altarpiece of the Mystic Lamb, work of Jan van Eyck from 1432. The history of this masterpiece is very interesting as well as rocambolesque, since it suffered many adventures. The entrance to see the altarpiece costs € 4.
I also recommend giving A boat ride on the river. It is the best way to discover the city in a different way. The rides usually last about 50 minutes and cost around € 7. There are several companies that offer boating on the banks of the river.
It's great wander through the medieval quarter of Patershol and visit gravensteen castle. Both day and night, since at dusk the city is illuminated in a very special way.
Illustration by Azuki Górriz
Excursion to Antwerp from Ghent
The second day we went to visit Antwerp. I have to admit that at first the city didn't attract us much, but then it turned out to be one of our favorites.
What to see in Antwerp
Upon arrival at the Antwerp station, I knew that we would like the visit, because the station is very beautiful and was built at the end of the 19th century.
Once you leave the station, the first thing I recommend is that you go through the Antwerp tourist office. There is one in the same station, where you can get maps of the city. There is another office in the Grote Markt and there you can sign up for the guided tour organized daily in the months of July and August, and the rest of the year on Saturdays and Sundays (in English, French, German and Dutch).
In Antwerp you can not miss the Cathedral of Our Lady and see The descent of the cross from Rubens, which is also one of the main references of the plot of the book and mythical anime: A dog from Flanders. You can also visit the Rubens house museum and its tomb.
One of the areas that we liked the most were the surroundings of the Jesuit church San Carlos Borromeo. It is a magical place, away from the hustle and bustle of the adjoining streets and with very cute cafes and restaurants.
On the other hand, you have to walk along the Main Square, which is the heart of the old part of the city, and contemplate the numerous guild houses of the 16th and 17th centuries. There you will discover the amazing legend of the "hand of Antwerp", which serves as a symbol of the city.
You can also travel to the past touring the Vlaeykensang alley, a beautiful passage where, in the sixteenth century, the city shoemakers had their businesses and homes. Fully restored, it is now a beautiful corner of the city perfect for listening to free carillon concerts every Monday in July and August, at eight in the afternoon.
Another recommended activity is to walk along the banks of the Escalda River until you reach the 'T Steen, one of the first buildings built in stone in the twelfth century in Antwerp and that looks like a fairytale castle.
Illustration by Azuki Górriz
Excursion to Bruges from Ghent
It is surely the most beautiful city in all of Flanders, but it left us very cold. Maybe too touristy and a bit artificial for our taste. Even so, it should be recognized that it is very photogenic and everyone loves it. It must be that I have a greater predilection for imperfect cities ...