Four Days, Four Cities in Belgium

The main reason I wanted to go to Belgium was to see a concert, but I figured if we were gonna go at all, we might as well make the most of it and do other things. I’m glad we turned it into an actual vacation, though; Belgium ended up being a really fun trip. It’s a small country, so it’s easy to get around and visit multiple cities on a short stay. Trains are fast and frequent enough that we were able to keep Brussels as our home base. (Pro tip: consult the Belgian train website after buying your ticket, as it can be confusing to know which platform is the right one otherwise.) Here’s how the week went down:

Day 1: Brussels

Belgium prides itself on its history of comic strip artists, and our day in Brussels was mostly centered around that. We visited the Comics Art Museum first, which was… small and underwhelming. They have a supplemental app you can download that adds an AR experience to the museum. It’s a neat idea, but the app is pretty janky.

The best part of Brussels was simply walking around the city and trying to spot the different comic strip murals. There are 70+ murals in all, though we only sought out the ones pinned on the map provided by 203 Challenges.

Comic strip art on the side of a building in Brussels

There are probably better routes out there. The one we followed took us on a fairly long detour to see a mural that was falling apart. But this route at least ensures you see other Brussels highlights like the Manneken Pis statue and Grand Place square:

Grand Place square in the center of Brussels

Day 2: Bruges

Bruges is a more quiet and quaint city that has a canal running through it. We didn’t follow any particular route through town, nor did we visit any specific museums. There are plenty of cathedrals you can peek into, though, as you make your way to the belfry in the market square. The Church of Our Lady is probably the most famous of these cathedrals:

Back view of the Church of Our Lady in Bruges

The above picture is actually the backside of the cathedral. Bruges has lots of great, hidden photo ops like this. But the best photo op was viewing Minnewaterpark from the opposite side of the lake:

Viewing Castillo de La Faille in Bruges from across the water

Day 3: Antwerp

Antwerp was a little difficult to pull off in a day. We only had time for one museum, which was fulfilled by the Museum aan de Stroom (or MAS). And it was fine. Rubens House is another popular museum that we, unfortunately, did not get to see.

For Antwerp, we consulted a walking tour again, this time by Full Suitcase. Their recommendations were good, but we had to cut a lot of things from it, like the zoo and everything north of MAS. I’m glad the tour mentioned Stadspark, though, because it’s a very pretty park:

Stadspark in Antwerp

And I think Antwerp’s town square, the “Grote Markt,” might be my favorite of the cities we visited:

Brabo's Monument in Antwerp

Day 4: Ghent

Every city was worth visiting and had something unique in it, but I liked Ghent the most overall. We used I Am Aileen’s walking tour map, which was probably the most efficient map we had. Aileen does not waste time. My favorite spot was Gravensteen:

Back view of Gravensteen in Ghent

The Gravensteen castle is beautiful inside and out, and the complimentary audio tour is fairly amusing. Saint Nicholas’ Church was another Ghent highlight. Not that the inside of this cathedral was spectacularly different than others, but the size of the building is friggin’ huge. Just look at this view as you approach it from the bridge:

Looking down the road on Sint-Michielsbrug Bridge

And that’s Belgium for ‘ya.

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