If you haven’t read any of the prior expense reports from our trip, check them out below:
- Madrid, Spain
- Portugal (Porto, Caldas da Rainha, Lisbon, Lagos)
- Spain (Seville, Granada, Valencia, Barcelona)
- France and Luxembourg (Paris, Reims, and Luxembourg City)
Heading to Belgium, we really didn’t have any expectations for the country either positive or negative. The only thing we were really set on doing was trying out local Belgian beer and eating both Belgian waffles and Belgian chocolate. Upon researching places to visit in the country while planning this trip earlier in the year, I did read that Brussels is underwhelming in terms of European cities but had a tough time imagining that would be the case. We read good things about both Bruges and Antwerp. While Brussels certainly wasn’t my favorite city so far on the trip, it was worth spending a couple days there to learn about the history of the country. Bruges was a beautiful city that we will almost certainly return to in the next few years. We even discussed spending an entire month there in the summer at some point in the future to enjoy the moderate weather, great food and beer, wonderful scenery, and the nice people. Antwerp was a little intimidating to us at first. Parts of the city are very dirty and felt unsafe with many of the historical buildings being under renovation. But, we had amazing Airbnb hosts there which really helped us have a better impression of the city than we otherwise would have. We spent a total of 7 days/nights in Belgium between the three cities we visited, broken down as follows:
- 2 days/nights in Brussels
- 2 days/nights in Bruges
- 3 days/nights in Antwerp
Lucky the weather had cooled down by the time we arrived in Belgium, which was quite a relief. We weren’t sure how much longer we could take 90+ degree weather without AC!
Stay tuned for Whitney’s next post about all of our adventures on this part of the trip, but for now I’ll focus on the expenses incurred while traveling through Belgium. Keep in mind that all of the expenses that I’ll talk about below are my expenses only, since Whitney and I have quite different spending habits. We split all shared expenses evenly, so I calculate the numbers below with my half of the shared expenses and then my individual expenses.
Accommodations: We stayed at AirBnB’s (this is my referral link which you can use to get $55 off of your first stay through the site!) in both Bruges and Antwerp, while choosing to use two free hotel nights in Brussels. Accommodations in Brussels were more expensive than the other two cities, and the hotel was fairly inexpensive with points so the redemption value was good there. The hotel was booked using leftover Marriott points that Whitney earned on a credit card signup bonus last year. The two Airbnbs we chose both turned out to be amazing with hosts that went above and beyond to offer advice and help us. In Bruges, our host drove us to the bus stop a couple miles away each day so that we didn’t have to walk and also provided us with breakfast both mornings. The house she lived in was in a picturesque suburb outside of the city, so we were able to get both the city and country feel which was nice. In Antwerp our hosts were about our age and really wonderful people. We spent at least a couple hours each day talking about each other’s travels along with a variety of other topics. We highly recommend both Airbnbs, and if you’re ever going to either Antwerp or Bruges, reach out to us and we’ll give you their information!
Accommodation costs were very reasonable in Belgium for the quality of the places where we stayed. Both Airbnbs were a little outside of the main tourist areas, but only a bus ride away, and we don’t mind being separate from the hustle and bustle anyway.
Our most expensive lodging was in Bruges, where my part of the cost was $23/night, and the cheapest was in Antwerp where my cost was only $20/night, besides the free hotel stay in Brussels of course :).
- Total for my expenses: $112
Food and drink: Food and drink expenses in Belgium were much less than in France and Luxembourg, which we were relieved to find. We found many reasonably priced food options, and of course we also took advantage of local grocery stores to buy snacks and sandwiches occasionally. The Belgian beer, chocolate, and waffles all lived up to the hype, especially the waffles! We were able to try all of the local Belgian specialties and spent some extra money on nice meals out a couple of times. I’ve also really fallen in love with Turkish Kebabs on this trip, and no matter the city in Europe, there are always plenty of delicious low cost Kebab places nearby. With the being said, the best we’ve had so far in all of Europe was right next door to us in Antwerp!
Total for my expenses: $75
Transportation: We took buses to each new city on this leg of the trip. Booked in advance, all of these bus tickets were less than $15 each and fairly comfortable for relatively short trips. In Brussels and Antwerp, the places that we were staying were close enough that we didn’t have to rely on public transportation at all while in the city. We walked everywhere that we wanted to go and enjoyed the weather and the exercise as well as a couple very mild sunburns. In Bruges, we had to take a bus into town but then once in town everything was close and public transportation was unnecessary. Overall the transportation costs in Belgium were very low for us.
- Total for my expenses: $44
Activities: We did “free” (tips based) walking tours in both Brussels and Antwerp, but not in Bruges. In Bruges, our AirBnB host gave us a guide book that she had bought for guests which ourlined 3 awesome self-guided tours, each about a mile and a half long. We took advantage of those and visited the main sights in the city with short explanations of each place in the book. Besides the tour tips, there weren’t any paid activities that really stood out to us, so we saved our money for more waffles and beer instead! We walked a minimum of 6 miles each day while in Belgium, taking in all the (free) sites.
One really cool experience that fell into our laps while in Antwerp was getting to watch a live taping of “Belgium’s Got Talent.” Our hosts mentioned that there was a free live taping going on the next morning when we arrived, and we instantly changed our plans and went! It turned out to be a really interesting experience with some awesome performances that we enjoyed, even despite us not speaking Dutch.
Aside from this, we also had the opportunity to take a free Beer Tour in Brussels! We had been earning stamps via Sandeman New Europe’s free walking tour “loyalty program” in several of the cities we had already visited. The way their loyalty program works is once you earn enough stamps from the free walking tours, you can take some of their paid tours for free. We had earned enough for one free tour by this time, so we took advantage of this and chose the Beer Tour! It was a cool way to learn about the history and beer culture in Belgium, as well as enjoy some local beers, all for free!
So needless to say, we were able to have lots of awesome experiences in Belgium for free or very cheap!!
- Total for my expenses: $16
My total expenses for 7 days and 7 nights in Belgium including accommodations, transportation, activities, and food were approximately $247!
Running total for entire trip to this point (my expenses only): $2,246 ($46/day average)!
Stay tuned for our next posts about the Netherlands! Keep an eye on the Facebook page where we are posting much more frequently about the trip including our favorite pictures!