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Five destinations within 1 hour of BrusselsFive family excursions

The summer holidays are around the corner but, like many of us, perhaps you're not planning any far-flung trips this year? However, you might want to treat yourself to a little change of scenery. And day trips are ideal for that: they are less expensive and – if you are planning two or three outings during your holiday – have more to offer than one longer stay in the same place. We've listed five travel destinations which are not only very close to the Belgian borders (an hour or less from Brussels), but are also perfect for the whole family.

Citadel in Lille

Lille – 35 minutes from Brussels

You can be in this elegant northern French city in less time than you need for your daily commute to work. So why not explore Lille with the family? For a day trip with the children it's worth going on the trail of the "Sun King" (Louis XIV) and exploring Lille’s imposing citadel. In addition, those with a sweet tooth will be inspired as Lille boasts many bakeries, cake, biscuit and sweet shops as well as lots of cafés and tearooms. The tourist office in Lille even offers a "balade gourmande" (foodie tour) ;-) One last tip: if you prefer to discover a city from a different perspective, we recommend that you go on a "street art" tour around the Saint Sauveur train station or in the Fives and Hellemmes districts.

Splashtours sightseeing in Rotterdam

Rotterdam – 1 hour 10 minutes from Brussels

A visit to Rotterdam is like diving into a completely different world: no other European city is so influenced by colourful, modern architecture and rambling boulevards and, of course, by its close proximity to the sea and the port. That's why our tips are all about water! What, for example, would you think about a sightseeing tour in an amphibious vehicle? After seeing the most well-known sights, the tour ends with a big splash into the River Meuse (after the tour bus has transformed into a boat, of course :-). Or experience the glamour of a bygone age on board the SS Rotterdam, an ocean liner belonging to Holland America Line. Upon visiting the luxurious cabins and the impressive engine room, you can allow your fantasies to run wild.

Kids in Aachen

Aachen – 1 hour 8 minutes from Brussels

Not just at Christmas ;-) Most of us have undoubtedly visited the Aachen Christmas market at some point, but the picturesque spa resort of Aachen also provides plenty of stimulation for the whole family at times other than Christmas, starting with the grand cathedral, the majestic Throne of Charlemagne and the impressive treasure vault. The gardens around the Elisenbrunnen then offer refreshment and relaxation. Is anyone courageous enough to try out the (very sulphurous) thermal waters? ;-)

Canal in Ghent

Ghent – 29 minutes from Brussels

A tip for our international readers and – why not? – our Belgian audience, too ;-) Ghent is certainly one of the most charming cities in Belgium, with an unparalleled mix of the medieval and the modern. The entire historical old town is now one large pedestrian zone: just strolling around and sightseeing is pleasant in itself. Otherwise, we would recommend you spend your day taking a boat trip (Ghent, after all, is a city with seven waterways) and visiting the mysterious Castle of the Counts, where the unique collection of torture instruments will impress every member of the family :-)

Lutetia Arena in Paris

Paris – 1 hour 22 minutes from Brussels

OK, so we are cheating a little with the travel time here ;-) Paris is in fact further than an hour away from Brussels, but not by much! Surely the extra 22 minutes' travelling to visit the French capital is worth it, isn’t it? From the Eiffel Tower to a boat trip on the Seine, taking in Notre Dame, and wandering through the various quarters and, of course, the outstanding food – there's something for every member of the family. Our tip: impress your children by allowing them to explore the Lutetia Arena, a Roman amphitheatre regarded as being the oldest preserved structure in Paris.