Each of Flanders’ cities is worthy of an individual trip, but with only a few days to spare, it’s still possible to cram in the main highlights. Here are some ideas for how to spend 3 days in Flanders.
Start the day in the Belgian capital (and de facto capital of the European Union), Brussels, where you’ll have time to stroll the historic Grand Place overlooked by the imposing Gothic Town Hall and check off key sights like the Triumphal Arch, the Belgian Parliament and St Michael’s Cathedral. With just half a day, you’ll barely scratch the surface of the cosmopolitan capital before it’s on to fashion-forward Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city. Ardent fashionistas will want to make a beeline for the Mode Museum, but don’t miss out on the views from the MAS Museum; the Rubenshaus, the former studio of Antwerp’s most famous artist; and the Cathedral of Our Lady, home to four Rubens masterpieces.
The show-stopping towns of Ghent and Bruges showcase Belgium at its most undeniably picturesque and their flower-lined medieval squares and towering cathedrals could be lifted straight from a postcard. Check off highlights like the St Bavo Cathedral, St Nicolas Church and the Castle of the Counts of Flanders in Ghent, then journey to Bruges for a scenic boat cruise along the canal ways and a tour of the famous Beguinage.
The fields of red poppies that sprung up along one of the most notorious Salients of WWI made the battlefields of Flanders famous around the world, and you can’t visit Flanders without paying your respects to the fallen soldiers at one of the poignant memorials. Visit the world’s largest German and Commonwealth war cemeteries, Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Cemetery and Vladso German Cemetery; walk along the remains of the western front at the ‘Trenches of Death’; fill in the gaps in your knowledge at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres; then catch the 8pm Last Post ceremony.