West Flanders

Travel Guide Europe Belgium West Flanders



West Flanders is one of Belgium's provinces, located in the northwest of the country. In the first World War I, this was the sight of the trench war. Especially the area around Ypres was one big battlefield. So many granates were fired here, that almost 100 years later granates are still being found by farmers while ploughing their country.




  • Bruges (Brugge) - capital of West-Flanders, the entire medieval centre is classified as UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Ostend (Oostende) - Queen of the coastal towns, developed by the Belgian royal family in the Belle Époque.
  • Ypres (Ieper) - a military and fortified town by history, the medieval centre was bombed to the ground in World War I, and reconstructed in medieval style from photographs afterwards.
  • Kortrijk - a rather big town at the river Leie. You can find a mix of medieval buildings and shopping facilities. Very close to the French city of Lille.



Sights and Activities

Bruges is the capital of West-Flanders, and by far the most touristic town in West-Flanders. Its medieval city-centre is almost like a living museum, and certainly worth visiting.

West-Flanders is the coastal province of Belgium. The entire coast is a sand beach, ideal for walking. In the summer, dogs aren't allowed on the beach, in the winter, dogs are allowed (legally, dogs must always be on a leash). The coast is largely build-up with apartments, many consider this ugly, but if you go a bit further to the countryside, you can see the typical coastal houses.

Along the front line of the first world war, there are many small towns and villages worth visiting. With many memorials and cemeteries in the countryside. Visiting the front line is best done by car, or with operated bus tours, since public transport is sparse in those regions with low population. Travelling by bicycle is also possible, when you want to combine sportivity and remembrance.

247 British cemeteries are scattered all over - too many to list here. Please consult the cwgc for complete information.

The towns of Ypres, Poperinge, Diksmuide and Nieuwpoort, are towns near the front line, where you can find sleeping accommodation. There are also many guest houses and farms in the countryside.



Getting There

By Plane

Ostend-Bruges International Airport is about 25 kilometres from Bruges, located near the coastal city of Ostend, but serves mainly as an airport for charter and package holiday flights to southern Europe. Destinations include Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Alicante, Corfu, Djerba, Crete, Kos, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes, Tenerife, and Monastir (Tunisia).

By Car

West-Flanders is crossed by many motorways:

  • The E40 comes from Calais, follows the West-Flemish coast for a while, then near Bruges, turns towards Ghent and Brussels.
  • The E403 crosses West-Flanders north-to-south. At Bruges, it has a connection with the E40, it passes Roeselare and Courtray to arrive in Lille.
  • The E17 connects Coutray with Ghent and Antwerp.
  • The A19 is a local motorway, connecting Coutray with the front region around Ypres.

By Boat

There are a few connections by ferry to/from Zeebrugge:

  • Superfast Ferries has overnight ferries service 3 times a week from Rosyth (Scotland) to Zeebrugge (arrive 11:30 next day).
  • P&O Ferries offers daily overnight ships between Hull (England) and Zeebrugge as well.



Getting Around

By Train

Coast Tram (Dutch: De Kusttram) is the longest tram line in the world with 69 stops over 67 km long track. It connects all Belgian seaside towns from De Panne near French Duinkerke to Knokke near Dutch border. During peak summer months a tram goes every 10 min from 08:00 till 21:00.



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This is version 6. Last edited at 9:20 on Apr 3, 19 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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