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West Flanders

Culture & history

Our most recommended West Flanders Culture & History

From Brussels: Ghent and Bruges Day Tour

1. From Brussels: Ghent and Bruges Day Tour

Discover 2 of Flanders’ most enchanting cities and follow your guide back in time on a day tour. Choose between a private and a shared option. Walk through both cities and see some of their most famous landmarks, including Saint-Bavo’s Cathedral of Ghent, Bruges' Old Town, and the Lake of Love. Ghent’s medieval architecture and vibrant atmosphere will impress you as you visit Saint-Bavo’s Cathedral, home to the famous Mystic Lamb painting (option), and pass by the Castle of the Counts of Flanders the picturesque medieval harbor Graslei and much more. In Bruges, you will enjoy the peaceful Lake of Love and the old beguinage. With your guide, discover the city and its cobbled streets on foot and you also have the option to enjoy a pleasant boat trip along the narrow canals.

Bruges: Guided Rickshaw Tour

2. Bruges: Guided Rickshaw Tour

Enjoy a private guided tour of Bruges with a professional guide. Sit back and relax on a specially designed rickshaw bike for a unique and easy way of traveling around the city. Start the tour at Market Square and head out past the city’s landmarks and monuments and into some of the lesser-known parts of town. See the highlights of the town as you hear about local legends and learn some fun facts. Enjoy a relaxing tour of the best parts of Bruges and the interesting commentary of your knowledgeable guide.

From Brussels: Bruges and Ghent in a Day Guided Tour

3. From Brussels: Bruges and Ghent in a Day Guided Tour

Meet your guide in the center of Brussels and relax on the 100-kilometer journey to Bruges. Upon arrival, discover the charms of “the Venice of the North” and see why the entire historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Marvel at highlights such as the Lake of Love (Minnewater Lake) and the 13th-century Begijnhof complex, founded in 1245 to house lay religious women. Go to Walplein Square, where the shady trees and cafes provide a perfect place to relax. Visit Stoofstraat on the site of the city's former Red Light District, and see medieval monuments such as the 11th-century Old St. John’s Hospital. Look at the world's second tallest brickwork tower at the Church of Our Lady, and see other historic monuments such as Gruuthuse Palace, the Dijver Canal and the tiny piazza of Tanners Square (Huidenvettersplein). Go to one of the city's most photographed spots at Rozenhoedkaai, and admire the Belfry on Castle Square. Admire the facades of the Gothic-style Town Hall and the 12th-century Basilica of the Holy Blood. Visit Market Square (Grote Markt) to see the Bell Tower (Belfort) and Sint-Salvator’s Cathedral. Then enjoy 1-hour's free time for lunch (at your own expense) and the chance to sample some of the city's delicious chocolates.  Next, drive to Ghent, where the inhabitants have been popularly known as "noose-bearers“ since the days of Charles V. Take a guided tour of the city's historic buildings, such as the Castle of Gerald the Devil and Saint Bavo Cathedral, where you can look at the painting “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by the Van Eyck brothers. Admire the Belfort (Bell Tower) and peculiar Gothic and Renaissance-style Town Hall. See one of the city's oldest monuments at St. Nicholas’ Church opposite the unusual facade of the Masons’ Guild House. Journey along the embankments of the medieval port of Graslei, and discover other highlights such as the majestic Castle of the Counts of Flanders, the charming Patershol neighborhood, the Great Butchers’ Hall, the Old Fish Market, and Friday Market Square.

Great War Flanders Fields Minibus Tour from Bruges

4. Great War Flanders Fields Minibus Tour from Bruges

Enjoy a trip of historical discovery on this full-day minibus tour that takes you through West Flanders, from Bruges to the Belgian town of Ypres. The city, nicknamed Wipers, was rebuilt according to a medieval blueprint after being completely razed to the ground in the early 1900s. It was also here that the Germans invaded Belgium during World War I; a strategic move to attack France from the north. You will see the remaining artifacts and places of the city as you discover restored trenches, stroll among war graves in Passchendale and Polygon Wood, clamber over craters and bunkers on the preserved battlefield, and visit key war memorials.  Behold the impressive sight of the imposing Menin Gate Memorial to the missing soldiers, complete with 55,000 names, erected on the spot where the soldiers left the city for the battlefront. As your day continues you will also see the iconic poppy fields of Flanders as you ride through the countryside in an air-conditioned mini coach, perfect for relaxing and taking in the picturesque scenery. It is possible to visit an ancestor's grave if requested ahead, and it is also possible to extend the tour for the Last Post Ceremony under the Menin Gate Memorial with transport back to your hotel in Bruges.  This must be requested in advance as well and will incur a fee of €15 to be paid on the day of the tour.

Bruges: Boat Cruise and Guided Walking Tour

5. Bruges: Boat Cruise and Guided Walking Tour

Explore Bruges on a walking tour with a local guide. Join a boat cruise along the canals to see the sites from the water. Meet your guide in the Markt for a guided tour of the city. Discover the narrowest street, the beautiful 12th-century basilica, and the golden statues on the impressive courthouse. Next, explore the fish market surrounded by 126 columns. Then, embark on the second part of the tour. Board your boat at the quay for a cruise along the canals. Sail beside ivy-covered facades and under bridges as you learn about the beautiful sites from your captain. Admire the old trading houses at the former harbor and the Beguinage. After half an hour on the water, head to the secret garden of an almshouse, where you will be surprised by the beauty of picturesque Bruges.

From Paris: Bruges Full-Day Trip with Canal Cruise

6. From Paris: Bruges Full-Day Trip with Canal Cruise

Escape Paris for the day and cross the border to the capital of the West Flanders region of Flemish Belgium. The full-day tour, with round-trip transfers from central Paris, will take you to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bruges, sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North.” Enjoy a guided walk of the historically rich center, admiring the gothic-style City Hall, the ornate Renaissance architecture of the Place du Bourg, and the 12th-century Basilique du Saint-Sang (Basilica of the Holy Blood), among other attractions. Free time will be allocated for lunch at a local restaurant, where you can enjoy Belgian specialties, such as traditional moules frites (mussels and French fries) and an extensive selection of Belgian beers. A visit to the Groeningemuseum, home to Flemish master painters, such as van Eyck and Hieronymous Bosch is a popular way to spend an afternoon in Bruges. Alternatively, shop for handmade lace and Belgian chocolates in the city’s boutique stores. During the summer season, choose the guided option to enjoy a boat cruise along some of the most famous canals of Bruges, built as far back as the 12th century.

Bruges: Choco-Story Chocolate Museum Tour

7. Bruges: Choco-Story Chocolate Museum Tour

Cocoa has been tickling taste buds for centuries, from the spicy drink in the Maya and Aztec civilizations to the popular sweet chocolate milk in Europe. With more than three people out of four loving chocolate, it’s hardly surprising that there is an enormous fascination for this exquisite treat. This tour aims to bring to life the 4,000-year-old history of chocolate in words, pictures, and flavors. The museum submerges you in the exciting world of chocolate, taking you on a journey of the senses through time. Young or old, passionate chocoholic or simply just interested, the Chocolate Museum will stimulate your fascination. The museum is composed of three parts, telling the story of the origin and evolution of chocolate through a unique collection of almost a thousand objects. Besides the history, the museum also reveals how chocolate is made, with special attention for the variety of raw ingredients and the development of the production process. In the demonstration center you will uncover the secret of beautiful silky chocolate, getting the opportunity to taste the chocolate products made in the museum.

Bruges: Full-Day Guided Tour from Brussels in English

8. Bruges: Full-Day Guided Tour from Brussels in English

Depart the Belgian capital in the morning and transfer to the charming town of Bruges. Upon arrival, see why the entire historic center of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Go to the Lake of Love to see a calm oasis in the heart of the city. Marvel at the 13th-century Begijnhof,  covered in a carpet of daffodils in the spring. Continue to the quiet, paved square of Walplein, and stroll down the narrow Stoofstraat. See sights such as the 800-year-old St. John’s Hospital, and the imposing façade of the Church of Our Lady. Learn the history of the opulent palace of Gruuthuse, and walk alongside the banks of the Dijver Canal. Other highlights include the charming canal-side houses of the Rozenhoedkaai, the tiny square of the Huidenvettersplein, and the site of the 1st count’s castle on Castle Square.  Then, enjoy 2 free hours for lunch and explore the city as you please. Taste some of the exclusive chocolates of Bruges and pop into some of the legendary lace shops. Transfer back to Brussels, with an approximate 6:00 PM arrival time.

Bruges: Chocolate Making Workshop and Chocolate Museum Entry

9. Bruges: Chocolate Making Workshop and Chocolate Museum Entry

Immerse yourself in Belgium's rich chocolate-making traditions with this interactive workshop.  Under the guidance of an expert chocolatier, learn how to make chocolate lollipops and mendiants, a traditional French confection. At the end of the lesson, savor the rewards of your efforts, or feel free to take your chocolates home with you. Finish your workshop with a self-guided visit to the chocolate museum. Inside, admire a wide range of interactive exhibitions which will bring to life the 4000-year-old history of chocolate in words, pictures, and flavors. Admire a private collection of artifacts with over 1000 objects housed in the museum.

From Amsterdam: Day Trip to Bruges in Spanish or English

10. From Amsterdam: Day Trip to Bruges in Spanish or English

From Amsterdam you will go to Bruges by bus. During the tour you will have an introduction to the history of Belgium and cities near the route like Utrecht and Breda, both connected with Spanish history. This journey takes approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes.  The city of Bruges was declared a World Heritage City in 2000 and is also known as the Venice of the North. Enjoy a guided tour and visit the most attractive and interesting places of this city. Begin at the Minnewater or Lake of Love. During the tour, see important places of the city such as the Markt Square dominated by the Belfry, the Brug Square and Town Hall, the Church of Our Lady where you can appreciate one of Michelangelo's masterpieces "The Madonna of Bruges," among others. At the end of the guided tour, the guide will indicate a collection point and time to return to the bus, after free time in the city. Have free time to eat, take a walk, or go shopping. Later, you will return to the starting point of this excursion, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam.

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What people are saying about West Flanders

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,287 reviews

a very long day, starting in Brugge with an unexpected 2 hour walking tour of the city. visited the first war graves around 2pm with the stop including a quick sandwich lunch. Visited a number of historic sites and monuments arriving Ypres around 7pm. just enough time to grab a quick bite and get to Menin Gate for ceremony. back to Brugge around 9.30 pm. those picking up tour in Brussels had an hour before and after us to travel making it a 13 hour day! Johan was a good and informative guide and bus driver did a great job. A tip though, take plenty of water and some snacks as nowhere to purchase these other than lunch and dinner. Other than being a very long day, it was worthwhile

Highly recommend! Lovely trip to a beautifully preserved medieval city. Bruges is very pretty with rich history. Take the boat cruise…..we’ll worth it. Driver and tour guide were excellent. Plenty of free time to explore; but don’t forfeit the tour, as the information provided is necessary for the complete experience.

Excelente passeio, extremamente vem organizado, aproveita cada minuto da visita a cada cidade. A nossa guia Veronique foi fantástica em todos os aspectos. Super recomendo!

our tour guide Pedro was great. He was very knowledgeable and made it fun throughout. great English and Spanish explanations from our multilingual guide.

The guide is very attentive, caring and tried his best to tell us all bout Bruges. We really enjoyed his company