Things to do in Flanders
From the 40 miles of sandy beaches along its North Sea coast, to the many architecturally-stunning towns and cities, the Flanders region of Belgium offers visitors the perfect European escape. Accessible by a short drive from the port of Calais, or directly if travelling via our Hull to Zeebrugge route, all you need to do is pack up your car and you'll soon arrive in this fantastically family-friendly destination.
There are countless things to do in Flanders for all ages, so whether you want to visit the zoo in Antwerp, discover the comic strip art of Brussels, or explore the Technopolis science museum in Mechelen – the choice is yours. Travel to the Flemish Region with P&O Ferries today to start your holiday right.
Western Flanders Sights
The North Sea coast of Flanders boasts pristine beaches and port towns in abundance. The peaceful villages of De Panne and Nieuwpoort are both delights, but the true jewel of the coast is the 'City by the Sea' known as Ostend. This seaside resort features a six-mile promenade which stretches all the way to the open-air Atlantic Wall Museum, where you can walk through trenches and retrace the steps of German soldiers. History buffs should also head south-west to the city of Ypres, where many of the key battles in World War 1 were fought, and its remarkable trench line once reached all the way to Switzerland. Make sure to check out the Menin Gate and the rebuilt Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) in the Grote Markt square before you depart.
The principal city of this part of Flanders, the medieval city of Bruges, is awash with fun things to do. Try Belgium's legendary ‘frietjes’ (what we Brits refer to as chips) at the world’s only Frietmuseum, before enjoying the sweet-toothed chocolate museum and a canal tour around the city’s picturesque waterways.
Central Cities in Flanders
Heading into East Flanders, you’ll start to arrive at some of Belgium's largest cities. Ghent is a popular choice for its collection of early Flemish art, the 12th century Gravensteen Castle, rock ‘n roll foodie scene and a huge array of cycle lanes across the city. In the north of Flanders, the diamond city of Antwerp attracts families from all over who come to experience its world-class zoo.
As well as being one of the oldest animal parks in the world, it contains a huge reef aquarium, a brand new savannah exhibit, and everything from lions and tigers to penguins and seals. Sandwiched between Antwerp and Brussels, Mechelen makes a great base camp to explore the region and itself boasts a toy museum, the Technopolis science museum and the fabulous Planckendael animal park.
Although technically within its own distinct administrative region, Brussels is enclaved entirely by Flanders, making a trip to the Belgian capital an easy feat. The focal point of the city is undoubtedly the guildhall lined Grand Place, where the magnificently opulent architecture is an attraction in its own right. Families can make a beeline here for the popular miniature park, Mini-Europe, which sits at the base of the iconic atom-shaped Atomium exhibition space.
Other adventures include walking among the dinosaur skeletons at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, tracing the delicious history of the cocoa bean at Choco-Story Chocolate Museum and hunting down your favourite comic book characters at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre and around town on the Comic Strip Trail.
Gems in Flemish-Brabant
East of Brussels lies the leafy province of Flemish-Brabant. It is less frequently visited, but retains all of the charm and scenic splendour that Flanders is best known for. Located just 15 miles from Brussels, the picturesque city of Leuven contains the what the locals refer to as ‘The longest bar in the World' – almost 40 bars and cafés are located in the city’s Oude Market.
This isn’t the only reason why Leuven calls itself Belgium’s beer capital: it’s also home to the world’s biggest brewery, AB In-Bev, where Stella Artois and Leffe are brewed. Don't feel like these are your only choice of tipple though, the city and its surrounding area is also home to a plethora of smaller artisan craft brewers. One of the city’s highlights is its UNESCO World Heritage Grand Beguinage, a stunning architectural complex that can't be missed. To simply get away from it all, a walk in the nearby Heverlee Woods is a guaranteed hit for all ages. For something altogether more undiscovered, the province of Limburg boasts charming retreats like Tongeren with its antiques markets and Gallo-Roman museum, while nearby Hasselt wows with its Jenever museum and incredible gastronomy offerings.
Explore all there is to see in this incredible part of Belgium by travelling with P&O Ferries today.
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