YPRES CITY GUIDE
Ypres is situated between France and Germany whilst also close to the English Channel, Ypres' advantageous location proved both a blessing and a curse at various points in its dramatic past. The growth of international trade in the Middle Ages saw the town rapidly expand as an economic hub for woollen cloth, but its location on the German armed forces' invasion route to France during World War I resulted in heavy damage.
When you visit Ypres, you will notice that the town has since been beautifully restored, but its rich history is still very much evident and makes it a fascinating place to explore, with plenty of things to do.
The town's Gothic architecture, guild houses and military fortifications are especially popular with tourists who flock to see the Great War battlefields and the iconic poppy-lined Flanders Fields, but there is far more to this charming place than its past. Surrounded by the lush West Flanders countryside, Ypres is a perfect place to visit for lovers of the great outdoors, with walkers and cyclists alike enjoying the guided routes through quiet forests and along canals.
Within Ypres itself, the alfresco bars bordering the lovely central square help create a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, and it's a place to spoil yourself with moreish meals and rich cultural sights. There's also a fantastic array of cosy cafés, shops and restaurants offering delicious chocolates, beer and other local specialties.
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Ypres: A cycling paradise
Traffic-free cycle tracks, well-marked routes and scenic views all around mean that one of the best ways to explore Ypres and the local area is on two wheels. Simply hire a bicycle and take off on an adventure to discover peaceful woodland, hidden abbeys and stunning castles - all within a day.
A more challenging route can be found in the hills of Kemmelberg and Rodeberg, where mountain bikers tackle steep inclines and narrow paths through trees. Another favourite journey is to cycle to the meadows that make up the WWI battlefields and memorials of Flanders Fields. After viewing these moving tributes to the fallen, you can learn more about the personal stories of soldiers by visiting Ypres' In Flanders Fields museum, set within the famed Cloth Hall and renowned as one of the greatest war exhibitions in the country.
Ypres: an architectural marvel
With Gothic churches and many gorgeous buildings all around, it's easy to forget that much of the city was rebuilt after WWI — especially since the Grote Markt is now regarded as one of the most beautiful town squares in all of Belgium.
Essential things to do in Ypres include the 70-metre high Belfry tower, the magnificent Cloth Hall and the Renaissance-style Flemish courthouse.
A great way to see a different perspective of Ypres is to take a walk along the 17th century ramparts which now form the perimeter of some of the prettiest parks in the town. The huge stone Menin Gate is one of the most famous war memorial sites in Flanders, and bears the names of 54,896 missing soldiers from World War I.
Eat like a Belgian local
Ypres has a surprisingly diverse selection of food options for a town of its size, with plenty of Belgian and international cuisines on offer.
Many of the most popular restaurants and bistros are clustered on the terrace of the market square, meaning diners can enjoy fantastic views of the cathedral while they eat.
If you want to eat like a local, famous specialty dishes come in the form of hearty Flemish stews infused with rich, dark beer. Further eateries can be found in century-old townhouses or in the bakeries where you can tuck into the residents' favourite dish, bread pudding.
Discover all the delightful town of Ypres has to offer by travelling via Hull to Zeebrugge for a Belgian adventure with P&O Ferries.
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