This post is part of a series of the best Brussels Day Trips in and around Belgium. Be sure to check out the french region of Belgium in the Wallonia Edition and which countries are just a day trip away in the Beyond Belgium Edition!
Flanders (that top half) is your more well-known region of Belgium. They boast a good bit more, maybe have been in a movie (we’ll get to that), and most of their cities are easily accessible by train. Our favorite way to choose how we’ll get to a city is to compare travel time + which mode of transportation we should take before we set out (travel search website GoEuro happens to have the perfect tool for just that). When it comes to inside Belgium, we usually choose car, but maybe you aren’t spoiled with free gas. (heh) Starting from the closest, probably..
In this little college town, you’ve got your fountain of wisdom, your oldest Catholic university, and your Stella Artois. You’ve got your picturesque European streets, your nun’s grand béguinage, and your swanky, uptown restaurants. Easy decisions right here.
We couldn’t believe how clean and tidy this town about halfway between Brussels and Antwerp was.. Flowers, statues, check and check. Plus you can see the cathedral bell tower which was the inspiration for the popular MC Hammer flat-top look of the 1980’s (I mean, surely, right?).
The Wonder Clock! Buy a ticket (discounted with train ticket stub) to go inside and learn some cool history – it holds the slowest clock pointer in the world, Einstein praised it, and Brussels and New York got to show it off, now it resides in little ole Lier. Afterwards, grab a seat at one of the town square patios with a great view of the Jubilee clock. End the day following the quaint path along the river.
However you visit, a stop to admire their train station is a must. Right behind it is the zoo, which makes for a good trip on it’s own plus a visit to café Tartine…especially if you’re practicing your photography. Do get lost on the streets while you make your way to the center square and walk along the water to make it all extra cute.
Sitting by the canals is probably one of the best spots to spend a sunny Sunday in Belgium. Not as crowded with tourists as Brugge is, but still with the picturesque medieval charm. We’d spotted boats rented out by groups of friends cruising the canals with drinks and were instantly jealous of their life decision. Head out during July and don’t miss the lively (and free) Gent Festival.
A charming town on its own, this place is even more worthwhile if you’ve got a big WWI buff in your company. The town is home to the Flanders Fields museum, as well as the Menin Gate which hosts the Last Post at 8pm, a nightly salute to the fallen.
This one, we suggest going with a car because it’s really rural. But also make sure that car has got a DD coming with it because this beer, let me tell you, it’s well worth it. You can bypass the nearly impossible call-in line to reserve a crate and make a trip out to the café across from the abbey for a/some beer(s) and a sandwich. If you’re lucky, they’ll be selling some 6-packs of the coveted Westvleteren 12 while you’re there. Bonus: You can be adventurous and make a full day trip out of Westvleteren and Lille, France, like we did.
What’s your favorite foray into Flanders?