The capital of West Flanders, Bruges is the smaller, more charming neighbour of Ghent. There’s plenty to see in a small area, so Bruges is best explored by meandering on foot. Of the many museums and galleries to visit, our pick was one showcasing Da Vinci’s inventions. There’s a seemingly never-ending supply of churches and cathedrals to gaze at, and when you’re tired of wandering, there are several bars overlooking the water on the canal banks- perfect for watching the world go by.
Hearing nothing but good things about Antwerp, I was excited to spend the afternoon there on my way from the Netherlands to Ghent. The beauty of the city was immediately obvious as I jumped off the train and headed up the escalators into the elegant gold and stone central train station.
From the station I wandered towards the old town, passing endless alfresco dining spots amid street performer’s violin tunes. The style of buildings in Antwerp was noticeably different to that of the Netherlands- the stone was whiter, the buildings more grand and ornate. It reminded me a lot of French cities with a fair bit of Spanish thrown in.
The main tourist area is the centre of the old town, where the world heritage listed Cathedral of Our Lady dominates the skyline. Building of the Gothic style catholic cathedral commenced in 1352, yet was never quite finished- resulting in asymmetrical towers. It’s one of the most splendid cathedral I’ve visited, thanks to a combination of it’s enormity (its 120m long and 75m wide), the height of it’s towers (123m) and the intricate detailing on the facade- making the cathedral incredibly picturesque.
On one side of the cathedral is a huge square, boarded by a multitude of cafes and home to a beautiful ornate green fountain. The conjoined buildings encircling the square are reminiscent of a grander time and create the perfect atmosphere to wander and soak up the relaxed beauty of the city. You could easily spend much longer than an afternoon enjoying Antwerp!
With a beautiful old town, meandering canals lined with cafes and bars, and a medieval castle, Ghent is enchanting. The main tourist area is located within a cluster of huge cathedrals, where two large canals intersect. It’s the perfect place to wander aimlessly, with endless cafes to rest at when you’ve worked up an appetite or thirst.
For more structured sight seeing you can’t go past Gravensteen, a medieval castle dating back to 1180. For 10€ you can do a self-guided tour through 13 points of interest within, outside and ontop of the castle. The views from the tower alone are worth the entrance fee.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat then tryGust, a trendy cafe with large front windows that open onto the street, allowing you to sit half in and half out of the cafe. Their breakfast set comes with delicious coffee, freshly squeezed juice, home-made granola, eggs, bacon and a bunch of different freshly baked breads with cured meat, cheese and home-made sweet spreads. Damn delicious!