Great day trips Belgium: Cities
Background photo: Ypres, not mentioned in the list below
Brussels, you either love or hate the city, but the city has a lot of gems. Some of them are well known, others quite hidden. Therefore, Brussels is a city you must visit, not only recommended for tourists but also Belgians themselves.
The most known landscape and city photography spots are:
- Grand Place
- Royal galleries
- Panorama viewpoint: Mont des Arts [on this picture]
- Justice Palace Brussels and nearby viewpoint
- The triumphal arch at the Jubelpark
- Stock market building
Have a look at the 'Activities page', cause some great activities around Brussels are mentioned there.
TIP: Visit the basilica of the Sacred Heart, which is located on top of the Koekelberg hill. Buy a ticket for the panorama on top of the basilisk. There you have a wonderful view on the city of Brussels. This location is less known.
3. Ghent - GENT
Ghent is a wonderful medieval city with a great historical city center. Next to medieval buildings, many churches and towers reach high in the sky. If you compare Ghent with Bruges, the city is larger and you really have the feeling you're in a city, while Bruges often looks like a village.
In Ghent, only the city center has medieval buildings. While in Bruges, almost the whole city looks medieval. Ghent has way more highlights and towers. Especially the region around the Korenmarkt has many incredible towers. A bit further to the north, you can find a castle called 'Het Gravensteen'.
Some of the highlights for sightseeing:
- Gravensteen castle
- Saint Michiels Bridge
- Saint Baafs Cathedral
- De krook library
- Saint Pieters Abbey and wineyards
Ghent is also a perfect place for nightlife and shopping. It's a young city with many students, starters and a quite large international Erasmus community.
TIP: buy a ticket to visit the Belfry and climb the hundreds of stairs to the top to enjoy a wonderful 360° panorama over Ghent and its towers.
Antwerp is the capital city of the Province of Antwerp, and also the biggest city of Flanders. It's a very multicultural city with a large history.
Next to that, it's a great place for a citytrip and for photography but also for shopping and entertainment.
The city has a lot of different places and styles. Some highlights for either photography or activities:
- Great market square: historical buildings
- Cathedral of Our Lady
- Central station building: incredible architecture
- Port authority - Havenhuis: incredible modern architecture
- MAS: museum and panorama
- Walk at the banks of the 'Schelde' river
- Marina and "'t eilandje"
- Port area
- Antwerp zoo
A little bit further
- Doel: an abandoned town nearby Antwerp. I will write a separate topic about Doel itself soon.
Also Mechelen is a typical cultural city in Belgium. The city is located right in the middle between Brussels and Antwerp and therefore is a great base point.
The city has a mix of everything you would expect in cultural Belgian City. A beautiful historical center with many towers, bars and shops, waterways going straight through the city, cosy parks..
I think you can compare the city to Leuven. A great city with many secrets. Nevertheless, I know I haven't seen every corner of the city so far, but Ghent and Bruges definitely have a lot more to offer. I'm sorry for disappointing the people who love this city.
Some of the highlights:
- St Rumbold's Cathedral
- Palace of Margareta of Austria
- Winter gardens Ursulinen
- Dijlepad, a walk on the banks of the River Dijle.
- The great beguinage
- Museum 'Hof van Busleyden'
In Ostend, I was born and raised and therefore I can't exclude it from this list. Ostend doesn't always have a good reputation and the city is often criticized. Nevertheless I will try to convince you the potential of coast city.
Best photography spots:
- Venetian Galleries and Thermae Palace Hotel
- Ostend marina and Mercatordok
- The Pier of Ostend
- East bank [fort Napoleon, luxury skyscrapers, dunes and bunkers]
- Domein Raversyde and 'Atlantikwall'
- Maria Hendrika park
- Beach and breakwaters
- Sint-Petrus-en-Paulus church
Best events and to do:
- The Chrystal Ship [street art], check my activities page for more information.
- 'Oostende voor anker' [Ship festival]
- Ostend during Christmas
- Fiery Mondays [fireworks in summer]
- Sand sculpture festival
- Next to these events mentioned above, almost every weekend and especially in summer, there are loads of events and festivals:
Beer events (North Sea beer festival,..), Food & foodtruck festivals (Barrio Cantina,..), Theater festivals (TAZ,..), Ostend filmfestival, Music festivals (Ostend Beach, Paulusfeesten,..), and so on.
There is a lot to do in this small city. Check out the event website of the city for more information.
TIP: Take the free water shuttle to the eastern bank of the harbor. Next to more quiet beaches, dunes and a fort, you can also spot new luxury "skyscrapers" (the Belgian meaning of skyscrapers). Not far away from there you can find my favourite spot for a wonderful skyline view of Ostend.