Kortrijk (French: Courtrai, sometimes referred to in English as Courtray) is a city in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the arrondissement of Kortrijk, which comprises some 278,160 inhabitants (1 January 2007). The wider municipality comprises the city of Kortrijk proper and the towns of Aalbeke, Bellegem, Bissegem, Heule, Kooigem, Marke, and Rollegem.
The city is situated on the Leie River, 42 km (26 miles) southwest of Ghent and 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Lille in France. Both Kortrijk and Lille are part of the same transnational Eurodistrict urban area with around 1,900,000 inhabitants.
As the biggest city of southern West Flanders, Kortrijk has many schools, a university, hospitals and shopping streets.
Kortrijk is a medium city, it has a good balance of tradition and innovation/modernism. It has always been famous for shopping, and in 2010 a big shopping centre was opened in the heart of the city. There are numerous traffic-free shopping zones, and lots historical sites in the city centre. Outside the centre there are some less developed hoods, but never really bad neighbourhoods.
Kortrijk is a rather safe city. Suburbs/satellite cities like Menen have to endure mainly burglary criminality from youth and gangsters, but Kortrijk is rather safe.
The city is known as the Guldensporenstad (City of the Golden Spurs), after the battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302. It used to be the centre of the linen industry and is still known as an important textile industry region.
Kortrijk can be easily accessed by various types of transport:
Kortrijk's main railway station is an intercity train station. Situated in the heart of Kortrijk, you have easy connections to Ghent, Antwerp, Mechelen, Brussels, Bruges, Ostend, Ypres and Lille.
Next to the train station there is a large bus station, giving access to regional bus lines and a well constructed city bus network. Eurolines buses stop at the train station or at the Kinepolis cinema, outside the city. The Kinepolis site has good connections to the train station.
Thalys/Eurostar/TGV lines do not stop at Courtray. There is a direct connection to the Lille Flandres and Lille Europe train station (30 minutes by train) however. Accessing Courtray from England/Paris through stopping in Lille is easier to do than going to Brussels and taking the regional train in Brussels.
Courtray has an inner circle, the R8. This highway is connected to the A19 (Ypres/Ieper), E403 (Bruges/Brugge, Ostend/Oostende, Tournai/Doornik) and the E17 (Lille/Rijsel, Ghent/Gent, Antwerp/Antwerpen, Brussels/Brussel).
- Courtray Airport. Mainly business travel. No daily passenger services.
- Daily connections by train to Brussels Airport. Lille Airport can also be an option.
Kortrijk has a well-formed bus system, offering easy transport to main spots like Kortrijk Xpo and most surrounding cities.
As Kortrijk is a part of Flanders, the main language is Dutch. Many of the inhabitants will be happy to answer you in English or if you ask beforehand, in French, although automatically starting a discussion in French could offend some of the locals. German is also quite prevalent.
Internet reception over the whole city is very good, major network all cover the area. Also almost all hotels and a lot of bars and pubs offer you free internet.
- Kortrijk 1302: An interactive museum showing you the Battle of the Golden Spurs (11th of july 1302). This battle is historical because it was one of the first battles where a peasant-based army defeated a knights army. After the battle, the spurs of the fallen horses were kept as a victory sign. The battle gave Flanders its regional holiday.
- Museum of Fine Arts situated in an old 18th-century mansion. Mostly contains regional artists (f.i. Roelant Savery) and an unique collection of ceramic.
- National line museum. Shows a historical image of the line industry in Kortrijk and the surroundings.
- Groeninge-abbey and the Groeningemuseum. This museum tells the story of Kortrijk from the Roman empire through the first world war.
- Bakery and mill museum in Marke
- Agricultural museum in Bissegem
- City Hall (stadhuis)
- The Belfry (UNESCO-heritage) at the Grote Markt (the main square, Grand-Place in French).
- The scenic Begijnhof (UNESCO-heritage) The Béguinage was founded in 1238 by Johanna Van Constantinopel. It was destroyed 3 times and rebuilt for the last time in the 17th century.
- 2 almost identical Broeltowers are remains of the medieval city wall. They are the typical image of Kortrijk. Build in the 13th and 15 century, they are located at both sides of the Leie river.
- Onze-Lieve-Vrouwehospitaal. Hospital, founded between 1200 and 1204.
- The Baggaertshof - a medical garden and 13 old houses.
- Sint-Maartenskerk. A Gothic church, built and rebuild after a fire in the 14th century.
- Groeningspoort, an old city gate (street: Plein).
- Groeningekouter: supposed to be the field where the Battle of the Golden Spurs took place.
- The Schouwburg is a rather impressive, chateau-like building at the Schouwburgplein. Schouwburg is the Dutch word for theatre.
- The Wave fountain at the Schouwburgplein near the theatre is by Olivier Strebelle.
Kortrijk offers one of the biggest car free areas in Belgium where one can shop or have drink on a nice terrace. One of these streets, the Korte Steenstraat, was the very first pedestrian street in Belgium. In the heart of this pedestrian area, a large covered shopping centre, named K in Kortrijk, opened in 2010. This shopping mall makes the pedestrian link between the Lange Steenstraat and the Veemarkt-square and offers some 90 large stores.
- Lucy Chang - Chinese/thai restaurant near the Schouwburgplein.
- Paul's Boutique - Eat-in and take-away Burger bar - includes a lot of vegetarian options. Price is very moderate, a standard burger costs you €7.
- Nectar - Vegetarian restaurant near the K shopping centre. Only open Lunch time during weekdays.
- De Kaashalle - Cheese and baguettes for lunchtime. Near the Grote Markt.
- De Vlasblomme - Traditional Flemish food. Outside the city centre.
- The typical place to party is the end of the 'Burgemeester Reynaertstraat' close to the station. By the local public this is called 'Het Straatje', which stands for 'the little street'. This is a typical place for going out on Thursday night and in the weekend. There are around seven bars, which typical have loud music and are for dancing.
- If you're keen to enjoy a quiet drink, a place to go is the 'Vlasmarkt', on a minute walk from The Belfry. A handful of bars there are very nice designed and enjoyable to visit, and usually, they are less expensive then the bars on the Market Place. This place is frequented by locals.
- During the day a recommended place to visit is also 'Den Bras' close to the station and its little brother 'Den Trap' in the cellar. Den Trap is a bar with high rock and roll appeal, and sometimes during the week you can enjoy a free concert here from very promising bands in the area.
- Parkhotel. Next to the station.
- Generally safe, small unsafe areas near the station (at night) and the Venning, a local neighbourhood.
- The local police station is situated at the end of the street in front of the train station(Next to Domino's Pizza). Most of the police officers speak fluently Dutch/English/French.
- Small crimes (vandalism) or information (directions) can easily be reported/asked at some of the city's "guards", who just walk around dressed in purple.
Kortrijk is situated on the "Vlaanderen Fietsroute", a cycling network through Flanders, a network of 800 kilometers guiding you through Flanders nicest spots by bike.
- Brussels: Belgian and European capital.
- Antwerp: a large and active harbor city, famous for it's fashion and diamonds.
- Ghent: An important and vibrant university city with beautiful architecture, often overlooked by tourists who visit Brugge or Brussels.
- Bruges: The famous capital of West-Flanders. The entire city centre is Unesco Heritage. Often called: "Venice of the north", due to the many canals and scenic centre.
- Ypres: Pretty town famous for World War I battles.
- Lille: French big city with Flemish roots, forms a metropolitan area with Kortrijk.
- Tournai (Dutch: Doornik) is 30-35 minutes away by train in French-speaking Wallonia.