West Flanders

West Flanders is one of the five provinces of Flanders in Belgium and the country's westernmost. It encompasses Belgium's entire coastline and thus is a favourite travel destination for Belgians in the summer months. Its capital, Bruges, is also very popular with tourists due to its unique medieval charms. Otherwise, West Flanders is mainly known for its agriculture. There are many open fields between the small towns and villages and the general flatness of the region make it ideal to go on a cycle holiday.

Cities and Towns

West-Flanders has a lot of small cities and towns, those are connected with a good road network and mostly decent public transport. In the towns, you'll find hotels, pubs, restaurants and many shops. Most of the towns have an old centre, with medieval parts. Around the towns, the mainly flat and open countryside is an invitation to the cyclists and hikers.


Many villages have become the victim of the rise in population and the reconstruction after WWI. The reconstruction caused many ugly, small houses to be build along the existing roads. However, some villages still kept their original look.


The main language in West Flanders is Dutch using the West Flemish dialect. Most people are proficient in standard Dutch and many have a functional command of English and French.

Get in

By Car

West-Flanders is crossed by many motorways.

By Public Transport

There are train lines operated by the NMBS from France (Lille) to Bruges via Courtray, and from Brussels and Ghent to Bruges, De Panne and Courtray. The front region around Ypres can only be reached via Courtray, the northern coastal region can only be reached via Bruges, the southern coastal region can only be reached via Diksmuide.

By Boat

Zeebrugge has a ferry directly to the British city of Kingston upon Hull.

The French port of Calais is also very close to West-Flanders, with a good train and motorway connection to it.

Get around

Coast Tram (Dutch: De Kusttram) is the longest tram line in the world with 69 stops over 67 km long track. It connects all Belgian seaside towns from De Panne near French Duinkerke to Knokke near Dutch border. During peak summer months a tram goes every 10 min from 08:00 till 21:00.


Menin Gate, Ypres


Bruges is the capital of West-Flanders, and by far the most touristic town in West-Flanders. Its medieval city-centre is almost like a living museum, and certainly worth visiting.


West-Flanders is the coastal province of Belgium. The entire coast is a sand beach, ideal for walking. In the summer, dogs aren't allowed on the beach, in the winter, dogs are allowed (legally, dogs must always be on a leash, but if you know your dog, you know if it's needed or not). The coast itself is largely build-up with apartments, many consider this ugly, but if you go a bit further to the countryside, you can see the typical coastal houses.

The front region

Along the front line of the first world war, there are many small towns and villages worth visiting. With many memorials and cemeteries in the countryside. Visiting the front line is best done by car, or with operated bus tours, since public transport is sparse in those regions with low population. Travelling by bicycle is also possible, when you want to combine sportivity and remembrance.

British cemeteries are scattered all over, but there are too many to list here (247 to be exact). Please consult the cwgc for complete information.

The towns of Ypres, Poperinge, Diksmuide and Nieuwpoort, are towns near the front line, where you can find sleeping accommodation. There are also many guest houses and farms in the countryside.

A list of places to visit, from north (Nieuwpoort) to south (Mesen). If you continue to follow the front line south, you'll arrive through Hainaut in France.

Stay safe

Ostend and Menen are the only cities where you need to be careful in some parts of the city.

Go next

Belgium is small, the closest province is East Flanders with capital city Ghent. If you go south, you'll arrive in France, with Lille as closest big city. Bergues is also worth checking out as a typical French-Flemish town.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, August 11, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.