The Belgian town of Ypres is best known for its association with the Great War. Untold numbers of soldiers marched through the town on their way to the front line. Many did not return and today the Menin Gate – Ypres’ Memorial to the Missing – is one of the most poignant focal points for remembering the fallen in Europe.
Dover to Calais or Dunkirk and drive across the border into Belgium. The drive from Calais to Ypres takes 1 hour and 10 minutes, and if you choose to continue your journey from Dunkirk to Ypres it takes just 50 minutes. If you’re travelling from the north of England, take our ferry from
Newcastle to Amsterdam and it’s just a three hour drive through Holland and Belgium to Ypres.
Why visit Ypres?
Ypres is part of Belgium’s Salient, a region devastated by fighting during the First World War and where 300,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives. The fields and towns are dotted with memorials, cemeteries and museums, and Ypres itself was almost completely destroyed.
The town was completely rebuilt after the war with the main square, Cloth Hall and Town Hall recreated as close to the original designs as possible. The reconstruction was a spectacular success – today the market square is said to be one of the prettiest in Belgium and the huge Cloth Hall – which dominates the square – is one of Belgium’s most magnificent buildings.
The Great War is honoured throughout Ypres but there are also lots of shops, restaurants and cafes with wide outdoor terraces where you can just sit and watch the world go by.
There are some lovely walks too – Ypres Ramparts are the best-preserved in
Belgium and the walk around its fine stone walls and towers takes about 90 minutes. Otherwise follow the three-mile Heritage Footpath – marked by bronze rivets in the paving stones - around the historic town centre.
What to see in Ypres
Ypres is a relatively small town, but it boasts two of Belgium’s most powerful and poignant sites.
The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is colossal, bearing the names of over 50,000 servicemen and women whose bodies were never found. Every night at 8pm sharp, the traffic is stopped on either side of the Gate and the Last Post is sounded under its arches, a ceremony that has been held every evening since 1928.
The massive Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle) dominates the market square and was originally built in the Middle Ages when Ypres was a prominent cloth making town rivaling Ghent and Bruges. Today it houses the award-winning Flanders Fields Museum and is the entry point should you wish to climb the 70m high Belfry for spectacular views over the town and countryside beyond.
For more details of what Ypres has to offer visit:
Where to stay
There are lots of places to stay in Ypres, with options for every taste and budget. Our partner
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