The Ancient Land of Flanders
4 days / 3 nights
Just across the English Channel lies the ancient land of Flanders.
This magnificent short tour explores Flanders, the Northern province of Belgium. Since the 14th century, Flanders has been a thriving region of fiercely-independent cities. They share a historical and cultural heritage to which the Grand Squares, magnificent guild houses, awe-inspiring cathedrals and many other monuments bear proud witness of a wealthy and influential past.
The numerous smaller squares, cobbled street, churches and beguinages let you feel days gone by with an intimacy all of their own. There is a lot more to Flemish cities than just architecture and history. You can also spend time looking around a flea market, visiting some of the countless art galleries, or just sitting on a cafe terrace watching the world go by and sampling the world famous beer and chocolate!
There is simply so much to see and do in this region that we are just spoilt for choice! This 4-day tour offers the highlights for those seeking a short orientation tour.
If you have more time to explore or have a specific interest in either art or gardens, why not join the Homes and Gardens of Belgium and Holland or Exploring the Low Countries: Flemish Art and Culinary Delights?
Available at any date for private groups of 2 – 15 people. Price available upon application. Rates are based upon vehicle and guide hire per day; groups of 7 - 15 would have a per person rate same/similar to one of our scheduled tours of the same length.
If you do not have a group of traveling companions and are still interested in this custom tour itinerary, you are welcomed to join a waitlist…
We record who is looking for travel companions to make up a tour with them. We need between 6 and 8 persons minimum to operate a tour without it being uneconomic for us or too expensive for you. We will be happy to run the occasional special departure IF there is sufficient interest.
If you would like to check on or join a waitlist for this itinerary, please email us for full information: email@example.com
Why not Link it? This tour ’links up’ with Weekend on the Western Front Battlefield tours, Operation Market Garden and any of our Lille departure Battlefield Tours. Mix, match and create a holiday break to suit your schedule!
This tour begins and finishes in either Brussels or Lille. If linking with the battlefield tours, Lille would be your pick-up point. You will be picked up from your hotel or rail station, as appropriate. Please discuss options with us.
Brussels hardly requires an introduction as everyone at least knows the Manneken Pis! This famous statue of a little boy peeing in a fountain is a perfect representative of the irreverent Belgian humor. There is so very much more to this wonderful city and we can claim no more than to be giving you the briefest introduction on a panoramic tour including the Grote Markt and Grand-Place, La Monnaie, Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral. Interest permitting, we can also visit the nearby Waterloo Battlefield.
This afternoon, we will make our way to the village of Hoegaarden. Known for its famous white beer (you can tour the brewery on most Tuesdays,) this place also offers a lovely roomed Flemish show garden. We will then take the scenic route to our night stop location, the mediaeval town of Leuven.
Our accommodation (subject to availability) is adjacent to the largest beguinage in the country, Groot Begijnhof, and offers a lush garden setting, perfect for a relaxing evening.
After breakfast, we will enjoy a walking tour of Leuven’s Groot Begijnhof, founded by a unique order of “nuns” in 1292 and now deemed a Unesco World Heritage site. We will wander the narrow cobbled streets and admire the homes, gardens and the church of this walled community within the city.
For those looking to find the most beautiful medieval buildings in the world, look no further than Leuven. The magnificent 15th century town hall alone is worth the trip! There are many styles of architecture to be found in and around the town, from the flamboyant Gothic Saint Peter's Church (with the famous 15th century painting of Dirk Bouts 'The Last Supper') to the impressive Romanesque Gate. There is also a lovely botanical garden with the oldest medicinal herbery in the country.
Another exquisite historic city is nearby Mechelen. Visits here can include the medieval square with guild houses and 14th century town hall and seeing works by Van Dyck and other Flemish masters in the cathedral.
All in all, a lovely leisurely day with lots of time for sightseeing, shopping and simply relaxing at street cafes and bars.
Today, an overview of two Flemish gems. We could easily spend our 4 days just exploring either of these fine cities!
This morning, the charming city of Antwerp and a panoramic look around the city including the Grote Markt and stunning cathedral. This fantastic place has much to offer visitors! Our focus will be Rubenshuis, the painter Rueben’s home where he lived for 29 years, now a museum dedicated to his life and work. This home and garden is a rare insight into Renaissance daily life. Dependent upon time and interest, Antwerp is the fashion capitol of Belgium and is Europe’s diamond capitol - a true shoppers paradise!
Ghent is one of the country's noted 'art cities', and the capital of East Flanders. Yet another place that we are spoilt for choice as to what to see! Ghent is a university city, a port city criss-crossed by waterways and canals and home to two castles and dozens of museums featuring the works of the ‘Flemish Primitive’ Artists. Nowhere else will you find so much history per square metre in a pedestrian historical city centre. After an orientation walk, you will have free time to explore a museum or two or perhaps spend some leisure time in one of the lovely sidewalk cafes.
Tonight, we will enjoy dinner together by the river in our picturesque night stop, the nearby village of St Martens-Latem (subject to availability.)
ACCOMMODATION: St Martens-Latem
We've saved perhaps the most famed of all Flanders cities until last, Bruges/Brugge. This medieval gem criss-crossed by canals and cobbled streets, never fails to surprise and delight its visitors. There'll be free time to take an optional horse drawn carriage ride around the city, for shopping in the famous lace shops, perhaps visiting a brewery. We'd most definitely recommend the Flanders Folk Museum where daily life has been wonderfully recreated in a number of tableaux.
This afternoon, a bit of choice - a leisurely drive around the coastal area of Oostende or the walled town of Kortrijk.
Kortrijk offers an interesting history, a town from Roman times and a centre for textiles featuring lace and linens in the 14th Century; here you can see the “Maiden of Flanders” monument to the Battle of Golden Spurs, a museum to that event and also a Linen Museum, each paying homage to the town’s vibrant past.
Those joining the weekend tours of the Ypres Salient/Somme battlefields will be dropped off in Lille at their hotel. Those returning to London or Paris can catch the evening train from either Lille or Brussels.
Accommodation is not included tonight but is available for a supplemental fee. We can assist with accommodation in Lille, Brussels, London or Paris, as you wish.
JOINING THE TOUR FROM LONDON: When using Eurostar, you are given a self-ticketing reference number that you use to get your ticket at the station of departure. Please note there is not a representative at the station on the morning of departure. Eurostar trains have direct routes into both Brussels and Lille.
JOINING THE TOUR FROM PARIS: If you are staying in Paris and want to join us, you can do so by catching the TGV train into either Lille or Brussels.
Cost of all rail tickets depend on day of the week traveled and how much in advance tickets are booked. You are welcomed to book tickets independently or we are happy to assist.
Please note: All attraction opening dates/times are correct at time of printing this website.