Ypres: A Guide to Unforgettable Experiences

Ypres, a charming city located in Belgium’s West Flanders province, is a must-visit destination for history buffs and travelers alike. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and an array of attractions, this city has something for everyone. Join us as we explore the top 10 things to do in Ypres, from World War I remembrance sites to culinary delights and hidden gems.

Short Summary

  • Explore Ypres’ history with attractions like the Cloth Hall, Belfry Tower & Old Town Hall.

  • Pay tribute to WWI soldiers at Menin Gate Memorial or Tyne Cot Cemetery.

  • Enjoy cultural and historical museums, religious landmarks, scenic walks & culinary delights!

Exploring the Historic Grote Markt

A view of the Historic Grote Markt in Ypres, Belgium https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Cloth_Hall%2C_Ieper.jpg
A view of the Historic Grote Markt in Ypres, Belgium (Image via WikiMedia)

The heart of Ypres lies in its historic Grote Markt, a long, wide cobblestoned street and square right in the middle of the city. This bustling area is home to the Cloth Hall, one of the biggest gothic civilian complexes in Europe, the eye-catching Belfry Tower, and the 16th-century Old Town Hall.

As you stroll along the Grote Markt, you’ll be surrounded by history, with many buildings reconstructed after the extensive destruction of World War I.

Cloth Hall

The iconic Cloth Hall, originally built in 1260, served as the city’s most important building, acting as both a warehouse and marketplace. Unfortunately, it was completely destroyed in World War I, but the new structure stands as one of the largest and grandest secular buildings in Europe.

Today, the Cloth Hall houses museums and offers guided tours about the First World War. Don’t miss the Last Post ceremony, a daily tribute to commemorate the events of the war.

Belfry Tower

The Belfry Tower, part of the Lakenhalle complex, is a historic bell tower built in 1201. It offers an amazing view of the Flanders Plain, allowing you to gaze over the region’s picturesque landscape.

From June to October, the carillon of 49 bells chimes at 9 pm, adding a touch of enchantment to your visit.

Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall, located in the Grote Markt, is a 16th-century building that once housed the In Flanders Fields Museum. Although not as grand as the Cloth Hall, it’s an essential part of Ypres’ architectural history and worth a brief visit.

World War I Remembrance Sites

A view of the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium, honoring British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in World War I
Menin Gate Memorial at night

Ypres and the surrounding areas, known collectively as the Ypres Salient, were the sites of some of the most significant battles of World War I. Today, the city is home to several poignant WWI remembrance sites, such as the Menin Gate Memorial, Tyne Cot Cemetery, and Passchendaele Museum.

These sites provide an opportunity to pay your respects and remember the sacrifices made by soldiers during the war.

Menin Gate Memorial

The Menin Gate Memorial is a tribute to all the Allied soldiers who lost their lives in the Ypres Salient during World War I. Specifically, it commemorates the 54,389 among them who never received a known grave. Every night at 8 pm, the Last Post ceremony takes place under the eastern bow of the gate. This daily tribute has been ongoing since 1928 and serves as a powerful reminder of the human cost of war.

Make sure to arrive early for a good spot to witness this moving ceremony.

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest British war cemetery in Flanders. It has almost 12,000 war graves and a memorial to 35,000 soldiers who were missing after August 16, 1917. The cemetery offers a sobering reminder of the immense loss during the war, and the 34,957 names on the wall of the monument represent British and New Zealand soldiers who went missing during that time.

Visiting the cemetery is a powerful experience, and the sheer scale of the memorial is a testament to the human cost of the war. The cemetery is a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of those who fought and died in the conflict, and a reminder of the need for a cemetery.

Passchendaele Museum

The Passchendaele Museum, located in the village of Zonnebeke, offers an in-depth look at the Battle of Passchendaele and the war in the Ypres Salient. With exhibits on trench warfare, military history, and the aftermath of the war, this museum provides a comprehensive understanding of the conflict.

Many visitors consider it even better than the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres.

Cultural and Historical Museums

A view of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium, dedicated to the history of World War I
In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium (Image via Wikimedia)

Ypres boasts an impressive array of museums that showcase the city’s rich history and culture. Delve into the past by visiting the In Flanders Fields Museum, which focuses on the battles of World War I in and around Ypres.

The Yper Museum covers 11 centuries of Ypres’ history, and the lesser-known Merghelynck Museum.

In Flanders Fields Museum

Located in the Cloth Hall, the In Flanders Fields Museum offers an immersive experience of World War I, with exhibits that highlight the personal stories of soldiers who fought in the Ypres Salient.

The museum also features century-old aerial footage showing the destruction from the war, allowing visitors to gain a better understanding of the conflict’s impact.

Yper Museum


The Yper Museum, housed in the same building as the In Flanders Fields Museum, provides a broader historical perspective on Ypres. With artifacts and art from Belgium and Northern France, this museum showcases the city’s past beyond the context of World War I.

It’s also kid-friendly, making it a great stop for families.

Merghelynck Museum

The lesser-known Merghelynck Museum, once the home of Frans Merghelynck, the treasurer for Empress Maria Theresia, is a hidden gem worth exploring. Although smaller than other museums in the city, it offers a glimpse into the lives of Ypres’ nobility and their intriguing history.

Religious Landmarks

A view of the St George's Memorial Church in Ypres, Belgium, a religious landmark of the city https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PM_036165_B_Kortrijk.jpg

Ypres is home to several religious landmarks that showcase the city’s spiritual heritage. Take a moment to visit St George’s Memorial Church, a tribute to British soldiers who perished in World War I. The Gothic Sint-Maartenskerk is one of the oldest churches in the city, and the 16th-century Belle Almshouse Chapel is also worth a visit.

St George’s Memorial Church

Built in 1927, St George’s Memorial Church serves as a memorial to the British soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. Inside, you’ll find objects and plaques given in memory of those who died in battle.

Located near the Grote Markt, this church is a humbling reminder of the sacrifices made during the war.


Sint-Maartenskerk, a Gothic church in the center of Ypres, dates back to the 13th century. Its tower stands over 100 meters tall, making it a prominent landmark in the city.

Inside the church, you’ll find a brass font, the picture of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van Thuyne, and the tombs of notable figures, such as Bishop Jansenius and Count Robrecht of Bethune.

Belle Almshouse Chapel

The Belle Almshouse Chapel, built in the 16th century, is one of the oldest buildings in Ypres. Once part of a larger complex that included a hospital and cloister, this chapel now stands as a testament to Ypres’ religious past.

Its beautiful interior features a high vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, and a large organ, making it a peaceful spot to visit.

Scenic Walks Around Ypres

Ypres offers several scenic walks for visitors to explore the city and its surroundings at a leisurely pace. Enjoy the beauty of the Vauban Ramparts, built by military engineer Vauban, take a self-guided City Walk tour, or explore the historic Fortifications of Rijselpoort.

Each walk provides a unique perspective on the city’s history and charm.

Vauban Ramparts

The Vauban Ramparts, built in the late 17th century, are impressive fortifications that encircle the old downtown of Ypres. Walking along these walls provides a glimpse into the city’s past, while offering a peaceful escape from the bustling city center.

The ramparts also give you the opportunity to explore the beautiful green spaces that surround them.

City Walk

The City Walk in Ypres is a self-guided tour that takes you around all the historic sites and attractions of the city. With a City Walk brochure, available at the local tourist office or online for €3, you’ll be able to navigate the city with ease and discover the fascinating history of Ypres at your own pace.

The brochure includes a map of the city, a list of all the sites and attractions, and a brief description of each one. It also includes a list of recommended restaurants and cafes, as well as a list of recommended restaurants and cafes.

Fortifications of Rijselpoort

The Fortifications of Rijselpoort, a series of 17th-century fortifications built by the Dutch, are another hidden gem in Ypres. Exploring these historic structures gives you a sense of the city’s strategic importance throughout history and offers a unique perspective on the role of Ypres in various conflicts.

Culinary Delights

Ypres is known for its delicious culinary offerings, ranging from traditional Flemish dishes to mouthwatering pastries and chocolates. Treat yourself to a meal at De Ruyffelaer, indulge in freshly baked goods at Henk Bakery, or sample some of Belgium’s finest chocolates at Leonidas Chocolaterie.

De Ruyffelaer


Located on Gustave de Stuersstraat, De Ruyffelaer is a must-visit restaurant for those looking to sample authentic Flemish cuisine. With meals ranging from €15 to €35, this popular eatery offers a diverse menu that showcases the flavors of the region.

Be sure to try some of their local specialties for a true taste of Ypres.

Henk Bakery

Situated in the Grote Markt, Henk Bakery, also known as Bakkerij Henk, offers a wide array of fresh breads and scrumptious pastries. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a sweet treat to enjoy with your coffee, this bakery is sure to satisfy your cravings.

Leonidas Chocolaterie

For chocolate lovers, a

visit to Ypres wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Leonidas Chocolaterie. Located in the Grote Markt, this Belgian chocolate shop is renowned for its top-quality chocolates made with 100% pure cocoa butter.

With a vast selection of truffles, pralines, and bars, you’ll be spoiled for choice at this sweet spot.

Brewery Tours and Tastings

Ypres is also home to some fantastic brewery experiences, where you can tour and taste a variety of beers. Visit the historic Kazematten Brewery or enjoy a wide selection of brews at Kaffe Bazaar.

Both spots offer unique insights into the city’s brewing history and craft beer culture.

Kazematten Brewery

https://www.flickr.com/photos/brostad/ BroStad

Kazematten Brewery, located under the old ramparts of Ypres, has a fascinating history dating back to 1845. During World War I, British soldiers used the spaces where the brewery now stands to print their morale-boosting paper, The Wipers Times.

Today, the brewery offers tours and tastings, with three beers – Blond, Dubbel, and Tripel – available for sampling. Tours cost €10 per adult and are available every Saturday from 3 to 5 pm.

Kaffe Bazaar

For a more laid-back brewery experience, head to Kaffe Bazaar in Ypres. This cozy bar boasts over 30 Belgian beers and 50 spirits, making it the perfect spot for beer enthusiasts to sample a diverse array of brews.

With a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff, Kaffe Bazaar is a great place to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

Family Fun at Bellewaerde

For a fun-filled day with the family, visit Bellewaerde, the oldest theme park in Belgium. With a variety of attractions, including roller coasters, gardens, and a 4D cinema, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

The Bellewaderde park‘s friendly atmosphere and exciting rides make it an ideal destination for families visiting Ypres.

Hidden Gems in Ypres

The Brooding Soldier Monument

Apart from its well-known attractions, Ypres also offers some hidden gems for those seeking lesser-known sights. Discover The Brooding Soldier Monument, a Canadian war memorial, and the Dancing Balloons Amusement Park Ride for unique experiences that many visitors might overlook.

The Brooding Soldier Monument

Located in the village of Saint-Julien, Langemark, the Brooding Soldier Monument is a touching tribute to the Canadian soldiers who perished in the first gas attack of the Second Battle of Ypres. Standing 11 meters tall, the monument features the bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier with folded hands resting on arms reversed.

Take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made during the war while visiting this poignant memorial.

Dancing Balloons Amusement Park Ride

For a fun and unique experience, check out the Dancing Balloons Amusement Park Ride at Bellewaerde Park. This whimsical ride features giant balloons that dance and float around the stadium, offering a delightful spectacle for visitors of all ages.

It’s a hidden gem and a great way to make lasting memories during your visit to Ypres.


In conclusion, Ypres is a city steeped in history, culture, and charm. From its World War I remembrance sites and fascinating museums to its beautiful religious landmarks and culinary delights, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this captivating city. Whether you’re exploring the historic Grote Markt, walking along the Vauban Ramparts, or indulging in Belgian chocolates, Ypres offers a wealth of experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. So why not plan your visit to Ypres in 2023 and discover all that this remarkable city has to offer?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ypres best known for?

Ypres is a historic town in Belgium and is best known as the site of three major battles of the First World War – the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, the Battle of Passchendaele from July-November 1917 and the Allied liberation of Ypres in 1918.

It is also home to the Menin Gate Memorial, which features the names of 54,389 fallen soldiers who died during the conflict.

What language do they speak in Ypres Belgium?

When it comes to Ypres Belgium, the local language is Flemish. This has been the case since the town’s French name of Ypres was changed to the Flemish name of Ieper when the First World War was declared in August 1914.

What happened in Ypres Belgium?

On April 22nd 1915, German forces launched an attack on the Western Front in Ypres, Belgium. This marked the first ever use of chemical weapons on the battlefield; they released over 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas that impacted two French colonial divisions.

Although the Germans were able to gain ground initially, their gains weren’t exploited and ultimately the battle resulted in a costly stalemate for both sides.

How much of Ypres was destroyed?

Ypres was ravaged beyond recognition during World War I. The whole town centre, which previously stood proudly, was virtually destroyed within the four years of the war. Consequently, there was no one left to occupy the once bustling city and all its inhabitants had either been evacuated or fled.

It’s safe to say that Ypres suffered severely under the impacts of the Great War.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top