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Belgium: Last stop, Bruges then Ghent

After three days in Antwerp we hopped on the train again.

If you haven’t seen the first two instalments of our Belgium adventure, take a look at them here.

The last stops on our Belgium trip were Bruges and Ghent. We decided to just stop in Bruges for the day as it’s only small, then head back to Ghent for the night. Unfortunately we chose to visit Bruges on a day when it rained. All day. Luckily Bruges is so super pretty that it still looked fabulous on a dreary day.

The main square was full of horses ready to take you around Bruges

Every street was lined with beautiful buildings full of intricate details.

Literally every street is full of stunning buildings

As well as the classic Dutch style buildings, there’s a fabulous cathedral. The inside was lovely and light and had the most wonderful stained glass windows.

The whole town is surrounded by a maze of canals which gives the buildings a stunning backdrop. Even on a gloomy day the canals were looking lovely.

After spending six hours strolling around Bruges, we were completely sodden through but well and truly wowed by the beautiful town.

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to the Belgium trains company. We used several trains and they were all super nice, so reasonably priced and on time! (If you’re reading this outside the UK and you’re wondering why I was excited by that, trains in the UK are pretty rubbish.)

The final stop

Our next and final stop of our Belgium adventure was Ghent. I didn’t know much about the city before visiting but a quick google search before going revealed it was going to be a stunner.

We were really lucky to be staying in a hotel right in the centre by the cathedral so we could walk straight out of the door and start sightseeing. It’s the perfect size for walking around but there’s also a small electric minibus that takes you around the city for free. Similar to Bruges, Ghent has gorgeous canals running through the streets. The weather was much kinder to us here so the reflection of the buildings on the water was stunning.

About every two minutes I had to stop to take a photo because everywhere is so photogenic!

Sorry to keep repeating myself here, but honestly the buildings everywhere were just so beautiful!

A happy place to be

What I loved most about Ghent was the atmosphere. Bruges was lovely but it very much felt like a touristy place, whereas Ghent felt like a real city. It’s got such history to it and has overcome so much in the past and you can somehow feel that in the air.

If you’re interested in medieval history, the castle has lots of stories to tell.

The inside of the buildings are just as stunning. The cathedral interior is designed in the classic Flemish style which can be seen all over Belgium.

They had some lovely old shops in some of the buildings too. This cute building housed a fabulous sweet shop selling traditional Belgian treats. Sadly it was closed when we visited but the window display was great.

As well as all the historic architecture, there’s a contemporary edge to the city. The university city has some brilliant independent artist shops and this famous graffiti alley which will be different every time you visit.

Ghent really is such a wonderful place. If you visit anywhere in Belgium, make it Ghent! It has a slight hidden gem vibe about it so it’s not completely overrun with tourists yet.

After two days in Ghent it was back to the UK for us. If you’re thinking “But wait, what about the food you had when you were away?”, don’t worry! The food was so fabulous in Belgium I’ve decided to dedicate a whole blog post to the subject. Stay tuned for the final Belgium post all about food coming soon…

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Belgium: Next stop, Antwerp

The next stop on our Belgium adventure was Antwerp.

After a couple of days in Brussels (if you haven’t read my Brussels blog post yet, take a look here) we hopped on the train and headed to Antwerp. The first thing to say about Antwerp is that the train station is stunning. As we came off the train there was a huge traffic jam of people as we all stopped to take a photo.

Antwerp train station
The architecture of Antwerp train station is amazing

While studying fashion design at university we were told about the magical Antwerp Six. These were six super influential fashion designers that graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the 80s who had a huge impact on the avant-garde fashion world. Since hearing about them, I’ve wanted to go to Antwerp to soak up all the fashion-y goodness.

Unfortunately when we went the fashion museum was having a complete remodel and there were no fashion exhibitions on anywhere. However it was still fun to walk around all the fancy designer shops and peek through the windows.

I love a good stroll around the fashion district

Museum time

Although we found no fashion exhibitions, we did visit the brilliant Plantin-Moretus museum. It’s a museum all about printing and it was totally fascinating! The museum is based in the building where the Plantin Press made all their works and it talks through the history of printing.

Plantin-Moretus museum in Antwerp
It was really interesting to see the old printing machines

As well as being able to walk through the old printing studios, there were thousands of examples of their printed works. They made everything from maps, to bibles, to scientific textbooks. They also had a section about the history of different fonts which was super interesting to me having studied typography as part of my degree.

Plantin-Moretus museum in Antwerp
I was completely nerding out in the printing museum

We spent so much longer there than we expected so if you ever visit Antwerp I would 100% recommend visiting the Plantin-Moretus museum (even if you’re not a printing nerd like me).

Another museum we visited was the MAS museum. I’m not going to lie to you, we went here more for the building than for the exhibitions.

MAS museum Antwerp
The MAS museum is a really interesting building

The building itself is this crazy mix of styles. Plus if you can face a whole heap of escalators, the view from the top is one of the best in Antwerp.

Bird's eye view of Antwerp
You can see the whole of Antwerp from the top

Even better, it’s free to get to the viewing platform at the top! It’s super windy up there so hold on to your hat.

I don’t know who felt the need to attach these huge climbers to the side of this building but I love them.

You also get a great view of these fab fellas climbing a building opposite the museum.

The old town

Speaking of architecture, the buildings in the old town are stunning. The whole main square is edged with beautiful buildings like this. Each one has different little features that represent what used to be made in them when they were first built.

Antwerp old town main square
The main square in the old town had the most wonderful buildings

The main square is also home to the famous Brabo fountain statue. The figure is throwing a giant’s hand which is the basis story of how Antwerp got its name. Don’t you just love folklore.

Brabo fountain statue and cathedral
The brabo fountain statue and cathedral in the background

Mixed in with all this super old historic architecture there are little splashes of fun modern sculptures. My personal favourite was this guy. No explanation as to why it’s there but I love it.

How cute is this sculpture?!

After walking almost every single street over the three days we were there, we moved on to our next stop. Stay tuned for the next instalment of our Belgium adventure coming soon!