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Visiting the cities of Antwerp and Bruges in Belgium is easy if you travel via the ferry with DFDS

By Lynn Cox

A trip to Belgium in the car is far easier than you think and if you sail with DFDS, then there really is nothing simpler.

It is so worth paying that extra few pounds to travel in style on the ferry from Dover.

We took full advantage of the Premium Lounge and priority boarding and were one of the first to board and leave the ship when it docked.

Travelling on the ferry is very simple (4000595)
Travelling on the ferry is very simple (4000595)

In the lounge you get your own personal waiter and can help yourself to endless cups of coffee, tea and mouth-watering pastries and macaroons.

It is also much quieter than the decks of the ship and if you're not the one driving, the welcoming glass of Prosecco also goes down a treat.

It was lovely sitting in comfort gazing out of the window, reading the paper and enjoying the treats for the two-hour trip across.

Cathedral Antwerp (3741679)
Cathedral Antwerp (3741679)

We sailed to Dunkirk and then I drove across the border to Belgium and on to Antwerp, and what a beautiful historic city it is.

Renowned for striking baroque architecture the small city is very cosmopolitan and there is so much art and culture to see.

There are hundreds of places to eat and enjoy a drink too.

Grote Markt, Antwerp (3741720)
Grote Markt, Antwerp (3741720)

Where we stayed, Hotel Rubens, is just round the corner from the main square, Grote Markt, and I can't recommend the hotel enough.

Beautiful stylish rooms and breakfast can be served in the patio courtyard which has its own 16th century Pagadder tower.

Grote Markt's Flemish Renaissance architecture is stunning.

Antwerp from above. (3741665)
Antwerp from above. (3741665)

It is worth getting an Antwerp Card too, saves you money getting into interesting places including, many museums and on local public transport.

Antwerp is a port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt, its history dates back to the Middle Ages.

It's centuries-old Diamond District houses thousands of diamond traders, cutters and polishers, it also has lots of designer shops, a stunning shopping mall and more.

Stadsfeestzall Antwerpen, Antwerp's shopping mall (3741722)
Stadsfeestzall Antwerpen, Antwerp's shopping mall (3741722)

The city is a delight to explore with its many baroque churches, museums and cathedral.

I can suggest visiting, attractions such as Rubenshuis, the former home of Peter Paul Rubens, which is now a museum.

Rockox and Snijders House, The Rockox House is a former residence of the Rockox family.

Nicolaas Rockox was knight and former mayor of Antwerp and a friend of Rubens.

Vlaeykensgan Antwerp (3741659)
Vlaeykensgan Antwerp (3741659)

Also take in the Plantin-Moretus Museum, which was once a printing plant and publishing house.

I'd also recommend a sturdy pair of shoes to walk around the city's cobbled streets, but a must is to visit Vlaeykensgan, a secret alley which dates from 1591.

We stayed in Antwerp for just a day and a night, but the city is worthy of a longer stay.

Later that night after I drove to Bruges, it only took just over an hour, and checked into the Flanders Hotel, a very convenient and comfortable place to stay.

It is just a short walking distance to the main town centre and has a wonderful bar, #barazar.

A boat trip on the canals is a must when visiting Bruges, credit, Pieter D'Hoop
A boat trip on the canals is a must when visiting Bruges, credit, Pieter D'Hoop

The very talented bar manager is a genius at crafting cocktails, and we really enjoyed 'happy hour'.

This city is very different to Antwerp, but just a beautiful, with its many canals, medieval buildings and cobbled streets and enticing restaurants.

In Burg square, the 14th-century Stadhuis, the city hall, has a wonderful ornate carved ceiling and the Markt square features a 13th-century 47 bell carrillon belfry and 83 meter tower with stunning views.

The Markt square features a 13th-century 47 bell carrillon belfry and 83 meter tower
The Markt square features a 13th-century 47 bell carrillon belfry and 83 meter tower

When I visited in July and it was beautiful hot weather, but I can just picture how wonderful the city would be during Christmas time covered in snow.

A must is taking a trip on the canal boat ride and a tour of the Bourgogne des Flandres brewery to enjoy a glass of its famous brew on the bar's veranda, we really enjoyed the view and watching others on their canal boat rides.

Burg Square is stunning
Burg Square is stunning

We took a tour of the Triennial Installations scattered around the city, which are art installations or sculptures, but are not there permanently.

There is so much to see including a blue whale made of plastic waste material, recovered from our oceans.

Pop into the Beguinage and the Church of our Lady with the Michaelangelo statue, is also a must.

There are many, many places to eat and drink and try traditional Bruges beer, a few we enjoyed were T’Brugs Beertje, Restaurant de Stove, the traditional Flemish food was mouthwatering.

The plastic whale was part of the Triennial installations dotted around Bruges
The plastic whale was part of the Triennial installations dotted around Bruges

The medieval city is like stepping into a fairytale and there is so much history to see and visit, we stayed in Bruges for two days and never fitted everything in.

Again, when it was time to leave, the drive to Dunkirk was easy and before we knew it were were being boarded onto the ferry and again, taking full advantage of the Premium Lounge again.

It's just so easy to pack a few things, jump in the car and cross the channel to this delightful beautiful country and no better way to do it than travelling with DFDS.

To find out more about crossings, click here, to find out more about visiting the Flemish area of Flanders, click here.

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