Ten places to visit in Flanders Fields

We are currently in the middle of the centenary of the First World War, which means it is the perfect occasion to visit the humbling sites in Flanders Fields. Having spent my childhood in the area, I recommend ten places that are worth the trip.

 1. Tyne Cot Cemetery

Zonnebeke - Passendale - Tyne Cot cemetery (c)milo-profi photography
© milo-profi

You will find them dotted through the region, small ones with only a few graves and vast ones with headstones as far as the eye can see. But the most remarkable war cemetery in Flanders Fields is Tyne Cot.

Almost 12.000 soldiers are buried here in Passendale, and another 35.000 names of soldiers without a known grave feature on the impressive Memorial. Tyne Cot is the biggest Commonwealth cemetery on European mainland, and a stark witness of the consequences of the bloody Battle of Passchendaele.

© Hans Kerrinckx

I was told as a child that the name comes from the local dialect for a chicken coop, as the cemetery is situated where a chicken farmer used to live. The far more likely explanation is that ‘Tyne cot’ comes from the Northumberland Fusilliers, who spotted a resemblance between the German bunkers and typical Tyneside workers’ cottages.

Good to know

  • Open every day from sunrise until sunset
  • The visitor centre is free, and open every day from 1 February until 30 November.
Tyne Cot Cemetery - Ypres (c) Westtoer apb
(c) Westtoer apb

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Vijfwegestraat, 8980 Zonnebeke


2. In Flanders Fields Museum

© milo-profi

We won’t blame you if you can’t remember who exactly fought against whom during WW I. Its successor in the 1940s seems easier to stick in peoples’ memories than the Great War from ’14-’18, but – apart from Google – there is a very simple solution.

Start your trip with a visit to the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres. It tells you the personal stories of people who endured the war – soldiers on both sides, nurses, locals – and gives you a clear idea of how this conflict started and what its impact was.

You will also receive a wristband, which makes your visit even more personal. At the end of your visit you will discover how many inhabitants from your country lost their lives in WW I.

The In Flanders Fields Museum is located in the Lakenhalle, the medieval cloth hall that was completely destroyed during the war.

Good to know

  • Open every day in summer, closed on Mondays in winter
  • A ticket costs 9 euros. If you pay an extra 2 euros, you can climb up to the Belfry and marvel at the city beneath you.

In Flanders Fields Museum

Grote Markt 34, 8900 Ieper


3. Menin Gate

© milo-profi

The Menin Gate is the well-known war memorial in Ypres, dedicated to the Commonwealth troops who died in the Ypres Salient during the war and whose graves are unknown.

It contains the names of more than 54.000 soldiers and was unveiled in 1927. Grateful citizens started the Last Post Association in 1928, and since then every day at 8 PM, buglers from the local fire brigade close off the road and sound the Last Post under the gate. It’s a very humbling and chilling experience. The Menin Gate is part of the ramparts on the edge of the city.

Good to know

  • There is a lovely 2 kilometre walk on top of these walls, which takes you to a small British military cemetery: Ramparts Cemetery, Lille Gate.
© Westtoer

Menin Gate

Menenstraat, 8900 Ieper


4. German Military Cemetery Vladslo

Diksmuide (Vladslo) - German War Cemetery: Grieving Parents (Käthe Kollwitz) (c)milo-profi photography
© milo-profi

Already in October 1914, when the war had only started a few months before, German soldiers were buried in the forests in the area. In the 1950s, several German burial sites were brought together here in Vladslo. More than 25.000 troops have a grave here.

One of them is 18 year old Peter Kollwitz, who died in 1914. His mother, the sculptor Käthe Kollwitz, honoured her lost son with a memorial. ‘The Grieving Parents’ is situated at the back of the cemetery, near Peter’s grave.

Good to know

  • Open every day from sunrise until sunset
  • In Koekelare, a neighbouring town, you will find the Käthe Kollwitz Museum. It tells the story of mother and son.
© Westtoer apb

German Cemetery Vladslo

Houtlandstraat 3, 8600 Vladslo / Diksmuide


5. Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

©  VisitFlanders

In 1917, 500.000 troops on both sides lost their lives over a period of 100 days in Passendale. The result? The frontline moved a mere 8 kilometres. In the castle of Zonnebeke, the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 keeps the memory of this most brutal of battles alive.

The museum has a unique collection of historic artefacts, which tell the story of the five Battles of Ypres. Six metres below is a reconstructed British dugout, including headquarters, bunk rooms and a medical post. A very life-like experience that shows how the British lived as moles under the ground.

The whole area here is full of trenches and dugouts, and it has happened that farmers and other locals fell in them.

Good to know

  • A ticket costs 7,50 euros

Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

Berten Pilstraat 5a, 8980 Zonnebeke


6. Talbot House

© milo-profi

Poperinge was a vibrant city during the war, as this was where the troops retreated after heavy fighting at the front a few kilometres away.

To offer an alternative for the ‘light’ – and quite frankly debauched – entertainment in Poperinge at the time, reverend Philip Tubby Clayton turned the mansion of a local family into an ‘Every Man’s Club’. All soldiers, regardless of rank or class, were welcome in Talbot House.

© milo-profi

The name refers to Gilbert Talbot, the son of the then bishop of Winchester Edward Talbot, who died near Ypres at the age of 23 and became the symbol of the sacrifice of a golden generation of young men.

(c)milo-profi photography
© milo-profi

Between 1915 and 1918, more than half a million soldiers visited Talbot House, a ‘home from home’ where they could find some peace and quiet.

Good to know

  • A ticket costs 8 euros
  • Open every day except Mondays
  • You can also spend the night here in the guesthouse. Prices from 33 euros per night.
© Henk van Rensbergen

Talbot House

Gasthuisstraat 43, 8970 Poperinge


7. Dodengang

Dodengang Diksmuide (c) Westtoer apb
© Westtoer apb

The last piece of the Belgian front is located along the Yser river in Diksmuide. Belgian troops held on for four years in this trench system, which was quickly named Dodengang (or ‘Trench of Death’) because of the many casualties.

The site was entirely reconstructed, and the visitor centre shows the life and suffering of the trench soldiers during the war.

Good to know

  • A ticket costs 4 euros
  • Open every day in summer, in winter only on Tuesdays and Fridays
Klaproos Dodengang-:copyright: Milo-profi
© milo-profi


IJzerdijk 65, 8600 Diksmuide


8. German Military Cemetery Langemark

Duitse begraafplaats Langemark - Milo Profi
© milo-profi

Apart from the one in Vladslo, there are only four WW I German military cemeteries in West Flanders. (As opposed to 137 Commonwealth cemeteries in the province.) The one in Langemark contains 44.300 graves, and is the second biggest. It is also called the ‘Studentenfriedhof’, because of the many young German volunteers who were killed here during the First Battle of Ypres in 1914.

More than half of the soldiers buried here rest together in the mass grave close to the entrance. Around 17.000 troops have been identified. Their names are engraved in the concrete blocks around the comerade grave.

Good to know

  • Open every day from sunrise until sunset

German Military Cemetery Langemark

Klerkenstraat 84, 8920 Poelkapelle


9. Bayernwald

Bayernwald Wijtschate loopgraven-© Milo-profi copyright
© milo-profi

In the former Croonaertbos in Heuvelland, a wonderful region in West Flanders that received its name because of its many hills, there is still a part of a German trench system you can visit. The Germans conquered this place from the French in 1914 and named it ‘Bayernwald’, because the first troops to be stationed here were from Bavaria.

The trenches here were reconstructed, and show you about 10% of the original construction. The complex also includes two ‘listening shafts’, through which the Germans managed to eavesdrop on the British as they feared dynamite was being placed underneath their trenches.

Good to know

  • Open every day
  • Tickets are 4 euros, but can only be bought at the Tourism Info Office of Heuvelland at Polenlaan 1, Kemmel.
Bayernwald Wijtschate loopgraven-:copyright: Milo-profi copyright
© milo-profi


Voormezelestraat 2, 8950 Heuvelland


10. Westfront

© Kris Jacobs
© Kris Jacobs

A brand new visitor centre, this is. Westfront in Nieuwpoort, at the coast, tells the story of the ‘inundation’ in October 1914. The German invasion of Belgium was halted at Nieuwpoort, after some brave inhabitants opened the locks of the IJzer river during high tides and inundated the entire Belgian front line.

The area behind the Yser was the only part of Belgium the Germans never managed to invade, as it stayed under water for the entire war thanks to the locks. Unfortunately, the water was not only an ally. It made Nieuwpoort the first city on the Western front, which led to its complete destruction.

In the visitor centre you can man the locks yourself during an interactive video game, while you look out onto the ‘Ganzepoot’. The name of the lock complex comes from its resemblance to a goose foot.

Good to know

  • A ticket costs 7 euros
  • Open every day except Mondays
(c) Westtoer - copyrights always obligatory
(c) Westtoer


Kustweg 2, 8620 Nieuwpoort
Written By

Journalist, traveller, book wurm. A night owl with a sweet tooth and a love for languages.