UPDATE 9th MAY 2021: The UK government still advises against all but essential travel to Belgium (and to France). Belgium is listed as an “Amber” country, but entry requirements into Belgium and on return to the UK make leisure trips currently impossible. The latest information for specific countries can be found on the gov.uk foreign travel advice page. The Belgian Government website also has up to date information, and see additional guidance on Belgium Current Coronavirus measures. However given the progress of vaccination programmes in the UK and the EU, there is optimism that visiting may become possible in the not too distant future.
There are a number of good hotels in Ypres, and the town itself is a pleasant place to visit, even if you are not interested in World War One. So if you are travelling with family or friends who may not share your interests, there are fortunately other things that they may enjoy.
The best hotel in Ypres is, without doubt, the Ariane. This has a central location, an outstanding restaurant, and very good rooms. It also has a large car park. As a four-star hotel it is not cheap, but well worth it. The Ariane also has displays in the foyer of items recovered from the battlefields and other First World War material.
There is a very useful city website which gives information and guidance on the town, details of hotels and other tourist information, plus a map.
Within Ypres itself, it is possible to book a flat or a house to stay in via sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway. In addition, there are a number of self-catering cottages and houses available for rent in the area around Ypres.
For bed and breakfast, it would be very hard to beat the warm welcome at Varlet Farm, where Charlotte Cardoen-Descamps and her family offer superb accommodation plus a wealth of knowledge on the local area and the Great War.
Ypres has many restaurants, some of which are really excellent. There are many good places to eat to suit various budgets, and there are also friteries (chip shops) and bakeries in Ypres and in many of the villages you will travel through if you are touring the battlefields. From personal experience, I would recommend the de Ruyffelaer on G. de Stuersstraat, de Trompet in the main square (Grote Markt) and the Captain Cook not far from the Menin Gate.
Other Things to do in Ypres
The pages in the Flanders section cover the sites in and near Ypres from a First World War perspective. Luckily, Ypres is a lovely town to visit in its own right. Either as a break from World War One sites or if you are travelling with others who may not share your interest, there are plenty of other things to do.
The ramparts which surround the centre of Ypres are a lovely location for a stroll away from the traffic. The main square (Grote Markt) is also a lovely spot, and there are many restaurants and bars around. The bars serve coffee but they also serve excellent beers, and sampling some of these is a highlight of any trip!
Belgium is also well-known for chocolate, and Ypres has its own collection of fine chocolate shops as well.
For those with younger children, the Bellewaerde Amusement Park is located on the N8 about 4 miles east of Ypres. This is not open all year round so check the website before visiting.
The Area around Ypres
Ypres is a good base for a break. As well as the local World War One sites and other attractions, there are some great day trips that can be taken from Ypres. A good way to do this is by train. The railway station in Ypres is very central, and it is only just over an hour’s train journey to Ghent, which is a beautiful city to visit. Bruges, another great city, can be reached by train in just over 90 minutes. The Belgian Railways website allows you to purchase tickets in advance, or you can buy them on the day at the train station.