"Where two Margarets once ruled" Top 5 Page for this destination Mechelen by toonsarah

Mechelen Travel Guide: 331 reviews and 782 photos

Grote Markt at night

I’m so pleased to have discovered this charming Flemish city. Walking its streets you come across pretty corners, intriguing details on historic buildings, a narrow lane to lure you away from your path, a table in a square tempting you to a cold beer …

My work brought me here, and I found it to be crammed with history and well-supplied with enticing bars & restaurants - a super destination for a short break, and one truly worth discovering for yourself.

Centuries of history ...

The tower of St. Rumbold's Cathedral dominates the skyline and its bells regularly peal, adding a further layer of atmosphere. For a short period in the first half of the 16th century, Mechelen was the capital of the Low Countries, and its proud history is everywhere.

You can visit the palaces of two great women who ruled here – Margaret of York and Margaret of Austria. Or stand on the spot where Charles the Fifth once lived as a boy – the man who grew up to rule over the Holy Roman Empire and hold no fewer than 72 titles. Durer, Erasmus and Thomas More were all visitors to the court where he was raised.

These days of glory are long gone, but for the visitor that is perhaps a bonus. You won’t find bright lights or a metropolitan capital here, but a warm and welcoming small city going about its business with a wonderful backdrop.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Great destination for a small scale city break
  • Last visit to Mechelen: Oct 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (22)

Comments (26)

  • johngayton's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2015 at 2:32 PM

    Thanks for this page Sarah. I was in Antwerp last week and the two cultural things I wanted to do there weren't open on the Monday. I looked at my railway map, thinking about a day out. Mechelen looked good trainwise and checking VT I found your page here. I only read your intro and got as far as something about beer - no-brainer decision.

    I was impressed. Wonderfully scenic city to just wander and every bar was suitably welcoming - it was a warm, sunny day and I had to be careful to keep hydrated ;- HIC!

    This is where VT stands out from the crowd. I'm looking for something to do, not sure exactly what, and then I find a "fiend" with nice things to say about one of the places I'm thinking about. You certainly didn't sell me a bum steer.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Jun 11, 2015 at 12:42 AM

      You're very welcome and I'm glad you enjoyed Mechelen, although I'm not 100% certain how I feel about being described as a "fiend" lol

  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Sarah, Mechelen really looks to be a wonderful city. The history is very interesting and oh wow! the Cathedral looks magnificent. Thank you for another good page.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Sep 6, 2013 at 1:53 AM

      Thank you :-) It's a beautiful little town and relatively unknown despite all that fascinating history

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Nov 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Hi Sarah, Mechelen looks like a wonderful place to visit! I must admit that so far I had not even heard about it, but now it's definitely on my list! The Grote Markt looks so nice. As always, your tips are so well written that I felt as if I was right there traveling with you :-)

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Nov 25, 2012 at 2:16 AM

      Thank you Mirjam :-) Yes, Mechelen was a surprise to me too as I had never heard of it till invited to that conference. It would make a great weekend break destination!

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Dec 4, 2010 at 7:11 AM

    Hello, Sarah! You have visited lots of amazing places... I wouldn't mind travelling to this relaxing small city ...

  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo
    May 20, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    I'm really enjoying this journey through your pages Sarah. Here is another one of your hidden gems. I too, love the bells, the beer and the Belgian chocolate!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    When work and travel interests mingle, it makes for a wonderful experience...the market, food, beer, chocolate, architecture, tapestry, and history combine for creating extraordinary experiences ]which you 5-star tips supply!]

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Feb 23, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Great that your work brought you to such a charming Flemish city! I've never been to Mechelen but know of it because of its reputation for tapestries. I've been reading about 16th century humanists lately, so I'd be interested in the van Busleyden museum.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Feb 16, 2010 at 1:49 AM

    Belgium chocolate IS nice, I couldn't resist buying some when I was there!

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Dec 29, 2008 at 6:08 PM

    There's many a Margaret in Mechelen... I wouldn't mind a mug of Margriet!

  • nhcram's Profile Photo
    Nov 18, 2007 at 9:36 AM

    A really good page Sarah. You are a natural at writing tips.


“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust (Joni Mitchell, "Amelia")”

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