The Flanders Cycle Route takes you on a cycling adventure through Flanders in Belgium. The 16-stage loop runs for 800 kilometres (500 miles) through the five Flemish provinces and gives a sporty introduction to the unique region.
You cycle through extensive polders, heathland and forests, orchards and sand dunes, as well as picturesque villages and the most beautiful historic cities of Flanders. By the way, if you think Flanders is flat, you are sorely mistaken: if you follow the inner Belgian language border, you find yourself constantly riding up and down over the Brabant hills towards the Flemish Ardennes.
The perfect contrast to so much nature is the cultural wealth of the region. From ancient cathedrals and the peaceful beguinage to magnificent castles and palaces and cultural cities such as Bruges and Ypres – the Flanders Cycle Route offers variety in abundance.
The route runs along quiet and safe roads, following traffic-free paths along rivers, canals, and old railway tracks for dozens of kilometres. This makes the route suitable for both families with children and experienced riders alike.
Discover the beautiful views along the 42 kilometers long Bruges-Gent Canal. Nowadays it is nice and quiet while you cycle there. But did you know that this connection sparked a struggle and controversy between the two cities for four centuries? Bruges began building this link in the 13th century without the consent of the people of Ghent. Fortunately, today cyclists and walkers can only enjoy this beautiful route.
Between Ghent and Mechelen you cycle through the Scheldt and Kalkmarsch, both unique nature reserves. And also through a piece of Italy! Take a short break at the Grote Markt in Dendermonde and imagine for a moment that you are in Siena, because this square is inspired by the world-famous Piazza del Campo. When the carillon sounds, however, this impression disappears quickly: a town square couldn't be more Flemish.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
You cycle along the Scheldt downstream past small ferry ports and nice excursion restaurants to Temse. In Rupelmonde, where the Rupel flows into the Scheldt, after a few kilometers you will reach the town of Niel, which is connected to the Walenhoek nature reserve. Here, between Niel and Boom, lies a historic brick kiln area, where bricks have been produced since the Middle Ages until today.If you are a festival-goer: From here it is not far to the "holy ground" of the Tomorrowland site! At De Schorre in Boom you can stay overnight and eat by the lake: dinneronthelake.com/concepts/glamping-at-the-lake
From Mechelen to Lier you follow the rivers Dijle, Rupel and Nete. In the nautical visitor center you can find out more about the history of shipbuilding in the Rupel and the connection with the brickworks. The importance of rivers for local recreation on the water, river tourism and traffic becomes clear.Also plan some time to visit Lier, the town of Palieter. The highlights are the surroundings of the Grote Markt, the room gates and the cozy beguinage.
Between Turnhout and Overpelt, no fewer than seven Kempen canals connect the Scheldt with the Meuse. They are important as a transport route, but also for the irrigation of the dry sandy Kempen soil with the calcareous Meuse water. On high dykes you cycle undisturbed along the large forest and dune areas of the Kempen.
On the way from Overpelt to Maaseik, you should definitely make a stop at the Bocholt Brewery Museum, the largest museum of its kind in Europe. There you can find out everything about how beer gets its taste, aromas and color.From the white village of Thorn you drive on the Maasdeich. The mighty Meuse separates Belgium from the Netherlands and therefore bears the name Grensmaas.
Now you have definitely arrived in the Maasland. The river and its floodplains dominate the scene. In the summer months, the beautiful landscape hardly suggests that the water of the Meuse reaches dyke height in winter. This can be seen on the measuring piles for measuring the water level. At Kanne, known for its marl caves and the mining of marl stones, you cross the Dutch border to Maastricht, the capital of Dutch Limburg.
Start your day with a tourist highlight: the marl caves of Kanne. Then get back in the saddle and set course for Sint Truiden. Soon the path begins to lead uphill to the Tiendeberg. The route meanders through the nature reserve of the same name in several zigzag curves.Due to the unique calcareous soil of this mountain and the grazing by sheep, a veritable sea of flowers extends here during the warm seasons. Now you can especially enjoy the hilly landscapes, coupled with a panoramic view. Or you can visit one of the typical castles.
Between Sint Truiden and Heverlee you cycle through the valleys of the Little and Big Gete. Wide fields give way to a mosaic of thicket, hay meadows and forest.The brew kettle reveals the true nature of Hoegaarden. Wheat beer has been brewed here for hundreds of years. The village's brewing industry peaked in the first half of the 18th century. Later, due to a changing market and increasing competition, it steadily lost its importance.Then 50 years ago a local milkman, Pierre Celis, had the dream of reconnecting his village with its glorious past. In 1966 he launched his first wheat beer. Today Hoegaarden wheat beer is sold in dozens of countries.After a drive through the picturesque valleys of the Gete you will reach the centuries-old forest properties south of Leuven.
Heverleebos, Meerdaal Forest and Sonian Forest are remnants of what was once the coal forest. Julius Caesar described the forest that stretched across central Belgium in his war diaries. Large areas were then cleared and reclaimed for agriculture.Over the valley of the Ijse, a tributary of the Dijle, you cycle to Sint-Genesius-Rode, the area of the Besenbinder. After a few climbs you will reach the city of Halle.
Cycling from the Zenne to the Dender is cycling through countryside, greenery and silence. Visit the internationally known rose garden of Coloma en route. Here you will find more than 3,000 rose varieties that grow on 60,000 bushes. Hiking and walking in the 15 acre domain is wonderful.If you are a plant lover, you should also check out the special collections of tree peonies, hydrangeas and the unique collection of Ghent Hart-Azelea on the Groenenberg castle domain. The museum garden of Gaasbeek Castle, on the other hand, offers an impressive overview of traditional and often extremely rare types of fruit, vegetables and trellis.
The Flemish "mountains" alternate. From the Parikeberg to the whole mountain, Steenberg, Eikenberg, Boigneberg, Statieberg, Muziekberg, Scherpenberg, Kluisberg, the bike-crazy Flame knows them all. There are many famous races in this region: De Omloop van het Nieuwsblad , Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Ronde Van Vlaanderen - luckily there are valleys between all these hills that are also good for cycling.
There is something magical about the Leie, on which flax has been reddened for years. During the 18th and 19th centuries it was the center of a thriving industry, the remains of which can be found in meadows and walled farmhouses. The Leiemeersen, for example, were full of typical flax chapels.In Wervik you leave the original Leie and crank towards the Westhoek. You are approaching the old WWI front. Fortunately, now, 100 years later, nature is the winner here. On the way to Ypres you cycle past the domain "Palingbeek", a nature reserve of more than 230 hectares, which consists of an unfinished canal and the surrounding forests.
Between Ypres and Diksmuide there are some steep slopes that will let you feel your calves. Wine lovers will find the distraction they need in the Entre-Deux-Monts wine domain. Beer fanatics pedal all the way to St. Sixtus Abbey in the hope of getting a taste of the world-famous West Vleteren Trappist.
The Ijzer is the shortest of the three Belgian rivers. It is the only river in Belgium that flows into the sea. "Bachten de Kupe" (Behind the Wanne, ie Behind the Ijzer) is the West Flemish name for the area west of the Ijzer, which is bordered by the North Sea and the French border, or the "Schreve". When you get closer to Koksijde, you can see the highest dune on the Belgian coast, the Hoge Blekker, which glows from afar when the weather is sunny. Or, as the West Flemish put it, “bleach”. This is also the name of the 240 hectare nature reserve.
The continuous row of tall apartment blocks that characterize the Belgian coast stands in sharp contrast to the open polder fields directly behind it. The contrasting coastal town of De Haan, on the other hand, represents the Belle Epoque, which was characteristic of the entire Belgian coast until half a century ago. The cottage style was built here, inspired by Normandy and England. In De Haan, high-rise construction was discontinued and much of this beauty has been preserved.The Uitkerkse Polders, right behind De Haan, sketch an authentic polder landscape with extensive wet meadows, without trees and hedges and only scattered farmhouses here and there. This nature reserve enjoys international fame as a meadow bird area. The picturesque, medieval-looking Damme, just before Bruges, is also worth a visit.