Flanders Finest: Belgium's Rich History, Art & ArchitectureBruges - Ghent - Antwerp - Mechelen - Leuven - Hasselt - Maastricht
The towns visited on this tour undoubtedly comprise the best of Belgium’s rich history and palette of art, architecture, nature and food. Follow river valleys and cycle through pine forests and purple-flowering heathland. Then, at the end of the day, when you’ve arrived in another stunning town, find a terrace and enjoy a tasty Belgian beer.
Between 1000 and 1300 AD, the towns and ports of Flanders grew in size and number as it became the major center for trade in northern Europe. Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Mechelen, Leuven and Brussels formed part of the most urbanized region of northern Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. And its wealth was used to build monumental houses, many of which are still standing today. This unique trip combines these lively towns with the tasteful fashion and food towns of Hasselt and Maastricht.
Start any day of the week, except Sunday (subject to availability).
Advantages of a Tulip Cycling tour:
● Carefully planned itinerary to suit your interests and pace – or let us tailor-make your own tour.
● Only individual departures – choose your start and finish dates to fit in with your other plans.
● Tour introduction and end-of-tour meeting attended personally by our own expert staff.
● Our equipment and support is top rated to give you peace-of-mind.
● With our hotel bookings and luggage transport option, we provide you a full-service package.
Please note: This tour begins on a cycling day. We recommend arriving in Belgium or the Netherlands a few days earlier and booking at least one pre-tour overnight in the stunning, ancient town of Bruges. Bruges can best be reached by train from Brussels Airport or Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
Day 1 Bruges - Ghent (48 km)
Your individual tour starts with a ‘group’ bike fitting and thorough explanation of your tour in the ‘Venice of the north’; Bruges. After this ‘group’ instruction you will start your self guided tour. Pedal out of the UNESCO World Heritage medieval city centre, with its bell tower rising up over the wide open market. The ride on this first day is mainly along the canal Ghent – Bruges. A nice quiet bike lane guides you through farmland and some lovely forest areas. Have your first coffee stop in Beernem or Sint Joris before heading on to Aalter. In Aalter you can decide to make a small detour to the city centre to go for lunch, but you can also continue your trip, as along the route you will find a lot of lovely spots where you can enjoy your own prepared picnic. The van Vlaenderens mill in Vinderhoute is a clear landmark just before you enter the historic town of Ghent. Enjoy the great atmosphere this town offers and explore the small labyrinth of charming cobblestone streets, the Gravensteen castle, the Graslei and the bell tower.
Day 2 Ghent - Antwerp (70 or 45 km)
After breakfast, take a nice bike lane out of the historic town. Today’s ride is a long one but if you are worried about the distance, you can also opt to take the train (bike on the train) up to Lokeren which will reduce the ride by 25 km. Lokeren is one of those small hidden gems with a friendly central square where you just have to sit down for a while. From Lokeren onwards you will ride along lovely lakes, along one of the side arms of the river Schelde, the Durme, up to the Schelde, Flanders’ major river. Along the Schelde you will encounter the cosy villages of Temse (with some small hills), Rupelmonde with its tide mill and Bazel with the castle Wissekerke. From Bazel it’s just a short ride to Antwerp. Antwerp is a good-looking city, with its range of medieval buildings in the central square and with numerous Art Nouveau gems in between. The access to this town is easy as you can reach the centre by a 572-metre long foot and bike tunnel, 31 metres below the surface.
Day 3 Antwerp - Mechelen (39 km)
Today’s ride is a short one giving you the opportunity to include an early morning visit to one of the museums in Antwerp. The ride today, as on the first day, is once again totally flat. Along the Schelde the bike ride goes south out of town to Hemiksem, where you will find an interesting abbey. Near Niel you will leave the Schelde and will join the Rupel, another lovely river, where you will find an interesting brickwork museum. This museum gives you a complete picture of ordinary brickwork in all its aspects. In Boom, you have to take a ferry to cross the Rupel. As the ferry only runs a few times every hour, the restaurant nearby is a perfect lunch stop. By the maze of waterways, bridges and sluices you will enter the city of Mechelen along the Dijle river. Mechelen is a small and picturesque city that is big on charm and history, thriving with quaint shops, car-free areas and pleasant little squares. Your hotel is a brewery as well and as you will understand, a brewery tour and a good Belgian beer at dinner are a must as well!
Day 4 Mechelen (visit of Brussels by train)
In Mechelen you will have a day off. Why not start the morning with a brewery tour before you take a train (30 minutes) to Brussels. As the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, this metropolis is often referred to as the Capital of Europe. While it is certainly international, it offers more than government buildings. With over 75 museums and a rich history, culture is easily accessible. Just think of ‘Manneken-Pis’, the Grand Place, the famous chocolates, the high quality restaurants and the nightlife scene. Finally, take a train back to Mechelen where you will stay for a second night.
Day 5 Mechelen - Leuven (36 km)
After a possibly late arrival back at your hotel last night, it’s nice to know the ride on day 5 is a short one once again. So there is no rush to leave and you can even wake up a bit later. The first part of the ride will be along the winding Dijle river up to the father Damien statue near Tremelo. Pass Werchter (known for its yearly musical festival with over 150,000 fans) with its rock museum and finally cycle on to Leuven, a vibrant student town. The university of Leuven is one of the most important and oldest universities in Europe. Leuven is also Belgium’s reigning brewing capital with the headquarters of Inbev, the second largest brewery in the world. Together with the beautiful historic city centre, it makes Leuven a great place for the curious traveller!
Day 6 Leuven - Hasselt (72 or 44 km)
Another great but long ride. But for the less experienced bikers there is the opportunity to skip the second part of the ride from Diest to Hasselt. Take the train together with your bike and so reduce the ride by 28 km. In the town of Leuven, you will pass two lovely abbeys before heading out of town. Enjoy the lovely ride along rolling quiet streets and the forest areas near castle van Horst before heading to Scherpenheuvel. The basilica of Scherpenheuvel – the place of pilgrimage in Belgium – is the oldest dome church in the low countries, inaugurated in 1627 and with both Renaissance and Baroque characteristics. From Scherpenheuvel it’s just a short ride to the lovely historic town of Diest, with its beautiful and picturesque beguinage at the edge of the historic city centre. If you continue biking, the final part of the ride will be through mostly forested areas up to the Albert canal. This canal connects Antwerp with the river Maas. Hasselt, the capital of the Limburg province, is also situated along this canal and offers you an interesting stay for the night.
Day 7 Hasselt - Maastricht (65 or 53 km)
The final day adds yet another great memory to your bike tour. Before leaving the town, you can admire the largest authentic Japanese garden in Europe. Cycle on along the Albert canal to the area near Genk. As you are riding through lovely forests you will have no idea you are close to the third most significant economical city of Flanders. On leaving the forests and heathlands you will join Oud-Rekem, just a small village but one which has one of the most authentic preserved village centres of Belgium. The castle, city gate and other parts of the city walls have also been preserved. At this point we offer you two alternatives for your ride up to Maastricht. Either a beautiful ride along the Albert canal, deeply sheltered inbetween steep hills with caves, or a short ride by crossing the Maas. Maastricht in the Netherlands is the final destination of your tour and maybe one of the most scenic Dutch towns with its bourgondic atmosphere and rich history. In Maastricht your tour will end and you will meet a Tulip Cycling representative once again. The train station in Maastricht has perfect connections to all parts of the country.
Daily from May 12 until September 30 (subject to availability)
|Prices 2024 in Euro - No peak season charges - Prices include all taxes|
|Per person, sharing (luggage transport in panniers on your bike, storage of your suitcases at Tulip Cycling)||€ 1,345|
|Per person, sharing (daily luggage transport by courier service)||€ 1,660|
|Single room surcharge||On request|
|Extra nights Ghent, Antwerp, Mechelen, Leuven or Hasselt||On request|
|Pre and post tour accommodation in Bruges, Brussels, Maastricht or Amsterdam||On request|
|E-bike supplement per person||€ 175|
|Additional items (extra panniers, helmets, ponchos, extra GPS devices)||Price list|
|Discount for groups of 4 or more||10%|
Not included in your package:
● Optional activities like entry to museums
● Optional equipment insurance covering theft and damage (€35 per hybrid bike o €55 per e-bike per tour)
● Tulip Cycling is not libable for the impact of any adverse weather conditions on your tour.
You will be staying in comfortable 3* hotels within walking distance of the local sights so you can explore in the evening and find a choice of restaurants for dinner. Your package price includes breakfast and tourist/city tax.
The below are sample hotels, subject to availability. Tulip Cycling may suggest alternatives as appropriate.
Ghent – Hotel Onderbergen ***
Antwerp – Hampton by Hilton Antwerp Central Station ***
Mechelen (2 nights) – Hotel Het Anker ***
Leuven – Begijnhof Hotel ***
Hasselt – Hotel Hemelhuys ***
Included in this tour
|6 days of cycling and 1 day at leisure|
|6 nights in 3-star hotels in town centres|
|Bicycle rental (with repair kit, pump, lock and water bottle)|
|Waterproof small pannier|
|Door to door route on GPS device and maps|
|Personal start and finish|
|Breakdown assistance and 24/7 help desk|
|Additional tourist information|