Flemish Beer Tour
When people talk about Belgium, they of course talk about good food, champion road cyclists and the Flemish masters of the 15th and 16th century. And also… they talk about beer!
In Belgium, there are about 400 kinds of beer, an enormous variety for such a small country. There are also over 200 breweries still in operation in Belgium to date. Therefore, we couldn’t wait to create a tour with Belgian beer as the central theme.
Enjoy cycling through authentic Flanders, but especially the breaks in cosy cafés, with a refreshing beer!
From £1055.00 P/P
Make your way to Genk, the start point of your tour, where you will receive a friendly welcome at your hotel, situated in delightful Molenvijver Park.
On your first ride, you will make your way to Bocholt, on quiet roads. This city is home to Europe’s largest beer brewery museum. Here you will learn the entire process that leads up to your perfectly poured pint. As you continue, you will pass Hamont on your way to Beverbeekse Heide nature reserve where you will find wetland, woods and patches of heath. Take time to stop at Achelse Kluis: St. Benedict’s Abbey and adjacent brewery, shop, gallery and inn. The brewery, closed to the public, is one of the few places in the world where Trappist beer is still brewed. It is now under the supervision of just two remaining monks, Cistercians of the Strict Observance or Trappists. After a well-earned break, and a drink, in the sunshine outside the inn, proceed through Leenderbossen woods to the villages of Leende and Heeze. In the evening, you can take a relaxing walk on the grounds of Heeze Castle.
Today you will traverse the Brabant Campine / Kempen region. Enjoy woods and fields of heather (if you come in August you will see the heather in flower!). Take breaks in the Brabant towns Valkenswaard and Bergeijk. Back in Belgium, the route will take you close to Postel Abbey where beer has been brewed since 1611. Have a break in Arendonk, before heading to Turnhout, where you will end the day. This town has strong historical links to the production of playing-cards. Check out the museum!
The first stop today is the pretty Merksplas area where you can pop in at the visitors’ centre to find out about the history of the area. Like the former Merksplas-Kolonie, a corrective institution where able-bodied vagrants and beggars were taught farming skills and made to work the fields. Later, you will pass Oostmalle and Malle on the way to Westmalle where you will visit a Trappist abbey. Trappist beer is not a type of beer: it is beer made by Trappist monks. The “Trappist order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance” originated in a monastery in the French town of La Trappe, from whence their name comes. Trappist monks and nuns follow the Rule of St. Benedict. They do not go out into the community, instead focusing on continual prayer. But, their monasteries must be self-sufficient. Therefore, they perform manual labour while they pray, and live off the fruits of their labour (bread, cheese, beer, soap, candles etc.) which they also then sell in abbey shops. The proceeds feed the monks and nuns; go to the upkeep of the abbeys; or to charity. Indulge in a well-deserved Trappist beer at the café across the road from the abbey, before continuing to the day’s destination, the cosmopolitan city of Antwerp.
Leaving Antwerp behind, you will head into quieter, more green surroundings. If you are into military heritage, stop off in Mortsel to visit Fort no. 4 (of originally eight Brialmont Forts) (1860-1864) that made up the defensive line of Antwerp. It is built in brick with sandstone decorations and stands on an island surrounded by a ditch and glacis. Cycling towards Leuven you will pass the festival grounds of Rock Werchter, an annual four-day festival held at the end of June / beginning of July. The Rock Werchter Experience Centre can be found in the village of Rotselaar. As you approach Leuven on your bicycle, you will encounter some gentle slopes. Leuven is a friendly and attractive university town. In the evening, you can have a taste of the good life alongside of the local bon-vivants. Admire the lovely architecture of the Town Hall and library. Go for a walk through the quarter known as Groot Begijnhof, a beguinage.
This wonderful leg of the tour takes you to Diest. In Tielt-Winge you will find Vlooybergtoren, a viewpoint with a difference: a rusty flight of stairs that ends in mid-air and looks like it will topple over at any minute. A little farther on, you will find Haksberg Castle amid 3.6 hectares of vineyards. Their wines are named after birds that can be found in the local Hageland region. Your next stop is Belgium’s most important pilgrimage site, Scherpenheuvel, which boasts the oldest central-plan domed church in the Low Countries. Crown your day in beautiful Diest, a town that has ties to the Royal House of Orange. As yet undiscovered by mass tourism, it will probably be your biggest surprise on this holiday. Have a look around the courtyard beguinage, one of the oldest, most beautiful and best preserved in the Low Countries. Amble along the River Demer which flows through town once again, after having been covered up since the 1960s. A boardwalk, a cycling path, steps and seating invite the townspeople to spend time by the water.
The final ride on your tour takes you to several special and unique places. The flat roads of today’s route won’t leave you breathless, but the scenery is certain to. Firstly, you will cycle to Schulermeer lake, that offers an array of water sports. Next, you will cycle to De Weijers, also known as Land of 1001 Ponds. Slalom your way around the manmade fishing ponds, marvelling at the colourful vegetation and keeping an eye out for special species of amphibians and birds. Your next stop is in Bokrijk, an open-air museum which covers country life from 1910 to the 1960s, offering workshops in all kinds of historical skills and crafts. Towards the end of the day, get ready for the most bizarre experience of this holiday: Cycle on path a that runs for 200 meters right through a natural lake. You will be at eyelevel with the surface of the water, moving in total harmony with the ducks.
After one last hotel buffet breakfast, your bicycle holiday will come to an end. It is time to make your own way home.
The routes are flat and easy on well signposted and well maintained routes.
Cycling is a very common mode of transport in Belgium and locals are accommodating of cyclists.
Route Map (For guidance only):
Routes maybe subject to change or alteration. All route notes, maps and day-by-day information will be given to you upon arrival at the first hotel or at the welcome meeting. GPS/GPX Files are available for most our the cycling holidays we offer. Please ask us for details.
Total distance cycled: 370 km approx
- Accommodation in 4 star hotels (some 3 star)
- Standard Bike Hire
- Daily luggage transfers
- Map/route info and roadbook
- Local telephone service helpline
- Flights to/from the start and finish
- Evening meals (unless stated)
- Local daily taxes (Payable at the hotel)
- Water Bottles
- Travel Insurance
- Bike Insurance (unless stated)
- Welcome Meetings (unless stated)
- Transfers (unless included)
We have put a calendar of events together that will provide you with some inspiration of what you can expect on your holiday, and when the best time to jet off is. Now’s your chance to travel further than you can by foot and be part of a memorable and exciting two-wheel journey with us.