Pearls of Northern Flanders
An amazing cycling tour through the north of Belgium, where you will visit famous delights such as Antwerp and Brussels and some hidden gems you may not have expected to cross paths with. You’ll see smaller towns of Mechelen, Leuven and Diest. The rural areas you’ll dip into offer a tranquil sense of calm; for example, on the path along the Albert Canal where you will see woods and nature reserves. This variation of culture and nature with the Good Life of Flanders is a recipe for a one-of-a-kind cycling experience!
From £1040.00 P/P
After making your own way to Mechelen, it’s time to acquaint yourself with this inspiring city. The old town gives a glimpse into life here in the past, being in-tact and still housing many authentic, historical, and catholic buildings. Allow your ears to also enjoy your experience through the chimes of carillon bells. Why not do a spot of shopping for lace and tapestries?
Time to set off on your first day cycling! Just when you thought you would never be returning to school, it’s time to visit Our Lady of Wavre in Sint-Kathelijne-Waver, a boarding school run by nuns. This building is any art-lover’s dream, as it hosts a mix of art nouveau, neo-Gothic, neo-Empire, and art deco. A common favourite for visitors is also the winter garden. Once you have soaked in the wonders of the school, you have two options for the rest of your day. If you want ample time to explore Antwerp, we have devised a shorter route. Those who are keen to get the miles on the bike and soak in the views can take the usual full 57km. Should you take the shorter route, you will pass through Duffel on the River Nete, Mortsel and Berchem. Mortsel is home to number 4 of the original 8 Brialmont Forts (1860 – 1864) which made up the defence line of Antwerp. Those on the longer route will discover the historical town of Lier on the River Nete and can visit the newly renovated art museum. Once you arrive in Antwerp in the evening, the world is your oyster! You can treat your tastebuds in one of the numerous cafes and try a traditional beer. If you’re in the mood for more sightseeing, you can visit the beautiful old town for a spot of shopping and even find some incredible vintage items and even diamonds.
Time to say goodbye to the metropolitan life of Antwerp and head into a more tranquil setting. You’ll visit the wooded Rivierenhof Park, which hosts a river and two castles. Head back onto the cycle route along the Albert Canal to Herentals, which is the birthplace of Rik van Looy and the historical capital of the Campine region. Where you sleep for the night depends on where you find accommodation, it will either be in Herentals or along the Herentals-Bocholt canal to Geel.
Enjoy this peaceful part of the journey characterised by water and Flanders’ countryside. Go through sleepy villages such as Meerhout, Schoot and Engsbergen. After a spot of lunch in a place of your choice, head into the forest in Gerhagen nature reserve. Here you can get a great panoramic view of the surrounding area in the 19m-high view tower. Diest is a true gem, one of its most recognised attractions is a beguinage which is one of the oldest, most intact, and most stunning in Europe. The city has many walkways, cycle lanes, steps, seating and even a boardwalk near the river so you can truly enjoy the beautiful waters. The River Demer flows freely through the town, but it had previously been covered up.
Set off for Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, where the The basilica of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel is waiting for you. This is a place of pilgrimage for many people and somewhere heavily associated with the number 7. The enclosed garden is heptagonal-shaped and is complimented with a church with a heptagonal domed church. The dome is decorated with seven-point stars, the list goes on, the word is that Mary was infatuated by the number seven. In the next town of Zichem, there is a tower from 14th century to be climbed which is called “Maagdentoren”, here you can enjoy beautiful views of the landscape. You’ll then continue to Aarschot which provides a perfect opportunity to relax and perhaps take a beer in the town brewery. You’ll then drift through the hilly landscape of Flemish Brabant to Werchter, which hosts an annual famous rock festival. The day is not over yet, enjoy an evening of fun in the university city of Leuven.
Time to head to the exciting capital of Belgium! Your journey there will take you through the hills of Brabant and through the Sonian Forest. There is also the option to catch a train if you want more time in Brussels. Brussels has too many sights to fit into one day, but you can start by seeing the market square, the Grand Palace, the Town Hall, and the town history museum. All that cycling will’ve made you hungry and what a better place to be than the home of waffles, chocolate, and beer?
Enjoy one last snippet of Brussels by visiting the Grand Palace. Then head out of the centre of town through the suburbs towards Grimbergen, known for its abbey with an un-completed baroque basilica. Your view will be a series of diverse landscapes for example trees, water and crop fields. You’ll eventually arrive back in your start and end destination of Mechelen.
Enjoy one last breakfast and then it’s time to make your way home.
Start point: Mechelen
Distance: approx. 300km
Linear cycle route, we recommend an e-bike or a 24-gear hybrid bike.
Included Services (Subject to confirmation)
- Double room with private facilities
- Standard Bike Hire
- Breakfast and dinner when half board supplement is paid
- Luggage Transfer
- English roadbook + map
- Handy roadbook holder
- Booking costs
- 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.