Cycling in Belgium
Cycling enthusiasts will know Belgium as home to some of the most fearsome cobbles in Europe, but with terrain varying from the relatively flat Flanders to the picturesque countryside around Bruges, there are actually a whole host of cycle routes to suit all abilities. If you’re looking for a more leisurely ride, take it slow whilst perusing the street art along the 14.5km Concrete Canvas Tour in Ghent. For a fascinating cycle with plenty of historical stops, the Ypres Peace Route is a top choice, while foodies will love the path that runs through the culinary delights of Hoogstraten, Merksplas and Baarle-Hertog-Nassau near Antwerp.
If you’re heading to Brussels, be sure to ride down La Promenade Verte, while the Castle Triangle is a must-visit on two wheels for Bruges tourists. Want to test your skills? Head to the infamous streets of the Tour of Flanders and compare yourself to the pros.
Each area boasts a serene and natural beauty that makes them a great escape from their respective city centres. Ready to go? Take a look at some of the best places for cycling in Belgium.
Cycling in Bruges
Beautiful Bruges is surrounded by scenic bike routes that take you past idyllic farmland, along pretty canals, and through charming villages and seaside towns. As with much of the country, cycling is a way of life in Bruges, and routes are clearly numbered so you can soak up the scenery without having your nose in a map. Take the 50km long castle route south of Bruges for a historical tour of Bruges’ Flanders region, which follows a route across the imposing Loppem and Wijnendale (and are both well worth the stop). A cycle-free day in the city is best spent on a canal cruise, which makes for a fun and relaxing way to familiarise yourself with the city, or better yet rest your legs (and have someone else do all the pedalling) with a bike carriage tour. If you’d rather stay on two feet, be sure to take a stroll around the main market square as well as the city’s pretty side streets before enjoying the views from one of its waterside bars and cafes.
Cycling in Antwerp
The perfect mix of traditional and contemporary, Antwerp is a great place to explore on two wheels. Your first port of call should be a bicycle tour around the city’s striking architecture, before stopping for freshly-brewed coffee and a spot of window shopping in Antwerp’s majestic Diamond Quarter. The city’s tourism offices has plenty of information on cycling routes for all interests, including one for foodies, one that takes in famous landmarks, a route for ‘urban bikers’ (those well-schooled in cycling) as well as easier routes for beginners. Be sure to check out the city’s two-hour guided bike tour, which meets close to the Steen Castle and takes in the City Hall, Cathedral, and old port. You’ll remember the city’s extravagant Grote Markt and the towering Cathedral of Our Lady long after your visit, while the nearby Antwerp Zoo is also worth a detour, as it’s a beautiful stop the whole family will love.
Cycling in Ghent
Ghent is a treasure trove of pretty waterways and cycle-friendly streets. At the city’s stunning medieval core is the imposing Gravensteen castle, built in the 12th century and magnificently restored to full splendour. But Ghent also has its place in contemporary culture. Cyclists will especially love the 14.5km Concrete Canvas Tour, which explores the city’s colourful street art. The route takes you through most of the major districts, including the Werregarenstraat – more commonly known as the ‘Graffiti Alley’. It’s here that you can spot one of Belgium’s most revered street artists, Roa. Known for trademark monochrome murals which have been spotted in New Zealand, Asia, and the US, examples can be found throughout the route, and discovering them makes for a fun activity for all ages. Don’t worry if you’ve left your bike at home – you can just hire one from either of Ghent’s two railway stations (Dampoort and Gent-Sint-Pieters) as well as from countless places within the city centre.
Cycling in Brussels
Belgium’s cosmopolitan capital, Brussels, is a historic city which boasts picture-perfect architectural wonders, as well as world-class attractions (such as the UNESCO-certified Grand Place). If you take your bike to Brussels, you’re best placed to explore the city’s surrounding natural splendour with the 60km Promenade Verte. The route’s main goal is to encourage visitors and residents to discover the area’s urban nature, thanks to the many pathways that connect to green recreational grounds. And it also helps to preserve its natural heritage – particularly its diverse range of flora and fauna. Loosely translated to ‘the green walk’, the route takes in parks and nature reserves with varying terrain – from rural, to industrial, and can be broken up into different parts, or tackled over one weekend.
Once you’ve explored the surrounding area, reward your efforts in one of the city’s eateries – being sure to sample its signature waffles and chocolates.
For more things to do in Belgium, check out our travel guide.