Holidays in Belgium: Adventure in the Flemish wilderness
July is the month of the Belgian national holiday and the Flemish Community holiday. So for its first series of #BelgianSummer articles, Imagine Belgium puts Flanders in the spotlight.
This summer, you feel like getting away from it all? You don’t have to go to the other side of the world to experience the great adventure! Who would have thought that there was a small local ‘Sahara’ and a cycling path in the trees in Flanders? We have made a small selection of unusual places and outdoor activities to energize your holiday in the region.
Want to get away ?
The “Sahara” of Lommel is probably one of the most surprising places in Belgium, and it is located in Flanders! Although it is a nature reserve, the beauty of this landscape is nevertheless due to… pollution! In the 20th century, fumes from a zinc factory destroyed the vegetation, leaving an arid area covered with sand. Since then, trees have been replanted and little by little nature has taken its rights back. This small Sahara is located in the middle of a forest where you can walk or bike. As a bonus: the bravest will climb the 144 steps of the observation tower to enjoy this incredible view.
In the middle of the countryside, you wouldn’t expect to find a small transparent church made of steel! And yet, it is in Looz that a duo of architects decided to install the « Reading between the lines » Church in 2011 (see cover picture). Take a nice 7 km hike and find many surprises to be discovered along the way.
Less than an hour from Looz, Connectera offers “the most beautiful panorama in Flanders” with lakes and hills as far as the eye can see. Connectera is the main gateway to the Hoge Kempen National Park and is the ideal starting point for one of the four trails in the park. If you are passing through the area, don’t miss this superb viewpoint worthy of the most beautiful European landscapes.
Cycling through the trees and across the water on a bike seems impossible to you? Well think again because the Belgians really did it! We’ve found the perfect course to cycle like never before! In Bokrijk, « Cycling through Water » is a unique experience to ride the 200 metres or so of path found below the water level. The perfect opportunity to have a tête-à-tête with the ducks in the pond!
Follow the track to Bosland to get closer to the sky this time! “Cycling through the Trees” is an equally unique experience that will take you up to ten metres above the ground. A real take-off runway, worthy of a remake of the movie « E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial »!
Get ready, because by Autumn 2020, a brand new trail will open in Limburg’s cycle network, this time for « Cycling through the Heathland » in Hoge Kempen National Park. We can’t wait to see it! As you can see, Flanders is a paradise for cyclists and an ideal region for active holidays.
Between its beaches and forests, Flanders is not lacking of sports activities accessible to all.
Do you want to enjoy the pleasure to be on the water in the middle of nature? Nothing better than a kayak trip! Belgium has an extensive network of waterways to let yourself glide down the stream. You don’t have your own kayak at home? Don’t worry, you can rent your equipment to enjoy the two following routes. From the Lier side south of Antwerp, follow the route along the Kleine Nete. The route is 25 km long, but you can relax at the picnic areas or at the six pontoons to punctuate your day with a few well-deserved breaks. In Wachtebeke, north of Ghent, you can also rent a kayak for a trip of up to 33 km on the Zuidlede and the Moer Canal. Get ready, it’s going to paddle hard!
Are you spending your holidays on the Belgian coast this summer? Fantastic! The North Sea is the perfect place to combine a lot of sports activities: surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, horse riding and sand yachting, there’s something for everyone! But let’s be honest, at Imagine Belgium our favourite sport during the summer is the marathon between our sunbed and the sea!
Find all our good tips for a crazy holiday by the sea in our special article « Seaside holidays at the North Sea ».
When you think about hiking in Belgium, you immediately imagine the Two Ourthes and the Hautes Fagnes. Flanders also has some beautiful paths to offer. In La Panne or Blankenberge, the Belgian coast offers beautiful walks in the dunes and nature reserves along the coast.
If you like walking, follow some of the hiking routes available along the 60 km of the Coastal Path (GR 5A). The advantage of living in a flat country is that these walks are easy to follow for the whole family! Get around thanks to the Coastal Tram which runs along the coast between Knokke and De Panne to adapt your walks.
Inland, you can also follow part of the “Route de Flandre” along the GR 128. This hiking trail connects the north of France and Germany and crosses Flanders on more than 470 km! The route is divided into six parts and each one is divided into several hiking sections that can be done in a day. This is a great way to explore at your own pace the many places that make the beauty of Flanders.
PS: It is said that the most daring travel the road in only 22 days. As we’re nice at Imagine Belgium, we don’t try to beat their record 😉
As we said earlier, the Hoge Kempen National Park in Limburg is a place not to be left unseen in the region! We’d like to stay there for days to walk on the 51 trails along the 220 km of the park. The big advantage of the park? One trail has been specially designed to be accessible to people with reduced mobility. We welcome this great initiative and we therefore recommend that you follow the Zandloperpad, « Tiger beetle trail »! This path of about 1.5 km is a mix of the most beautiful landscapes of the park and also offers a bird watching wall and a floating bridge. We particularly like the small physical challenges that are offered on the path to stimulate the walk. And yes, family walks this summer are for everyone!
Imagine Belgium has at heart to offer activities accessible to the greatest number of people. As of this summer, we offer the opportunity to try our brand new virtual reality experience to discover Belgium from the Grand Place of Brussels. Find out more here.