Ideally, you would cycle this tour in spring, when Haspengouw, a region of orchard farmers, is at its most beautiful: For a short period in April – May, the landscape is ablaze with colour, thanks to the mesmerizing cherry, apple, and pear blossoms. Although it is impossible to predict exactly when the trees will flower, if you strike lucky, consider the blossoms to be the “cherry on the cake” of your cycling holiday, as the saying goes in these parts (icing on the cake!). For Haspengouw is lovely all year round!
In this paradise for cyclists, you will find low hills, romantic castles, fertile farmland, woods, historical towns and of course orchards. Thanks to its moist, clay-rich soil, this is reputedly the largest center of fruit production in Western Europe. For some very different scenery you will briefly digress into the Campine region which still boasts some marshy areas and heath; and into the Land of 1001 Ponds . On this tour, the roads and paths are flat to gently sloping; and low in traffic. The start and finish of the holiday is in the friendly university town of Hasselt.
Organize your own journey to Hasselt, a friendly and progressive place with an international outlook and an ambition for environmental sustainability. Check out the new Town Hall: ‘t Scheep. Here is a random selection of things to do: Fashionistas could pop into the fashion museum. Visit a 19th-century liquor distillery in the National Jenever Museum. If contemporary art and design make you happy, head for Z33. Finally, should you desire some peace and quiet after your journey, calm down in the Japanese garden.
Pedalling leasurely, leave Hasselt behind you and progress through the valley of the River Mombeek to Alken. Just before you reach Sint-Truiden, make a detour towards the Vinne. This park holds the only natural lake in Flanders. The lake is located along an important bird migration route so keep your eyes peeled for the Squacco Heron, Red-Rumped Swallow and Little Bittern. After that, it may well be time for a drink at the alcohol distillery of Wilderen. At the end of the day, enter the town of Sint-Truiden, packed with religious buildings and monuments from yesteryear. The courtyard beguinage and the belfry are UNESCO world heritage sites. The shops are full of fruit products; and if strawberries are in season, treat yourself to some fresh ones.
In the early morning, while you are still brimming with energy, climb the 196 steps to the top of Saint Trudo’s Abbey tower for an impressive view of the town. Then hit the trail and set forth on the gently rolling roads of Haspengouw along all the prettiest places of this fruity region. In the afternoon, you will reach Hoegaarden. We recommend a visit to the interactive visitors’ center at the local brewery. Finally, after a small detour to avoid some uncomfortable cobbled lanes, put your feet up in the town of Tienen.
Exit Tienen and enter lovely, leafy country estates and woods. In Tielt-Winge, climb a surrealistically hovering winding staircase, towering up above the woods. Farther on, you’ll find an authentic castle vineyard. Your next stop is Belgium’s most important pilgrimage site, Scherpenheuvel, which boasts the oldest central-plan domed church in the Low Countries. To conclude, crown your day in Diest, our secret gem, the biggest surprise of this holiday, as yet undiscovered by mass tourism. Explore the welcoming main square and the surrounding roads and alleys. Have a peek into the courtyard beguinage, one of the oldest, most beautiful and best preserved in Europe. 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.
Today’s leg of the tour takes you through the Campine region (Kempen), historically a sparsely populated, soggy and desolate place that people stayed away from. Today’s tourists go there for some peace and quiet. In Zichem, a 14th-century tower offers great views of the surroundings. Have a break at Averbode Abbey before cycling through Helschot woods, where the well-loved Flemish author Willem Elsschot (1882-1960) used to go to be inspired. Lastly, wander around in Tichelbroek nature reserve, marked by a lake, marshes, hayfields and woods.
Today you will never be far away from the Grote Nete river that meanders through the Campine region. Just beyond Meerhout, you will veer away from the river and move into the mining region of Limburg. Mining has changed the landscape forever. The mining museum in Beringen has all the stories. Next, explore the woody surroundings of Heusden-Zolder and Houthalen-Helchteren. For a last wonderful treat, discover the Wijers, Land of 1001 Ponds. Slalom your way around the ponds, marveling at the reflections and colourful vegetation. Finally, you will arrive back in Hasselt.
After breakfast, your holiday will come to an end. It’s time to return home.
|Saturdays from April 6th till September 21st.|
|Per person in a double room
6 nights’ accommodation, breakfast included
|A supplement will be required for:|
|Single room||€ 240|
|Bike rental||€ 130|
|Extra night in a double room||€ 70|
|Extra night in a single room||€ 100|
6 nights included
3/4 star hotels
Breakfast included, halfboard optional
Tourist information on all the places of interest
The possibility of renting our bikes
7-days a week service-hotline
Luggage transport to your next hotel
Parking possibilities near the hotel
Any ferry crossings are not included