A few Flemish cultural gems – by bike

Flanders is packed with heritage, art and culture. You can discover this great wealth in numerous ways – by bike, for example. The Art Cities Route takes you on a beautiful journey through the cultural highlights of Brussels, Leuven, Mechelen, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.  

Art, culture and a bit of physical activity fit together perfectly, as on the Art Cities Route, one of our nine iconic cycling routes. This route meanders gracefully through the Flemish art cities, rich in heritage and culture. The journey begins on the Flemish coast and leads via picturesque Bruges to trendy Ghent. It continues via fashionable Antwerp, through unknown gems Leuven and Mechelen. You’ll end up in Brussels, the capital of Europe, on this itinerary covering no fewer than 342 kilometers and passing by countless highlights. 

Of course, this journey is a bit much just for one day. These routes are tailor-made for the holiday cyclist. Along the way, there are many places where you can spend the night, allowing you to take to the road refreshed the next day. Here is just a sample of the route, focusing on a tale of two cities, the stretch between Ghent and Antwerp. We begin in medieval-looking but at the same time trendy Ghent. On one hand, you can find monuments such as the magnificent St. Bavo’s Cathedral, home to the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a highlight of European art history. A little further on and you can take in the marvelous view of the historic Graslei and Korenlei. On the other hand, there is also much younger heritage, such as the wonderfully renovated Winter Circus or the brand new library building De Krook. Ghent offers you both. 

Meander without a care along the Scheldt from Ghent to Antwerp.
Meander without a care along the Scheldt from Ghent to Antwerp. ©VisitFLANDERS

After experiencing all this beauty, it’s time to pedal on. The Art Cities Route soon brings you to the towpath along the Scheldt. A closed, snooker-table-flat road runs for many kilometers alongside this river. You can meander safely and without a care along the waterway. The Scheldt valley offers a good selection of places to stay to break your journey. 

The next day it’s onwards to Antwerp, where another treasure trove of heritage awaits you. Consider, for example, the Cathedral of Our Lady. This Gothic treasure is home to several masterpieces by Peter Paul Rubens, the celebrated Antwerp resident known as the king of the baroque. His work – and that of many other great artists – hangs in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. Some other highlights? The beacon for contemporary art M HKA, or city museum MAS in the trendy  Het Eilandje district. This is also an ideal starting point for discovering the culinary life of this vibrant city. 

As you may have noticed, there’s no end to describing all the delights of this small section of the impressive Art Cities Route. In the mood for a cycling holiday? Find some extra inspiration for iconic cycling routes. Would you rather explore a splendid art city in greater depth? If so, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in these inspiring itineraries. Enjoy! 

Take in the interesting architecture of the MAS, one of Antwerp's many cultural highlights.
Take in the interesting architecture of the MAS, one of Antwerp’s many cultural highlights. ©VisitFLANDERS

Things to consider before traveling

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Some tips to consider while traveling

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