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Biking around Belgium

Hello,
I have the RS Belgium book and there is info on biking in Bruges but what I would like to do is bike between Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. I need to find a bike rental company preferably in Brussels to do this. Has anyone done this? I looked into the bike tour companies (including the bike and barge) but they only allow for one night in each destination and I wanted to spend more time than that. Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you

Posted by
2487 posts

Cycling in Flanders is the perfect way to experience the country.
I'm not so sure about Brussels as a starting point. The city can hardly be called bicycle-friendly.
Looking for a suitable bike rental, I found most orientated on commuters, half-day rentals for moving around in a city and/or difficult to communicate with in English.
This www.mechelenrides.mechelenleisure.com/en/rides might fit your bill. They're based in Mechelen, a 20-minute train ride from Brussels, and a nice place to start and finish your trip. Another suitable place could be www.cyclant.com/en/about-us/ in Antwerp, also not bad for start and finish. Don't forget to ask about the availability of bags.
Good luck!

PS.
I assume you have no problem with arranging accommodation, having your luggage on the bicycle, and making your own route. I've done it dozens of times in those wonderful pre-Internet days when I was still young.

Posted by
1768 posts

The “fietsroute” website gives you all kinds of info about cycling routes through Belgium, including Bed&Bike. With the “Cycle Node Networks” you can put your own tour together at home before you start. Each crossing has it’s unique number, signs direct you to the next one, so just follow them as planned. http://www.fietsroute.org/cycling/belgium

I live just north of Ghent and Bruges in the Netherlands and quite familiar with that part of Belgium. The Flemish part of the country is notorious for it’s ribbon development and makes it to my opinion a bit lesser attractive and so harder to find a bit of unspoiled scenery to enjoy. But by planning as much as possible through the countryside you can get the best out of it.
As Belgium has a lot of open flat countryside there can be strong wind to deal with, effective planning can help to avoid headwind as much as possible. Main roads, but not all have dedicated biking lanes (but back roads not), a part are just lanes marked on the road with fast traffic passing by very close. It makes sense to my opinion to have a look with google streetview for an impression how the roads look like.

There are many options to plan a route. I think most of the time attractive, the quickest and also to my opinion the safest are those along the canals between Bruges and Ghent, like “kanaal Gent-Brugge” or more north Schipdonkkanaal between Damme and Deinze. Both canals cross each other some 15km west of Ghent.
Also sections along the Schelde river between Ghent and Antwerp are to consider. Especially “Klein Brabant” the countryside around “Kasteel Marnix de Sainte Altegonde (only visible from the opposite side of the river / Binnendijkstraat) are to my opinion worth to bike through. I am not so familiar with the areas between Brussels and Ghent / Antwerp.

Anyway to recommend is the countryside north-east of Bruges along the canal to Damme and further to Oostkerke and even Sluis and nearby tiny but lovely Sint Anna ter Muiden in the Netherlands. If you have enough time detours through Zeeuws-Vlaanderen in the Netherlands are to consider to my opinion.

Hopefully this can be a bit of help, enjoy your trip!

Posted by
72 posts

Tracy

I envy you - this is a trip that my friends and I have been dreaming about for years. We call it the 5 B's - Bike Belgium Barges Beer and Beds.

You are getting terrific advice and since I have not done this I really have nothing to add. But in my research for my dream trip - I have researched all the bike tour companies and looked at their routes/itineraries - figuring that they probably have a good idea of the best way to bike through the country. We have always planned to do this on our own but perhaps mirroring the best of the best from my research of where the tour companies go - I hoped that we would have a good route.

When are you planning to go? How many days do you have? Please report back!
Amy

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for your helpful replies. I'm going to look at some of the towns and sights that were recommended. I'm going in June 2017 and Amy I will let you know when I have my plans more "planned" out and the route that I will take. I know we're starting in Amsterdam and we're going to do a combination of biking and busing. So I'll keep you posted.

Thanks

Posted by
1768 posts

Tracy - Glad you are responding and see the replies as helpful. Like to add that June is a good month to bike around here, usually temperatures around 20 °C, not too much rain and days having most daylight of the year.

As Tom said Mechelen is a nice place and going from Brussels to Antwerp (or vice versa), Lier is really worth to pay a visit too. Finally if having enough time and if castles are of interest I think Ooidonk Castle http://ooidonk.be/en/ south-west of Ghent and Gaasbeek Castle http://www.kasteelvangaasbeek.be/en west of Brussels are worth to consider the detour.

Posted by
3 posts

Hello again everyone,
I want to thank everyone for their advice, and give an update to my plans. I will no longer be cycling between the cities Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges; at best I will rent a bike in Bruges and make a day trip to De Haan and cycle around Bruges (and I will post about that when I get home). In November I had an accident on my bike involving an un-leashed dog and it left me with 2 fractured arms. Although I will clearly be healed by the summer, not enough to take on a week long cycling trip. Thanks again for all your advice, I hope to be posting again for this in a couple years.

Tracy

Posted by
1768 posts

So your trip in Belgium will not be coming June but within a few years I guess?

Posted by
2 posts

I'm sorry to hear that you are not going to be able to participate in your Belgium biking tour for as long as you were hoping. I have been following this post because I am traveling to Belgium on July 1st with my husband and will be 18 month old son. We are looking to do a biking tour such as yours: Brussels, Leuven, Ghent, Bruges. I have been having a difficult time trying to find bike rentals. We have friends that live in Tienen and I think that we can borrow their child bike trailer and possibly one bike. I am also looking into Wheel2wheelholidays. Has anyone used this company? Any reviews good or bad? It's around $173 per day with hotel and bike rental and wondering if it's worth it. I also like the itinerary.
http://wheel2wheelholidays.com/brussels-to-bruges-via-ghent-cycling-holidays

Posted by
1768 posts

Katie – I’m not familiar with wheel2wheelholidays, guess there are more companies offering this kind of travelling. Hopefully the Belgian tourist association VTB – VAB can give you more info or direct you further. https://www.vab.be/en and if not their Dutch sibeling ANWB. Their website is annoyingly only in Dutch, but communication with the helpdesk can in your own language. http://www.anwb.nl/contact-en-service .

You can put your question on the Thorn Tree website of Lonely Planet too, hopefully Cecilia from Amsterdam is still active there, she is very helpfull and has also her own website with reports and info about cycling trips also in Belgium.