If you’re interested in hiking in Belgium, there are an overwhelming number of choices for all experience levels. Belgium has plenty of beautiful varied scenery, and there are hikes of all different lengths and difficulties. To make it easier for you, I’ve compiled all of my favourite Belgium hikes – so next time you fancy a walk, you’re armed with plenty of options.
I’ve always been a hiker. I prefer to walk 10 kilometers through town than take a bike. In 2011, I walked the Oxfam Trailwalker – a trail through the Flemish Ardennes where you have 30 hours to cover 100 kilometers. It was an unforgettable challenge, and quite a struggle mentally. Let’s just say I definitely hit a wall a few times… including crying and calling for my mom at the 96th kilometer! But I’d do it again without hesitation – hiking is the only way to really clear my head and forget all about daily worries.
We always try to combine cities with nature on our travels, and there are always some solid hikes involved in any holiday plans. But times are changing, and we’re likely to spend a little more time in our own country over the coming months. For that reason, I thought I’d write about the best places to hike in Belgium – especially strolling along Flanders most beautiful hiking paths. The second part about hiking in the Ardennes, you can read here.
Side note – As we’re currently not allowed out of our houses, I was unable to take pictures of all the hiking trails myself. I asked Jelle from Shot By Canipel for help – he is an old scouts’ friend and a very talented photographer. All the photos in this blog were taken by him. For more of his beautiful work, take a look at his Instagram and Facebook page.
Jelle is also the manager of Gloryus, a travel agency with a mission. His goal is to share experiences and knowledge to inspire active, travel-loving people. The main drive behind the agency is undoubtedly adventure and authenticity. Emphasis is placed on connecting with the local communities, which is something many of us tend to forget during our trips abroad. Take a look at his website here.
Places to hike in Belgium
Hikes in the province of Antwerp
This is where I mostly go for walks, because my sister lives just around the corner and there’s nothing like a family trip close to home. The AS adventure hike is an 8km hike in the area. It’s great for spotting various birds – you can even see long-haired cows! The path is well marked and easy to hike, and it’s also accessible for buggies. When rainy, boots are recommended. Dogs are welcome on a leash. Starting point: Schroeilaan, 2660 Hoboken.
Fort 8 in Hoboken is also worth a try. There’s a walk of 8.5km in a loop past several old Antwerp forts. Starting point: Scheldelei 65-67, 2660 Antwerp.
Kalmthoutse Heide, Kalmthout
A beautiful area near the Dutch border. The hiking trail Sheep is an 8.5km walk that takes you past heathland, woods, fens, dunes, the Putse Moer and the watchtower. Sheep and cattle graze within the spring grid – which means it’s partly forbidden for dogs! The hiking trail Butterfly is a 3km walk for the blind and visually impaired. These are just 2 of the many walks you can take here. They recently added a new 24-kilometer hike. Please note that this walk is not accessible for dogs because it largely runs through the grazing grid. Starting point: Nature Education Center De Vroente, Putsesteenweg 129, Kalmthout.
Nature Reserve Scheps, Balen
The Scheps Nature Reserve is an open-air museum for nature. Enjoy pristine pieces of priceless nature in an authentic Kempen landscape. You won’t be disturbed by traffic – or any other noise for that matter! Natural sounds and bird twittering will accompany you on a hike through open fields and meadows, along glistening water pools with many animals. There are eight different super fun hikes to choose from. You can find more information about the walks here.
Street Art Berchem
This original walk takes you along the best street art in Antwerp. Discover Berchem’s street art while walking along impressive murals and hidden gems. The route takes you past the workspots of Meeting of Styles, the largest graffiti event in Belgium. During this annual festival, about 150 artists will work on numerous walls and it becomes one of the longest graffiti walls in Europe. It displays works of art by various international artists, each with its own style and technique.
Download the app Street Art Cities for this 11km walk in Antwerp. (This app takes you to the most beautiful street art around the world – highly recommended wherever you are!)
A slightly more unusual walk through the city’s urban cemetery. It’s not every day you get to walk past monuments of people like La Esterella, Julien Schoenaerts, Peter Benoit, Unkel Bob and Alice Nahon. At the Schoonselhof you can follow various themed walks that are digitally available via the free Antwerp Museum App. This way you can follow the tour via smartphone with text and images. Starting point: Krijgsbaan 100, 2660 Hoboken.
The Trix Concert Hall’s motto if you can’t go to Trix, Trix will come to you – which is why they created a musical walk. They offer a musical tour through the center of Antwerp, accompanied by more than 35 concert photos taken by 9 different photographers from 2015 to February 2020 (just before they had to close their doors).
If you want to try out this walk, bring your headphones and listen to the artists via the QR codes at the different locations. Order a takeaway coffee from Eat Dust or Hart along the way, and – above all – keep social distancing in mind!
Landschap De Liereman
If you want to discover the quiet Kempen a bit more, there’s nowhere better than the Landschap De Liereman – 100 hectares of nature and one of the oldest nature reserves in Belgium. Six hikes go from the Visitor Center through Landscape De Liereman. In the Visitor Center, there’s also a permanent exhibition about the unique landscape, the soil, the archeology and the history of the area.
During your walk, you will encounter flocks of sheep and a grazing block of wild horses. The six hikes take you past old peat pits and a varied landscape with heather, dunes and the Kempens’ stable. Walk past the mysterious Echelkuil and the beautiful Liereman Swamp and discover the wet heaths and dry grasslands.
The area is wheelchair and buggy accessible, and dogs are welcome on a leash. Starting point: Visitor center De Liereman, Schuurhovenberg 43, 2360 Oud-Turnhout. You can find more information about the walks here.
Fancy a city trip in Antwerp? Read all about it in my Antwerp travel guide.
Hikes in the province of Limburg
Limburg is where I spent my childhood, and my heart is still overflowing everytime I visit. When I’m back in Limburg it still sparks a feeling of homecoming, with its lovely people, the best bakeries and the most beautiful natural sights.
The Sahara region lives up to its name – a large sandy landscape resembling a miniature desert. But there are also clear blue lakes, heather strips and scented coniferous and deciduous forests. The picturesque landscape and its enormous variety makes hiking here a unique experience. Many species of bird have found a home on and around the water.
The area is quite difficult for buggies and wheelchairs due to the loose sand. Dogs are welcome on a leash. You can do 3 tours in the area – 3, 6 or 12km.
Tip: hand in your ID at the reception in the event hall in exchange for a hammock in a handy backpack.You can then rest, recline and enjoy the peace and quiet on the water. Starting point: Event Hall De Soeverein, Sportveldenstraat 10, 3920 Lommel.
Nature reserve De Teut
With 2000 hectares, it’s the largest heath area in Central Limburg. The variety of stream valleys, fens, dunes, forests, fields and heathland are the perfect backdrop for a truly beautiful hike. The diligent sheep preserve the heather. Starting point: Donderslagseweg 21, 3520 Zonhoven.
The Mijnterril van Beringen is a living reminder of Limburg’s industrial coal mining past. What used to be a waste mountain of heaped stones is now a hill, where bushes and open spaces alternate. The space has lots in store for recreation and nature lovers, and during your hike you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view. It’s a pleasant trip for people and animals alike!
There are hikes that are 2, 4 or 31km long. Click here for more details. Starting point: Parking Fleminsh Mine museum, Koolmijnlaan 201, 3582 Beringen.
Hoge Kempen National Park
Nature in all its glory! The National Parc is a unique nature reserve where more than 12,000 hectares of forest and heather are managed and protected. The area extends over the municipalities of As, Bilzen, Bree, Dilsen-Stokkem, Genk, Lanaken, Maaseik, Maasmechelen, Oudsbergen and Zutendaal. Extensive pine forests are interspersed with purple-flowering heather and dunes. Large puddles testify to the gravel and sand extraction, and the many high peaks offer great panoramic views.
Are you feeling adventurous? The park contains more than 220 km of hiking pleasure. Around 51 loop-shaped hikes from 3km to 14km lead you along the most beautiful spots in and around the Hoge Kempen National Park. It’s best to start at 1of the 6 entrance gates. More information on the website.
Street Art in Hasselt
This 3.5km walking trail takes you along the most beautiful street art in the city. As I mentioned previously, download the Street Art Cities app to truly make the most of it!
The Eisden coal mine was still running here at full speed nearly a quarter of a century ago. Today, however, the landscape looks completely different – you can enjoy a surprising landscape of mountains and lakes with spectacular panoramas.
The name ‘connecterra’ is a combination of the words ‘connect’ and ‘terra’ (earth). It gives a clear reference to its mining past, but it also indicates a new mission – to guide its visitors and walkers back to connect with Earth and Mother Nature.
Six different walks (2, 4, 7, 11 or 13km, all well marked with colours) let you discover the beautiful domain. Starting point: Zetellaan, 3630 Maasmechelen (Eisden). Entrance: 3€ per person.
This hiking network extends over the 4 Bosland municipalities (Hechtel-Eksel, Lommel, Peer and Pelt), and connects well-known hiking areas with newly discovered spots throughout Bosland. More than 70% of the routes are on quiet sandy roads. You can create your own route or opt for a suggested loop. Thanks to the hiking network, you are guaranteed to enjoy the beautiful landscape! View the different walks on the website.
Border Park Kempen Broek
On the border of both Limburg and North Brabant lies the GrensPark Kempen Broek. It’s a 25000 ha area that alternates wet with dry, open with closed, nature with culture. It extends over the municipalities of Cranendonck, Weert, Nederweert, Bocholt, Bree, Kinrooi and Maaseik.
The Kempen Broek reveals a true mosaic of landscapes. It combines swamps, brook valleys, fens, forests, moors, hay meadows, meadows, fields and large-scale agricultural areas. In short there’s something for everyone, with water as a central theme. Many rare plant and animal species feel at home here – there are very few places in Benelux that have as many types of dragonfly! The beaver also returned a few years ago, and with a bit of luck you can even see a red deer.
You can explore the Kempen Broek in countless ways – you can hike, cycle, mountain bike, horse ride and even drive. You can find more information about the wide range of walks here.
The region of Voeren lies as an enclave between the Netherlands and the province of Liège and are literally the highlight of Flanders. With its hills, valleys and expansive views, fast-flowing rivers and picturesque villages, it is a real walking paradise.
Tip: The “bronnenwandeling” walk is 8.5 kilometers long and shows you the true beautiful of the region. Starting point: St. Martinuskerk, Kerkstraat, Sint-Martens-Voeren
Hikes in the province of Flemish Brabant
Province domain the Vinne
For a hike around the largest natural inland lake in Flanders, you have to go to Vinne. Discover the enormous diversity of water-related fauna and flora along bat trails, shelters and observation towers.
There are 5 marked nature hikes throughout the domain, which has a watchtower and several bird-watching huts. There is a beautiful playground, which is accessible for people with disabilities.
Take note – Het Vinne is currently being pumped out. The bottom of the natural inland lake is being cleaned up due to the current quality of the water being bad for the plants and animals. Starting point: Ossenwegstraat 70 – 3440 Zoutleeuw.
This forest is a crowd pleaser thanks to the beautiful purple carpet of wild hyacinths, which bloom around mid-April. The varied landscape provides wonderful hiking opportunities and makes a visit to this forest more than worthwhile. There are 2 marked hyacinth walks in the forest (from April 14) – a 4.8km walk starting at Parking 1 (Hogebermweg) and a 5.1km walk starting from Parking 8 (Achtdreven). Besides the hyacinth trails, there are three other beautiful hikes, of 2, 4 or 7km. Starting point: Hogebermweg (P1) – 1500 Halle.
Hikes in the province of East Flanders
Boerenkrijg trail, Berlare
The Boerenkrijg is a historical event that gave Overmere a place in the history books. During a pleasant hike, you can discover more about the past of the Farmers’ Martial Park and its surroundings. The entire hike is about 6.5 km, or you can take a shorter loop of about 4.5 km.
Tip: Download the free ‘Erfgoed app’. Click on the orange circle with the compass and download the Farmers’ War walk. Starting point: Donklaan 123, 9290 Berlare.
Hikes in the province of West Flanders
Tillegembos is a provincial domain in Sint-Michiels, a sub-municipality of the city of Bruges. Deciduous and coniferous forests, hays and recreational meadows, a historic castle, a castle farm, a beautiful chapel… it truly has something for everyone. Choose from three beautiful hikes of 2, 3 or 12 km. Starting point: Tillegemstraat 85, 8200 Sint-Michiels.
During an 8km hike, discover the surroundings of the Kemmelberg, Flanders’ highest mountain (156m) and key point in many Classic Flanders Cycle competitions. The landscape is very hilly and offers endless views. Start in the village area of Kemmel (Heuvelland) and walk to the foot of the ridge via the municipal domain De Warande. You will continue along field roads to Monteberg (131m), where it goes steeply uphill to the top of the Kemmelberg. A unique panorama awaits beyond. On the way back, you’ll walk along the wooded sides of the ridge. Starting point: Tourist Office, Sint-Laurentiusplein 1, 8956 Kemmel.
The path initially started in Bergen-op-Zoom, but later Hoek van Holland became the official starting place. GR 5 is part of the European walking route E2 (Scotland – Nice). Beyond Eben-Emael, follow the High Fens and the Ardennes. After the Luxembourg Moselle valley, the GR 5 enters France. The white-red ribbon winds successively through Lorraine, the Vosges, the Jura, the Savoie, the Hautes-Alpes, the Alpes de Haute-Provence and the Alpes-Maritimes to Nice.
Of course, you can also just walk part of the GR 5. You can find more information about this here.
Additional help – advice for hiking with a baby
Jelle, the talented photographer who took the photographs in this blog, often goes out with his family for the most beautiful hikes in and outside the country. Their daughter has been on adventures since she was a baby.
If you have a young family and want some advice on hiking with children, here are some top tips based on his experience:
- Make sure you leave on time!
- Check the baby’s meal times and plan in advance where you will take any breaks
- Ensure you check the distance and access carefully
- Buggies cannot drive everywhere, so check in advance whether or not you will be able to use them
- Baby carriers: Babies up to about nine months can be transported in a baby carrier. This is a practical solution that allows you to set your own pace, but it’s less suitable for excessive hikes of multiple hours.
- In cold weather: Babies love to be carried – they feel safe, and it’s a great way to keep them warm. But when you’re moving and they’re still, they can easily become chilly. It’s best to dress your baby in an additional layer, along with a hat as most heat is lost through the head. In winter, opt for a romper with long sleeves, a cardigan or sweater, long pants, socks (and slippers), a (winter) jacket and a hat. Ensure the clothes are comfortable for your baby – buttons, zippers and hoods aren’t always comfortable.
- In warm weather: Don’t dress your baby in clothes that are too thick. A baby’s sweat glands aren’t well developed yet, so they can’t cool down by sweating. In hot weather, go for something like a romper and a sun hat. In warm weather, choose a romper with one layer of airy cotton clothing, possibly a sun hat and cotton socks.
- Feel your baby’s neck every now and then. If the skin feels pleasantly warm there, you can assume that their temperature is fine.
- Bring a change of clothes and diapers with you (and a closable pouch to put the diaper in to minimise the odour for the rest of the walk!).
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