Bike and Barge Belgium: Across Flanders – Bruges to Brussels

8 days / 7 nights | Ship: Gandalf | Guided or self guided bike tours

The Bruges to Brussels bike and barge tour on board the Gandalf is an absolute cycling classic that takes you through an enchanting river landscape bookended by these two iconic Belgian cities. During this eight day, seven night tour you will not only get the opportunity to discover the enchanting river/canal system of Belgium, but will also get to visit and explore the world famous cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Mechelen and Bruges. Along the way you will cycle through small traditional Belgian villages, will visit a number of famous local landmarks and, importantly, will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Belgium’s well-deserved
reputation for superb food and drink. Major attractions of the tour include:

  • The city of Brussels, capitol of Europe;
  • Antwerp, a city famous for its vibrant nightlife, as the city of diamonds and for its harbor;
  • The opportunity to explore medieval Ghent;
  • The UNESCO World Heritage-listed historical center of Bruges;
  • Mechelen, a small but very picturesque city

On a daily basis you will cycle along old tow paths next to small canals and rivers and via quiet country lanes to ancient villages steeped in history. Enjoy a coffee or one of the many village beers in an authentic Belgian pub where the locals approvingly raise their glass, especially when you arrive by bike.

Itinerary from Bruges to Brussels

Day 1 (Sat): Bruges

Individual arrival in Bruges. The Gandalf awaits you in the Bruges harbor. Embarkation and check-in where the crew will welcome you on board is from 3 to 5 p.m. Before or after boarding take the opportunity to explore this lovely city of art, widely described as the “Venice of the North”. You can enjoy the ambience of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historical center during a leisurely walk, take in the hustle and bustle of the Grote Markt square (Great Market square), visit one of Bruges many museums or simply enjoy the stunning beauty and culture of this unforgettable city from the comfort of a sidewalk café.

Day 2 (Sun): Tour around Bruges to the North Sea (Cycling 55 km / 33 miles)

Your first day of cycling will take you through Damme, the birthplace of the impudent Middle Ages trickster Till Eulenspiegel, to the seaside resort of Blankenberge. Visit anyone of numerous cafés and, if you want to cool down, enjoy a swim in the North Sea. After approx. 2 hours you will cycle back to Bruges and the ship.

Day 3 (Mon): Bruges – Moerebrugge | Moerebrugge – Ghent (Cycling 40 km / 24 miles)

While you enjoy breakfast the barge Gandalf will sail to Moerebrugge where you will start your day’s cycling. With the historical city of Ghent your destination today you will cycle via Oostende along the Ghent-Oostende-canal through the beautiful Flemish landscape. The town center of Ghent features lovely illuminated streets that are a must to explore, while the architectural richness in the historical center of the city has to be seen to be believed. During the Middle Ages, after Paris, Ghent was the 2nd largest European city. The Gandalf will dock for the night at the Merelbeke lock, a suburb of Ghent and approx. 15 cycling minutes to the city center.

Day 4 (Tue): Ghent – Dendermondet (Cycling 48 km / 29 miles) | Dendermonde – St-Amands

After breakfast in Ghent you will cycle through a diverse landscape to Dendermonde which is located at the mouth of the Dender River where it flows into the Schelde River. Here you can enjoy some time off your bicycle with a coffee or a cup of tea at the beautiful Flemish Grote Market square. In the evening shipping to St. Amands one of the most beautiful and winding parts of the route on the river Schelde.

Day 5 (Wed): Dendermonde – St-Amands | St-Amands – Temse – Antwerpt (Cycling 42 km / 25 miles)

Your cycle route for the day starts in St. Amands and takes you over the Brussels-Rupel canal and on to an historical brick factory situated between Boom and Niel where bricks have been manufactured since the Middle Ages. After cycling through the countryside to Rupelmonde and later Hemiksem you will finally reach Antwerp, your destination for the night. Antwerp is a harbor city situated on the river Schelde famous for handling up to 80% of the world’s rough diamonds. There are many highlights in the city to discover including: the City Hall, one of several majestic buildings constructed during the Renaissance period, the historical City Square Grote Market, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Cathedral and the medieval Steen Castle.

Day 6 (Thu): Antwerp – Lier – Willebroekt (Cycling 45 km / 27 miles)

After breakfast you will cycle through the leafy suburbs of Antwerp and past typical Belgian villas that feature beautiful trees, manicured gardens and picturesque facades to Lier. From here you cycle along the small river Nete and on to Willebroek where the ship will be waiting for you. When there is enough interest, a beer tasting will be held on board (to be paid on board).

Day 7 (Fr): Willebroek – Mechelen – Vilvoordet (Cycling 40 km / 24 miles | Vilvoorde – Brussels)

While the barge sets sail along the Willebroek canal, your final day’s cycling will see you pass through the picturesque countryside via Mechelen to Vilvoorde. Mechelen is a remarkable city that boasts more than 300 buildings that are historically listed. Of these, 8 are churches – all on less than 3 square kilometers! From Vilvoorde you will board the Gandalf for the trip to Brussels, where you can walk through the historical city center, visit the Grote Markt square (Great Market square), arguably Europe’s most beautiful medieval square lined with guild houses or marvel at the Gothic town hall.

Day 8 (Sat): Brussels

Disembarkation just after breakfast till 9:30 AM: End of your trip.

Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.