Duration : 06 Nights / 07 Days
Destinations : Antwerp, Mechelen, Dendermonde, Ghent, Bruges
We extremely delighted to introduce you to VishvYatra Holidays, we have been constantly evolved, keeping up with the present market trends and revolution and were able to adopt to the travel need of holiday and adventure experience and of course our loyal customers who have varied travel interests. We have managed to grow in terms of strength, efficiency and a steady growth by year over year.
6 Nights 7 Days
Day 1 : HOW TO GET TO ANTWERP - TO MASTER RENAISSANCE AND FLEMISH
At 15:00, your guide will be waiting for a guided tour of the hotel. We recommend that you travel by train. Our guide will show you the old town with its beautiful squares, the impressive Renaissance town hall and talks about the golden age of Antwerp in the 16th century. At that time, the city was the undisputed economic metropolis of Northern Europe. Antwerp was rich and with its wealth the tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady grew higher and higher. During an interior tour, we will also show you the great Flemish masters in the nave. Back then, the city was an art center. Names such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Snyders or Jordaens are inextricably linked to the city. All around are richly decorated guild houses with artisanal, beautifully crafted gables. After the city tour, you can stop in one of the cafés or take a detour to the Scheldt riverside.
For dinner, we will take you to a cosy, rustic restaurant in the old town.
Overnight stay at Hotel’t Sandt****.
Day 2 : ENCHANTING MECHELEN - 42 kilometres
After breakfast, you will have some time to walk around the city or on the banks of the Scheldt, which is only a few hundred metres from your hotel. During the morning, a short transfer takes you to the city gates. You cycle almost completely flat on low-traffic roads through the idyllic of Flanders. Klein Schlösschen and lakes are on the bike route. The surrounding area is characterized by early industrialization. The cycling route runs along small rivers and canals to Mechelen. The city’s landmark is the mighty tower of the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Romuald. Although never completed, it reaches the stately height of 98 m! Today, Mechelen is best known for his bell play school (“Carillon”).
Your guide will take you on a tour of the Old Town. Impressive is St. Rombouts Cathedral and the oldest town hall in Flanders, which was already used by aldermen in the 15th century. Did you know that Mechelen was ruled by a woman in the 16th century? Margaret of Austria made it the capital of the Burgundian Netherlands. Dinner in the Old Town. Overnight stay at NH Hotel Mechelen***
Day 3 : GHENT ALTAR & LOVELY LEIUE - 41 (+11) cycling kilometers
In the morning transfer from Mechelen to the pretty town of Dendermonde (30 km), where you get on the wheels. We cycle through green fields and past farms and small villages following the Scheldt until just before Ghent. Our Ghent city guide is waiting for you on the Belfry of the city.
Gent’s charm will win you quickly: in the proud merchant town on the Scheldt, we feel an unparassing bustle as ever. It is the birthplace of Emperor Charles V and has the second largest port in Belgium. The towers of the city form an impressive ensemble – an urban landscape like in the paintings of Flemish masters! She and the magnificent guild and patrician houses testify to the wealth and self-confidence of its citizens.
Under the bridge, the Leie moves sluggishly, along the banks of which we later cycle along. Canals and canals pass through Gent’s medieval center, giving it a romantic atmosphere. On one of the 13 islands on which the city is located is stubbornly the knight’s castle Gravensteen.
In order to experience Gent’s greatest treasure, we must go inside St. Bavo Cathedral: here we marvel at the “Ghent Altar” of the Van Eyck brothers.
“ This is the most beautiful work of Christendom!” Antonio Beatis, 1517
This painting is simply one of the most famous works of art in the world! Well protected behind bulletproof glass, the altar spreads an image of the late medieval world. No description can do justice to the beauty, shine and fire of colors and the sensual physicality of the figures. Such art arouses covetousness: the Habsburgs wanted them for themselves, iconostillers and Calvinists wanted to destroy it, and French and Germans temporarily brought parts of it to Paris and Berlin. The fact that the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens has also created an impressive work for the transept is almost forgotten.
After the guided tour of the city, you have the choice: either take a cafe break in one of the city’s lively squares, or you can cycle along the idyllic Leie for another 11 km.
In this enchanting river landscape, our journey leads through the elegant residential suburb of Sint-Martens Latem, which inspired renowned painters and sculptors to create their work at the beginning of the 20th century. Castle-like properties line our drive through these lovely residential and park areas. Our romantic country hotel is dreamily situated on a bend of the river. Overnight stay and dinner at Auberge du Pecheur***, Deurle.
Day 4 : ALONG THE LEI TO THE BEWEINHOF AND CLOTH HALL - 48 kilometres of cycling
the morning, you can wave slowly passing boats on the terrace of our hotel, while cows graze on lush green meadows in the background. We cycle directly from the hotel along the banks of the Leie, whose floodplains were already a preferred area for wealthed people in the Middle Ages.
We can already recognize Ooidonk Castle from the garden of our hotel. It belonged to Count Hoorn, who was beheaded in Brussels in 1568 like Count Egmont. Via an old avenue we reach the magnificent red brick moated castle. You almost believe yourself in the sight of the Loire! And in fact, French architects brought a touch of loire renaissance to Flanders. Our cycling route leads along the charming castle park (outside tour).
Traffic roads lead us almost completely flat through the rural idyll of Flanders. We follow the river to the heart of the historic trading town of Kortrijk.
Kortrijk knows every schoolchild in Flanders: the “Battle of the Golden Spurs” took place here in 1302, during which the citizens of Flanders defended their independence with a foot people against a heavily armed knight army of the French king. They won – thanks to their merchant’s slicing – with a superior tactic.
Particularly beautiful is the winding, homely Beguinage, which is hidden behind the “Great Market”. Only a few years ago, pious women lived here in secluded and secluded in the middle of the city.
Kortrijk is considered to be perhaps the most picturesque courtyard in Flanders. The last few kilometers to the old clothmaking town of Ieper (Yper) we take the train.
In the Middle Ages, Ieper was Flanders’s largest city. Only Bruges and Ghent could compete with her. Her precious cloth has been traded worldwide. At the end of World War I, however, the proud place consisted only of rubble. The front of the “Flanders Fields” ran right outside the city. All the more surprising is the resurrection of the medieval townscape. Green fortifications still surround the historic core of Ieper. We stroll from the train station to the hotel on these ramblings. Our cosy, small hotel is situated on a small canal near the Groten Markt. Before dinner* we walk to the “Menenpoort”, an English memorial in the form of a powerful triumphal arch. Since the end of World War I, the last last post coup has been played there every evening for the fallen of the British army. An impressive ritual that has been reminiscent of the inhumanity of the war for more than 80 years and has been respectfully accompanied by many locals and especially British guests. Overnight stay and dinner at Hotel Ariane****, Ieper.
Day 5 : TO THE CROWN OF FLANDERS TO BRUGES - 48 kilometres cycling
Let’s take a look at Ieper before the bike ride leads to the next stage. After the catastrophe of the “Great War”, Ieper’s citizens defiantly rebuilt their city as if the great time of the rich textile metropolis had never ended. Reconstruction worked a miracle: the dimensions of the “Groten Market”, which has been revived, are enormous. Stunning is the 132-meter-long sandstone façade of the early Gothic Cloth Hall! A colossal building that, despite its imperity, still looks extremely elegant.
Today we drive through the body-level landscape of marches and polders. It has been laboriously wrested from the sea in centuries. The country looks like an Old Dutch painting. Cows graze on green meadows crossed by blue canals. Small boats and barges move on them. The destination of our first cycling stage is Diksmuide. She shares the same fate of destruction much smaller than Ieper. It has also been magnificently restored and the “Great Market” impresses us with its wide panorama.
The city’s landmark, however, is located outside the village: monstrous towers over the banks of the 84-metre-high IJzer Tower, peace monument and concrete cast monument of Flemish national pride. Our enjoyable bike route ends in Torhout in the afternoon around 5 pm. On our way we stop at a German military cemetery hidden behind shady trees. Here we discover a capturing pair of sculptures created by Käthe Kollwitz: “the parents”. She shows herself as a gram-bent, grieving mother who lost her son Peter here during the war.
From the town of Torhout we take a train to the capital of West Flanders to Bruges, the most beautiful city in Belgium.
The old Hanseatic city is the crowning glory of every trip to Belgium. The fully preserved city centre, crossed by canals and canals, is of unique beauty. A city like a picture book, medieval and mysterious, romantic and enchanting. It was once the richest and most magnificent city north of the Alps!
We spend 2 nights in the heart of the old town in a stylish and comfortable 4-star hotel. Tonight is free to stroll through Bruges on your own. Dinner is not included tonight. Of course, Bruges’ old town offers you a wealth of culinary options.
1st night Hotel Navarra**** (or equivalent 4-star hotel in the center)/Bruges
Day 6 : TO THE SEA - DUTCH MARCHING AND BIRD PARADISE - 49 kilometres
After breakfast we explore the soothing, peaceful coastal and marshland north of Bruges by bike. You will be surprised how quickly we leave the medieval center behind us and cycle along a dreamy, poplar lined canal. Old windmills and picturesque farmhouses are part of this green idyll. After a few kilometres we reach the tiny, old town of Damme. It was once the rich port and important wine trade centre of Bruges and Ghent, until it suddenly became impoverished and lost its importance due to the silting of the Zwin River. The mighty ramparts bear witness to this glorious past. The romantic damme is considered the homeland of Til Eulenspiegel, who was not a fool, but a Flanders folk hero in the fight against Spanish oppression.
Just a little further north we pass the Dutch border unnoticed. A narrow channel leads us to the Dutch Sluis. In the Middle Ages, the village belonged to Bruges and succeeded Dammes as a seaport until its inflow to the sea.
Still on the Dutch side of the coast we reach the old mouth of the Zink. Today “Het Zwin” is a valuable wetland and a bird paradise. From a dam we have a magnificent view over the estuary. Feathered guests from Siberia and Svalbard rest here, and storks even overcome storks. Reliably spin in cranes, firegeese and plovers. In summer, the rare lake lavender dips the surfaces in strong purple.
Our way back to Bruges leads past the beach and the wonderful Art Nouveau villas of the fashionable seaside resort of Knokke-Heist. When the weather is nice, we can stay on the beach. From Knokke you could take a TERRAOVA bus or train back to Bruges (journey time around 20 minutes) or cycle back to Bruges for another 16 km. We will spend our final evening in a cosy, typically Flemish restaurant. 2nd night in Bruges.
Day 7 : BELFRY, GROTE MARKT & CANAL CRUISE
On the last day of the trip, we completely surrender to the “crown of Flanders”. Brugge is no like a city in Europe! Miraculously, the old trading town came through the centuries unscathed. Bruges still retains the perfect image of a high medieval trading town. More than 2,000 houses are listed and the city as a “Gesamtkunstwerk” is a World Heritage Site. If Venice is the most romantic city in the South, the same applies to Bruges in the north. You will feel like you are moving amidst the scenes of a historic novel. It’s a pleasure to just stroll through the quiet alleys or sit down in a pavement café at one of the many enchanted little squares. Bruges offers so much to see and visit!
Our guide will show you the most important and beautiful in the morning. Highlights are the magnificent “Grote Markt” with perhaps the most beautiful Belfry in Belgium. These towers in the centre of every Flemish city were an expression of the self-confidence and defensiveness of the rich commercial cities. The Great Market Square and the smaller castle square exude pure Middle Ages! The Heilblut Basilica on Burgplatz is the oldest building in the city. In it, the citizens of Bruges have been storing their most precious relic with the blood of Christ for centuries.
The many small waterways, canals and canals that run through the city give Bruges a special charm. Before you have to say goodbye to Bruges, take a canal cruise to see the city from a particularly beautiful perspective.
You can decide when to return by train in the afternoon. If your car is parked in Antwerp, you can also take a direct train from Bruges in 85 minutes (trains run at least hourly during the day).