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Walk this way: Discover Belgium on foot

Kemmelberg (c) Heuvelland Tourism
00:38 01/05/2021
From urban trails to cross-country expeditions, these walking routes will get you under the skin of Belgium

The signposted Kemmelberg walking trail (pictured above) is not for the faint of heart: its hilly 8km takes you to the top of Flanders’ highest hill. But it’s worth every minute, especially in the summer, when the fields are all gold and green, and the landscapes are breath-taking. There are several spots to stop off for a drink along the way.

The Marvin Gaye Midnight Love Tour is testament to the year the soul legend spent in Ostend trying to escape drugs and depression. A walk guided by a map and videos on an iPod take you to Gaye’s boxing club, the apartment where he wrote Sexual Healing, and other notable landmarks from his time in Belgium.

Beer trails

Combine more than one hobby with the Trappist Beer Trail linking the abbeys of OrvalRochefort and Chimay. Slake your thirst and sample their cheese along one of two long walks (designed to be hiked in sections); the 116km Orval to Rochefort route and 174km Rochefort to Chimay.

Belgium’s only mountain stream, the Ninglinspo, boasts dramatic waterfalls, dams, ponds and rapids, all flowing around huge blocks of quartzite (we recommend taking a hiking map). Access is currently limited to locals or people renting accommodation in Aywaille, Stoumont or Theux.

River Lesse (c) Gérard Belvaux

The Lesse river in the south of Namur province offers multiple walking trails of varying length and terrain. Part of the Famenne-Ardenne geopark, the area is rich with diverse flora. The pretty villages of Bellevaux and Resteigne are good starting points with plenty of riverside cafes and gîtes.

Just outside Brussels in the Pede valley, the 7km Bruegel route is marked with reproductions of 11 paintings by the Flemish master in the landscapes that inspired his work. Start and finish at the church of Sint-Anna-Pede, which features in The Parable of the Blind. The nearby Sint-Gertrudis-Pede watermill – still working today – was a model for The Return of the Herd and The Magpie on the Gallows.

Promenade Verte, Anderlecht (c) Sally Tipper

The 60km Promenade Verte around the outskirts of Brussels opens up parts of the capital you might otherwise never visit. From the Foret de Soignes in the south to the marshes of Jette in the north, it takes in parks, fields, lakes, streams, woods, the canal, industrial and residential areas. It’s easy to follow and full of surprises – and you’re never far from a metro or railway station.

Architecture tours come naturally in Brussels, a city known for its remarkable Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings. In this true treasure trove of architectural masterpieces, there are tons of guided tours available: for example from ARAU, a citizen-founded organisation giving residents a voice in urban planning.

Picardy Wallonia in Hainaut (known locally as Wapi) contains more than 700km of signposted trails. Two nature parks, Pays des Collines and the Scheldt Plains, offer short hiking paths. While the former is a rural hilly terrain around Ellezelles, north of the region, the latter straddles the French border alongside the forest of Bon-Secours in Peruwelz.

Bulskampbeld (c) Westtoer

The Bulskampveld recreational park is just the start of a gorgeous walk through forestland in West Flanders. Start off among ponds and weeping willows as the 9km signposted walking route leads you along majestic beech trees, azalea bushes and heathland. A summer bar is your reward at the end of the journey. They barbecue a mean burger.

Choose the 7 or 8km option of the Oude Kalevallei walks – makes no difference because they’re both idyllic. The Leie river region of East Flanders is beautiful in any season, but it really comes into its own in summer. The longer walk takes you past a windmill, where the owners have a sculpture of the Alien from the movie of the same name in their garden. Only in Belgium…

More from The Bulletin's summer travel guide

  1. Walk this way: Discover Belgium on foot
  2. Get your green fix at our favourite parks, woodlands and gardens
  3. Top spots for spectacular scenery
  4. The best culture this summer is outside
  5. Monuments and memorials to remember the fallen
  6. Delve into Belgium’s rich industrial past
  7. Local food at its finest
  8. Come on in, the water’s lovely
  9. The finest spots for a summer apero
  10. Big days out for all the family
  11. Seven cycling experiences to discover
  12. Top heritage sites for a fine day out
  13. Don't miss out this summer thanks to our agenda of events in Belgium
Written by The Bulletin