5 reasons to spend your summer in Flanders
What would you like to do this summer? Parade along the royal passages and beaches of Ostend like a king? Or be treated like a queen in the boutiques of Knokke? Why not take a bike ride through beautiful Flanders to a picturesque picnic spot? Or perhaps it's time to treat your ears to some delightful live music, or marvel at the artistic genius of the Flemish Masters in Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels. Finish your day enjoying a Belgian beer in the cool evening air, perhaps at one of the pop-up bars dotted across Flanders...
Sandy beaches are waiting for you, all along the Flemish coast
Flanders is home to over 40 miles of natural, sandy beaches. Let the kids loose to run around, swim, fly kites and build sandcastles - all while you relax in the sun. If you're feeling energetic, try your hand at windsurfing, enjoy a walk alongside the water or a stroll in the dunes. Explore the cafés, culture and shops in super-chic Knokke and follow in the footsteps of the King and Queen at the Royal Galleries in Ostend - but only after you've admired the bizarre beauty of the Rock Strangers art installation. Once you've done this, there's a treasure trove of little seaside towns and villages nearby, waiting for you to discover their unique secrets.
The magnificent countryside is a bike ride away
The coast isn't the only place you'll find tiny townships seeped in history. Picturesque villages with charming architecture and friendly communities are dotted throughout Flanders. And there's no better way to discover them than on a bike. There are countless cycling routes that will take you to them, but it's just as fun to follow your own route with the handy numbered and signposted cycle paths that criss-cross Flanders. If you're more interested in rolling hillsides, forests, or visiting a few medieval castles, there are even pre-defined routes that take you straight to the highlights.
Anyone who's more of a spectator is welcome to watch the cycling elite at the Schaal Sels off-road classic or the Dwars door Hageland. Aalst and Roeselare also erupt into an infectious atmosphere of excitement when they host closed-circuit races after the completion of the Tour de France every year.
Home of the arts
Worried about the weather? There's no need to be. If you have to run for cover, there's a smorgasbord of cultural delights and artwork waiting to enthral you. At the top of the list is the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Antwerp, which has a who's who of contemporary European art on display. Take a closer look at the works of innovators such as Jan Fabre, Luc Tuymans and Panamarenko. And, of course, there's nowhere better than Flanders to experience the Flemish Masters! The Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels and Ghent are bursting with works by top luminaries such as Jan van Eyck and Pieter Bruegel. Another must see is Rubenshuis. Devoted to Peter Paul Rubens, this museum is located inside his former home and workshop in Antwerp.
Enjoy the sounds of summer
Would your summer be complete without live music? Whatever genre of music you enjoy, you'll find it in Flanders where there are almost 300 festivals and concerts to choose from. Tomorrowland is a festival that's brings together hundreds of DJs from around the world to spin infectious electronic beats. The biggest rock bands in the world come together for the four-day Rock Werchter festival and anyone interested in something heavier will want to check out the Graspop Metal Meeting. Jazz Middelheim welcomes both enthusiasts and the curious to beautiful green surroundings in Antwerp, while at the Couleur Café Festival in Brussels, you'll find everything from brass bands to craft workshops and exotic restaurants. For incredible cultural diversity, make sure you drop by the Ghent Festivities. It lasts ten days (and nights), with an atmosphere that has to be experienced to be believed.
... Sit back, unwind and relax with a drink
With so much to do in Flanders every summer, you'll need time to unwind. And there's no better way to relax than with a nice cold beer. There are 1,500 different Belgian beers for you to choose from. Let your taste buds roam freely through the incredible varieties of brews found at festivals like the Belgian Beer Weekend in Brussels in early September of the Beer and Hop Festival later that month. Alternatively, check out one of the lively summer bars that pop up every year. They range from Parkkaffee in Ghent in July and the super-cool Baouzza beach terrace in Hasselt (open April to August) to the Skybar Antwerp rooftop lounge (July-August), while July sees the opening of Bar Amorse in Kortrijk, one of many riverside bars that capture the truly unique feeling of summertime in Flanders.
Story created on June 19, 2017