Cycling from Leuven: Meerdaal route

Starting out from art and university city Leuven, we discover the National Park Forests of Brabant. After a journey through the beautiful greenery, we return to the historic heart of Leuven.

Cycling from Leuven: Meerdaal route




Start: Leuven

We begin in the heart of historic Leuven. We are standing close to the Grote Markt and in the proverbial shadow of the neo-Gothic town hall. We are in the midst of a wealth of heritage. Leuven has a lot to offer in this regard. We will look at that in more detail later. But first: cycling!


A university castle

We jump on our bikes and make our way towards the city’s restful outskirts. The cobblestones and paving of the historic centre soon turn into a perfectly flat asphalt road. From here, our surroundings become ever greener. Before we realise it, the city is behind us and we are cycling through Arenberg Park. One of the many campuses of KU Leuven is situated in this wonderfully green domain on the edge of the city. Leuven is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities. Also on this site: Arenberg Castle. The lords of Heverlee built a castle here sometime in the 14th century. Over the centuries, it has taken on various forms. It got its current, neo-Gothic form in the 19th century. It is worthy of admiration.


A journey of discovery through the National Park Forests of Brabant

From there, we pedal on towards the rural belt around the city. Along the Dyle, we dive into the Egenhovenbos forest. There we pass a charming birdwatching spot and the Onument, a memorial site on the banks of the river Voer.  

We are now cycling in the region south of Leuven. This area is made up of several forests, such as the Meerdaalwoud, the Heverleebos and the Egenhovenbos. Those lovely stretches of greenery, together with some other (ancient) gems such as the Sonian Forest and the Hallerbos form one imposing whole: the National Park Forests of Brabant.

Via Zoet Water, a recreation park where children can romp freely, we get to know this natural beauty up close. At the Steenbergen chapel, we fill our drinking bottles with water from the Minnebron. And we could use a sip now, bearing in mind what is coming next. For kilometres, we cycle carefree through the green opulence. The towering trees cast shadows on our faces. Only the chirping of birds and the crunch of the gravel under our tyres disturb the silence. From the observation tower at De Torenvalk, we take in the hallowed tranquillity from a different perspective. The National Park reveals its secrets and we are to witness them.

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The historic abbey

After a dozen bracing kilometres through the lush forests, our journey starts to take us back towards the inhabited world. We can once again glide over the delightfully smooth asphalt. This leads us effortlessly to a remarkable place: Park Abbey. This is the best preserved abbey site in our country. Nestled in a tranquil green area, the farmlands and abbey buildings tell a captivating history. A visit immerses you in the history of the abbey and the Norbertine order. PARCUM, a museum dedicated to religion, art and culture, adds another layer to this experience. Park Abbey is a substantial piece of heritage in the finale to our journey. Yet, we have not seen the last highlight. 

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Finish: Leuven

In the meantime, we are once again just a stone’s throw away from splendid Leuven. The entire city is a treasure trove of heritage, history and art. Take, for example, Museum M Leuven. And the paintings of Grand Master Dieric Bouts in St Peter’s Church. And do not forget the town hall and its impressive façade, which features 235 unique statues. And that is only the beginning. Our hunger for heritage urgently needs to be satisfied. And if any thirst remains after that, we can quench that too. The Oude Markt, with all its pubs, is sometimes called the longest bar in Europe. Just keep a spot free for us.    



Practical information

  • Parking:
    Reception area the Torenvalk and Parking Station Leuven 
  • Public transport:
    Leuven Station 
  • Bicycles for hire: 
    Velo Fietspunt Leuven
  • Nodes
    10 > 74 > 75 > 13 > 2 > 1 > 79 > 78 > 82 > 76 > 70 > 75 > 73 > 11 > 10