Flax Lys cycle route

Vlasleieroute_DeGavers (c) Kris Jacobs
Kortrijk is a bustling city on the River Lys. On this tour, we discover the city’s rich flax and textile past while we are guided by the contours of the river. Whistling happily, we set off on a cycling adventure through a southern part of West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders).

Flax Lys cycle route



Vlasleieroute_Broeltorens_Kortrijk (c) Kris Jacobs

Start: Kortrijk

Kortrijk carries with it a centuries-old history, but at the same time it exudes a trendy vibe. You often experience this in the summer on Nelson Mandelaplein. It is then a time when all kinds of open-air concerts can be enjoyed. For us today, the square fulfils a different function. It is the starting point of our Flax Lys cycling tour. We will keep the urban enticements of Kortrijk for later, first we are going cycling. We set off and pedal away from the city. We cross the bridge and soon join up with the Lys. This river runs through the city like a lifeline. At the same time, it is the common thread for our cycling adventure through the south of the province of West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders).  

In the blink of an eye, we find ourselves on a standalone cycle path. And soon that turns into a road entirely free of motor vehicles. And so, we cycle on without a care in the world. This route takes us through Koning Albert Park and its proud, 100-year-old Wingnut tree. At the edge of the park, the banks of the river have been lowered so that you can relax by the water. A nice place, but right now we do not need to rest. Via this oasis, we move further away from Kortrijk. The bustling life there is something we will discover later.

Vlasleieroute_terrasje (c) Kris Jacobs

Cycling history

As we continue to follow the River Lys, we see two place names that ring a bell: Kuurne and Harelbeke. As dedicated cycling fans, our hearts leap. Indeed, these places are the start and finish locations of two historic spring classics; Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and E3 Saxo Classic respectively. Whole chapters of cycling history have already been written here. Smiling, we continue on our way along the water. In Harelbeke, we say a temporary goodbye to the Lys.

After a few hundred metres straight ahead, we end up by the church in Bavikhove. Those looking to rest their legs for a while can do so here with a snack and/or drink. But we are still full of energy and continue onwards. A cosy little road in the middle of the greenery leads us right past an old retting house, a place where people used to grow and process flax. The retting house has long since ceased to be used but is a reminder of the flax and textile industry, which had enormous historical significance for the region. In Kortrijk itself, we will soon get to know more about this fascinating history.  

Vlasleieroute_OudeLeiearm (c) Kris Jacobs

Magnificent views

But first, we pedal on through the green fields until we reach the water again. Here and there we apply the brakes and take our phones out of our pockets. The vistas along the old arms of the Lys make for beautiful pictures. After this brief photo break, we cycle on. Via the bridge, we make a 180-degree turn, ending up on the right bank of the Lys. At this point, we set calm our minds once again. We simply follow this beautiful river back to our starting point: the City of the Golden Spurs. Kortrijk owes this nickname to the legendary Battle of the Golden Spurs, which was fought here in 1302. By the way, that history is explained in detail in the heritage house 1302 where you can witness a breathtaking sound and light show.

But before we are back in the city again, we want to make one more stop. We veer away from the Lys for a while and make a diversion through De Gavers. This nature and recreation domain of nearly 200 hectares has a lot going for it. Do you like walking, swimming, playing, kayaking, sailing, surfing or stand-up paddle boarding? If so, De Gavers will be ideal for you. Nature lovers can find what they are looking for in the viewing huts, the bee site or the arboretum. 

Vlasleieroute_BudaBeach_Kortrijk (c) Kris Jacobs

Finish: Kortrijk

After this last stop, we enter the final kilometres of our journey. Here, once again, we rely on the water. The traffic-free towpath along the canal takes us back to Kortrijk. The lively, hip Buda Island with its cafes, shops and the Buda arts centre welcomes us back to the city. We get off our bikes, lock them securely, and begin with the epilogue to our bike ride.  

Along the way, we caught a glimpse of this region’s textile past. We now want to know more about that. Texture, a museum of flax and textiles in the heart of the city, tells that story in full. Afterwards, we catch the sunset at the pleasantly lowered Leieboorden in the heart of the city. We will satisfy our hunger and thirst later on the terraces on Buda Island. A fine ending to a fine day of cycling! 



Practical information

  • Parking:
    Parking P9 Kortrijk Weide 
  • Public transport:
    Station Kortrijk
  • Bicycles for hire:
    Blue Bike (station), Mobiel
  • Nodes:
    10 > 28 >35 > 26 > 24 > 29 > 23 > 69 > 59 > 71 > 16 > 58 > 76 > 70 > 80 > 84 > 54 > 60 > 40 > 44 > 56 > 45 > 46 > 6 > 66 > 27 > 88 > 93 > 10 
    You can also follow the Flax Lys cycle route signage or use the gpx.