Scheldt castles route

Mariekerke_copyright_Stefanie Faveere
Three castles, two forts and one mighty river. The Scheldt castles route has much to offer. For an entire day, we undertake this poetic meandering journey along the river and its many assets.

Scheldt castles route



Sint-Amands_copyright Stefanie Faveere (3)

Start: Bornem Abbey

Today's starting point is Bornem Abbey, a place that breathes 400 years of history. This beautifully restored complex is definitely worth a visit, but that is for later. First we do what we came to the National Park Scheldt Valley to do: cycle. We mount our steel steeds and immediately set off into the greenery.  

Kasteel MarnixdeSainteAldegonde_copyright_Stefanie Faveere

A first castle

A few minutes later we arrive at a first highlight : Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde Castle, a magnificent castle with entrance bridge, turrets and moat. This castle houses the world’s largest private collection of engravings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the great Flemish master. In the experience centre or on one of the guided visits, you discover all the stories of this extraordinary castle.

After a first quick heritage stop, we continue our journey meandering through the greenery. And so we make our way to the banks of the mighty Scheldt. This river cuts Flanders in half; in this region it winds its way gracefully through the landscape. This helps to make the National Park Scheldt Valley a wonderful place for walking and cycling. Almost everywhere in Flanders, you can find comfortable paths along the river, free of traffic. We take our time to take in these wonderful surroundings. After an hour, we are surprised by a beautiful building on the bank of the river: De Notelaer, a neoclassical pavilion. We step inside for a moment and are overwhelmed by the beauty of this round pavilion, with wall and dome paintings of muses, griffins, sphinxes and gods (due to renovation work, the pavilion cannot be visited in 2024).

Kasteel d'Ursel (c) Jurjen Drenth

And a second

After this surprising stop, we cycle away from the water. We take a right turn and suddenly find ourselves on a stately avenue, flanked by long rows of trees. We feel like we are going back in time, as if we are clattering over the cobblestones in a graceful carriage. There is a certain grandeur in the air here, as if something is about to happen. And yes: at the end of the driveway, d’Ursel Castle looms. A beautiful moated castle in a striking ochre yellow. For nearly 400 years, this was the summer residence of a noble family. We stop for a short walk through the castle park. It is worth checking the calendar in advance: there are special events when you can also discover the castle’s impressive interior.

After a double beauty stop, we cycle on again. Soon we are making our way back to the Scheldt dyke. This takes us gently on towards the village of Weert, where peace and tranquillity reign. In this quiet area, you hear only the murmur of the Scheldt or the chirping of a bluethroat. A unique experience in the otherwise sometimes busy Flanders. And so we pedal on - on dykes, past salt marshes, mud flats and wet woodlands. 

Sint-Amands_copyright_Stefanie Faveere (4)

The most beautiful bend in the Scheldt

We cycle for kilometres with the flow of the Scheldt until the river suddenly makes an unusual twist. This spot in Sint-Amands is sometimes called the most beautiful bend in the Scheldt. A picturesque piece of Flanders that has inspired many artists throughout history. It is no coincidence that poet Emile Verhaeren chose this spot as his final resting place. His mausoleum adorns these banks, and the museum dedicated to him is just two hundred metres away.

In the meantime, we have already covered more than half of our journey. Thus it is time for a meal and a drink. We settle down on a terrace overlooking this beautiful piece of nature. A fine meal, a beautiful view, a good glass of wine. And then we are ready for part two. For this, we take a short break from the mighty Scheldt. We make our way through the villages and hamlets of the Scheldt Valley. We cycle past castle of the counts Hof te Melis, already the third castle that we have come across today.  

Mariekerke_copyright_Stefanie Faveere

Fort Liezele

From there, we head to yet another remarkable structure: Fort Liezele. This was built in the early twentieth century as part of a defensive belt around Antwerp. Later it played a role in both world wars. Today, it is home to a museum that explains the fort’s special history. It is definitely worth a visit.

As we cycle away from yet another impressive structure, we start to realise that this Scheldt castles route is gradually coming to its end. We pedal alongside the railway line for a short while, before turning right onto a narrow asphalt road. This takes us to the endpoint of the day, right across the open fields. Past Bornem Fort, we pedal back towards Bornem Abbey. That is where we started our journey a few hours earlier. The time has come to get acquainted with it too. 

Sint-Amands_copyright_Stefanie Faveere

Finish: Bornem Abbey

We park our bikes, lock them securely and step inside. A visit to this beautifully restored abbey is a nice final touch. The quiet monastery cloisters, the impressive ornate library, the tranquil abbey park: an ideal setting to let this beautiful day sink in. And to reflect on yet another new cycling adventure.




We started this route in Bornem, but it is also perfectly doable from Antwerp. There, take DeWaterbus towards the Hemiksem stop. From there this approach route takes you to the starting point of the Scheldt castles route.

  • Parking:
    Abdij van Bornem
  • Public transport:
    Station Bornem
  • Bicycles for hire:
    Fietsdeelsysteem Mobit, S&C, De Zilverreiger
  • Nodes:
    23 – 40 – 24 – 25 – 26 – 07 - 04 - 03 – 02 – 01 – 21 – 22 – 40 – 03 – 05 - 06 - 08 - 76 - 67 - 10 - 11 - 66 - 88 - 81 - 28 - 27 - 80 - 13 - 89 - 23