A painting of blue and green; the water colours the Flanders landscape

Dender @stefaniefaveere.be 008 ©  Stefanie Faveere

When the sun shines brightly, water can provide welcome refreshment. The North Sea, proud rivers, creeks and ponds which are the blue brushstrokes that give character to our green landscape. Join us on a journey to some of Flanders' most beautiful water spots.


The North Sea

There are 67 kilometres of picturesque sandy beaches, stretching from the French to the Dutch borders. The Flemish North Sea coast is a true delight. Within a dozen districts, each with their own character, you can find vast sandy beaches, enjoy gastronomic delights as well as enjoy outdoor art and much more.

The sea is there for everyone too; from sun worshippers, those who love long walks along the shore or who like to take a refreshing dip to those who are seeking thrills in wind and water will all find what they are looking for. Surfing, paddle boarding, stand-up paddling, kiting, rafting or kayaking: the possibilities are endless. Get ready for a dose of water fun and knock on the door of one of the many beach clubs along the North Sea coast. In the meantime, if you want to delve a little deeper into the many other North Sea gems, here are a few to inspire you.


The IJzer valley

From the North Sea, it’s just a short hop to the IJzer. Indeed, near Nieuwpoort, this river flows into the North Sea. At the place where salt and fresh water meet, you find a special habitat with mudflats, salt marshes, dunes, beach and polders. Explore this area during pleasant walks through the
IJzermonding nature reserve. You can explore on your own, or under the wing of an experienced guide. You may even spot a seal along the way. 

A little further inland, in Diksmuide and its surroundings, the IJser valley is also well worth a visit. The valley not only contains many memorial sites of Flanders Fields, but also a collection of special ponds and lakes. The domain around De Blankaart is a fine example. That recognised nature reserve serves as a refuge, hunting ground, wintering area and breeding site for rare birds and is definitely worth a visit.


The Scheldt valley

The Scheldt is one of Flanders' most important lifelines. The mighty river pretty much cuts our region in half, from north to south. Along its banks there is a stunning river landscape which brings together fauna, flora, nature reserves, heritage and a village-like conviviality.

Even hundreds of years ago, the area the Scheldt flows through was already very prosperous. This made it a battleground for many powerful rulers and their challengers. In those centuries of power struggle, a number of majestic castles and fortresses sprung up along the river. Many of them are still to be found there today. There is the medieval Gravensteen in Ghent. There is Laarne Castle, one of the country's most beautiful and best-preserved moated castles. There is the 11th-century fortress Het Steen in Antwerp. And that is just a small selection of what is on offer.

Among these many castles, you can also find additional concentrations of nature. The lush Gentbrugse Meersen, a park and nature preserve that continues to evolve, provides a magnificent backdrop for a generous portion of relaxation.


The Lys region

From the mighty Scheldt, we float leisurely along to the Lys. The rivers converge in Ghent. From there, the Lys winds its way through Flanders. The blue meandering through a fresh green landscape. It is a picturesque scene which is particularly fitting for the Lys region, a region with an artistic character.

From Ghent, the Lys flows to the majestic artists’ village of Sint-Martens-Latem, home to numerous artists since time immemorial. You also find Dhondt-Dhaenens, an internationally renowned museum of contemporary and modern art. In an impressive setting, you can admire works by renowned artists such as Constant Permeke and Panamarenko. But the artistic story does not end there. Further along this river, there are still more artistic highlights. Along the Lys, cast anchor by the Roger Raveel Museum and the mudel.

An extra tip: explore this enchanting region on a boat trip. Or choose your favourite natural gem for a pleasant walk.


Kreken region, Meetjesland

Where the wind rustles your hair and the water murmurs quietly, where your worries drift away like the water off a duck’s back. The Kreken region in the Meetjesland near the Dutch border, symbolises that feeling. You will find a breathtaking landscape full of ponds, majestic rows of trees, meadows and grassy areas. Here and there, you'll come across a charming village. It is a dream destination for those who want to press the pause.

On long walks, you can immerse yourself in the landscape, but beware: you are never alone. You are surrounded by thousands of birds and other creatures. They find a dream habitat in this special wetland. Thanks to an extensive network of walking and cycling paths, you can continue to explore the abundance in the Kreken region.


De Wijers, Limburg

The same peace and serenity can also be found in Limburg. This friendly province is known for its hospitality. Its nature also feels that way. Not only do you find the Hoge Kempen National Park here, but also plenty of other natural gems. De Wijers is a great example, this is the name of the largest interconnected pond area in Belgium. It boasts 1175 ponds, accounting for 700 hectares of water and reed beds.

Eight gateways offer you the way to an unimaginable abundance of walking and cycling pleasure, heritage, nature experiences and water fun. A visit to the Wijers can easily be combined with other highlights, such as Cycling through Water. This unique cycling experience was named one of the 100 most beautiful places in the world by Time Magazine. And who are we to contradict such an institution?

Flanders' water gems: one has a name such as a hen, while another may be an unknown pearl. But all of them are worth exploring. Flanders is like a painting of green and blue, full of places where you can feel at home.

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