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Beer cycling in Flanders


Flanders Region

Belgium

In many places, you’ll see shop names with the word ‘t – in the Dutch language, the word ‘t is a contraction of the article “het”, meaning “the”.

© Havenbedrijf Antwerpen - Peter Knoop

Bruges

West Flanders

Antwerp Antwerp

Ghent East Flanders

Limburg Leuven Flemish Brabant

Hasselt

Brussels

Flanders a glance Flanders – or Vlaanderen – is the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium. It borders the Belgian region of French-speaking Wallonia to the south, as well as France to the west near the coast, and the Netherlands to the north and east. Brussels is the capital of Flanders and Belgium, where French and Dutch are spoken throughout, as well as English.

In Flanders, Dutch (technically Flemish) is spoken everywhere, with English coming in a close second.

Geographically, Flanders is generally flat, with a small coast facing the North Sea. While much of Flanders is agriculturally fertile, its cities are densely populated.

Within Flanders there are 5 provinces: West Flanders (capital: Bruges), East Flanders (capital: Ghent), Antwerp (capital: Antwerp), Flemish Brabant (capital: Leuven), and Limburg (capital: Hasselt).

During the late Middle Ages, cities such as Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels made it one of the richest and most urbanised parts of Europe. Today, Flanders is one of the most wealthy regions in Europe.


Situated at the crossroads of northern and southern Europe in the north of Belgium, the Flanders region is a unique combination of environments, history, and people. Its rich cultural heritage is evident in its six beautifully-preserved cities – Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen – with some listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Flanders was the inspiration behind the famous art movements for some 250 years, and inspired the likes of Flemish masters van Eyck, Bruegel and Rubens, whose works can be literally experienced in Flanders. Fast forward to today, and the Flemish innovation has given rise to cutting edge architecture – from the spires of the Antwerp Law Courts to the contemporarymedieval Ghent City Pavilion, it’s easy to see why architours are popular. Perhaps Flanders is more famous for its gastronomic offerings – exquisite chocolates can be found on almost every street, and the sweet aroma of warm waffles wafts in the air. Mussels and frieten (fries) are also popular, and are perfect with a pint, or two, of Belgian beer. In Flanders, they take beer very seriously, and each region has its own special brew. Another characteristic of Flanders – bicycles are everywhere. From the cities to the suburbs, on road bikes or city bikes, Flanders is where cycling is as natural as walking.


Brussels The political heart of Flanders and Belgium, cosmopolitan Brussels is also home to NATO and countless European institutions, representing the microcosm of people around the world. The city is divided into the Upper Town and Lower Town. The Upper Town, once home to the Francophile ruling class, is a stately area featuring wide avenues and grand architecture of the 19th century. This is in contrast to the populous, bustling Lower Town with its network of narrow, cobbled lanes dotted with a mix of buildings, from Baroque churches to Art Nouveau stores.

The Atomium: Built for the 1958 World Fair, it represents a unit cell of an iron crystal. The exhibition halls and restaurants are worth a visit. Grand Palace: This 17th-century cobblestoned UNESCO site is home to gilded buildings and gothic towers. Manneken Pis: The crown jewel is this cheeky little fellow who has been peeing since 1618. Adding to that are Het Zinneke (a peeing dog) and Jeanneke Pis (a peeing girl). © Milo Profi

Beguinage: The whitewashed houses of the Bruges beguinage, founded in 1245 once housed single women; now they’re inhabited by Benedictine nuns. Windmills: Visit four of the surviving windmills (out of 30). Walk or cycle to Sint-Janshuis Mill and Koelewei Mill which are open to visitors. Craft beer: Sample Brugse Zot, the only city-brewed beer, at De Halve Maan (which brews it), or at craft beer bars like ‘t Brugs Beertje.

© Sarah Bauwens

Bruges In UNESCO-listed Bruges (Brugge), you can cross countless stone bridges over picturesque canals where gondolas prevail. Everywhere you look, the architecture overwhelms – from the ornate City Hall to Market Square’s gold gabled buildings that are towered over by a leaning belfry; here, you can climb the 366 narrow steps for a breathtaking view of town. Contemplate silence in the courtyard of the beguinage (an enclosed community), taste some of Bruges’ famous chocolates, or drop by De Halve Maan brewery (est. 1856) to taste the local beer, Brugse Zot.


Central Station: First used in 1905, the station is one of the finest examples of railway architecture in the world. Antwerp port: The Kieldrecht Lock is the largest lock in the world, and visitors can explore this gigantic port area by boat, or by bicycle along the various trails. The Underpass: The Sint-Anna tunnel (built in 1933) takes you under the river Scheldt to Sint-Anna beach. Access to the tunnel is via original wooden escalators.

Antwerp Antwerp is a hub of some of the biggest names in fashion thanks to the reputation of avant-garde designers known as the ‘Antwerp Six’. For a bit of luxury, visit the high fashion boutiques in the Sint-Andries neighborhood or one of hundreds of diamond ateliers in the famous diamond district; it’s said that the “Antwerp cut” gives the diamonds more sparkle. A huge port city, Antwerp is also an architectural treasure trove – from the Renaissanceera Town Hall to Zaha Hadid’s Port House, it’s a city for architours.

Ghent

Graffiti Alley: The walls of the Werregarenstraat are designated for graffiti – walk through this colourful alley to enjoy a unique street art experience. ‘t Dreupelkot: Sample some of the 200 varieties of genevers on the menu. Genever, made from juniper berries, is the centuries-old predecessor to gin. Patershol: This medieval warren of streets is home to many brick buildings, and today, it’s one of the prettiest culinary neighbourhoods in Ghent.

Divided into two quarters – the Historical Centre and the Arts Quarter – Ghent has an overwhelming collection of splendid architecture. It’s got a medieval castle, countless grand churches, and canals lined with Gothic buildings like Vleeshuis and Sint-Baafs. The best time to see them is at night, when these buildings are illuminated to create a theatrical effect; start from Sint-Michiels bridge and follow the waterfront north. Ghent is also a foodie haven thanks to the arrival of the Flemish Foodies, a posse of ferocious young chefs; every Thursday is official veggie day.


The 4Bs of Belgium As Flanders is blessed with a unique cultural heritage, it is home to no less than seven UNESCO listings. Brussels has a number of heritage sites, including the Grand Place, Victor Horta’s Art Nouveau architectural masterpieces, and the Art Nouveau Stoclet Palace. Antwerp’s Plantin-Moretus Museum (the only UNESCO museum in the world) features old printing presses and an impressive library. Perhaps the most distinctive UNESCO properties in Flanders are the four ‘Bs’: beer, beguinages, belfries, and Bruges. Beer: Listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Belgian beers date back centuries when monks started brewing them. There are about 1,500 types of beer, ranging from deep red to golden blond and dark brown, brewed using many different fermentation techniques. Beguinages: In the Middle Ages, beguinages were quiet communities that functioned as enclosed villages – built in typical Flemish style – for religious widows and women who supported themselves through manual labour. Beguinages are scattered throughout Flanders.

© www.milo-profi.be

Belfries: Belfries across Flanders are listed as heritage sites because of their significant value; they have stood for the power, influence, and wealth of the cities since the Middle Ages. Architectural styles range from Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque. Bruges: Filled with traditional buildings and cobbled streets, a trip to the medieval city of Bruges is like a trip back in time. Adding to the charm are a network of enchanting canals where you can stumble upon quiet houses or grand churches.


© www.milo-profi.com

The fifth B: biking The Flemish are fanatic about cycling: there are cycling monuments, museums, and cycle-friendly hotels and bars. From cities to countrysides and motorways, on road bikes, city bikes or mountain bikes, everyone gets around on them. In cities, locals get around on city bikes, but on the weekends, they slap on their cycling tights for long-distance weekend cycling jaunts – it’s a great way to explore castles, churches, and historic sites as you cycle past meandering tree-lined canals or green meadows. There are miles of bike trails – over 100 themed cycle loops and 12,000kms of cycling routes – that take you through the Flemish landscape. The Flemish are huge fans of cycle races (there are 2,000 races per year!), the granddaddy of which is the Tour of Flanders, which is a tough UCI WorldTour race featuring cobblestoned hills that are characteristic of Flanders. You can tackle part of the Tour of Flanders route which consists of three cycling paths in the Flemish Ardennes – cobblestoned hills and all – and time yourself (borrow a free chip to register your time from the Tour of Flanders Centre in Oudenaarde). High-end racing bikes are available for rent. Serious cyclists covet the title ‘Flandrien’, as it refers to a road racer who excels on typical Flemish terrain – steep cobbled climbs, trecherous descents, and wet weather. The ‘Flandrien of the Year’ is an annual award presented by a Flemish newspaper to the best Belgian cyclist of the year.

© Steven Ledoux Cycling on cobblestones is as common as beer and fries, and are part of life in Flanders. Flemish bicycle manufacturer, Ridley Bikes, has a range of racing bikes tested on cobblestone (pavé), suited for racing on cobblestones. You can try out what it’s like to race on cobblestones at the Tour of Flanders Centre.


Frothy Flanders In West Flanders around the Westhoek and Poperinge regions, you can find hop farms that resemble hanging gardens of vine. Hop farmers like ‘t Hoppecruyt grow many varieties of hop, offering farm tours (popular in spring and September). Some farmers grow hops specifically for hop shoots, a Belgian delicacy.

With a reputation for specialty beers since the Middle Ages, Flanders is home to the world’s highest number of microbreweries per capita. Forget IPAs here – with about 1,500 varieties of beer, you can try strong Trappist brews, sour lambics and geuze, or sweet kriek (cherry-flavoured) beer, alongside more familiar pilsners and blonde ales. Belgian beer is generally higher in alcohol content. You can get dubbel (6%-9% abv), tripel (7.5%-10% abv), or quadrupel (10%-13% abv) beers which are represented by the number of stars on beer labels. While there’s a huge range of beers on tap (served only in their own specific glasses), many famous beers are only available in bottles since they’re bottle-fermented. Barley, yeast, hops. These ingredients produce a wide variety of flavours based on their fermentation methods. Typical Flemish beers use spontaneous or mixed fermentation.

Low/bottom fermentation

High/top fermentation

Spontaneous fermentation

Mixed fermentation

Brewed at 5º-10ºC

Brewed at 15º-25ºC

No yeast is added; hopped worts are cooled in natural air to be ‘infected’ by wild yeast

Top fermented beer is aged in oak barrels for at least 1.5 years, and mixed with younger beer

Produces a light-tasting beer with stable flavour

Produces fruity or spicy flavours for specialty beers

Produces generally sour beers

Produces reddish-brown beers that are not bitter

Alcohol 4.5%-5.5%

Alcohol 2.5%-13%

Alcohol 5%-7%

Alcohol 4.5%-8%

Pilsner

Huge variety including Trappist, bière brut, kriek beer, etc

Lambic, geuze or oude (aged lambic beers)

Flemish sour ale (oud bruin)


Unique Belgian Beers Top fermented

Fruit beer

Trappist (6%-13% abv): Brewed by one of six Trappist breweries – Westmalle, Westvleteren, Achel, Chimay, Orval and Rochefort. Sales proceeds from the beer are meant to cover the monks’ expenses, and what remains are donated to charity.

Kriek Bier (2.5%-6%): Popular thirst quenchers or for those who don’t like beer, these are traditionally made with sour cherries steeped (or macerated) in young beer for a few months. Kriek can be sweet (like Liefmans Cuvée Brut), or sour when based on lambic beer. Other fruits like raspberry or banana are also used to make fruit beers.

Bière Brut (11%-11.5% abv): Aged like champagne in 75cl bottles which are regularly rotated until all the yeast collects in the neck. The yeast is then frozen and removed, and the bottle is topped up, resulting in a very sparkling blond or dark beer (like Malheur Brut).

Spontaneous & Mixed Flemish Sour Ale (4.5%- 8% abv): Either red or brown ales aged in oak, blended with younger beer. The lactic fermentation from oak aging turns the beer into something like aged wine. Flemish Red Ales are typical of southern West Flanders, while Flemish Brown Ales are of the Oudenaarde region. Lambic (5%-6% abv): A flat, sour wheat beer fermented with airborne yeast and aged in wooden barrels. Geuze (5%-7% abv): Blended young and old lambic re-fermented in the bottle creates sparkling geuze beer. Oude Geuze uses lambic aged for at least 3 years, while Oude Geuze with added sour cherries are called Oude Kriek.

Vessels Some beers are served in their own specialised glasses made to enhance their flavours, and locals insist they get it right. Some breweries make their own uniquely-shaped glasses, like Kwak’s wooden-handled glass, or Wilderen’s extra wide short glass.

Chalice/Goblet For Trappist beers; designed to help a beer maintain head, and allows the drinker to take deep sips.

Tulip The curvy shape allows for big foamy heads while aromas are enhanced; ideal for strong brews.

Flute The long body enhances and showcases the beer carbonation, and releases aromas fast.

Stange This tall, slim, up-anddown glass allows for a tighter concentration of aroma ideal for delicate or sour beers.


Cycle trails – or fietsroutes – are marked with numbered markers at junctions, so to follow an itinerary, simply follow the numbers on the map. Some trails are also signposted with route names, like Trappistenroute.

Westmalle Bruges

Antwerp East Flanders

West Flanders Poperinge

Leuven Flemish Brabant

Oudenaarde

Limburg

Antwerp

Ghent

Hasselt

Brussels Geuze Route

Beer Cycling The Flemish are passionate about cycling and beer, and combining the two is a practical way to get from pint A to pint B. Whether you’re a serious cyclist tackling the cobblestone hills of the Tour of Flanders, or a leisure cyclist wanting to explore the Flemish countryside, there is always a brewery – or a few – that you can quench your thirst at. Beer cycling routes are a popular way to visit breweries and cafés where you can sample local beers and cuisine. From West Flanders to Limburg, cycle past Trappist monasteries, historic breweries, hop fields, and beer museums as you explore the countryside or historic sites along the way. Each region has its specialty brew and attractions; if you’re looking at multi-day tours, plenty of B&Bs and hotels are bike-friendly. Check out the relevant regional visitor’s centre and grab a beer route map. With an infinite number of cycle paths, you can either follow a designated route or create your own route. There are many online tools where you can search for routes or tailor them to your liking (ie. with a lot of climbs, dotted with breweries, etc). Create your own route: www.routeyou.com

Check out ready-made routes: www.fietsroute.org

Beer Routes Antwerp Westmalle Trappist Route (44km) This route passes the Trappist abbeys of Westmalle and Brecht, through farmland and along a canal. The abbeys and brewery are closed to visitors, but the nearby Café De Trappisten serves Westmalle beers on tap. Visit the impressive 15th century Renesse Castle along the way. Highlight: Westmalle Trappist abbey (founded in 1794) brews the famous Westmalle Dubbel (7%) and Tripel (9.5%). Only 250 cafés in Flanders are allowed to serve them on tap.


West Flanders Poperinge (70km) Poperinge is Belgium’s capital of hops, and this cycle route from town takes you through hop farms and the Hop Museum where you can learn more about the plant. Scattered throughout are tangible memories of WWI – a number of war memorials line the route – as Poperinge was an army gateway to the battlefields of Ypres. What’s most legendary about this route is that it also passes 5 breweries, including the legendary St. Sixtus de Westvleteren and St. Bernadus. Highlight: St. Sixtus brews the ridiculously hardto-find Westvleteren 12; you can drink it at a café across the road in limited quantity, but its brewery is closed to the public.

Flemish Brabant Geuze Route (38km) The Geuze Route takes you through the hilly farm region of Pajottenland and the Senne valley which is famous for lambic and geuze beer. You’ll pass breweries of 3 Fonteinen, Oud Beersel, and Hanssens Artisanaal, a geuze blender. End at ‘De Lambiek’ visitors’ centre to learn about lambics. The longer Lambic Route (80km) takes in six more breweries, as well as impressive castles like Beersel, Gaasbeek, and Groot-Bijgaarden. Highlight: Hanssens Artisanaal is the oldest and only independent geuze blender in the world; they only blend – not brew – beers. Blenders have an important role in the history of lambic beers.

East Flanders Oudenaarde Bruin Route (31km) Surrounded by the hills of the Flemish Ardennes, this region is popular for sport cycling as part of the Tour of Flanders route. This circular hilly ride features cobblestone climbs that Flanders is famous for, as it takes you through small villages, picturesque countryside, and passes 4 breweries: Roman, Smisje, Cnudde and Liefmans (open to public). Sample brown beers at cafes en route. Highlight: Liefmans (now part of Duvel) is 300 years old, and brews the popular Liefmans Goudenband, an oud bruin. The brewery was once run by Belgium’s first female brewmaster, Rosa Merckx, the legendary creator of the Goudenband, the company’s bestseller.

Limburg Hasselt-Haspengouw (131km) This route takes you from historic Hasselt through the largest fruit region in Western Europe: Haspengouw. Amidst blossoming orchards are several craft breweries – De Dool (set in a 16th century castle), the tiny Den Toetëlèr, Jessenhofke (organic beer), Kerkom (set in an old coaching inn), and Wilderen, a restored brewery with roots back to 1642. Not to be missed is Herkenrode, a gorgeous 13th century abbey. Highlight: Wilderen brews the popular Kanunnik Triple, a 4-grain beer brewed with oats and sometimes rye. They also brew whisky and gin, as well as Eau-de-Bière (beer liquor).

© Toerisme Pajottenland & Zennevallei

© Toerisme Hasselt


Did you know...? Capital of beer Leuven in Flemish Brabant is Belgium’s beer capital, home to the Stella Artois brewery and about 30, often artisanal, breweries. The Pajottenland region is also the birthplace of unique lambic beers.

Archeological brewery The Bocholt Brewery is the largest brewery museum in Europe, and the oldest brewery in Limburg province. Housed in the historic brewer’s mansion of the Martens family, it’s now in the hands of the eighth generation. Established since 1758, it was predominantly known for its ‘Seizoens’, a regional beer which is gold in colour, with striking hop flavours.

Most expensive veggie Hop shoots are the most expensive vegetables in the world – about €1,000 per kilo – because of their limited availability and labour-intensive harvesting method. You can try them in Poperinge, the Belgian hop capital, in spring.

Women in brewing

Grandaddy of gin

Rosa Merckx is legendary in the brewing world – she was Belgium’s first female brewmaster, and was largely responsible for the current sweet-and-sour taste of Goudenband. Rosa started out at Liefmans in 1946 as a secretary, and soon was in charge of the brewery for 40 years. Her signature adorns the wrappers of the Liefmans Goudenband and Cuvée Brut, and her portrait is featured on the label of Liefmans Fruitesse.

Flanders also produces jenever, which is distilled with juniper berries similar to gin. The city of Hasselt is the centre of jenever, where you can sample it free on the third weekend in October. Alternatively, try one of hundreds of varieties at a jenever bar.

Another female pioneer is Annick Desplenter, founder of Gruut brewery in Ghent, who is spearheading the production of beers brewed with herbs based on recipes dating back to the Middle Ages. The unique flavours of Ghent Gruut beers stem from the fact that they are brewed without hops.

Most sought-after beer The St. Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren brews 3 types of beer: 6, 8, and 12, all of which are limited edition. The 12 is the most sought-after (and elusive), as you can only get it at the abbey. First, you need to pre-order over the phone and if successful (chances are 1%2%), you will need to provide a licence number of the vehicle you’ll collect with, ensuring nobody gets to buy their beer too often. After checking available pickup slots, each person is allowed 2 crates of 24 bottles. The monks frown on buyers selling to third parties – this is because the proceeds are strictly for the upkeep of the abbey, and any extra has to go to charity. Another way to try the Westvleteren 12 is at the café ‘In de Vrede’, the only establishment on earth to serve it on tap.

The ‘bolleke’ Antwerp is the home of De Koninck brewery, whose beers are served in a ‘bolleke’ (referring to its signature goblet glass). In Antwerp dialect, just order a “Bolleke Keuning”.

Beer events Leuven Beer Weekend

Tour de Geuze

Belgian Beer Weekend

Sample 500 different beers by 100 different brewers, with workshops, beer walks around Leuven beer routes, and beer tastings.

A biennial event where lambic breweries and gueuze blending houses are open to the public, with sampling of lambic, gueuze, and kriek beers. The next event is in 2019.

The event celebrates Belgian beers – blond beers, white beers, amber-coloured beers, fruit beers and strong beers – in the historic Grote Markt.

April | Leuven

May | Flemish Brabant

September | Brussels


Two wheel journeys Flanders is full of quiet cycle lanes that criss cross its pastoral landscape, which is dotted with villages and the odd mansion or abbey. You can explore the landscape following themes – from chateaus to WWI sites – or by length. Peace Cycle Route (WWI sites) Ypres, West Flanders | 45km The route explores the arch-shaped frontline which enclosed Ypres on three sides during WWI, and is filled with gripping reminders of the area’s historic battles as you cycle past military cemeteries. It passes through pleasant countryside and locations of great significance for the armies of both sides. Castle Route (castles) Destelbergen, East Flanders | 48km The route takes you through meadows and past beautiful scenery where magnificent chateaus, built by rich industrialists of the last century, stand. These country houses and castles line the banks of the river Scheldt, with the star attraction being the medieval Laarne castle, a moated fortress. Eddie Merckx Route (Tour of Flanders) Kluisbergen, East Flanders | 45km This circuit starts in Ruien and is very much a Tour of Flanders experience that includes climbs up the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, Kluisberg and Hotondberg. The ride takes you through beautiful countryside like the Kluisbos forest.

From 1914-1918, Flanders Fields was the dramatic scene of the bloodiest battles of WWI, where a million soldiers from over 50 countries were wounded, killed or went missing in action; entire cities and villages were destroyed beyond recognition. Today, the landscape of the region tells the story of the war through hundreds of monuments and cemeteries. In Ypres, visit the informative Flanders Fields Museum and the Menin Gate, etched with names of the fallen, where buglers have been playing the Last Post every night at 8pm since 1928.


Classic Dishes

Mussels and fries come in plenty of varieties, some prepared with beer, served with Belgian fries.

Stoemp, a simple Brussels dish, is a mash of potatoes and vegetables, often served with sausages.

Flanders and food Flanders is a foodie’s paradise. Each region has its unique local specialty, from konijn met pruimen (rabbit stew) to paardenfilet (horse steak) and mattentaart (cheese tart). There are also classic Flemish dishes that can be found throughout the region. In spring, hop shoots (the most expensive vegetable in the world) are eaten raw or served warm with a creamy sauce. Tender white asparagus (or ‘white gold’) is typically served boiled or steamed with hollandaise sauce.

Waterzooi (or Gentse Waterzooi) is a classic stew with fish or more commonly, chicken, served in creamy broth with vegetables like carrots, leeks and potatoes.

In autumn, endives (chicory) are prepared au gratin with cheese and ham, while Brussels sprouts are served boiled or steamed and sautéed with butter. Flanders also produces over 20 types of cheese, from hard cheeses to blue-veined cheeses and soft cheeses, including aged abbey cheeses produced by Trappist monks. Not surprisingly, there are restaurants specialising in ‘beer gastronomy’, featuring dishes made with beer (like some stews and mussels), or even hop shoots. It’s common to find restaurants that suggest beers, rather than wine, to pair with your course. Many breweries also house restaurants so you can pair your food with beer from the source.

Stoofvlees is a typical beer-braised beef stew, prepared in many ways, with many different types of beers.

With 97 Michelin-starred restaurants, Flanders has the highest number of Michelin stars per capita in Europe. Young chefs like The Flemish Foodies and Flanders Kitchen Rebels are partly to thank for bringing experimental flavours to the kitchen while staying true to traditional roots.


Famous in Flanders Everyone knows about Belgium’s famous chocolates and waffles. These sweet offerings can be found on almost every street, in any city throughout Flanders. Belgian chocolates have a higher cocoa content than most other chocolates, using 100% cocoa butter. Famous brands like Godiva and Leonidas are everywhere, but there many more small scale, luxury brands: ‘The Chocolate Line’ showcases ingredients like smoked eel and cauliflower; ‘Mary’ was the first woman to pioneer Belgian chocolates in 1919; and Pierre Marcolini is synonymous with expensive chocolates. A visit to their shops is an experience in itself. There are two variants of waffles served in Flanders: Brussels and Liège. Brussels waffles are generally light, thick and crispy with bigger squares and traditionally dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Liège waffles are softer and chewier and don’t have angular sides; flavourful enough to be eaten without toppings, they’re commonly served by street vendors. Another popular food in Flanders are fries (frieten in Flemish), traditionally served in a paper cone, with a crispy texture obtained from double frying. The Flemish eat this regularly as comfort food. You can get them at a frietkot (fries stand) or frituur (frieten shop) where there’s a variety of dipping sauces (including the ubiquitous mayonnaise), along with snacks like chicken leg, sausages, or the famous Bicky Burger.

In every city, you’ll find street food trucks with chefs specialising in just one dish. From snails and shrimp croquettes to waffles to frieten, these food trucks are a part of Flanders’ rich culinary culture.


Getting There By Air Belgium’s main international airport is Brussels National Airport, which has plenty of connections to destinations in Europe and the world via airlines like Brussels Airlines, KLM, Swiss, Lufthansa, and Emirates. From the airport, there are train shuttle services that connect to Brussels (20 minutes) and Antwerp (35 minutes); buy your ticket before boarding to avoid a surcharge. By Train Major European cities like London, Paris, or Amsterdam are less than 2 hours away by train. Within Flanders, the train network connects its major cities and rail travel is generally quicker than driving: Brussels - Antwerp: 47 mins / 50 mins by car Brussels - Bruges: 56 mins / 80 mins by car Brussels - Ghent: 31 mins / 50 mins by car Ghent - Antwerp: 55 mins / 50 mins by car Ghent - Bruges: 27 mins / 50 mins by car Bruges - Antwerp: 85 mins / 80 mins by car By Car If you’re planning to drive in Belgium, take note that Antwerp has a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) which means only vehicles that meet their emissions standards are allowed inside the zone.

www.visitflanders.com

Sports+Travel Special: Beer Cycling in Flanders  

An introduction to beer and cycling in Flanders, in addition to other travel tips to this region of Belgium.