Local Travelling: Belgium

It is still very unlikely that Belgians will be able to travel abroad this summer. In this article, Sphere Travel Club reveals the best plans for this summer in Belgium, in two of the country’s most popular destinations: the Belgian coast and the Ardennes. 

Article by: Viviana Piccolo

For two months now, Belgians, and the rest of Europe as well, have been confined in their homes. Given the current situation and the evolution of the strict rules imposed on the population, most of the destinations that make us dream are likely to be inaccessible this summer. What if it was an opportunity to finally discover our region and “travel local”? 

Until now, the government has only allowed Belgians to travel within their own municipality, if not for essential journeys – such as essential purchases in shops and for work. From this week, phase 2 of the lockdown begins and some museums, schools and other shops will be able to open under strict measures. It is therefore only from 8 June at the earliest, and if all measures are respected, that the question of travelling abroad, or to a second home, will be considered. 

The Ardennes in Wallonia

According to a poll conducted by Minister De Bue, a quarter of Belgians intend to plan their holidays in Wallonia this summer. B&Bs and other inns in the region have already seen a 125 percent increase in bookings. Although the beaches are on the other side of the country, the Ardennes are too often forgotten and are an ideal destination for nature lovers and family holidays.

As many have realised, outdoor sports and especially kayaking are now allowed in Belgium. If you’ve never done it before or if you want to spend a nice day with your family in the fresh air, what could be better than kayaking down the river Lesse? On a 12-kilometre, or 21-kilometre descent for the more sporty ones, you will cross a nature park and discover the surroundings of the Lesse, such as the medieval castles of the Ardennes, while having fun on the water. If the nearby restaurants are closed, why not have a picnic on one of the pebble beaches along the river?

For those looking for relaxation and rest, or on rainy Belgian summer days, head to the charming town of Spa, well known for its mineral-rich thermal waters. Climb to the top of the hill overlooking the town by lift to reach the Spa thermal baths. Relax in front of the nature-facing bay windows of the Fagnes, in hot mineral water baths or in the multiple hydromassage facilities offered by the indoor and outdoor swimming pool. In addition to the exceptional waters, you will also have access to numerous saunas, hammams and relaxation areas in addition to the body treatments available upon reservation. 

In the heart of the green Ardennes, Redu, a village of books, will take you on a journey like in a fairy tale. About fifteen bookstores over two kilometres will offer you all styles of books that there can be. Some events are also organised in the village, such as book workshops or art exhibitions.

Of course, the must-see in the Ardennes is the Han Caves. Considered to be among the most beautiful in Europe, these century-old caves have been impressing visitors for years. But don’t forget to visit the animal park, where you might see the brown bear among the 600 other protected species visible on this walking safari. In addition, on Friday evenings, a night market is held in Han City, where many local producers will let you taste their food and drinks. 

For the more dreamy, fly into the Euro Space Center. Shows, exhibitions or the planetarium, this space center has something to impress young and old alike and help you discover the mysteries of our universe. 

Finally, for those who prefer to see the stars in their plates, here are a few gastronomic addresses in the area:

  • Le Concept Gourmand, in the city of Ciney, in a design setting and a bistronomic cuisine with local market products;
  • L’Adresse, in Bastogne, for a tasty cuisine and a warm decor; 
  • Les Plats de la Canaille de la Bleue Maison, our favorite in Habay! An idyllic setting, we recommend you on sunny days on the hotel’s terrace, where you can taste all the specialities of the region, revisited in an exceptional gastronomic sauce.

If you own a second home, register now on Sphere Travel Club to have access to one of the properties located in the Ardennes and which may be your ideal holiday destination for this summer!

Hillside Cottage, Ciney.

The Old Knokke in Flanders

For beach and cocktail lovers, the Belgian coast is the place for you. Knokke is not only the ultimate seaside destination for Belgians, but also the place where their childhood memories reborn. Visit the old Knokke market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings; enjoy sumptuous cocktails on the terraces of the many bars and beach clubs along the shore; cycle to the Dutch border. In short, get away from it all and let yourself be surprised by the many activities in the country and don’t forget to take a ride on a Cuistax before leaving! 

Of course, if the Belgian coast is popular during the summer it is thanks to its beaches and its summer atmosphere. Stroll with your feet in the water and breathe the beneficial iodized air, or for the brave ones, swim in the refreshing water. The Westhoek nature reserve, also known as “The Little Sahara” is a must-see in the region: dunes as far as the eye can see, signposted paths and wilderness.

Similarly, the Zwin, Belgium’s first nature reserve, is the main attraction on the Belgian coast. As an example of sustainable management, this area is inspiring both architecturally and for its nature. Discover the thousands of birds in this reserve ready to take off for other destinations and the atypical flora of this area. 

For the more nocturnal, the Grand Casino Middelkerke will offer you something to entertain you with continuous new games, evening events and its restaurant with refined dishes. 

Gastropolis of the Belgian coast here are a few secret addresses of the area that we reveal to you:

  • Butcher Allemeersch, for the best American meet in Knokke, according to the co-founder of Sphere;
  • Bistro Chou, for local and convivial cuisine;
  • La Ciboulette, with its contemporary and cosy style, offers exceptional wines and dishes inspired by haute gastronomy;
  • Marie Siska, the Belgian waffles, De Parlevinker for Dutch pancakes and Hazegras for ice cream;
  • t’Werftje, in Zeebrugge, for the best shrimp croquettes on the coast;
  • Mas Brasa, for meat lovers.

Once again, if you own a second home, register now on Sphere Travel Club to have access to one of the properties located in Knokke, which may be your ideal vacation spot for this summer!

Dune House, Knokke.

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