Even for those coming from the other side of Europe, the EuroVelo cycle routes can bring you all the way to the Velo-city host city of Ghent, in Belgium. So why not turn your trip into an adventure and discover some of Europe’s most scenic landscapes along the way? Read on to learn more about the EuroVelo routes that take you to Ghent on two wheels.
Belgium is crossed by five EuroVelo routes, adding up to over 1000 km of cycling paths. Three of these routes will bring you almost to the doorstep of Velo-city 2024:
EuroVelo 4 - Central Europe Route
EuroVelo 4 brings you across the entire width of the continent, traversing seven countries and 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites over a total of 5,100 km. The route is so diverse, making it impossible to get bored of the constantly changing landscape!
If you start the route from the west, you will cycle along France’s dramatic northern coastline straight into Belgium. The coastal landscape alternates between beaches, dunes, cliffs, estuaries, marshes, harbours and meadowland. While taking in the spectacular views and vanishing into the wild landscapes, don’t forget to stop by Mont-Saint-Michel, one of France’s most famous monuments, and the D-Day Landing Beaches where millions of visitors come every year to pay homage to the soldiers who began the liberation of France on 6 June 1944.
The route from the east guides you through Europe’s interior and is full of outstanding medieval architecture, dynamic cities and history lessons. Your cycling speed can easily be expressed in castle per hour as you are likely to see one every kilometre on parts of this route. For nature lovers the route has a lot to offer as well. It crosses through the fairytale Bohemian Forest and follows romantic river paths such as the Rhine Cycle Route, Main Cycle Route, Ohře River Trail and Morava River Trail.
EuroVelo 4 will bring you to the Belgian City of Ostend, known for its long beach and promenade. From there, you can take the Flemish iconic "Art Cities Route" to Ghent via Bruges. It’s also not a problem if you prefer taking the train from Ostend to Ghent. The cities are well connected with a journey time of just 40-minutes and a train departing twice per hour. With the travel planner BikeOnTrain you can check the best travel route for taking your bicycle on the train. Tickets for bicycles are €4 for a single trip.
EuroVelo 5 - Via Romea (Francigena)
Do you envision yourself crossing the imposing Alps, sipping wine on the Alsatian Wine Road cycle Trail, visiting the medieval towns of Tuscany, or admiring Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ in the heart of Milan? EuroVelo 5 has something to offer for everyone! For the challenge-seekers and those finding beauty in each town’s unique culture. For the wine-lovers and those thirsty for historical tales.
EuroVelo 5 traces its path along the legendary route that pilgrims travelled on their way to Jerusalem. It stretches all the way from Canterbury in England to the port of Brindisi on the heel of Italy. The route passes seven countries in 3,200 km. Besides the many historical cathedrals and pilgrimage sites, EuroVelo 5 takes you through the political heart of modern Europe and the EU institutions in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.
Are you lacking time for a cross-country ride and wondering which section of EuroVelo 5 to cycle? The Belgian part was awarded the title of Cycle Route of the Year 2023 at the Fiets & Wandelbeurs in Utrecht. On this 400 km cycle you will explore all the faces of Belgium. The route brings you directly through the centre of Brussels, but also through the calmer corners of Belgium where you will enjoy the gentle ascents of the Ardennes and cycle along former railways and paths that follow the Dendre and Meuse rivers.
To reach Ghent, you can follow EuroVelo 5 until the City of Lille and continue along the Flemish iconic “Scheldt Route” for some final views of the Flemish nature. You can also take the train from Lille for the last stretch to Ghent. Coming from the west, why not cycle as far as Geraardsbergen, home of the world-famous Muur van Geraardsbergen – a fixture of the annual Tour of Flanders cycling race and a mecca for all cycling fans. Coming from the east, you can also choose to cycle as far as Brussels, where you can marvel in the beauty of the iconic Grand Place or brush shoulders with the movers and shakers of the European Quarter before hopping on a train at Central Station or Schuman Station, both located directly on EuroVelo 5.
EuroVelo 12 – North Sea Cycle Route
1 sea, 6 countries, 18 UNESCO sites, 7,250 km and innumerable breathtaking views. EuroVelo 12 leads you through the diverse landscapes bordering the North Sea. Whether you start from the Shetland Islands north of Scotland or from the fjords of Norway, this route lets you experience humanity’s long-lasting relationship with the sea as it passes through old fishing villages, bustling harbour cities and popular surfing spots. You will notice soon enough that there is no escaping from the elements along the coast, especially the wind!
The North Sea Cycle route surprises you with its vastness and wildlife. The route passes by flocks of migrating birds in the Wadden Sea area, crosses heather-covered dunes and enchanting forests, brings you over high cliffs and looks out over kilometres of sandy beaches. Harry Potter fans should definitely stop by Durham Cathedral that features in the films as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While those interested in engineering will be amazed by the Dutch flood defences which make it possible for the Dutch to live, work, and cycle safely on land located below sea level.
Cycling the whole 7,250 km along the North Sea might be a bit much before attending the conference. Luckily, you can easily make shortcuts by taking one (or more) of the many ferries. Don’t forget to check out the ferry timetables, as there will be many fjords, rivers and bodies of water to cross on this route.
EuroVelo 12 shares its section through Belgium with EuroVelo 4. Meaning, you can also follow the route until Ostend and continue along the Flemish iconic “Art Cities Route” to Ghent.
Excited by the prospect of taking on these routes but the beginning of June too early for a long-distance cycling tour? Why not consider cycling home from the conference instead? After four days of inspiration, networking and fun, some quiet reflection might help you to take it all in! And don’t we all know that the best ideas come when you hop on your bicycle and let things settle for a while?
Arriving in Belgium
Want to complete just the last leg of the trip by bike? Whether you arrive in Brussels (60 km), Antwerp (60 km) or Charleroi (120 km), Ghent is only a day of cycling away. Have a look at the local cycling route planner on the Visit Gent website. There are cycling routes starting from every corner of the country. The choice is yours! You can either follow an established route or create one yourself from any place in Flanders. The network is also easily accessible if you travel from Brussels, Wallonia, or one of our neighbouring countries.
Velo-city is the yearly flagship event of the European Cyclists' Federation and it is co-organised with a different city every year. Being part of Velo-city is more than going to a conference with an exhibition - it is about joining a community of passionate people who are there to take action and make a difference. This year, Velo-city takes place in Ghent under the theme ‘Connecting through cycling’. Join us for an unforgettable conference experience from 18-21 June 2024.
Article by Ellis Mourits