Cycling the RAVel Route in Belgium

One of the most amazing ways to explore Belgium is by bicycle. The country’s government encourages tourists to consider this method of traveling as it is not only environmentally friendly but also quite rewarding. The RAVel Route is one of the prominent cycling and pedestrian trails in the county. This route is a network of once disaffected railways, which were rehabilitated and turned into asphalt roads.

Today, RAVel is made of 5 main routes and several minor ones that crisscross the southern region of Belgium (Wallonia), highlighting its incredible landscapes. This extensive network covers 5 provinces in the region. It goes into towns and along canals and main rivers like the Sambre, Meuse, and Ourthe. It covers a total track distance of 1,200 kilometers, which equals the distance from London to Inverness.

RAVel Route

Cycling the RAVel route promises to be an experience of a lifetime. Traveling through this network reveals the beauty of nature, without the presence of car horns and exhaust fumes. The route network is well-maintained, and most of them are really family-friendly. The average to long distance trails within the network are usually marked with yellow and blue signs. Since the tracks are made of asphalt, they provide a smooth ride. A number of roads are also lined with trees, which provides that much needed shade from the sun.

The first and longest route to discover is called RAVel 1. This route stretches 290 kilometers and starts from a village at the border of France named Comines. Then, it goes all the way to Maastricht in the Netherlands’ border, but not before passing through towns like Liege, Tournai and Charleroi.

RAVel Route

If you would like to explore the border of France’s Champagne region and visit the Hoegaarden, which is world-famous for its white beer – then RAVel 2 best suits you. This route also leads you to the arguably, the most scenic part of the country- the Meuse Valley in between Namur and Dinant. While doing this route, you can also include a visit at the steam railway museum at Mariembourg.

RAVel 3 and RAVel 4 allow you discover the Hainaut region. When you are following RAVel4 in particular, you can stop by attractions like the impressive chateau of Beloeil, the Hopital Notre-Dame à la Rose and the banks of River Dendre. RAVel 5, on the other hand, is all about overcoming the hilliest and most forested terrains, which include the Ardennes forest in between Durbuy and Liege.

Canal Centre

Aside from the magnificent natural landscape you will discover, you can also visit premier attractions along the way. Some of the must-sees include the Maredsous Abbey and the medieval ruins of Montaigle in Falaën. However, cyclists and hardcore trekkers are not the only ones who can benefit from the ingenious RAVel Route network. Roller skaters can also test their balancing skills on the asphalt surface.

You can also rent a horse and enjoy a leisurely ride along the path. You may obtain the RAVel guides online or get in touch with the Belgian Tourist Office in Wallonia. Cycling the RAVel route is a perfect self-guided activity. However, there are also companies that offer guided trips on the RAVel network. Their services usually include arranging accommodation, transport and flights.

About Author:

Arie Boris has extensive travel industry experience, including business and sales development for commercial aviation, the International emergency assistance & travel insurance industry and a national association of travel agents. He was a contributing editor to several print and Internet travel publications, including Fieldings’ Worldwide Cruise Guide and was part of the start up team for CruiseCritic. He has written over 400 cruise ship reviews. Arie also produces and hosts Cruise Gourmet Voyages, a variety of fundraising & theme group cruises for various charitable and arts organizations. He has produced theme cruises for a variety of special interest groups including opera, comedy, spiritual retreats and fan clubs for TV shows like Dark Shadows and Dancing with the Stars!