Bruges Brussels Bike and Boat MS Magnifique
CategoryBike and Boat
Self Guided or Guided
Start / FinishBruges or Brussels / Brussels or Bruges
Distance146 miles/235 kms
An easy, relaxing bike and boat cycling holiday through the lowlands of Flanders from Bruges to Brussels. Stay aboard one of the superb MS Magnifique barges, enjoying daily cycle rides through the unique polder landscape, visiting the historic cities of Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels.
Your floating home for the week will be the Magnifique or her new sister ship Magnifique II, both offer spacious, en suite, air conditioned cabins as well as elegant and comfortable public areas.
Starting in unforgettable Bruges – surely one of Europe’s most enchanting old medieval cities – you’ll follow the River Schelde and other smaller canals and rivers through Flanders to the Belgian capital. Other highlights include history-packed Mechelen and the lively, attractive cities of Antwerp and Ghent. And along the way there will of course be plenty of opportunities to sample and enjoy the beers that Belgium is world-famous for.
You’ll cover between 150 and 170-odd miles of cycling during six easy-paced days of riding. The trails are almost entirely flat and smoothly paved and there will be plenty of opportunities for breaks to enjoy the scenery and interesting towns on the way. If you do fancy a break from the cycling, however, you can always stay on board one day and let the scenery drift by as you relax on the sun deck or saloon of your comfortable barge.
Itinerary & Map
You’ll cover between 150 and 170-odd miles of cycling during six easy-paced days of riding. The trails are almost entirely flat and smoothly paved and there will be plenty of opportunities for breaks to enjoy the scenery and interesting towns on the way. If you do fancy a break from the cycling, however, you can always stay on board one day and let the scenery slowly pass you by as you relax on the barge’s sun deck or saloon.
The itinerary below describes the route from Bruges to Brussels but on certain dates the tour operates in the reverse direction (Brussels to Bruges). See Dates & Prices page for more information.
Day 1: Arrive Bruges
On arrival in Bruges make your way to the harbour and board the MS Magnifique, your floating home for the week. Embarkation is from 1pm. After getting settled in your cabin you’ll want to step back on dry land and explore Bruges – the ‘Venice of the North’ with its numerous canals and perfectly preserved medieval architecture.
Day 2: Bruges – North Sea Coast – Bruges, 35 miles/55 kms
Your barge will remain in Bruges today, giving you a chance for another night in this wonderful city. By day you’ll head out on the bikes, first following a poplar-tree lined canal through a polder landscape. Then you’ll arrive at the North Sea coast via the compact city of Damme. Here you’ll find a seven-mile long sandy beach, the Het Zwin dune nature reserve and plenty of attractive seafront cafes and restaurants for a lunch stop. Returning to Bruges via a quiet canal towpath there will be more time to explore one of Europe’s most beautiful small cities.
Day 3: Bruges – Moerebrugge – Ghent, 24 miles/40 kms
As you enjoy your breakfast onboard the Magnifique you’ll sail from Bruges to Moerebrugge, from which you’ll start the day’s bike tour. This will take you on a canal towpath via Oostende and through a rural Flemish landscape ultimately to Ghent, another of Belgium’s most attractive destinations. This old trading city has plenty to see. You’ll meet your barge just outside the old town and can ride in easily and explore its charming medieval centre. Ghent is also where many of Belgium’s top cyclists base themselves, so keep your eyes peeled for squads of lycra-clad pros.
Day 4: Ghent – Dendermonde/St Amands, 29 miles/48 kms
After breakfast it’s straight out on the bikes to cycle from Ghent to Dendermonde. You’ll want to stop at its beautiful, bustling Grote Market square – there are numerous pavement cafes where you can stop and watch the world go by from. Your barge will meet you here and depending on availability of mooring spots, you may then continue by water to St Amands for the night. Otherwise you’ll say in Dendermonde.
Day 5: Dendermonde/St Amands – Temse – Antwerp, 25 miles/42 kms
If you stayed in Dendermonde last night you’ll make your way by boat to St Amands this morning, covering some of the most attractive scenery of the entire trip, following a twisting section of the River Schelde. From St Amands you’ll start your bike ride, crossing the Brussels-Ruple canal to cycle to the historic towns of Rupelmonde and Hemiksem en route to Antwerp, the day’s final destination. Antwerp is another of Flanders’ greatest old trading cities – don’t miss the Grote Market square, cathedral and impressive old city hall.
Day 6: Antwerp – Willebroek, 27 miles/45 kms
Leave Antwerp behind and cycle to the town of Lier, well known for its fine local beers. From Lier you’ll continue your journey, following the narrow River Nete to the town of Willebroek where the Magnifique is waiting for you. The barge remains moored here for the night.
Day 7: Willebroek – Vilvoorde – Brussels, 24 miles/40 kms
For your last day of cycling you’ll head out from Willebroek to pass through a green, slightly hilly landscape to Vilvoorde, where you’ll rendezvous with the Magnifique. On the way stop in Mechelen, a small town, with a remarkable ensemble of historic homes and churches. From Vilvoorde your barge will take your right into Brussels, the Belgian capital. Don’t miss the Grand Place, the city’s expansive central square, surrounded by the elaborate guildhalls that were founded in its trading heyday.
Day 8: Brussels
After breakfast it’s time to disembark and head for home or your next adventure. Disembarkation is just after breakfast and up to 10am.
Dates & Prices
This tour also operates in reverse. See below for details
|2017 Arrival Dates|
|Boat key||* Magnifique / † Magnifique II|
|Bruges to Brussels|
|Brussels to Bruges|
|Twin lower deck||£910||£910|
|Upper Deck Suite||£1275|
|Accom Type 7|
|Accom Type 8|
|Accom Type 9|
|Accom Type 10|
Board basis: 7 breakfasts, 6 packed lunches & 6 evening meals
Services of a tour guide
Maps and Route information
Daily coffee and tea until 4pm
Bike hire (see supplements)
One Dinner in Antwerp or Bruges
Supplements for special dietary requests
Electric bike (£174)
The bikes provided on this tour are modern alloy framed, hybrid models with 7 speeds and comfortable saddle with upright riding position. The bikes also come equipped with rear pannier, lock and repair kit.
Electric bikes, smaller framed children’s bikes, trailers and tag-a-longs are also available.
Helmets are not provided and we therefore recommend bringing your own.
Two very comfortable boats operate this route. The Magnifique has long been recognised as one of the most luxurious barges afloat and in 2016 she was joined by her sister ship, Magnifique II, offering the same levels of style and space.
The Magnifique is a wonderful boat offering an excellent standard of accommodation and facilities. She has 17 air-conditioned cabins with en-suite shower and toilet, flat screen TV and portholes, which are locked for safety reasons. 11 are twin bedded cabins, 2 are singles and 4 are twin bedded premium cabins. The premium cabins are more spacious with a small seating area. Some cabins can be converted for triple occupancy with the addition of a bunk bed. On the upper deck there is tastefully decorated spacious salon with restaurant, bar and lounge with wide screen TV and windows to enjoy the scenery. There are also two, partly covered teak sun-decks, with tables and chairs as well as a whirlpool/Jacuzzi and BBQ.
Launched in 2016, the Magnifique II offers the same high standards as her elder sister. Adopting the same classical style and modern design, the Magnifique II offers 4 upper deck suites. The lower deck has 14 cabins, one is a larger, premium twin cabin, 12 are twin cabins and one is a single cabin – all are spacious and well appointed with en-suite facilities, individually regulated air conditioning and flat screen satellite TV. On the main deck there is a comfortable salon/restaurant area with bar. Large doors open onto a partially roofed sundeck.
On both vessels a hearty breakfast is provided each morning, along with a packed lunch to take with you on the daily rides. A three-course meal is served each evening in the convivial salon.
Daily complimentary coffee and tea is available between 3 pm and 4 pm.
Fly to Brussels and take the train to Bruges