Spend a day outdoors exploring history and nature in Limburg
Head over to south-west Limburg and have your pick of 3 mammoth pop-up walks, part of Expedition Bilzen. Now these are some *long* walks, averaging 25 km, so you’ll be spending all day outside, immersed in Limburgian nature and history. They’re definitely more of a trek than a walk, but don’t worry. These routes have been designed with loads of interesting stops along the way.
Customise your New Year's trek! Pick one of the themed routes, each letting you explore a different side to Bilzen with a mix of castles, historic buildings, forests, art and scenic landscapes all dotted along the way.
You are guaranteed to get your fill of fresh air and endorphins with this one, and at the least your legs will be grateful for the exercise after stuffing your face during the holidays. After spending a day appreciating the beautiful nature and intriguing history in your backyard, you might be a little tired...okay maybe even exhausted, but you’ll definitely be revitalised for the year ahead!
Take a walk by the sea at Westhoek Nature Reserve
There’s just something about the sea air...Not too far from the popular beach town, De Panne, is Flanders’ first nature reserve. Come here for a sandy change of scenery and to be refreshed, if for no other reason than because you spent the day being blown around by a vigorous sea breeze.
With a bit of New Year’s luck you might be able to spot some wildlife on one of the walking trails. Don’t worry, these ones aren’t 25 km though! Here, you’ve got a choice between brisk beachy walks and longer nature trails, up to 10 km. The longest of which ends with a view of Dunkirk port, across the border in France.
A visit to the beach is always a great way to get out into nature. As you explore the sand dunes just take a minute to set yourself up, as best you can, for a positive start to 2021.
Hike to the top of Connecterra (Hoge Kempen National Park)
Of all the beautiful nature and stunning landscapes Belgium’s one and only national park has to offer, Connecterra, with its stunning panorama’s, made this list.
What you want to see at Connecterra are *those* views. The park's many viewpoints are a perfect place for a moment of reflection and appreciation for the wonderful world we live in. What’s great here is that of the 8 marked walking and hiking routes, most of them take you up to a viewpoint. So if you want a short, refreshing New Years walk or a 3-hour trek to the highest point in the park, you’ll be rewarded with some equally incredible views.
At the very least, you’ll be inspired by Connecterra’s transformation from a coal mine’s waste dump into a stunning national park. Now, let's all hope that 2020 has a similar glow-up into 2021!
Escape into the wilderness at Kalmthout Heath
Any of you Antwerpians out there might know of this rather large city escape. North of Antwerp is this special nature reserve where you can easily get lost in nature and the charming winter heathlands. You can also hop over the Dutch border while you’re there!
Well when we say lost, we mean it metaphorically, not lost lost. There are plenty of well sign-posted trails to follow. So, why not try the sheep trail? This 8.5 km walk takes you deep into the heart of the reserve and to a viewing tower that offers beautiful views over the vast expanse of heath.
You’ll have no trouble finding a calm place to relax and refresh your mind out here in the wilderness - the reserve has actually won an award for how quiet it is. Who knew?
Find calm, quiet and beauty in the Ardennes
Find calm and reset as you trek deep into Wallonia’s enchanting Ardenne forest. The hike gets its name, “Chemins de Solitude”, from the increasing quiet you find as you wander further and further into the trees, creating the perfect environment for some mental relaxation.
In the heart of the forest you’ll find peace and fairytale-like surroundings. This 20 km hike begins in the small town of Saint-Hubert, in the middle of the Ardennes - it’s difficult to find a bad view around here.
Some steep slopes will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment and the fresh air will help to clear your mind. You couldn’t really immerse yourself more in nature than you can here, and you’ll start the New Year off all the better for it.
Be inspired by poetry on a forest walk in Bruges
Now for something a little different. Be inspired by poetry as you wander through Lappersfortbos forest near Bruges. You’ll follow the Hugo Clauspad walking trail, created in memory of the famed Belgian author Hugo Claus.
The forest is a quiet place, used by locals for relaxing walks - a great place for you to get outside for a refreshing New Years stroll. This short New Years walk means you can take your time to read all of the 21 poems, written about forests and humanity...and not be sore at the end of it.
This is a chilled-out walk, one that surrounds you with nature but inspires you through words. Although, as the walk is great for kids and families, it might be *slightly* less relaxing than it could be...but nevertheless you’ll still leave the forest refreshed and ready to take on 2021.