Start: Maastricht Finish: Maastricht
Set off from Maastricht, the Netherlands’ oldest town, or from nearby Lanaken. To boost your energy for the trip ahead, by way of a welcome enjoy a steaming coffee/tea and Limburg pie on us. Then commence the first leg of your tour by cycling to Liège, known as the ‘city on fire’. Ride the River Jeker, a tributary of the Meuse, pedalling into Belgium via the picturesque village of Kanne. Marvel at boats going through the huge Ternaaien Lock, 225m long and 25m wide, then pick up the RAVeL trail and roll along to the friendly town of Visé. The last few kilometres offer a change of scenery as you cycle past towering cranes and rusty boats in an old yet busy industrial area before you roll into Liège (or Luik, as it is called in Dutch).
Challenge: 35 km, 210 m ascent, 200 m descent
Roll right through the centre of Liège, enjoying safe cycling on the Meuse Trail, then follow the John Cockerill railway and RAVeL signs as you leave the built-up area. Viewed up close, the blast furnaces of Seraing are truly awe-inspiring. Stop off at the Val St. Lambert glass factory shop to purchase a souvenir. Next up is a quiet section on backroads and you never stray too far from the river, as you pass typical Walloon villages. Tremble at the Tihange nuclear reactor, another striking industrial complex, and pause at The Grande Place in Huy for a lunch break. Back on the Meuse River nature gradually begins to prevail over industry as you approach Namur.
Challenge: 74 km, 710 m ascent, 690 m descent
If the full 80 km seem too daunting prospect, jump on a train and chug alongside the Meuse from Namur to Dinant. If you are feeling up to the challenge, cycle off along the RAVeL, on the banks of the River Meuse. Sail along past the strawberry-farms in Wépion and pause to stroll through the Gardens of Annevoie. Take a break at a riverside café in Dinant, then ride happily off to immaculate gardens at the elegant Chateau Freyr. Next you ride a rails-to-trails section from Hastière to Mariembourg and 'Allez hop!' you’re across the border in France and come to a stop at the imposing Charlemont citadel in Givet.
Challenge: 50 km, 625 m ascent, 605 m descent
Roll off toward Haybes, gliding along the Meuse on the ‘Trans-Ardennes’ Voie Verte. One of the highlights to hit is charming Monthermé, on a near 360º bend in the river, while your ultimate destination is the vast Place Ducale in Charleville- Mézières.
Challenge: 55 km, 990 m ascent, 930 m descent
September 2015 saw the Voie Verte stretch further north, winding its way toward Sedan. Cycle the International Meuse Route through superbly scenic countryside all the way to Sedan, home to Europe’s largest castle. Pause for lunch and check out the massive medieval wonder, then set off on the section that will bridge the end of the Meuse Route and the start of the Vennbahn Trail. Still on the French side, a quiet road climbs gradually up toward the border with an average incline of 3%. Once you cross over into Belgium, a delightful descent awaits as you glide down toward your hotel and the impressive 8th-century castle-fortress of Bouillon.
Challenge: 50 km, 620 m ascent, 560 m descent
A narrow, winding road climbs up and out of beautiful Bouillon and you find yourself pedalling across a plateau on country roads flanked by farmland. Roll through typical picture-perfect villages seemingly untouched by time and get lost in the fabulous sweeping views. Libramont-Chevigny makes a perfect lunch stop half-way and the end of this leg leads to another stretch on the RAVeL Route, a rails-to-trails path along the old 163 Line linking Libramont, Bastogne and Gouvy. History buffs can inspect WWII sites recalling the Battle of the Ardennes.
Challenge: 70 km, 1485 m ascent, 1190 m descent
Take off from the ‘Gare du Sud’ railway station and ride the RAVeL 163 north on one of the network’s prettiest sections. The RAVeL route ends south of Gouvy and you head east toward the border with Luxembourg. Riding a gently rolling landscape on quiet roads, you hook up with the Vennbahn Route and hit Luxembourg’s highest point at Huldange, elevation 558.5 metres. Zipping back across the border into Belgium, you ride to the castle ruin at Burg Reuland, towering high above the village, and pause in the German enclave of Hemmeres on your way to today’s ‘finish line’ in Sankt-Vith.
Challenge: 63 km, 920 m ascent, 950 m descent
A ribbon of newly surfaced smooth bike track rolls out from Sankt-Vith to Waimes then zooms on to Ardennes-Eiffel Nature Park sat smack on the German-Belgian border. Sniff out the Ardennes ham smokery in Montenau and snap a few photos at the old Sourbrodt Station. Take a break for lunch in Kalterherberg then take a detour off the Vennbahn Trail, cycling to Monschau to spend the night. Stretch your legs on a stroll through this enchanting village of quaint half-timbered houses, enticing shops, friendly roadside cafés and excellent restaurants.
Challenge: 45 km, 545 m ascent, 580 m descent
Your final day of cycling has you heading back to the Vennbahn Rail Trail which you take to the monumental must-see town of Kornelimünster. Sailing down to Aachen on a long descent, you roll into the former historic centre of Charlemagne’s empire. Then it’s just a few kilometres to the border with the Netherlands and you catch a train in the Dutch town of Kerkrade. Rest, relax and revel in Limburg’s scenic panoramas on your way to Maastricht.
Challenge: 61 km, 540 m ascent, 840 m descent
Your self-guided cycling holiday comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Departure from Maastricht.
Start Wednesdays: 18/05, 01/06, 15/06, 29/06, 06/07*, 13/07*, 20/07, 27/07, 03/08, 10/08, 17/08, 07/09
* Start in 's-Gravenvoeren
|Double room, breakfast||860.00|
|Single room, breakfast||1,220.00|
|Extra night, breakfast only||85.00|
|Bike theft insurance||€ 3.00 x 9||27.00|
|E-bike theft insurance||€ 6.00 x 9||54.00|
|Bike helmet||per piece||12.50|
The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Some of the hotels we work with appear here. If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked.
Extra nights: Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.
This hotel has a bar and 24-hour reception. The modern rooms, with tv and air conditioning, are decorated in light earth colors with bright accents and wooden floors.
This hotel is located on the edge of the pleasant center of Givet. As the name suggests, you will see the color yellow much in the excellent, warm rooms of this hotel.
This very good hotel is located in the city center, close to the Place Ducale. The modern and comfortable rooms all have air conditioning and free WiFi. There is a gym and sauna.
Hotel de la Poste is located in a beautiful historic building on the Semois River. The rooms have an authentic design, among other Emperor Napoleon III preceded you by spending the night here.
A hotel located in the heart of Bastogne has a modern design. The hotel has been around since 1946 and exudes elegance and comfort. The restaurant from the hotel is in a former train.
In the heart of the romantic town, you will find the delightful hotel of the Pip-Margaff family, in an atmosphere that is a cross between tradition and modernism.
You can start on any Wednesday, subject to availability, between May and September.
Nearest airports to fly to are Amsterdam or Maastricht. All of them can be easily reached by local transport, which is affordable and offers a frequent service.
Arrival/Departure in/from Maastricht
From Schiphol Airport
Take the train (IC3543) to Venlo. In ‘s-Hertogenbosch transfer to IC845 to Maastricht.
From Central Station take bus 6 to Amby and get out at Scharnerweg. From there it’s 5 min. walking to Novotel Maastricht.
You can also take a taxi from Central Station (5 min)
From Maastricht-Aachen airport:
Take Bus 30 to Central Station. From Central Station take bus 6 to Amby and get out at Scharnerweg. From there it’s 5 min. walking to Novotel Maastricht.
You can also take a taxi from airport (15 min) or Central Station (5 min)
Free parking at the first hotel
GPS tracks are available