Haspengouw is, after South Tyrol, the largest fruit region in Europe and has so much to offer to visitors. You can make beautiful hike & bike tours along the fruit trees and vineyards, but you can also explore cultural hotspots. Just think of Tongeren, the oldest city of Belgium. Beside giving some tips about how you can spend a (long) weekend in Haspengouw, I also reveal my favorite place to stay in Belgium.
Where to stay: B&B De Fruithoeve in Schalkhoven
In B&B de Fruithoeve, you sleep amongst the apple and peer trees, on an active fruit company. Located about 10 kilometers away from Borgloon and Tongeren, it’s the perfect starting point for your daytrips in Haspengouw. B&B de Fruithoeve has two guest rooms and two family rooms, named after the apple varieties grown on the company, and a holiday home (Sweet Sensation). All rooms are equipped with a bathroom with shower, sink and toilet. As a guest, you can also use the shared kitchen and a swimming pool in the garden. The garden is a wonderful place to relax after a daytrip. You can rent electric bicycles on the domain.
If you would like to learn more about the fruit company An & Jan run, you can follow the itinerary they worked out through the orchards. Did you know that there is such a thing as an anti-hail gun? This installation prevents hail formation and protects the harvest. During breakfast, you can taste all the products grown on the company: apples, pears, cherry juice…
Conclusion? B&B De Fruithoeve is a charming, small-scale accommodation in a green setting, with very friendly owners. The inhabitants of the Belgian province of Limburg are often referred to as very warm and welcoming people and I definitely see why!
MUST VISIT: From 1 April 2022 till 1 May 2022, a pop-up blossom bar is located in Schalkhoven: ‘Bar Bloei’. The blossom bar is not accessible by car. You have to go by foot, bicycle or Vespa. Read more on the Bar Bloom website.
Hermitage of Vrijhern: a hidden gem in Haspengouw
There is a great variety in the hiking paths crossing the Haspengouw landscape. My favorite hike in the surroundings of B&B De Fruithoeve is the ‘kluizenaarswandeling’ (the ‘hermits walk’ in English). This is a signposted hike of seven kilometers, starting at the Hermitage of Vrijhern. The hermitage consists of a well preserved half-timbered building together with a Loreto chapel. It is a hidden gem for anyone who loves historical locations. The hermits who once stayed here were socially engaged. They devoted themselves to education and health care and did not live in complete isolation. The last hermits left in 1905. Today, the hermitage is one of the ‘greenspots’ in Haspengouw. Greenspots are excellent walking areas, well-maintained and quiet. Click here to discover more hiking routes in the hamlet of Hoeselt.
Search for suprising works of art in nature
Close to the town of Borgloon, you’ll stumble upon some amazing works of art. It is recommended to follow one of the signposted walking routes starting in the city center. I follow the orange walking route, which is a circular walk of 8.8 kilometers. You will pass some great landscapes and you’ll even walk over a Roman cobblestone road. But the eye-catcher is of course ‘Reading between the lines’: a see-through church made of steel sheets. This masterpiece provides you with an optical illusion.
About eight kilometers further on, there is another special work of art hidden in nature: Helsheaven. This floating chapel is built of cherry wood and is located at the highest point of the small hamlet of Helshoven. Therefore, it offers a beautiful view over the fruit orchards.
Taste some Belgian wines
When I say the word ‘viticulture’, you automatically think of regions such as the Moselle valley in Germany or Tuscany in Italy, isn’t it? You don’t think of Belgium and I get that. Belgium is famous for its chocolate and beer. Not for its wine. And yet, the wine-growing business in Belgium is booming last years. In the province of Limburg for example, wine grapes are grown on the gently rolling hills of Haspengouw. So please don’t skip my country just as that when you want to visit a vineyard or a winery. You might be surprised by the quality of the Belgian wines. On the website of Visit Limburg, you’ll get an overview of the Belgian wine domains.
Visit the oldest city of Belgium
For the last day of my weekend trip I go to Tongeren, the oldest city of Belgium. Tongeren has a compact city center, which means that all places of interest are within walking distance. Just think of the Gallo Roman Museum, the medieval Moerenpoort (Moeren tower) and the cathedral. Oh, and do you wonder who is that tough man on the market square? Say hi to Ambiorix, king of the Eburones and national hero.
MUST VISIT: Every Sunday morning, you can search for antique treasures and unique collectors items at the Tongeren flea market. It’s the largest flea market in the Benelux.
You would rather take it easy on Sunday? Well, then I can recommend a wellness experience close to the city of Tongeren: Sané Thermen. This wellness complex offers a wide range of beauty treatments and facilities, such as an indoor and outdoor pool, steam baths and saunas. Go check it out!
This is not a sponsored article, but a personal travel story written by Isabel De Bruyne.