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A Guide to the Tour of Flanders

A Guide to the Tour of Flanders

What is the Tour of Flanders

What is the Tour of Flanders?

Flanders is one of Belgium’s most unique spots, with rich history and incredible landscapes. It also hosts the Tour of Flanders each spring, a prestigious one-day cycling event that attracts over 750,000 spectators.

Every year, the people of Belgium come together to celebrate their national sport – cycling – by watching the Tour of Flanders. The Tour of Flanders is an annual road cycling race in early April; also called ‘De Ronde’, the race happens over one day and is one of Europe’s most famous cycling events.

The Tour of Flanders is a national holiday in Belgium, attracting spectators from around the country. The route is steeped in history, taking cyclists along cobblestone tracks, up steep hills and through medieval towns.

Hitory of Tour of Flanders

The history of the Tour of Flanders

How it all began

In 1912, the first Flemish sports newspaper was founded by Leon Van de Haute and Karel Van Wijnendaele. After publication, Van de Haute and Van Wijnendaele wanted to find a way to promote the newspaper, cycling and the Flemish language.

In February 1913, the pair planned the first Tour of Flanders event, which would be hosted in May that year. The Flemish people were keen to see a cycling race that would empower cities across the region.

Making the race more challenging

The first Tour of Flanders was considered easy because it was relatively flat. More cobbled climbs were added to the route to make the race challenging for riders. Belgian competitors won every race until 1949, when Italian rider Fiorenzo Magni swooped in to claim victory.

The Tour of Flanders today

The Tour of Flanders route has evolved since the first race, and nobody has won the race more than three times. In 2004, the Tour of Flanders for Women was established, which takes place on the same day as the men’s event.

Tour of Flanders Cycling Route

The Tour of Flanders cycling route

The Tour of Flanders cycling route has changed over the years but has always taken place in East and West Flanders. Since 2017, the race has started in Antwerp, where it follows a 62-mile flat stretch through the towns of Sint-Niklaas, Aalst and Zottegem before eventually leading to Oudenaarde.

Later, cyclists cover three loops in the Flemish Ardennes. The hills include:

Oude Kwaremont

The Tour of Flanders’ longest cobblestone climb at 2.2 km. Although this hill is not very steep, it’s considered challenging thanks to its length and terrain.


The Koppenberg is one of the race’s most challenging climbs, reaching a top gradient of 22%.


Another of the race’s most challenging climbs, the Paterberg tests riders with a narrow cobbled surface and an average gradient of 12.5%.

Are you interested in cycling in Belgium? Read our handy guide for everything you need to know.

Where to Stay

Where to stay in Flanders

Flanders Hotel, Bruges

Flanders Hotel is a stylish venue close to Bruges city centre. With spacious rooms, an indoor heated pool and an extensive breakfast buffet, find everything you need for a comfortable stay.

The Dominican, Brussels

The Dominican is a four-star hotel in the heart of Brussels, where you can enjoy fantastic wellness facilities, including a fitness centre and a spa. The hotel also has an all-day restaurant serving delicious international cuisine.

B&B Hotel Antwerp Centrum

Located near the city centre, B&B Hotel Antwerp Centrum offers convenient accommodation in one of Flanders’ most unique cities. Guests can enjoy an excellent continental buffet breakfast with sweet and savoury delights.


The best restaurants in Flanders

Het Gerecht, Antwerp

Het Gerecht is a fine-dining restaurant with a sophisticated setting. The seasonal Market Menu lets you order four or five unique courses. With vegetarian options available, there’s something for everyone.

In't Nieuw Museum, Bruges

Opened in 1977, In't Nieuw Museum is one of Bruges’ best steakhouses. It’s renowned for delicious steaks and its vast range of Flemish beers.

Corica, Brussels

Corica is a cosy coffee shop in Brussels – an ideal place to refuel during the day. A three-minute walk from the city’s Grand-Place (central square), the café specialises in coffee and tea from across the globe.

Things to Do

Things to do in Flanders

Tour of Flanders Museum, Oudenaarde

Oudenaarde has been the Tour of Flanders’ finishing location for many years. It’s also home to the Tour of Flanders Museum, where you can learn more about the event.

Perfect for cycling fans, the museum features a range of artefacts that illustrate the race’s history, from vintage bikes to riders’ gloves. There’s also an interactive machine that shows the experience of riding along Flanders’ cobbled roads.

MOU – Museum of Oudenaarde

If you’re spending time in Oudenaarde, the MOU is another must-visit attraction. Housed in a former Gothic town hall, this museum focuses on the history of the Flemish Ardennes. Highlights include a fascinating silverware collection and intricate tapestries woven in Oudenaarde.

Our ferry routes to Flanders

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