The city of Hasselt in Belgium is a one stop shop for all those who are looking for pedestrian-friendly streets surrounded by rich history, street art, magnificent architecture, beautiful countryside, and museums. Hasselt is also the capital of the state of Limburg in Belgium with an old city center which is full of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The accommodation, food and shopping are also affordable and combined with tourist activities; Hasselt proves to be a great holiday destination.
The historic townhouses of the city and old monastic buildings have been converted into unique museums which attract many tourists. The city is compact, and majority of the area is car free which provides great pleasure in strolling around. The city also has beautiful parks in the surroundings including the largest Japanese Garden in Europe.
18 Wonderful Attractions in Hasselt Belgium
The National Jenever Museum
This is a unique museum which is all about the history of the juniper flavored Jenever (Gin) industry in Belgium. Hasselt has been the center of the gin industry since the 17th century and has produced several innovative flavors of gin. The Jenever is so embedded in the culture that there is a special festival of the gin in every October.
The National Jenever Museum was opened in 1987 and was renovated in 2010. Visitors can learn about the history of gin making in the museum and can have free shots of the jenever in the museum’s café. The museum has a courtyard, malt tower, germ attic, mill room, bottling plant, boiling room and distiller’s residence which can be visited by the visitors. You can also buy jenever souvenirs from the museum.
Bokrijk Openluchtmuseum is an open-air museum located just 15 minutes away from the city center by walk. The Bokrijk museum in Hasselt is one of the largest open-air museums in Europe. The open-air museum consists of more than 100 original antique buildings which represent the glorious past of Flanders. Some of the buildings have been brought here from other parts of Belgium and are positioned according to their origin and region.
The oldest of these buildings date backs to the 16th century surrounded by a children’s playground and a botanical garden. These buildings represent the old cultural heritage and the lifestyle of the region. There are more than 30,000 objects at display in all these buildings to help the visitors understand the daily lifestyle between the 1600s and 1950s. The open-air museum in Hasselt is well managed by the professional staff who are very helpful to the visitors.
Arboretum near Hasselt Belgium
Arboretum is a magnificent forest on the outskirts of Hasselt city which is located between many other regional parks and gardens. Arboretum forest is the best place for a serene walk in peace and tranquility. Some of the paths are beautifully decorated with flowers and plants and strolling and cycling is an ideal way to enjoy the serene atmosphere.
Japanese Garden of Hasselt Belgium
Japanese Garden is one of the major attractions of Hasselt city as this is the largest Japanese garden in Europe. The garden has been immensely decorated with flowers and plants and it symbolizes the friendship between Hasselt and Itami (Japanese city). Also called Japanese Tuin, it is a 2.5-hectare park which was laid out in the early 1990s. The garden and landscapes were designed by Takuyuki, a famous architect.
This Japanese Garden is the best way to enjoy the Japanese traditional gardening style, Japanese architecture, and Japanese traditions. The garden has beautiful bridges over astonishing water ponds and ceremonial houses built with bamboo, stone, and clay. The garden’s tea house often holds tea parties and ceremonies where you can taste traditional Japanese teas.
Hasseltse Jeneverfeesten is a two-day festival that displays the rich tradition of Hasselt city. There are a lot of street theaters, dances, musical concerts, exhibitions, parties, showcases and much more happenings during the Hasseltse Jeneverfeesten. The highlight of the festival is the traditional homegrown jenever (gin) which flows through the Borrelmanneke Fountain during the festival. Yeah, surprised? You cannot miss this event while in or near Hasselt as this is such a unique experience which happens every year in October.
Modemuseum Hasselt Belgium
The city of Hasselt was famous for the cloth trading since the medieval times and the Modemuseum commemorates the development of fashion since all those years. The museum was established in 1988 and since then contemporary designers exhibit their distinct artistry and style every year. The museum showcases the evolution of fashion and displays include around 18,000 clothes, shoes, handbags and fashion accessories like ties and buttons. You will also find the fashion objects from big designer brands like Chanel, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Cristobal, Balenciaga, Paul Poiret, and Dior.
Plopsa Indoor Hasselt Belgium
Plopsa Indoor Hasselt is the Belgium’s first indoor theme park which was opened in 2005 that provides fun activities to the adults and families without the headache of a rainy day. This indoor theme park has more than 20 rides and attractions on an area of 1 hectare. The park also has a climbing mountain and a playground for kids. This indoor park has been themed around the Plopsa and studio 100 which is a Belgian broadcasting corporation. The park also has a gift shop with Plopsa merchandise.
Herkenrode Abbey in Hasselt Belgium
Herkenrode Abbey is a Cistercian monastery surrounded by the beautiful natural reserves. This abbey has gone through many changes over the period of 100 years, but the original artwork is well preserved. The abbey has an experience center and an English inspirational garden open for the public. Here, you can learn about the history of the abbey and you get to know about the abbesses who controlled big areas of land in the medieval times.
Boat Trip around Hasselt Belgium
The two-hour boat trip of the city through the Albert Canal is a great way to explore Hasselt from a different angle. You will be mesmerized by the wonderful sights and the activities happening around them. There are several tour operators available and it is advisable to book in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
There was a church on this site since the 8th century which was re-built into the city’s cathedral in 1967. The old church was merged with the current tower and is preserved. The old church also went through many re-construction phases which also changed its architectural style. The latest restoration also furnished the church with a beautiful stained glass and murals by the famous Hessalt painter, Godfried Guffens. Some of the notable highlights of the church are the 16th century organ and a painting from the Herkenrode Abbey.
City Centre Hasselt Belgium
The city center of Hasselt is famous for ideal strolling as most of the area is pedestrian friendly. The city center and the surroundings have always been praised by the visitors and it is known as one of the most social able areas in Belgium. The city center has many shops, restaurants, cafes, and brasseries. The city center is also surrounded by many old houses in the city and many of them have been turned into museums.
Het Stadsmus in Hasselt Belgium
Het Stadsmus is the Hasselt’s city museum which is established on the corner of the two streets, Masstrichterstraat and Gezellestraat. The museum depicts the local history and information about the famous people, politics, and culture of Hasselt city. Some artefacts from the Herkenrode Abbey are also showcased at the Het Stadsmus.
Villa Verbeelding in Hasselt Belgium
This fine white town house on Bampslaan used to be a literary museum but now it has been turned into an “Imagination Villa” which has been dedicated to the work of the Flemish authors and illustrators. The museum is filled with imaginary arts which consists of literature, objects, and paintings. There is a beautiful fairytale exhibition for young visitors where they can enjoy the images of gingerbread houses, poisoned apples, and hot porridges. There is a multimedia exhibition about the process of writing, printing, and binding of a story book.
Oud Kerkhof in Hasselt Belgium
Oud Kerkhof is the historical cemetery of the Hasselt city on the Kempische Steenweg. The cemetery is a Belgian protected monument since 2004. Oud Kerkhof was established when the burial space around the city’s main church ran out of space. The burial site was also divided between the Catholic and Non-Catholic burials. Oud Kerkhof has a very artistic cemetery architecture which included stone carving and iron work. There is a 19th century chapel in the center which displays the history of Oud Kerkhof. There are also graves of some important figures like governors, aristocrats, and mayors.
Domein Kiewit is a 130 acres beautiful natural reserve to the North-East of Hasselt city. This place is ideal for family picnics around the beautiful ponds. There is also a children’s farm at a mansion with domestic animals. There is also a play area and adventure activities for kids in Domein Kiewit. The nature reserve has color coded walking paths that lead to a diversity of landscape. There is a map available at the information center which can help you understand all these paths.
Fietsroute Graffiti in Hasselt Belgium
You will already notice the street art and the Graffiti all around the city while strolling which will make you stop and admire some amazing artwork by the local artists. There is a special walking and cycling route designed for the visitors to observe and admire all this street art which has covered the walls of more than 80 facades around the city. These walls display work from some of the top street artists and graphic designers in Belgium. During your tour, you will get a leaflet which will provide you information about these amazing Graffiti works and their artists.
Circuit Zolder of Hasselt Belgium
Circuit Zolder became famous after the Belgian F1 Grand Prix was held here in the 1970s and again in 1980s. The track is located at just 15 minutes-drive from Hasselt. The track is still in use and is a regular stop for some famous racing events. This is the same track where the Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve lost his life. If there are no events, then Thursdays in summers are the testing days where you can experience the track and meet the old racers of the track who can also provide you with some information and tips. Circuit Zolder has also held a BMX international Cycling Championship and there are also special classes available to learn cycle racing.
Pukkelpop Hasselt Belgium
Pukkelpop is the Belgium’s 2nd biggest musical festival which starts in Hasselt from mid of August. The site of the festival is located around 7 kilometers away from the city center and the dual carriageway gets closed for the traffic during the event days. The site also provides free camping facilities, free shuttle from the Hasselt train station and free transport to Hasselt station from all the train stations of Belgium. The Pukkelpop festival focuses on the rock, alt-rock, indie and electronic music from last 35 years.