Lier is the perfect day trip destination for those who like the combination of historical buildings, green ramparts walks and medieval cobblestone streets. Because of the 5 km (3 mi) long ramparts and its parks, Lier feels like a leafy destination.
Find below my travel tips about:
What to see and do in Lier
As the river Nete flows through the city, this results in many charming bridges and beautiful city views. I took this picture at the quay from the side of the 'Vismarkt' towards the 14th century St. Gummarus Church.
De Fortuin (the fortune) was originally used as a grain storage and has had many other functions in the past 3 to 4 centuries. At the left of the building you can see 'de paardendrink', a former wash and watering place for horses in the old days.
The Town Hall (with gothic belfry dating from 1369) houses the tourism office of Visit Lier. Here you can get a map of the city which will help you find the most interesting sights.
The Beguinage is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of more than 750 years old. From the 13th century widows and unmarried women (beguines) lived in the 162 houses spread over 11 cobblestone streets. Here they led an independent life by weaving, lace making and embroidering. Nowadays families are living here, and several buildings are currently uninhabited as they are being restored.
The houses at the street 'Grachtkant' (canal side) were the homes of the wealthy and noble ladies.
A characterful window with violets, lace curtains and a painting depicting a beguine at work from home.
Hemdsmouwken is the narrowest street of the Beguinage and has the shape of a 'hemdsmouw' ('shirt sleeve'). In the front it is only 98 centimetres wide.
The Zimmer Tower and its neighboring Museum is named after Louis Zimmer (1888-1970) who was born and raised in Lier, and famous for his detailed clock making skills and his extensive knowledge of astrology. An Astronomical Studio with planetarium is situated at the first floor of the tower.
Tuesday to Sunday 10:00-12:00 / 13:00-17:00, closed on Monday.
Huis van Oscar (Oscar's House) is the former home and workplace of artist Oscar van Rompay (1899-1997). He mostly painted landscapes, still lifes, nudes, town scapes, circus life and portraits. My favourite were the colourful town scapes from Paris and Spain, and the lady at the smoutenbollen-kraam (a stall with -typically Belgian- deep fried pastries). The house and stunning garden are lovingly maintained by volunteers, and in my opinion a must see if you are an art lover.
Below you see the back of the house with on the right Oscar's former workplace with large windows, which gave the perfect light to paint (unfortunately the rolling shutters were closed during the time of our visit).
Opening times may vary.
Please note: you're not allowed to take pictures inside of the house, it is only allowed to photograph the garden. The garden is 1.660 m² in size, and in spring time covered with thousands of lovely smelling blue bells.
Window of the studio/workplace.
A beautiful greenhouse of over 100 years old stands in the back of the garden.
Where to spot Street Art in Lier
The Street Art project 'LIER UP' is an initiative by local artist Joachim. You can download the Street Art Map here so you can easily find the 16 works of art scattered throughout the city. Below I share some of my favourite murals.
This work was created through a collaboration between Joachim and Bart Vermeiren. You can find it near the Zimmer Tower.
This piece is a collaboration between Joachim and Nils Westergard.
You can spot it at the intersection of Wijngaardstraat/Blokstraat/Huybrechtstraat, close to 'Huis van Oscar'.
At last I will share an other type of street art, not in the form of graffiti, but in the form of a statue. The Pallieter is probably the most famous "resident" of Lier, so he should not be missing here. Novelist Felix Timmermans (1886-1947) created this character who enjoys life to the fullest. Therefore he is immortalised in bronze while looking up at the sky with his hands in his pockets. The verb 'pallitieren' is even included in the Dutch language! You can find him 'hanging around' in front of the Municipal Park.
Coffee bars and restaurants in Lier
Barraf is a great place for breakfast, lunch/brunch and coffee with sweets. Owner Raf is trained as a baker and makes the most delicious creations, like various types of cupcakes, cookies, brownies and muffins.
We have tried the carrot cake and lemon merengue cupcakes, and they went very well with an excellent cup of coffee from Normo, a micro roastery from Antwerp.
Wednesday to Friday 11:00-17:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-17:00, closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Sisters Laurien and Elise made their dream come true by opening coffee/breakfast/lunch bar Cabane in June 2019. On the menu are toasts, salads and grilled sandwiches, but also flatbread, homemade granola, a smoothie bowl and lots of other home made dishes, There are many vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free options too. Coffee comes from Cuperus, a micro roastery from Antwerp.
Monday to Saturday 10:00-16:00, closed on Thursday and Sunday.
Sunshine, coffee and a cinnamon bun, what more to wish for?
Go to Feliks Coffee for a huge range of different kinds of coffee/tea/matcha/chai and hot chocolate, breakfast, lunch and lots of tasty sweets.
Thursday and Friday 08:30-16:00, Saturday 09:00-16:00, closed from Sunday to Wednesday.
Bar Muza is opened 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and drinks and in the weekend for breakfast as well. The spacious terrace overlooks a little park with pond, and is therefore a nice place for lunch nearby the city centre, but without the crowds. We've tried the tasty cauliflower soup and refreshing home made lemon/basil soda.
Monday to Friday from 11:30, Saturday and Sunday from 09:00.
At the terrace of Trattoria A Casa Mia I felt like I was in Italy for just a little moment. The purpose of this family run restaurant from Puglia is to give customers that authentic Italian feeling. In my opinion they definitely succeeded with this delicious Minestrone (Italian vegetable soup) and this beautiful view.
Monday to Friday 11:30-15:00 / 17:00-22:00, Saturday and Sunday 11:30-22:00.
Local Shopping in Lier
Van Ouytsel Koffiebranderij was founded in 1876, and is nowadays run by Judith, the fifth generation of the Van Ouytsel family. There is a wide range of products on offer, like different kinds of specialty tea and coffee and accessories like pots, cups, spoons and brewing equipment. I bought Maragogype coffee beans from Nicaragua to enjoy at home.
Tuesday to Saturday 09:00-18:00, closed on Sunday and Monday.
Owner Diana recently opened arts-and-crafts shop De Grote Kat ('the big cat') where you will find paint and drawing materials, second hand books (ranging from children's to architecture books) and artworks. The charming building dates back from around 1875 and breathes lots of history. Next door Diana is planning to create an art gallery which will open its doors during the upcoming years. Until that time there will be pop-up exhibitions, and at this time there is an exposition of artworks from Antwerp based artist Kris Duys.
Wednesday afternoon to Saturday, closed from Sunday to Wednesday morning..
Founder Iris stated Druantia (a natural cosmetics store) 18 years ago. Ever since she is passionate about sourcing the best products without harmful or hormone disrupting substances. Most part of the assortment is vegan and many products are zero waste. Iris solely works together with European producers to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible. Her website even contains many DIY recipes to create your own care products.
Wednesday to Saturday 10:00-17:00, closed from Sunday to Tuesday.
Even on the grayest day, the sun will proverbial shine inside Raf's impressive flower and decoration shop. Besides exuberant flower bouquets you will find vases (with shapes varying from garlic bulbs, to lemon and durian fruit, and everything in between), pillows with African fabrics, candles and more. This truly is color heaven to the max!
Monday to Saturday 10:00-18:00, closed on Sunday.
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How to get to Lier
Lier is located in the Belgian province of Antwerp and is easy to reach by public transport. A train will take you to Lier within:
20 minutes from Antwerp
45 minutes from Brussels
20 minutes from Mechelen
40 minutes from Leuven
Please note: this post is not sponsored.