The Leiestreek (known as the Lys Valley in English) is an area which follows the course of the Leie (Lys) river in Flanders. The area contains 9 cities, some bigger and more known than others, but they all have a unique character and their own reasons to visit. These 9 cities are easy to discover during a sustainable multi-day trip as they are all connected by rail. So leave your car at home, and choose to travel green by train!
This city guide will show how you can explore Roeselare, Kortrijk and Deinze in 3 days. And if you have some extra time left, you can also add Ghent to your wish list. Check out 'Ghent, a weekend in the veggie capital of Europe' for lots of food and travel tips in this wonderful city.
This city guide will help you to make the most out of your time in:
One day in Roeselare
The city of Roeselare is well known for cycling (and cycle racing), its street art and an innovative library.
See and do in Roeselare
Library ARhus is named after Albrecht Rodenbach, a Flemish poet from the 19th century who was born in Roeselare. ARhus is a platform for learning, (innovative) entrepreneurship, meeting and dialogue. This library is probably the most striking modern building in Roeselare and worth a visit when you are around. Because of its height and the large amount of windows you have beautiful views of the city all around. On the first floor you will find a café.
KOERS Museum of Cycle Racing is not only for cycling fanatics, it's an attractive collection in a beautiful historic building for everyone who is interested in the (cycling) history of Roeselare. Within the collection ample attention is paid to World Cycle Champion Jean-Pierre "Jempi" Monseré, who was born and raised in Roeselare.
Street art in Roeselare
Most people in Belgium probably first think about Ostend when it comes to street art, but the city of Roeselare is well on its way too! There is a street art route of approximately 10 km (6.21 mi) which you can discover best by bike. But there is also a shorter one, you can download the street art walking route or get a free map at the tourist office of Roeselare.
Former mentioned Jean-Pierre Monseré is honoured with a mural on the grounds of the fire brigade (first photo). And at Bruanestraat (second photo) by Belgian artist Denis Meyers.
At the tower of the fire brigade you will find 'Karma', the work of Italian street artist ZED1.
The 'Sleeping woman' by British artist David Walker is located in the area behind the train station.
Mural 'zwarte leeuw' (named after the street where it's located) is made by Belgian artist Wietse Hindryckx. During the time I have visited this place, there were major renovations underway, causing heavy vehicles to block the view. That's why I only photographed the head of the lion, but the mural is much bigger than what you see here.
Dutch artists Telmo Miel made this mural (on the side wall of the hospital) of a woman who is lying in a field with flowers.
Coffee and lunch and dinner in Roeselare
In the heart of Roeselare you wil find the colourful coffee, breakfast and lunch spot Bar Julien where vegetarians have several options to choose from. Allergies are clearly stated on the menu, so you can easily see wether a dish contains gluten, nuts, lactose, egg, soy, wheat and so on.
ARhus café is located on the first floor of the library, from where you will have a nice view over the city center. Local produce (like for example organic vegetables, natural bread, award-winning cheeses, fresh juices and artisan chocolate) are used as much as possible. The lunch menu changes with the seasons, and there is at least one vegetarian dish daily.
Thé place in town for seasonable and market fresh salads is for sure Saladette. Here you will enjoy a huge variety of great plant-based ingredients and flavours combined on one plate. It's wonderful that healthy and nutritious can be so extremely delicious at the same time!
At fine dining restaurant Bistro Le Nord you can experience French and Belgian high quality cuisine, which is mentioned in the Michelin Guide and by Gault&Millau. The menu contains mostly meet and fish dishes, but vegetarians can also indulge themselves here at the finest plant-based creations and pairing wines. After a culinary evening you can prolong the pleasant experience and stay the night at their B&B next door.
Hotel in Roeselare
In 2015 a charming old town house was transformed into a cozy and luxury Bed and Breakfast with three rooms, called B&B Le Nord. Owners Kelly and Dimitris provide a warm and welcoming environment and offer a qualitatively good breakfast with delicious homemade jam. The 'Upper Room' has lots of comfort, is spotlessly clean, contains a huge bathroom (including bubble bath) and has several windows though which the daylights floods in. It's the perfect place to end the day after a culinary evening at their restaurant next door.
How to get to Roeselare
A train will take you to Roeselare within:
- 25 minutes from Bruges
- 50 minutes from Ghent
- 1 hour and 40 minutes from Brussels
- 2 hours from Antwerp
From Roeselare it is only 20 minutes by train to Kortrijk.
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One day in Kortrijk
Kortrijk is known for its historic city center but also for its creativity and artistic vibe.
See and do in Kortrijk
The Broel Towers are probably the most iconic and well known buildings of Kortrijk. They were built in the middle ages and both had a different function. One was necessary to control traffic on the Leie river and was part of the fortification, the other was used as an artillery depot. Nowadays they are silent witnesses of a distant past and can be visited during a guided tour.
The banks of the Leie are a pleasant place for recreation, both in summer as in winter. At several places in the city the riverbanks have been renovated and are embellished with parks and walking & cycling paths.
Buda Island is the creative beating heart of the city. The best way to experience Kortijk's bustling energy is by walking the Creative City Tour, a route that will take you to 6 creative neighbourhoods along many innovative and artistic initiatives.
'11.11.11' is the Belgian coalition of change makers who stride for equal rights for LBGTQ+, woman, refugees and a fare world without poverty. The megaphone made by Belgian artist Toon Van Ishoven symbolises their campaign, to give people a voice.
A former textile factory was transformed into and art centre called BUDAfabriek and public workshop BUDA::lab. These are a melting pot where artists, entrepreneurs, designers and students exchange ideas, inspire each other and join forces.
☞ Dam 2
But Kortrijk is not all modern and buzzing with energy, it also has a tranquil medieval pearl, the Beguinage. This 13th century site is UNESCO world heritage, and definitely worth a visit. It took almost 30 years of renovations and is now one of the main sights of the city.
Coffee, lunch and dinner in Kortrijk
At bookstore 'Boekenhuis Theoria' you can enjoy (French press) coffee, tea and cake in an oasis of calm. Scattered throughout the bookstore are several cozy corners and seats where you can retreat for a while and take your time to enjoy the environment.
Pand.A is probably the most suitable place in Kortrijk to go with your kids. It's a vibrant and homely place where creatives meet, artist find a stage and where children can play. But also people without little ones will enjoy the music and atmosphere accompanied by drinks, sweets, (tapas) bites and even lunch or dinner.
In the heart of Buda Island you will find De KleinKeuken, an amazing vegan lunch restaurant. The plant-based menu contains a burger, salads, soup, sandwiches, taco's and cakes & sweets. Making a reservation is recommended.
At Pizzeria Sofia you can enjoy a true Neapolitan pizza. The original (hand built) stone oven, skilled pizzaiolo (chef) and best ingredients, makes this pizza stand out from all the others. There is also anti pasti, pasta and of course typical Italian desserts on the menu. Nice to know: Paying for a 'caffè sospeso' (suspended coffee) is a common tradition in Neapolitan coffee bars. This means that you pay for 2 coffees, but only receive 1 yourself. The other coffee will be anonymously given to someone who is less wealthy. At pizzeria Sofia you can also add 1 or 2 Euro's to your bill, which will be donated to an association that helps people in need.
Local shopping in Kortrijk
Ceramist Anne is the founder of Perles & Confiture, a brand of unique ceramics which are all hand-built and hand-painted. In her shop no two pieces are the same, and as the collection varies throughout the year, you will always be surprised by new and timeless pieces. Almost 3 decades of experience has refined Anne's technique that ensures that her ceramics have a high quality. Tip: Next door you can enjoy coffee or tea from one of the unique cups.
Zonder Meer is a package free shop which exclusively works together with organic farmers and producers. Here you can get organic, fair and local produce and care & maintenance products. The fresh pastries are gluten-free and the fresh cookies, pastas, bread toppings and meals are vegetarian/vegan. Owner Johan knows everything about his products, so feel free to ask. By the way, I have tried the brownie with hazelnuts, and it was delicious!
Bookstore 'Boekenhuis Theoria' is a true book heaven. This stately building with several rooms, contains thousands of titles for both young, and a little less young. There is an English section, and a large offer of literature, children's and young adults books, cook-, art- and photography books to name a few. Let go of time and immerse yourself in this pleasant environment.
Hotel in Kortrijk
Located in a beautiful old building with high ceilings and charming wooden and tiled floors you will find B&B OYO. Owners Oliver & Lan successfully created a cozy and homely atmosphere where you will immediately feel very welcome and at ease. The stylish YOO room and bathroom is spacious and very convenient. And the bed is sustainably handmade in Belgium from 100% natural materials. Breakfast is extensive, extremely tasty and truly fresh. Good to know: B&B OYO is located within less than 5 walking minutes form the train station.
How to get to Kortrijk
A train will take you to Kortrijk within:
- 25 minutes from Ghent
- 45 minutes from Bruges
- 1 hour and 15 minutes from Brussels
- 1 hour and 25 minutes from Antwerp
From Kortrijk it is only 20 minutes by train to Deinze.
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An afternoon in Deinze
Deinze is known for its proximity to nature and its art museum.
See in Deinze
The collection of mudel is exclusively focussed on works of artist living and/or working in the Liestreek. The museum contains a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. Among the permanent collection are artworks from famous artists like Gustave Van de Woestyne, Emile Claus and Constant Permeke. One of the current temporary exhibitions is of Amédée Courtier which showcases his artworks of straight lines and coloured planes.
This portrait of Mrs. Van Hecke (who was a fashion designer at that time) was painted by Leon De Smet in 1920. His painting style is related to that of Monet, and falls under impressionism.
'Bietenoogst' (beet harvest) was painted by Emile Claus in 1890, and is the masterpiece of the museum.
Coffee and local shopping in Deinze
About thirty local designers, starters and creatives showcase their products at Braavo. Here they get the chance to enter the market without risk and at relatively low costs. And for us it's a nice way to discover new creators and find nice gifts and interior & lifestyle items like jewellery, ceramics, organic candles, knitwear, handbags, fair trade skincare, crochet stuffed animals and lots more. There is also a coffee and tea bar with amazing vegan and gluten-, lactose-, and sugar-free sweets from SUE.
At Zuskus you can find handmade, organic, vegan, social, ethical ánd earth friendly products from Dutch brand Originalhome. But also the handmade Belgian ceramics of helen b, which are drawn, designed and created by Helen herself. A large part of her collection is produced in a sheltered workshop by which helen b also contributes to the local social economy.
How to get to Deinze
A train will take you to Deinze within:
- 12 minutes from Ghent
- 50 minutes from Bruges or Brussels
- 1 hour and 15 minutes from Antwerp
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Please note: I was invited for a press trip by Toerisme Leiestreek.