When you visit Hasselt Belgium, you will discover the capital of the Limburg province. While it doesn’t have the charm of other Belgian cities, Hasselt has a friendly atmosphere. The locals are so welcoming that Hasselt is recognized as the most sociable city in Flanders. In reality, many regard the city as an example of good manners, good facilities, and etiquette.
In the 7th century, Hasselt, Belgium, was born on the Heelbeek, a tributary of the Demer River. The name of the city comes from Hasalut, which means hazel wood. Hasselt is known to be home to some interesting buildings such as St. Quentin Cathedral, the Abbey of Hercekenrode in Kuringen, and the Refugehuis. The city is also renowned for its many museums, such as the Genever National Museum, the Stellingwerff-Waerdenhof Museum, etc. And, despite its small population, Hasselt, Belgium, is mostly known for its nightlife, shops, and pedestrian area.
Visit Hasselt’s top attractions
The Japanese Garden is one of the most stunning places to see when you visit Hasselt, Belgium. Located in Kaparmolen Park, it is open from April to October. The Japanese citizens of Itami, Hasselt’s sister city, planned the garden according to a 17th century model. The Japanese Garden of Hasselt, Belgium, is the largest of its kind in Europe and it has around 250 sakura trees. Different activities related to Japanese culture often take place here.
The most prominent church in Hasselt is Sint-Quintinuskathedraal (St. Quentin Cathedral). It was here that the first settlements of the Hasselt region were founded. The church, and its tower in particular, demonstrates the various phases in the city’s development. Take a look at the lower portion to discover the ruins of the Romanesque church that was there in the 12th century.
The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) is located in the Kapelstraat, near Market Square. At the same spot, the Clerkenkapel (chapel) was built in the year 1334 by the members of the Fraternity of Our Lady. The statue of the Virga Jesse, a Madonna statue from the 14th century, is a popular tourist attraction to see when you visit Hasselt, Belgium. Other notable sights are the Baroque altar and the tombs of the abbey of Herkenrode.
Best things to do in Hasselt, Belgium
Among the best things to do when you visit Hasselt, Belgium is to go to the city’s wonderful museums:
- The Genever National Museum is dedicated to local beverages. Throughout the museum, visitors can learn about the history and distillation of their favorite alcoholic beverages.
- The Design Museum provides a clear description of the history of design. You can take part in thematic exhibits that are regularly featured here.
- The Stellingwerff-Waerdenhof Museum is home to rare historical objects and records about the development of Hasselt, Limburg, and Loon County. Here, you will see ceramic artifacts, church treasures, paintings, and other items of historic significance.
- Modemuseum Hasselt, the Hasselt Fashion Museum. Learn about the history of fashion and contemporary designers when you visit Hasselt.
There are a lot of places to visit if you want to go shopping in Hasselt, Belgium, lined with the usual fashion shops. However, Demerstraat and Koning Albertstraat are two of the city’s most popular shopping avenues. More than 175,000 tourists come to the city every week to shop, and it goes without saying that Hasselt is one of the best shopping centers in Belgium.
A visit to Hasselt’s Fruitmarkt reveals the equestrian statue designed by Marc Cox as a tribute to Arnold IV, who was the Count of Loon. Arnold IV was the one who confirmed the rights of the city of Hasselt, in the Charter of Independence.
Take a walk to Grote Markt (Market Square) on Demerstraat, and reach the largest open space you’ll find when you visit Hasselt, Belgium. This place is a hum-drum of business, but also a spot to wine and dine to your heart’s content. From there, you can continue your walk on Kapelstraat.
While you’re in the area, head out to Herkenrode Abbey, an old monastery of Cistercian nuns. It’s located in Kuringen, a part of the municipality of Hasselt.
Another good place to go for a walk is nearby Hasselt, at the Bokrijk Provincial Domain. It is a park and open-air village museum displaying traditional houses from Flanders, in the vicinity of Genk.
Eating and drinking in Hasselt, Belgium
The local Belgian cuisine is a combination of French and Flemish. And, like in many other areas of Belgium, the residents of Hasselt are fond of seafood, especially mussels served with French fries and mayonnaise.
Did you know that the popular French fries are actually Belgian?
History has shown that American, English, and Canadian troops encountered them when they landed on the coast of Flanders during the First World War. At that time, the Belgian Army spoke French and that’s why they were called French fries. Belgian or French, the world loves fries, and Hasselt is no exception!
Non-vegetarian food such as fish, chicken, and paling int groen (eel with vegetables and herbs) is usually eaten voraciously here. Many restaurants also offer ethnic and continental cuisine. Cookies and waffles, which are made with chocolate and icing sugar, are also prepared to sweeten the taste buds.
The famous alcoholic beverage spiced with juniper berries named Jenever is a must-try when you visit Hasselt, Belgium. In fact, there are quite a few factories and industries dedicated to the production and distribution of jenever.
Besides jenever, locals prefer beer and French wines. They usually go for dark double lager beer and white beer. Some also like lambic beer, a fermented drink with a fruity taste. You should try it out when you visit Hasselt!
Cultural life in Hasselt
The Ethias Arena and the Grenslandhallen in Hasselt are popular event venues you should definitely check out when you visit Hasselt. They both host a variety of concerts, from classical to contemporary, with excellent acoustics.
Besides concerts, there are also theatrical performances, sport events, fairs, exhibits, and parties that take place at the Ethias Arena and the Grenslandhallen. These two centers aren’t just a place of entertainment for the general public, they are also a lucrative way for business people and companies to display and demonstrate their goods or services through conferences, meetings, and exhibits.
Another important event venue is Kiewit. This is where the annual Pukkelpop Festival takes place. One of Europe’s largest alternative music festivals, it features more than a hundred concerts at the end of August. Rimpelrock, a music festival for those over 50 years of age, is also held here. So, as you can see, there’s something interesting to do for everyone when they visit Hasselt, Belgium!
Your Hasselt travel guide
Olivia Peeters is a sustainable travel enthusiast from Belgium. She is happiest while sailing, hiking, cycling, or doing anything else outdoor.
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