The province of Limburg is located in the east of Flanders and borders with The Netherlands and the Belgian provinces of Liège, Flemish Brabant and Antwerp. It spans over an area of 2,427 km2 (937 sq mi), with a population of 874,048 inhabitants.
Location and geography
The eastern border of the province corresponds to the western bank of the river Maas / Meuse, which originates in France. The centre of the province is crossed east to west by the river Demer and the Albert Canal. The south of the province is the northern part of the Haspengouw / Hesbaye region. This region is known for it’s fertile soils and fruit-growing. North of the river Demer and Albert Canal is part of the Campine (Kempen) region, with sandy soils, heath lands and forests. Limburg is Flander’s greenest region with lots of nature reserves such as National Park Hoge Kempen.
Limburg overview map
Cities and towns to visit in Limburg
Hasselt is the trendy capital of Limburg, famous for it’s Jenever and an excellent place to go shopping.
Genk is a former coal mining town witch a rich mix of culture and nationalities. It’s also one of the gateways to National Park Hoge Kempen.
Sint-Truiden is a lovely old city founded in the 7th century ad. The towns Belfry and Béguinage are Unesco World Heritage.
Things to see and do in Limburg
The Alden Biesen castle is an impressive 16th century castle located in the municipality of Bilzen. Today it functions as a cultural and conference centre.
Be-mine is the former coal-mining site of Beringen. Visitors can visit the mining museum or take a hike onto the old spoil tips.
C-mine is the former coal-mining site of Winterslag in the municipality of Genk. Visitors can take an interactive tour through the old ventilation tunnels and climb the iron headframe to get a spectacular view over the area.
Nature in Limburg
Hoge Kempen National Park is Limburg’s largest nature reserve, spanning over 10 municipalities. The landscape is mostly heatland and pine forests. More then 440 km of hiking and cycling paths allow visitors to explore the beautiful landscape all year round
Nature reserve “De Teut” is located in Zonhoven and mainly consists out of heatland. Combined with the neighboring nature reserve “Ter Haagdoorn” in Houthalen-Helchteren, it’s the largest heatland in Limburg, covering 1700 ha.
De Wijers is a nature reserve situated near Hasselt and Zonhoven. It consists of more then 1200 ponds and is home to many fish, waterbirds and frogs.
Where to stay in Limburg
Holiday homes in Limburg
One option for accommodation in Limburg is a holiday home. These are perfect if you’re travelling with a group of friends or family and want a bit more space and privacy. There are plenty of holiday homes to choose from in Limburg, ranging from cosy cottages to luxurious villas. Many holiday homes come with fully-equipped kitchens, so you can cook your own meals and really make yourself at home.
Holiday parks in Limburg:
Another popular option for accommodation in Limburg is a holiday park. These parks offer a range of different types of accommodation, from basic camping pitches to comfortable chalets and bungalows. Holiday parks often have plenty of on-site facilities, such as swimming pools, playgrounds, and restaurants, making them a great choice for families. Many holiday parks are located in or near natural areas, so you can explore the beautiful Limburg countryside right on your doorstep.
- Molenheide is a child-friendly bungalowpark in Houthalen-Helchteren
- Roompot has a holiday park in Eksel
- Center Parcs has 2 holiday parcs in Lommel and Peer as well as a holiday resort in Maasmechelen
History of Limburg
Before Roman Times, the region was home to the Gallic–Germanic tribe “The Eburones”, who defeated Julius Caesar under the leadership of Ambiorix. During Roman Times, the city of Tongeren developed as Belgian’s oldest town.
In late Roman times, around the 3rd century, the Franks started moving in from the north. The area called “Kempen” became virtually empty and abandoned due to plundering. The more southern region called “Haspengouw” remained more heavily Romanized untill it became a core land for the Frankish empires. Early Christianity was first established in the more Romanized area’s in the south-east around Tongeren. Missionaries were send out to convert the Franks. The Archbishops became responsible for a very large territory .
During medieval times the County of Loon was formed, which correspondents closely to the current province of Belgian Limburg. As part of the County of Loon, the area became both politically and spiritually subject to the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. When the bishopric was annexed by Revolutionary France in 1795, the county of Loon was also disbanded and an adjusted version of the territory became part of the French département of Meuse-Inférieure, along with Dutch Limburg to the east of the Maas.
After Napoleon’s defeat, a united Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed and the former French département of Meuse-Inférieure was renamed into the Province of Limburg.
After the Belgian Revolution of 1830, the province of Limburg was at first almost entirely under Belgian rule but the status of both Limburg and Luxembourg became unclear. The treaty of London in 1839 decided that Limburg would split into a so-called Dutch Limburg and Belgian Limburg.
Belgian Limburg became officially Flemish (Dutch speaking) in 1962, when Belgium got divided into language area’s.
Tips for Exploring Limburg
- Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Limburg is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, the province is also beautiful during the spring and autumn months, when the trees change colour.
- Local Customs and Culture: Limburg has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors are encouraged to learn more about local customs and traditions. The Limburg Carnival, held in February, is a particularly colourful event where locals dress up and celebrate with parades and parties. The Hasselt Jenever Festival in October is another popular event where visitors can sample the local gin and enjoy live music.
- Getting Around Limburg: The best way to get around Limburg is by car, as it gives you the freedom to explore the province at your own pace. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle or take public transport, which is reliable and affordable.
- Language: The official language of Limburg is Dutch, but many locals also speak English and French. It’s always helpful to learn a few key phrases in Dutch, such as “dank u wel” (thank you) and “goedemorgen” (good morning).
In conclusion, Limburg is a hidden gem in Belgium that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a cyclist, hiker, foodie, or culture lover, Limburg is sure to impress.