Hasselt is a charming city in the Flemish region of Belgium, known for its great food and drink scene, top tourist attractions, and excellent shopping opportunities. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a longer stay, there’s plenty to see and do in Hasselt. Here’s our ultimate travel guide to help you plan your trip.
A brief history
Founded in the 7th century on the Helbeek tributary, Hasselt became a free city of the county of Loon during the Middle Ages. Today, it is a center of administration and market town with a long history of distilleries, including the production of Hasselt Spirit gin. Hasselt also developed industrially with the beginning of coal mining in the Kempenland to the north, while its southern fertile Hesbaye country continues to support its breweries, flour mills, tanneries, and fertilizer factories. Visit the town’s landmarks such as the 14th-century Church of St. Quentin, the 1675 town hall, and the 18th-century béguinage, which now houses a museum and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Hasselt is also known as the capital of good taste and serves as the administrative center of Limburg province.
Best things to see and do in Hasselt
- Explore the city on foot: Hasselt is home to a variety of historic buildings and landmarks, including the Stadhuis, the Virga Jesse Basilica, and the Béguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Visit the Fashion Museum: Hasselt is known for its fashion industry, and the Fashion Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in fashion and design. The museum features exhibitions on Belgian fashion designers, as well as temporary exhibitions on fashion from around the world.
- Visit the Jenever Museum: As the birthplace of jenever, Hasselt is home to the Jenever Museum, which tells the story of the city’s famous spirit. The museum features exhibits on the history of jenever, as well as tastings and workshops.
- Visit the Japanese Garden: The Japanese Garden is a tranquil oasis in the heart of Hasselt, featuring traditional Japanese landscaping, a tea house, and a koi pond. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature.
- Go shopping: The Demerstraat and the Koning Albertstraat are the most important shopping streets. In the kapelstraat and the Hoogstraat are expensive shops with the most famous brands.
- Visit the Herkenrode Abbey: This 12th century Abbey is located just outside the city and is a starting point for a hike. Visitors can discover the history of the abbey in the visitor centre, or admire the botanical gardens.
- Visit the Bokrijk Open-Air Museum: This museum is located just outside of Hasselt and features historic buildings and exhibits that showcase rural life in Flanders.
- Take the kids to Plopsa Indoor Hasselt: Looking for a fun activity for the kids? Then the Plopsa Indoor playground is a perfect place to visit.
Getting around in Hasselt
Hasselt is a small city that is easy to navigate on foot or by bike. However, there are also plenty of other transportation options available, including buses, trains, and taxis. Here are some tips for getting around Hasselt efficiently and easily:
- Rent a bike: Hasselt is a great city for biking, with plenty of bike paths and bike rental options available.
- Take the bus: The local bus network in Hasselt is efficient and reliable, with plenty of routes and frequent service.
- Walk: Many of the top tourist attractions in Hasselt are within walking distance of each other, so consider walking instead of taking public transportation.
Where to stay in Hasselt
Hasselt has plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences, from luxury hotels to budget hostels. Here are some of the top places to stay for a comfortable and enjoyable stay
When you’re visiting Hasselt, make sure not to miss out on these typical and unique local specialties.
- Hasseltse Jenever: Hasselt is known for its local gin, jenever, which is traditionally served in a tulip-shaped glass.
- Hasseltse Koffie: This is a combination of expresso with jenever and whipped cream, typically served after a meal.
- Hasseltse Speculaas: Speculaas is a traditional Belgian treat made with cinnamon and other spices.
- Hasseltse Pralines: These are a local variant of typical Belgian Chocolates with hazelnut, speculaas and jeneverberries. They are only available at Chocoladehuis Boon
Nightlife in Hasselt
Hasselt boasts a trendy and lively nightlife scene, offering an array of pubs, cocktail bars, and clubs to choose from. During weekend nights, the city center comes alive with many bars located around “Kolonel Dusartplein”. Notably, Versuz club is a popular and well-regarded establishment within the Belgian dance music and nightlife scene.
Hasselt is a charming city with a rich cultural heritage and a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From its historic landmarks and museums to its delicious food and drink, there’s something for everyone in Hasselt. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, make sure to add Hasselt to your travel itinerary.