Top Things to Do in Hasselt, Belgium

hasselt belgium

Hasselt offers so many attractions and cultural experiences that will leave you wanting more! It might not be a Belgian city many of you have heard about or thought about visiting, but after my recent visit, you might be in for a surprise.

Imagine exploring a Belgian city brimming with rich history, stunning architecture, vibrant art, and delightful culinary experiences – welcome to Hasselt! From its charming historic city centre to Europe’s largest Japanese Garden, there is more to Hasselt than meets the eye.

.Let’s embark on an unforgettable adventure through this captivating city, discovering the best things to do in Hasselt.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Hasselt’s Historic City Centre and admire its vibrant street art

  • Uncover religious heritage at Herkenrode Abbey and experience thrilling attractions at Plopsa Indoor Hasselt

  • Savour local dishes, explore literature & art with Z33, plus visit the Jenever Museum & Fashion Museum for an unforgettable trip!

Explore Hasselt’s Historic City Centre

Hasselt’s historic city centre transports you to a world filled with enchanting architecture and picturesque streets. Take in the majesty of St. Quentin’s Cathedral, conveniently located near the city hall, and the impressive Renaissance-style refuge house of Herkenrode Abbey, both testaments to the city’s rich history. Stroll through quaint passageways, such as Kadettensteegje, and effortlessly submerge yourself into the vibrant city life of Hasselt, including a visit to the iconic Hasselt Market Square and the town hall.

Discover the following attractions in Hasselt:

  • The exquisite 14th-century Virga Jesse Basilica, located near the National Jenever Museum

  • Oud Kerkhof, Hasselt’s historic and beautiful cemetery

  • The Sint-Quintinuskathedraal, a magnificent Gothic cathedral, which houses a captivating carillon museum and a stunning late-16th-century Niehoff organ

  • Hasselt’s city centre, with its pedestrian-friendly streets and architectural treasures

These attractions offer delightful exploration opportunities when you visit Hasselt.

Admire Street Art in Hasselt

Street art in Hasselt
Street art in Hasselt

Hasselt garners appreciation not just for its historical landmarks but also for its dynamic street art scene. The Fietsroute Graffiti Street Art showcases remarkable works by artists such as:

  • CAZN

  • INTI

  • MYMO

  • Sneaky Jay

  • Animalito

  • Smates

  • DZIA

With a collection of more than 80 artworks from both international and local artists, the city’s creative spirit is sure to captivate you.

Discover breathtaking murals, like the massive piece by Spanish artist Aryz and a captivating underwater scene depicting a scuba diver. Hasselt’s street art can be explored through a street art tour or by visiting specific locations, adding a colorful and inspiring layer to your visit.

The Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden in Hasselt
Japanese Garden in Hasselt

Experience the tranquil beauty of the Japanese Garden, the largest of its kind in Europe, adorned with:

  • Cherry blossoms

  • Winding pathways

  • Traditional tea ceremonies The garden features picturesque bridges, stunning water features, and traditional Japanese plants, providing a peaceful oasis within Hasselt.

During the summer months, the Japanese Garden hosts:

  • Exquisite tea ceremonies at its tea house

  • A chrysanthemum festival in the autumn

  • Various cultural events and exhibitions showcasing Japanese arts, crafts, and traditions

A visit to the Japanese Garden is an enchanting experience that should not be missed.

Jenever Museum

Venture into traditional Belgian jenever at the Jenever Museum, a remarkable institution dedicated to the history and production of this beloved spirit. The museum presents guided tours, tastings, and interactive exhibits, offering intriguing glimpses into the world of jenever.

With an impressive selection of 130 different types of jenever, the museum is a haven for spirit enthusiasts. Experience a guided tour, join a tasting session, and participate in workshops to gain a deeper understanding of this iconic Belgian beverage.

Herkenrode Abbey – Discover Religious Heritage

Herkenrode Abbey
Herkenrode Abbey

Delve into the religious heritage and breathtaking architecture of Herkenrode Abbey, a Cistercian monastery that prospered for 600 years, from the late 12th century until the French Revolution. Discover the magnificent Gothic church, an engaging museum, and beautiful picturesque gardens within the abbey’s grounds.

The museum houses a wonderful collection of artifacts and exhibits offering an exciting insight into the daily life of the nuns and the abbey’s fascinating past. Nature lovers can also enjoy exploring the stunning walking and cycling trails that surround the abbey. Herkenrode Abbey is a testament to Hasselt’s rich religious history and breathtaking architecture.

Hasselt Fashion Museum

As a city with a thriving fashion scene, Hasselt is home to the vibrant Fashion Museum. The museum is dedicated to the art of dressmaking and design and proudly displays world-renowned designer’s masterpieces, including:

  • Chanel

  • Versace

  • Cristóbal Balenciaga

  • Paul Poiret

  • Dior

  • Yves Saint Laurent

Their exquisite creativity and artistry have shaped the fashion industry to what it is today. With a collection of over 18,000 pieces of clothing and accessories dating back to 1750, the museum offers a captivating journey through the evolution of fashion.

The Hasselt Fashion Museum has much for fashion enthusiasts to appreciate. It offers a wide range of educational programs and workshops, allowing visitors to gain a greater understanding of dressmaking and design.

Plopsa Indoor Hasselt

Plopsa Indoor Hasselt
Plopsa Indoor Hasselt – image via Deeep on Flicker

For an exhilarating family day out, head to Plopsa Indoor Hasselt, an indoor theme park with thrilling rides, entertaining shows, and attractions for all age groups. The park is home to a variety of attractions themed around iconic Studio 100 characters. These include:

  • Mega Mindy

  • Piet Piraat

  • Samson & Gert

  • Kabouter Plop

  • Bumba

With daily shows, lively dance parties, spectacular performances, and the opportunity to meet favorite characters up close, Plopsa Indoor Hasselt guarantees an unforgettable experience for kids and adults alike. Plan ahead and purchase tickets online to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit.

Villa Verbeelding

Step into Villa Verbeelding, a distinctive museum devoted to literature and art, nestled within an inspiring mansion that exhibits the creative output of gifted young authors and artists. The museum offers exciting activities, summer schools, and exhibitions for all ages, making it an ideal destination for families and art enthusiasts alike.

At Villa Verbeelding’s museum shop, you can find books, posters, and birthday calendars with unique designs. The inspiring atmosphere of the museum provides a perfect setting to engage with literature and art in a truly immersive way.

Ethias Arena Cultural Events

Experience cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions at the modern Ethias Arena, a crowd favorite venue in Hasselt. With a seating capacity of over 20,000, the arena offers ample space for spectacular music concerts, thrilling sports tournaments, and fascinating exhibitions.

The Ethias Arena provides excellent acoustics, comfortable seating, and various delicious food and beverage options, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all attendees. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness world-class performances and events at this fantastic venue.

Provincial Domain Bokrijk

Travel back in time at the Provincial Domain Bokrijk, an open-air museum displaying historical buildings, engaging activities, and picturesque gardens. Spread over a vast 18 hectares, the museum offers an enjoyable and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

The Bokrijk Open-Air Museum features:

  • Traditional Flemish architecture

  • Immersive exhibits that transport you to a bygone era

  • Sheep herding

  • Animal feeding

  • Creative playtime with clay at the museum’s outdoor playground

Children can enjoy these activities at the museum, which offers an amusement park-like experience, similar to visiting amusement parks or art museums.

The Provincial Domain Bokrijk provides a unique insight into the heritage of the Flemish countryside.

Domain Kiewit Nature Reserve

Embrace nature at Domain Kiewit Nature Reserve, a scenic 130-acre sanctuary equipped with:

  • Hiking and biking trails

  • A petting zoo

  • Picnic areas

  • A local tavern

The reserve provides a perfect escape from the bustling city life, allowing you to immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the great outdoors.

Domain Kiewit also features the unforgettable “Cycle through the water” attraction, a 200-meter cycling ride through a pond with eye-level water on both sides. Bicycles can be rented on-site, and with perfect weather, this experience is truly one-of-a-kind.\

If you have more time, I recommend you head out to the water-filled world of De Wijers, not far outside of town, too.

Experience Literature and Art at Z33

Engage with literature and art at Z33, an art center nestled within a compound of UNESCO-protected structures, offering exhibitions, films, and distinctive architecture. The center showcases a diverse range of artistic expressions, from visual arts to film, providing a stimulating environment for art lovers.

The façade of Z33 is adorned with interesting diamond-shaped bricks, a work of art in itself. With its captivating exhibitions and thought-provoking films, Z33 offers an engaging platform for artists and visitors to connect and explore the world of art and literature.

Discover Hasselt’s History at Stadsmus

Discover Hasselt’s rich history at Stadsmus, a city museum showcasing artifacts, paintings, and photographs that provide a fascinating insight into the city’s past. The museum contains artifacts from Herkenrode Abbey, preserved over time. In addition, it has stained glass, a 17th-century compendium of plays, and stunning silver objects crafted by the city’s silversmiths in the 15th century..

Stadsmus offers audio guides in English, ensuring an engaging experience for all visitors. With 2-3 hours of captivating exhibits, Stadsmus is a must-visit for history buffs and curious travelers alike.

Savor Local Dishes and Drinks

Hasselt, celebrated as the “city of taste,” presents a tantalizing culinary scene for visitors to relish. From traditional Belgian jenever to the delicious speculoos biscuits, the city boasts a variety of local dishes and drinks that cater to all tastes.

Indulge in the vibrant flavors of Hasselt’s cuisine at cozy cafes and restaurants, many offering outdoor terraces to enjoy the city’s atmosphere while savoring delicious local fare. A trip to Hasselt wouldn’t be complete without experiencing its mouth-watering food and drink offerings.


From its historic city centre and vibrant street art to its serene Japanese Garden and bustling culinary scene, Hasselt offers various attractions and experiences that cater to all interests. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, history buff, or simply looking for a unique destination, Hasselt is a city that will captivate, inspire, and leave you with unforgettable memories.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hasselt Belgium known for?

Hasselt, Belgium, is known for its Jenever gin and the Jenever Museum, which pays homage to the Dutch spirit. It’s also famous for Hasselt Spirit gin, Limburgish pie, speculaas, and recently its chocolate, earning it the nickname “the city of taste”.

What is the population of Hasselt?

Hasselt, the capital of Limburg and Flanders in Belgium, has a population of 80,846 as of August 2023. It has 39,589 men and 41,257 women living in it.

What is the best time of year to visit the Japanese Garden in Hasselt?

The best time to visit the Japanese Garden in Hasselt is during the summer months when the weather is most delightful.

Are there any indoor attractions in Hasselt for families?

Yes, families in Hasselt can enjoy Plopsa Indoor Hasselt, an exciting indoor theme park.

Can I rent a bicycle to experience the “Cycle through the water” attraction at Domain Kiewit Nature Reserve?

Yes, you can rent a bicycle to experience the “Cycle through the Water” attraction at Domain Kiewit Nature Reserve – it’s available on-site.

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