Flower power: Three beautiful parks and gardens that are closer than you think!
Spring has finally begun! It's a perfect time to shake off that last bit of winter and go for a refreshing walk. There are many lush parks and gardens in Flemish Brabant that can be reached by bicycle, public transport or car in less than 30 minutes. Here are three not-to-be-missed gems!
Perhaps the best known because of its proximity to Brussels is Tervuren Park (pictured below). And yet many expats don’t hop on the tram (a lovely ride through forested outskirts) that will take you directly to this enormous and endlessly picturesque green space.The park is associated with the Africa Museum, but visitors can access the park anytime. Developed as a royal garden in the 19th century, it's dotted with lakes, fountains, sculptured shrubbery in the French style and century-old traces of the dukes’ hunting grounds.
Again, quite close to Brussels is the Botanic Garden in Meise (pictured below). While the garden is intriguing any time of the year, as the foliage changes with the seasons, late spring and early summer are when it really comes into its own. You need to visit the site to fully appreciate the expanse and diversity of this 92-hectare space that serves as both a paradise for visitors and a scientific research institute. With thousands of varieties of plants, flowers and trees, the garden is a never-ending exercise in exploration and discovery.
Walkways in the park take visitors through areas devoted to specific species, such as orchids, conifers or plants of the Mediterranean. Meise also has historical buildings and greenhouses from the garden’s 18th-century origins as well as a 12th-century castle. Its botanical library contains more than 200,000 books dating back to the 15th century, and its herbarium archive holds a whopping four million specimens.
Gaasbeek Castle (pictured below), meanwhile, is situated inside a 49-hectare park with walking paths criss-crossing it. You’ll come upon lovely historical buildings connected with the castle, including a chapel, pavilion and triumphal arch, as well as monolithic beech trees and three lakes. It’s freely accessible from 8.00 to 20.00 every day.
A bit more hidden is the Museum Garden, which must be accessed through the castle. Previously open only by appointment, it’s now open to the public, so anyone can stroll like a dignitary along the paths, strikingly laid out in geometrical shapes among fruit, vegetable and ornamental gardens. A visit to both the park and the garden makes for a magnificent day out.
Please note that the castle itself is currently being renovated. The doors will open temporarily in July.
Tervuren Park is easily accessed by Tram 44, which runs from Montgomery through Auderghem and all the way to Tervuren Station, right in front of the park. There are also several parking areas around the park, some free.
Meise Botanic Garden is served by De Lijn buses 250 or 251, both of which leave from North Station. They stop directly in front of the garden. There is also a free parking area at the entrance
Gaasbeek Castle is just a 30-minute bus ride away. Hop on De Lijn bus 142, which leaves from Brussels South Station. It also has ample free parking.
Photos: Lander Loeckx (main image Meise Plantentuin)