When you think about living in Brussels, taking advantage of wide open green spaces might not be the first thing that springs to mind. A modern, euro-centric city containing a blend of the historic and the modern, a thriving cultural scene and the chance to sample food and drink from all over the world? All of this is certainly true, but it’s probably not the place to stretch your legs, breath in some fresh air and enjoy a picnic. As anyone who lives there will attest, however, this is something of a misconception. As with many of its virtues, Brussels prefers to let its’ green spaces speak for themselves, and there are over 8,000 hectares of them to enjoy.
Seventy per cent of these green spaces are located on the outskirts of Brussels, with the most spectacular example being the 43 square kilometres of the Forêt de Soignes, located to the south-west of the city. Within the centre of Brussels itself, you’ll find 10% of the greenery on offer, and if you know the right places to go it’s always possible to find the perfect spot for a picnic, jog, late evening stroll or simply some relief from the hustle and bustle of big city life. The following are just a few of the amazing parks you’ll find in Brussels.
Parc de Bruxelles
Where to find it: Parc de Bruxelles is located in the heart of the city in front of the spectacular Place of the King. It was originally created in the 18th Century and it is the largest public park in Brussels. As well as a space in which to enjoy nature it is home to the Thêatre Royal du Parc and the Vauxhall art gallery, as well as featuring various statues situated around the park dating back to its original incarnation as the gardens of Coudenberg, the former palace of Brussels. As well as enjoying the Parc de Bruxelles on its own terms, look out for regular events such as music festivals, a comics festival and the spectacular celebrations held annually on Belgian National Day.
Garden of the Mont des Arts
Where to find it: the garden of the Mont des Arts sits just a few metres away from the Place Royale in the heart of Brussels. The fact that it is located on a small hill means that it offers stunning views over the rest of the city and it is perhaps best appreciated at night, when the park itself is illuminated. Whether you enjoy the garden for its views, its atmosphere or as a starting to point to explore nearby attractions such as the Royal Palace, the cathedral and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, a visit is a must-see part of any trip to Brussels.
Bois de la Cambre
Where to find it: Bois de la Cambre is located on the edge of the Forêt de Soignes and, with an area of 1.23 square kilometres, it is one of the largest urban green spaces in Brussels. One of the most striking features of Boise de la Cambre is the fact that it has its own lake with a small island in the middle. You can travel out to the island on an electric ferry and, once there, treat yourself to a meal at Chalet Robinson. The restaurant is prized not only for its romantic setting and excellent food but also for the terrace which offers the chance for al fresco dining during the summer in particular.
Where to find it: Cinquantenaire Park is a 30 hectare park located in the heart of the European Quarter of Brussels. Although offering a large green space complete with many trees and the chance to relax on free sun loungers, it is dominated by the presence of the dramatic U-shaped arcade which was originally constructed to celebrate 50 years of Belgian independence. It is home to several museums covering topics such as art, military history and motor vehicles, and it is possible to purchase a ticket to climb a flight of stairs to the very top of the arcade and enjoy the stunning views.
Where to find it: Parc Tenbosch is located close to Place Brugmann, and was originally a private garden dedicated to cultivating and growing rare trees. The space was purchased by the city of Brussels in 1982 and it can now be enjoyed by everybody. As well as hundreds of trees which become stunning in different ways depending upon the season, it is also home to a tennis court, basketball court and petanque field, so whether you want to relax or exercise, it’s the perfect spot to visit.