Are the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken worth the visit?

Short answer: YES!

Long answer: Yes, because:

  • They were pretty much the most beautiful greenhouses I ever visited. (I liked them over Kew Gardens)
  • They’re only open for public for three weeks a year, when the flowers are at their most beautiful.
  • Awesome flowers.
  • It’s easily accessible (by car or bus)
  • Entrance fee is very low (2,50 EUR in 2015)

Downsides:

  • It was really crowded when we arrived at the Royal Greenhouses. REALLY crowed. It felt like an overpopulated tour in a flower factory.
  • The Greenhouses could use some fresh paint. From the outside they look a bit dilapidated, but the insides make up for it. (The Greenhouses are being renovated as we speak.)

Five things I love about Hallerbos, Belgium

Hallerbos

Hallerbos is a place of magic. During Spring the forest is covered in bluebells, turning it completely purple. The bluebells mostly flower in April, depending on the weather. You can track progress online.

When magic happens, the forest gets kind of crowded. Make sure you arrive early to enjoy peace and quiet. Waking up early for this beauty will be worthwhile. Why? Let me tell you:

  1. The colour purple. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Walking in the forest you can easily image yourself being in some kind of fairytale.
  2. Peace and quiet. Even though the forest can get crowded on weekends during bluebell season, it’s still nothing compared to other parks in Brussels or other big cities. Even during high season you can find a private spot.
  3. Don’t like purple? No biggie! The forest is covered in beautiful trees and flowers. Even if you don’t like bluebells, the forest has enough diversity to please (almost) everyone.
  4. The hiking routes are fairly easy so you can go with a bunch of friends, even the ones that don’t like hiking.
  5. The forest is also famous for their fire salamanders. I haven’t been lucky enough to spot one, but maybe you are?

Some practical advice:

  • Don’t leave the trails. Lots of amateur photographers and tourists leave the trails and walk through the fields of bluebells. Please don’t. The flowers get trampled, leaving a trail of death and devastation.
  • Parking your car is all part of the adventure during high season. If you have a sidekick, let him/her explore the little parking lanes while you wait in your car. Maneuvering out of fully packed lanes is a really hard job, trust me.