What better way to make the most of the last rays of sunshine than with a visit to Brussels' parks, which are decked out in their finest colours this season?
Whether you’re planning to head out on your own or as a couple, with family or friends, we’ve got a selection of autumn walks for you in the parks of Brussels. Enjoy!
The Rouge-Cloître Park and the Sonian Forest
The Rouge-Cloître Park is a green haven of peace on the outskirts of Brussels.
This former priory, which for centuries housed a community of canons and is now home to an art centre, is a majestic gateway to the nearby Sonian Forest. This ‘cathedral forest’, one of the last intact forests in Europe, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017.
In autumn, when the trees turn from golden yellow to deep red, the hundred-year-old beech trees in this forest create truly enchanting landscapes.
At the edge of this now mythical forest, the meadows, the nature reserve, the five ponds and the wetlands of the Rouge-Cloître Park are definitely worth a visit. They are home to a precious little world: freshwater fish with poetic names, protected frogs and rare toads, but also herons, kingfishers and great cormorants, water birds so different from the pigeons in the cities. Nature lovers and patient observers rejoice, because there are no less than 13 species of bats living here... and you might even spot some surprising orchids!
(c) Micael Veras dos Santos
Bois de la Cambre
Nestled between Uccle and Ixelles you will find Bois de la Cambre, which was once part of the Sonian Forest. With the support of King Leopold II it became one of the favourite parks of the inhabitants of Brussels.
In autumn, alongside the groves of conifers and hollies that remain green all year round, elms, oaks, lime trees and ancient ash trees take on impressive colours.
Throughout the years, the park has been upgraded to host countless activities. There’s always something to do, especially at the weekends, as cars are only allowed in the park during the week.
You can enjoy a romantic stroll hand in hand around the idyllic paths. You can take a seat on the vast English-style lawns to catch up with friends or watch the children play.
Josaphat Park is a huge green bubble north of the capital. The perfect place to catch a breath of fresh air!
This park in Schaerbeek, with its inviting lawns, many hilly corners, small ponds and a poetic waterfall, is the ideal spot to take a break away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Its romantic allure and sculpture-lined paths make it a place loved and praised by writers and artists alike, who head there for inspiration and to recharge their batteries. And they are not alone!
The playgrounds in the ‘kid-friendly’ areas, the sandpit and the famous aviary are a delight for families; and the many sports and leisure facilities attract exercise lovers, even from far away.
Josaphat Park is also a vibrant hotspot for concerts and fun activities all year round. Its ‘guinguettes’ - French-style cafés - welcome you with open arms for a coffee or a snack when the days get cooler, and the park is decked out in the colours of autumn, to the delight of the people of Brussels.
Parc de Bruxelles
With its aristocratic appeal, Parc de Bruxelles (Brussels Park), which has been classified as a heritage site by the Brussels-Capital Region, is truly worthy of its royal nickname, Parc Royal (Royal Park).
This historic hunting reserve, which used to extend all the way to the city walls, became the ‘garden’ of the nearby Royal Palace in the late 18th century. The monumental classical sculptures and the trellised lime trees surrounding the park instantly give you an idea of how majestic this place truly is. The geometric alleys, which criss-cross linking the upper and lower parts of the city centre, converge onto an impressive fountain. The park boasts an elaborately decorated kiosk and wide wooden benches where you can relax during your walk. The cosy ‘guinguette’ - a French-style café - is the perfect spot for a comfy break. And you’ll be treated to DJ sets from all over the world, courtesy of Kiosk Radio, its trendy little neighbour. Along the paths, you will enjoy a green oasis of unique trees, with their beautiful autumn colour palette.
Last but not least, the ‘kids & parents only’ playground and its outdoor fitness area also make this historic park the ‘back garden’ of all the people who live in the heart of the Belgian capital.
In 1958, Brussels hosted the World Expo, and the city was given a makeover for the occasion. Brussels owes its emblematic Atomium to this international event. Another legendary piece of heritage dating back to that time are the ponds that René Pechère, the great landscape architect, created in Boitsfort, at the the Leybeek Park.
Echoing the global dimension of the World Expo, the landscape architect equipped this park with exceptional tree species from Europe, Asia and North America.
In autumn, the Japanese maple trees create a colourful spectacle reminiscent of the cherry trees in their native country. As a result, spring in Brussels is always an enchanting affair.
The banks of the ponds, with their equally remarkable plants, have become a very popular habitat for many water birds, whose tranquil existence is often disturbed by the peregrine falcon which has taken up residence in the nearby church tower!