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Flemish Brabant: 10 summertime tips for exploring the region

11:10 26/06/2024
In association with Tourism Flemish Brabant

Still up in the air about this summer’s best day trips? These 10 activities are a stone’s throw from the capital and 100% bucket list-worthy. Good times await!

Rozentuin Coloma_78©Lander Loeckx

  1.  Coloma Rose Garden @ Sint-Pieters-Leeuw

At the heart of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, the sprawling 15-hectare Coloma estate beckons you to explore its exceptional rose garden. Over 3,000 rose varieties from every continent – 300,000+ roses all told – put on a splendid show. However, the summer season is when they really capture hearts. Nothing beats the fragrance, colour, and velvety texture of these roses in full bloom. Wander the Red and White Garden, the Flemish Garden, and the Vintage Rose Garden. Your tour ends in the enchanting International Garden. And the best part? There’s no entry fee!

Demerbaken Langdorp_13©Lander Loeckx

  1. Canoeing on the Zenne

Nothing quite beats the heat like water. Time to head south-west of Brussels for a unique canoe trip on the Zenne River. Hop in a three-seater (family) canoe for an exciting ride with up to two other people. For one hour and 15 minutes, you’ll sail the 6.3km course between Lot and Drogenbos. Book your canoe adventure for the following dates: 14/07, 28/07, 11/08, 25/08, 08/09, 22/09. Cast off is at 10.00 and 13.00.

Wandelen in het Zoniënwoud_241©Lander Loeckx

  1. Reconnecting in the Sonian Forest

The Sonian Forest is a lush and varied slice of UNESCO World Heritage on the edge of the capital. Disembark at Groenendaal Station and step straight into the heart of this primaeval forest, which is also Flanders’ largest stretch of woodland. Some of its trees even exceed the ripe old age of 2,000! It’s also been an integral part of the Brabantse Wouden National Park since last year. All the more reason to disconnect from your tech and reconnect with nature’s bounty with the Hippodroom Walk. While you’re there, why not roll back the clock? Look for the remains of the old horse racing track near Groenendaal and marvel at the Royal Lodge that’s still intact.

Binnenplein kasteel van Gaasbeek_12©Toerisme Vlaams-Brabant vzw

  1. Gaasbeek Castle

Gaasbeek Castle might just be the prettiest castle in the country. At least, that’s how we see it… Nestled among the Pajottenland hills, this majestic building has stood the test of time for 800 years. But this isn’t just any castle. It’s also a cultural hotspot, hosting all kinds of spectacular exhibitions. For instance, Rebels Echoes is on display until 3 November. Nationally and internationally acclaimed artists tune in and establish a special rapport with this multifaceted location. Finish off your castle tour with a stroll through the lovely museum garden, based on 18th and 19th-century castle gardens.

Foederzaal Brouwerij Oud-Beersel_1©Brouwerij Oud-Beersel

       5. Bike rides and tasty bites

Follow the Zenne River to cycle the straight and narrow through Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and Brettanomyces Lambicus’ breeding grounds. These wild yeasts have twirled and danced through the air on the riverbank for centuries, the perfect catalyst for spontaneous fermentation. It’s the secret to lambic beer’s heady goodness. Well, that and the hearts, heads, and hands of Pajottenland’s genius lambic brewers. This bike route introduces you to the fascinating world of lambic and geuze and invites you to drink up and enjoy the region’s treasures.

Start with coffee and pastries at Falco Bike & Coffee Shop. Take a pitstop for lunch at Oud Beersel Alehouse, and reward yourself at the end of the day with a lambic tasting at Den Herberg Brewery & Café.

Africamuseum_1©Erard Swannet

  1. A day in the life of...Tervuren!

Visit Tervuren for a day packed with inspiration. Tip #1: Start with the AfricaMuseum. Learn all about the Congo’s history – as a former Belgian colony – and  present-day life, economy and culture. Plus, you’ll interactively explore the rituals, languages, art and geography of the entire continent. Feeling peckish? Savour some fresh air and picnic in the serenely beautiful Warande Park. Tip #2: Order a tasty picnic basket from Slagerij Breugel. Ready to move on? The Warande Walk whisks you through the park – once the hunting grounds of the Dukes of Brabant – and treat you to its most beautiful spots.

Plantentuin Meise_039©Lander Loeckx

  1. Meise Botanic Garden

Meise Botanic Garden is another one of Flemish Brabant’s dream day trips. It’s one of the world’s largest botanical gardens with plants from every continent. Journey from the savannah flats to tropical rainforest and everything in between. And don’t forget the garden’s latest marvel: the castle pond’s new island garden. Follow the 400-metre winding walkway across the water to learn more about wetland flora and fauna. New worlds await behind every bend.

Sint-Servaasbasiliek Grimbergen_23©Lander Loeckx

  1. Grimbergen Abbey Brewery

Grimbergen’s new abbey brewery blends the best of historic, tried-and-true brewing traditions with new, innovative techniques. What’s in it for you? One-of-a-kind, premium beers in limited editions. You get to be your own guide on your journey of discovery into Belgian beer tradition, brewing techniques, and the genius gears that make Grimbergen brewery tick.

Centrum Vilvoorde_1©Lander Loeckx

  1. Vilvoorde by boat

Enjoy the good life and board the waterbus in the heart of Brussels to sail your way to Vilvoorde. While this trip is worthwhile in itself, a visit to the newly-hip town of Vilvoorde is a must. Back in the day, it was all grey, grind and heavy industry. But Vilvoorde has radically transformed itself into a promising town full of good vibes. Visit Asiat Park, once a military site covered in huge warehouses, hangars, and military installations for NATO and US Army training exercises, it’s now a hub for circular business, creativity, sports and fun.

Brabantse Pijl Cycling route_186©Lander Loeckx

  1. Back to nature in the Doode Bemde

Ready to disconnect and escape the city? Take a deep breath and head to the Doode Bemde Nature Reserve in Neerijse. This nature reserve is a beautiful patchwork of small fields, poplar plantations, wetland forests, meadows, brushwood and reed beds, ponds and canals. Don’t forget to take your wellies or waterproof shoes. It can get pretty soggy out there. All set to reconnect after a perfect day? Enjoy a local craft beer at De Kroon Brewery.

Photos: (main image) Brussels waterbus; Brouwerij Oud-Beersel ©Brouwerij Oud-Beersel; Demerbaken Langdorp ©Lander Loeckx; Sonian Forest ©Lander Loeckx; Gaasbeek Castle ©Toerisme Vlaams-Brabant;    Foederzaal Brouwerij Oud-Beersel ©Brouwerij Oud-Beersel; AfricaMuseum ©Erard Swannet; Plantentuin Meise ©Lander Loeckx; Sint-Servaasbasiliek Grimbergen ©Lander Loeckx; Centre Vilvoorde ©Lander Loeckx; Brabantse Pijl Cycling route ©Lander Loeckx


Written by The Bulletin with Tourism Flemish Brabant