Unique views of the capital’s skylines from the green belt
Know where you can get the best views of Brussels? Outside of Brussels. And since snow and corona have made winter walks are all the rage right now, it’s a great time to slip over the border and take a look back.
While walks and cycle paths can be found anywhere in the Flemish green belt surrounding Brussels, the best views of some of the capital’s landmarks need to be sought out. But that doesn’t mean they are hard to find.
Take, for instance, the little dirt path that runs along Sparrenlaan in Grimbergen. On a slight incline, it offers great views of the Atomium, the Japanese Tower and part of the Laeken skyline (pictured above).
To get to the path, make your way to the Vilvoorde train station then hop on De Lijn bus 536 heading towards Grimbergen. Get off at the Sparrenlaan stop and find the path across the way from the house at Sparrenlaan 95.
This trail is less than a kilometre long, but you can create a longer walk with the walking node network that incorporates it. It’s easy to create a nice walk along country lanes in the outskirts of Brussels with the wandelknooppunt, or walking node, website. This particular path can be found between node numbers 60 and 624.
Flemish Brabant also has a suggested cycle route that takes in Sparrenlaan. It conveniently starts at the Vilvoorde train station.
See the majestic Koekelberg Basilica from Asse ©Dominic Verhulst/Toerisme Vlaams-Brabant
One of the interesting aspects about seeing Brussels from this perspective is the quiet. You are looking at the Atomium, but all you hear are birds and the wind. The same is true for other views back on the capital from this periphery. It feels ironic to experience the Koekelberg Basilica or the dome of the Justice Palace without the steady hum of traffic, and it reminds you how close the countryside really is.
To the west of Grimbergen is Asse, which has a few options for brilliant views of the Koekelberg Basilica and related skyline. The best is courtesy of an old bird-watching platform on Kobbegemstraat. It is part of a number of unpaved countryside roads that wind through farmland in this fertile area just outside of Brussels.
The 10.5-kilometre Dertien Bunders walking route takes in Kobbegemstraat. There are red-and-white signposts, but the municipality of Asse is altering this route slightly to match with the walking node system. So it’s best to follow that system instead, described on Flemish Brabant’s tourism website.
The Mort Subite Brewery is located on the Dertien Bunders walk ©Joost Van Biervliet/Wikipedia
Dertien Bunders officially starts at the St Guagericus Church at Lierput 5. Happily, this is located right next to the Mort Subite brewery, so don’t hesitate to come back for a tour later in the spring or summer when coronavirus regulations ease up.
The walk is problematic to reach by public transport, though there is free parking at the church where it officially starts should you have wheels. It’s also a short jaunt by bike from the Zellick train station to the beginning of the walk.
The shorter Kruiskouter walking route (8.3km) is in the same area and also offers views of Koekelberg. Again, the municipality is bringing this route in line with walking nodes, so follow those instead.
Very conveniently, walking node 225 on the Kruiskouter walk is very close to the Zellick train station. It’s not the ‘official’ start, but because the walk is circular, it doesn’t really matter where you start.
As for cycling in Asse, the strip between cycle nodes 42 and 47 offer the best views of Koekelberg. You can plan your route from there and take a detour along Kobbegemstraat for the best view.