This year may not be the warmest summer in Brussels. But when the sun does shine, this city really is one of the greenest in Europe.
It has dozens of quiet, open spaces, ranging from the ancient beech forests on the edge of town to tiny urban parks hidden behind apartment buildings. The city’s biggest parks are hubs of activity during the summer, with food trucks, DJ sets, table football, concerts and children’s playgrounds.
The main hotspots this year are the Mont des Arts gardens, Place Poelaert in front of the law courts, the square in front of Gare Centrale and Duden park. Even when the weather isn’t great, you can take time off to go for an urban walk, a bike ride or a weekend run. There’s even a free app (www.brussels-gardens.be) that will guide you to the city’s greenest spaces, wildest woods and rarest birds.
Here are eight of our favourite spots to soak up the sun or sing in the rain.
One of the city’s great open spaces, Duden Park is hosting an experimental garden this summer. Created by Parckdesign, the Jardin Essentiel project comprises a kitchen garden planted with more than 30 varieties of medicinal herbs. Experts will explain how the various herbs can be used as drinks, balms and cooking ingredients. The summer programme also includes DJ sets, talks and workshops.
Until 11 September 2016
Duden Park, Forest
GUINGUETTE DU PARC DE FOREST
Two young locals recently organised a crowdfunding campaign to renovate an old cafe in Forest park. They relaunched it in mid-July as an informal pop up summer cafe decorated with recycled wood and strings of coloured lights. The menu features vegetarian dishes, carrot cake and beer. But the main reason to head out here is for the relaxed atmosphere, DJ sets and folk concerts.
Until the end of summer
Avenue des Villas, Forest
+32 (0)475 50 67 41, www.laguinguetteduparc.be
Piknik organises friendly summer events in big city parks like the Bois de la Cambre and Wolvendael park. The events attract a young crowd who come for the dance music, organic wine and street food. Unlike some summer festivals, this one has a strong commitment to the environment, so toilets are ecological, energy is generated by solar panels and participants are asked to clean up before they leave.
Until 22 September 2016
Another summer favourite, Brüxsel Jardin features DJ electronic sets in relaxed urban locations. Sit in a deckchair with a cool drink to soak up the relaxed atmosphere.
A local initiative backed by Visit Brussels, Coucou creates a relaxed summer atmosphere in different urban locations such as Place Poelaert, the Mont des Arts gardens and the park next to the Atomium. Locations are transformed with deckchairs, music and healthy food.
It’s worth checking out Parc Josaphat in Schaerbeek, where you find a mini golf course, an archery range and the restored Buvette St Sebastiaan tavern (www.buvettesintsebastiaan.com). It’s run by the people behind Brasserie de la Senne beers, so you know what to order at the bar.
Relax at the end of the week at one of the Friday afterwork parties hosted by apéros urbains. Held in a different urban spot every Friday, these vibrant summer parties feature music, drinks and street food. It’s a great way to discover hidden corners of the city and maybe even make some new friends.