Now that the restrictions concerning COVID-19 are slowly but surely getting lifted in Belgium, we can start to think about our social lives again. Which feels kind of strange after more than a year of consecutive lockdowns and a severe limit to the time we spend outside of our homes. Where do you even start to get reacquainted with other people, with going places, with being comfortable in public space? If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be able to enjoy outside seating at restaurants again at the beginning of May but let’s be honest, that doesn’t resolve everything.
First of all, that outside seating space is often limited and it does take quite a lot of planning if you want to reserve your spot beforehand. Which means there’s no room for spontaneous outings, which are, after all, some of the best ones. Of course you could wait in line for a spot on that sunny terrace but ain’t nobody got time for that, right? The limited outside seating also means that restaurants and bars may not receive enough income from clients sitting there – so they’ll still need the revenue they make from take-away meals and drinks. Second of all, you may not yet feel comfortable to be seated amidst so many strangers after such a long time.
The ideal solution? Go to your favorite restaurant or bar, get some take-away meals and drinks and go have a picnic. In that way, you still support the local businesses, all while being comfortable surrounded by your friends and family. The best of both worlds, you may call it. But once you’ve decided to take that picnic plaid for an outing, you still need to decide where you’ll go. In a big city like Brussels, finding that one perfect spot isn’t always easy. Maybe you can think of no place at all, maybe you’re overwhelmed by the number of options out there. Whatever’s your case, we’ve got you covered as we picked some of the very best picnic spots available all over the Belgian capital. If you’re looking for more inspiration, have a look at the Brussels Gardens website.
1. Sonian Forest
The most famous and greenest place of Brussels is without a doubt the Sonian Forest. Once, this forest was part of the ancient Silva Carbonaria but even today it covers a surface of about 4.400 hectares. There are tons of places inside the forest that are perfect as a picnic spot, so depending on where you live and depending on your means of transportation, it’s up to you to choose one. When you’re here, it’s hard to imagine that you’re just a few kilometers from the city center.
This semi-natural park is located in Uccle and has a lot to offer, not only to visitors but also to those who live close-by. On the grounds of the Keyenbempt you’ll find grasslands (perfect for that picnic), woodlands and… vegetable gardens. Let’s be clear, the veggies and fruits you’ll find there are not yours to consume but it’s certainly nice to stroll through the different gardens. If you watch carefully, you might be able to spot a red squirrel, the mascot of the Keyenbempt.
3. Parc de la Pede
On the other side of Brussels, in Anderlecht to be more precise, lies the Parc de la Pede. The middle of this area consists of a big pond, housing a great number of different bird species. It’s the perfect place to lay in the grass, look at the fauna and flora and enjoy your day off. There are picnic tables on-site if you prefer not to eat while sitting on the ground but let’s be honest, there’s nothing better than a checkered picnic blanket.
4. Jardin Jean-Félix Hap
If you prefer culture over nature, the Jardin Jean-Félix Hap may be the ultimate park for you. Even though the centuries-old trees make for a splendid view and a great escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, this place is all about history. The brewer and mayor of Etterbeek Albert-Joseph Hap bought the little sixteenth-century castle with the surrounding lands in 1804. Over the years, he and his descendants added some buildings and further designed the gardens into what they look like today. It’s his great-grandson, Jean-Félix Hap, who decided to open the garden to the public, although entrance was first restricted to the elderly. In 1988 he bequeathed the property to Etterbeek. Today everyone can visit the park and its splendid buildings, like the orangery and the ruins of what once was the sixteenth-century castle.
5. Bois de Dieleghem
Last but not least, let’s talk about the Bois de Dieleghem in Jette. This forest, just like the others, has quite a rich history, starting in the Neolithic Era. Over the years, the area often changed hands. Before being bought by the commune of Jette, it belonged to the congregation of the ‘Dames du Sacré Coeur’. Nowadays, the grounds mostly consist of woodlands, which offer some welcome freshness on hot summer days.