Great day trips Belgium - Nature
"Between every two pines, there is a doorway to a new world." - John Muir
"Between every two pines, there is a doorway to a new world." - John Muir
Limburg, if you ask me, is one of the most beautiful provinces in Belgium. There are many natural parks, and fantastic places to hang out.
Limburg is also the 'fruit tree hotspot' of Belgium. During spring and specially in april, the blossoms bloom and the fields become a colorful and bright painting. Which makes it a perfect moment to visit.
But also in other months, the province has a lot to offer. This picture was taken in Borgloon in early March, when the first trees started to bloom.
You can also visit one of the many art pieces in Limburg surrounded by nature.
Some great art spots to see:
- Reading between the lines (Borgloon)
- Helshaeven (Helshoven, close to Borgloon)
- Cycling through the trees (Hechtel-Eksel)
- Cycling through water (Bokrijk)
- Vlooyberg tower (Tielt-Winge)
Google them, you won't be dissapointed.
All locations are surrounded by nature.
The landscape in the west of Flanders is plain. West-Flanders is known for its flat farmlands and beaches. It is quite hard to find big forests and lakes. But the area around Bruges is different. "The hinterlands of Bruges". There are forests of deciduous trees and even pine trees. Within these forests multiple castles can be found.
For more information about Bruges and its hinterlands. Visit the official website.
Some of the forests:
- The castle forests and tilleghembos
- Provinciedomein 't veld
7. Lommelse Sahara - LIMBURG
The Lommel Sahara is a special location in the middle of a coniferous forest. When you walk through the forest, suddenly the forest stops and you arrive at an open place where there is only sand left, when you walk slightly further, you'll arrive at a big lake. The change of vegetation is incredible and makes it a special place to visit. There is a panoramic tower which offers a wonderful view over the surrounding landscape.
The 'desert' was actually created due to nature pollution, a long time ago. Now the place looks magical. In the forest around the 'desert' you can find interesting art creatures.
9. VENNBAHN - LIEGE
The Vennbahn used to be a railway line. Now it's a biking and walking track. The strange thing about the Vennbahn, especially the part around Monschau, is that the territory of the railway line is entirely Belgian, even though it goes straight through German territory. Because of that, multiple German exclaves were created.
The railway line goes straight through forests and national parks and therefore it is definitely worth the ride.
10. Hallerbos - vlaams brabant
The Hallerbos [Haller Forest], also called "The purple forest", is located in Halle, close to Brussels. The forest is 552 hectares big.
Every spring around mid April til the beginning of may, the hyacinths bloom and become a blue/purple carpet in the forest.
Don't google this place too much. Don't get me wrong, the place is incredibly beautiful, but many Instagrammers like to edit their pictures of the forest to unknown levels, the colors are often way too exaggerated.
Also please don't step on the flowers. The flowers will be killed and won't return the following year.
Wallonia has loads of fairylike castles. Actually, Belgium is one of the countries with the most castles per square km. Therefore, it is a perfect place to go castle-hunting. Visit the most beautiful castles of Wallonia on a castle tour. Let me know which castles you saw on your way, and which ones you thought were the most beautiful.
To give you some ideas:
- The castle of Celles-Vêves, close to Dinant.
- The castle of Freÿer-sur-Meuse, also close do Dinant
- Fortress of Bouillon
- The castle of Annevoie, close to Namur
- Castle of La Roche-en-Ardenne
- The castle of Jehay located in Amay, close to Liège
- Fortress of Reinhardstein, close to Ovifat
At the end of June, I finally made a castle trip around Dinant. I visited three castles close to each other. It is possible to visit all of these castles by foot during one hike, but I recommend taking a car between the castles and hiking around each castle separately.
I drove to Dinant and started my tour at the castle of Freÿe-sur-Meuse. I parked at the other side of the River. There is a great panorama over the castle and its gardens. The castle itself is not that spectacular, but the gardens are. When I was there, all the castles were closed due to the pandemic.
Then I drove a few kilometers further to the castle of Walzin. This castle is located on the edge of a massive rock. I recommend hiking around the castle and forests. On one of the cliffs, you'll find an incredible panorama over the castle. There is also a small ruin of a fortress on top of the cliffs, which has a great viewpoint. To get there, you can either follow the river up, cross a railway and take the path up the hill, or you can take the other way around.
Not too far away, you can also visit Aiguilles de Chaleux, a rock formation. Or you can rent a Kayak at the Lesse river.
I drove a little bit further to the castle of Celles-Vêves. It's a beautiful castle, but the surrounding area is not that spectacular. However, a few kilometers further we found an incredible strange spot. I will make a separate topic about it soon! Number sixteen in this list.
12. FLEMISH ARDENNES - oost vlaanderen
Don't get me wrong, yes I know, the Ardennes are mentioned many times in this list, but the Flemish Ardennes are located almost 150 km more to the West in 'Oost-Vlaanderen'. It's a hilly landscape where forests and agricultural fields alternate in a line of 20 km, from Kluisbergen to Brakel. It's a great location for an afternoon nature walk. It's also a perfect location for bikers.
I drove to Hotond - Scherpenberg, close to Ronse, and started my nature walk at the Hotond Sporthotel. It's located in the middle of the green line. You can pass the following forests during your hike or bike trip:
The Zwalm valley is located in the province of East-Flanders. It's an unique landscape with meadows, forest remnants and spring brooks. Follow one of the walking paths, or create your own trip. Try to include one or more of the following places:
- Jansveld: a wooden walking path in a small fen landscape. It's a bit similar to the walking paths in the High Fens, but it's a very short path. Jansveld is located a bit north of Brakel. The location can be found on the map I've created on the left.
- Kloosterbos: a small forest located a little bit to the left of Jansveld. There is also a wooden path going straight through the small forest.
- Middenloop Zwalm: a few km more to the north, you'll find a large area with alternating small forests and fields.
- Try to find one of the many old watermills, since the Zwalm river is a quite energetic river.
- More to the north, you'll also find 'Munkbosbeek' and Munkbosbeekvallei, with forests and the 'Ten Bieze' castle.
You can take the 'Mijnwerkers' path, which goes straight from Brakel to a place close to Zottegem. At the end of the path is a parking area.
This path is also a cycling path, so if you have a problem with cyclists, you'll better take another path.
15. Le fOndry des chiens - namur
The name sounds a bit weird, and I don't know exactly where it comes from, but the place itself is definitely worth a visit. About 20 minutes south of Charleroi, close to a village called Nismes, you can find 'Le Fondry des Chiens'. It's actually a sinkhole of 100 meters in length and a depth up to 20 meters. The area is surrounded by forests and fields.
16. Mysterious place around dinant - NAMUR
Not far away from Dinant, I found a special place on google maps. It's an abandoned quarry [steengroeve]. Nature is starting to regrow around a green lake. An extra location to pin when you're around Dinant.
Update: when I was there a few years ago, it was not clear whether it is allowed to visit this place or not, since it is private property, because of that, I won't put the location here.
18. NATURE RESERVE 'DE TEUT' - LIMBURG
Nature reserve 'De Teut' is located in Zonhoven, in the province of Limburg. Together with the nature reserve 'Tenhaagdoornheide' at the other side side of the highway, they form a Heath area of above 2000 hectares.
As I mentioned earlier at the topic about 'the Kalmthout Heath', the heath blooms and turns purple from mid august until early September. That is the best moment to visit Heath landscapes.
You've probably seen this beautiful location on social media before, but did you actually visit the place yourself?
It is located near the Elsenborn military camp in the province of Liege. To reach it, you actually have to walk or drive a bit through Germany. Now and then, when there are military trainings ongoing in the area, it is impossible to reach the panorama. It is important to be well-informed when you are planning to go there. I was actually very lucky there wasn't a training ongoing when I visited the place.
You can see the training shedule here.
The rock is called 'Le Rocher du Bieley'
21. The Hérou - LUXEMBOURG
Not far away from the beautiful village of La-Roche-en-Ardenne, you can find The Hérou. A stunning location with forests and rocks around the Ourthe river.
From the top of the steep rock, you have a wonderful panorama view. The rock is on the right side on this drone-picture. There is even a little adventurous climb with chains during the hike.
When you drive from Nadrin, there is a small free parking called "parking du belvédère de Nadrin" from there you can start your hike. If you watch closely on the drone-picture, you can see a building in the upper central part of the picture, there is the parking.
We walked anti-clockwise next to the river and climbed back up with the chains.
The whole region around La-Roche-en-Ardenne is stunning with green hills and not many buildings around. It takes you back in time with the many castles and historical sites.