Heysel: a neighbourhood of attractions at the heart of green open spaces

14 March 2022

Do you want to sample some culture while enjoying the great outdoors? Then go and discover the Heysel! Situated near the royal estate, the people of Brussels come here to walk, have fun, have picnics... 

The Heysel and its numerous gems are ideally discovered by bicycle. It's also a major events venue. Dozens of music festivals take place here every summer. Brussels Expo, King Baudouin Stadium and ING Arena (former Hall 12) attract a wide variety of activities. Fairs, exhibitions, concerts and sporting events take place here all year round. 

A high concentration of leisure activities

Whatever the time of year, there is always something to do or see at the Heysel. The Atomium is the main attraction. Built for the World Fair (Expo 58), this Brussels landmark consists of nine spheres, some of which host exhibitions. Take the lift and enjoy a 360-degree view, overlooking the lawns of the royal domain! While you're at the top of this incredible monument, treat yourself to a sweet or savoury break with a view of the rooftops of Brussels at the Atomium Restaurant.  

For lovers of design and culture, the Design Museum Brussels is home to original exhibitions that can be visited throughout the year. 

If you are with your family, a trip to Mini-Europe is a must. Almost 350 miniature models make up exact replicas of the most beautiful monuments in the European Union. You can also visit the Planetarium to discover more about space and the stars! 

Escape the urban landscape and enjoy some nature

The Heysel Plateau consists of large green spaces. Osseghem Park, at the foot of the Atomium, is a calm and pleasant place. The English-style parks are ideal for romantic walks. 

Another place of international renown is the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken which open their doors to the public every year in April and May. Go for a stroll through the orange trees, exotic flowers and tropical trees. Their architecture will take your breath away. 

Do you love bike rides?

You can reach the Heysel by bike via the Promenade Verte, a 63km signposted circuit around Brussels. Once you arrive, start by riding the length of Laeken Park, which is home to the official residence of the King of Belgium. You will then find yourself in an unexpected and exotic setting, facing the Japanese tower and the Chinese pavilion, inherited from the 1958 World's Fair. 

Along the way, other little gems: the Colonial Garden, Sobieski Park, the Stuyvenberg Florist’s Gardens. Before they were opened to the public, they belonged to King Leopold II and, among other things, supplied the palace with fruit and flowers.

Another site of great historical importance is Laeken Cemetery. Many nobles and famous Belgian figures rest there in majestic tombs. A short cycle away, go even further back in time at Sortilège, and embark on a medieval open-air adventure.

How can you get yourself a bike? Why not opt for a Villo city bike, which are available from their bike-share stations all over Brussels. You could also rent a bike from Pro Velo.  

Getting there

  • Metro: line 6 (stop Stade Roi Baudouin)
  • Tram: 3 (stop Esplanade), 7 (stop Heysel), 9 (stop Stade Roi Baudoin), 51, 93 (stop Stade)