The most beautiful parks in Brussels in autumn!

21 September 2022
Trees in autumn colours in Leybeek Park

  

No, autumn is not all grey skies, depressing showers and falling temperatures. The season also provides a palette of warm, comforting colours that covers the capital. Here's a little tour of our favourite Brussels spots for enjoying the many shades of red, orange and yellow ochre. Don't forget your sunglasses, boots and umbrella. Let's go!

The Bois de la Cambre

The Bois de la Cambre is a real urban green space inherited from the Sonian Forest. It’s a popular place with city dwellers who want to go for a walk, a picnic, a run or simply enjoy a break in nature. Like many parks and gardens in Brussels, the Bois de La Cambre was a pet project of Leopold II at the end of the 19th century. It has lost its forest heritage but still retains traces of the landscape architecture that was all the rage at the time, with English-style lawns, ravines, ponds and pedestrian contours that glide between the trees. The autumn vegetation is divided between the conifers and hollies that remain green and the oaks, lindens and other ash trees that give in to the shimmering shades of autumn before shedding their foliage for winter.

Walkers in the Bois de la Cambre in autumn

The Sonian Forest

This is the green lung of Brussels and the place to be for lovers of walks and other outdoor activities. Located in the south-east of Brussels, the 4,000 hectares of nature in the beautiful Sonian forest are divided between the Brussels, Flemish and Walloon regions. It has various entry points, but choose Rouge-Cloître, which has a bucolic setting that matches the warm colours of the season. You’ll find meadows, a nature reserve, ponds and other wetlands; a biotope that is home to fish, frogs, toads, herons, kingfishers, great cormorants and even 13 varieties of bats! Delve deeper into the forest, part of which has, since 2017, been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is officially classified as one of the last sections of intact forest in Europe.

Josaphat Park

The statistics speak for themselves; in 2015, Josaphat Park was voted the favourite park of Brussels residents. And rightly so. Its 30 hectares contain a mix of historical park, English-style lawns, hilly terrain, a playground and more. It even manages to combine greenery and culture with the sculptures and busts of writers, artists and other legends that mark out its various paths… it’s a true open-air museum. And nature is not to be outdone, since a good number of trees in this Schaerbeek park are registered on the list of remarkable and protected trees of the Brussels-Capital Region (among them a Canadian poplar, a bald cypress, a Chinese mahogany and a tulip tree). This diversity becomes even more pronounced when the park gives way to the deep, warm ochre of autumn.

View of one of the ponds in Josaphat Park in autumn

Brussels Park

The oldest park in Brussels (it was first mentioned in the 14th century!), Brussels Park – also known as Royal Park - used to belong to the hunting reserve that extended to the city walls. It then became the garden of the Royal Palace, which lies just opposite. Today, it’s a garden for Brussels residents, nestled in the heart of the city. The arrival of the various colours and tones of autumn that adorn its beech trees, maples, lime trees, oaks, plane trees and chestnut trees brings a joyful chaos to the clear, geometrical and neo-classical lines that outline the park. Leaves pile up at the feet of the statues that watch over its alleys. It may not be the largest park in the capital, but it is the most central and lacks neither charm nor features, with its playground, its outdoor fitness area and the beats that escape from the sets of the DJs invited onto Kiosk Radio.

Leybeek Park

Without a doubt the most bucolic stop on this tour. Leybeek Park and its ponds were created for the 1958 World Fair, which also gave Brussels its imposing Atomium. The project was left to landscape architect René Pechère, who imported exceptional trees from Europe, North America and Asia, including superb Japanese maples. It may only cover 3ha, but this exceptional Boitsfort park enjoys the beauty and the serenity of its artificial ponds which, in autumn, reflect, the mixed amber tones of its trees.

View of one of the Leybeek ponds in autumn

Duden Park & Forest Park

On one side, Duden Park. A surprising forest atmosphere in the heart of Forest. This luxuriant and undulating (from -55 to +90 meters) park has a significant plant heritage - including monumental beeches - which is currently undergoing much needed regeneration work after the last few years of drought. It remains a favourite destination for enjoying the bright autumn colours and an exceptional panorama of Brussels.

On the other side, just a stone’s throw away lies Forest Park, conceived as a "place for recreation and walking" by Leopold II. It's the main meeting place for the inhabitants of Forest, with its large green expanses of lawn, its flower beds, its groves and its wide variety of trees (beech, ash, chestnut, lime, Italian poplar, birch, yew, cedar, walnut, etc.). It is more conventional and subdued than its neighbour Duden Park and perfect for those who like their nature more domesticated.

Did you enjoy your walk? Do you fancy warming up with a delicious coffee or hot chocolate? In some parks, the guinguette pop-up bars and other cafes are still open in autumn. So take a look at our selection of cafés in Brussels.

Because parks are public places, respect and manners are essential. So...

  • There are areas reserved for your dog to have fun and complete freedom. Everywhere else, it has to stay on its lead.
  • Flowers are available for everyone to look at, not to pick.
  • Wild animals find their own food. Feeding them can be harmful or even fatal for them. Given the current cost of living, you’d be better off keeping your food for yourself.
  • You’re welcome to picnic in the parks. Barbecues and fires are not allowed.
  • Rubbish bins are not always pretty, but they are useful. If there are some in the parks, please use them.

Thank you.