Take a trip to Belgium's Hallerbos bluebell forest this spring, to witness one of nature's greatest phenomena.
Located in Halle, in Belgium's Flemish Brabant, is Hallerbos, a forest that's blessed with a beautiful carpet of bluebells
that flower during the spring. Although it's tricky to pinpoint the exact time the flowers will bloom due to the ever-changing
weather, the best time to visit the forest is usually during the latter half of April, when the bluebells flower, and
a sapphire glow envelopes the forest.
The best way to explore Hallerbos, and the swathes of bluebells, is by following the four hiking trails that guide you through
the woods. Three of the trails are marked with different coloured poles, with each covering different routes and distances
for varying abilities. The Achtdreven Walk is just 1.8-kilometres in distance, and can be followed via the white and
black painted poles. The Achtdreven route is designed for visitors with limited mobility, and provides plenty of picnic
benches throughout the course, so that families can enjoy lunch with a view.
The two other marked routes are the Sequoia Walk, which is four kilometres long, and the Roebuck Walk, which is seven kilometres
long. For Sequoia, simply follow the blue poles, which take you past conifers and giant Sequoia trees. The Roebuck Walk
is marked out by yellow posts, which guide you through three of the four valleys in Hallerbos, where you can stop to
take in the picturesque views, and wait patiently for wildlife to pass.
Follow the Bluebell Walk
The one unmarked walking route is the Bluebell Walk, which takes you through the heart of the bluebells during the spring.
You can find the map for this on the Hallerbos website.
Things to do in Hallerbos
On top of the magnificent nature, there's also the Forest Museum, a place where a variety of natural exhibitions are displayed
throughout the year. During spring, the museum hosts an exhibition on spring flowers, which will explore the beautiful
and unusual flowers of the forest that you'll get to spot during your visit. However, be mindful that the museum is only
open on specific days of the year, so call up beforehand to double check opening times.
Explore the sights and sounds of Brussels
Wildlife in Hallerbos
Like most forests in Belgium, Hallerbos is alive with captivating wildlife that you and your family will love seeking out.
The local community and government have become heavily involved with protecting the wild species that inhabit the forest
and its surroundings, so a lot has been developed and built over recent years. In 2010, a bridge just outside of the
forest was transformed into a 'wildlife tunnel', which enables animals to move safely on grassy marshland, instead of
the road. As well as the tunnel, there's a 'wildlife fence', which was built to protect animals from the large highway
that passes through the forest. The fence allows the deer, badgers and other animals to migrate from one part of Hallerbos
to the next, without risk.
Get up close to these beautiful blue flowers
Outside of Hallerbos
Only a 16-minute drive from Hallerbos is Halle, a city full of charm and picturesque sights. After a day spent admiring the
spectacular bluebells, Halle is a great place to go for something to do, or a bite to eat.
In terms of food, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to recharge in after a long hike through the woods, but a good
choice is Boelekewis. Sip on great local wines and beers, and dine on quality cuts of meat, fresh salads and mouth-watering
desserts, which you can enjoy on the restaurant's lovely outdoor terrace.
If you've booked a hotel, be sure to pay a visit to the city's Boon Brewery, a business that has been up and running since
1975. The brewery specialises in soft and fine Gueuze Lambic, and produces a range of deliciously refreshing beers that
are perfect for spring, from red beers with hints of cherry to raspberry flavoured Lambic.
Dig into steak at one of Halle's many restaurants
Just a short 30-minute drive from Hallerbos is Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. A hub of culture, great chocolate and
brilliant sights, Brussels is a world away from the peacefulness of Hallerbos, but still a delightful place to spend
a day or two after a journey through the forest. As with any big city, there's a lot to see and do, from the weird and
wonderful architecture, such as Manneken Pis, to exploring the fascinating museums.
For a taste of the city's architecture, head over to the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, a Roman Catholic church
that's a great example of French gothic design. The interiors of the cathedral are just as opulent as the exterior, and
feature an incredible Baroque pulpit, which depicts the story of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden,
as well as the serpent being destroyed by the Virgin and Child. This famous piece was designed by Flemish sculptor, Hendrik
Frans Verbrugghen, and is a must-see for any fans of art.
If you fancy exploring Belgium's comic-strip history, take your family along to the Belgian Comic Strip Center, which is
part of the Comics Art Museum. With the permanent exhibitions, you can find out how the comic book strip was invented,
and how it developed into an art form, by exploring the works of famous comic artists, such as Tintin's Hergé. On top
of the permanent exhibitions, there are also plenty of fascinating temporary displays throughout the year for you to
enjoy, and even a reading room, where you can all catch up on your favourite comic stories.
Getting there and around
Want to explore the magical wonders of Hallerbos' bluebell forest for yourself? It only takes a little over two hours to
drive from Calais to Hallerbos, and with the journey from the UK to France only taking 35-minutes with
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you can be there
and back in a day.
Book your journey