Most people come to visit Belgium for our famous historical cities such as Bruges, Brussels, Ghent... . But there's so much more to explore in our tiny country. We might not have the biggest mountains but we do have some impressive nature and other beautiful sights outside the big cities. In this post, we describe some of the hidden gems we got to explore during the corona lockdowns and we were surprised ourselves what beauty Belgium has to offer.
The province of Limburg
Limburg is one of the five Flemish provinces in Belgium and can be found in the north east of the country. This province has something for everyone. The entire region is a combination of pleasant cities and beautiful nature. It is a true cycling paradise with many different and unique bike paths, such as:
- Cycling through the trees
- Cycling through the water
- Cycling through the heath
Not only can you cycle here, you will also find a lot of art works spread across the region. Most of them are located in and around Borgloon, but also around other cities you will find artworks.
Limburg is also home to Terhills, the main gateway to the National Park Hoge Kempen. It is located on the former site of the Eisden coal mine. In the National Park, you can enjoy surprising landscapes of green hills with spectacular panoramas, including the most beautiful view of Belgium.
There are still a few buildings left from the mine, including the two head-frames of the mine shafts. In the meantime, the remaining mining heritage has been protected as a monument.
Botanic Garden - Meise
If you are a plant lover, the Botanic Garden of Meise is the place to be. With its 92 hectares full of plants, it is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. There is always something to do, whether the sun is shining or it’s raining outside. You can immerse yourself in the tropics in the Plant Palace, do some research in the WOODlab, get to know more about the over more than 200 years of history of the Botanic Garden in the castle… and so much more.
Take a walk through the immense diversity of plants in the gardens and collections and enjoy the beautiful landscape of this Botanic Garden.
Adults (+18): €12
November - February
Daily: 10am - 5pm
March - October
Daily: 10am - 6pm
You can access the Botanic Garden up to one hour before the estate closes.
Annual closing: December 25th, January 1st and 3rd, and exceptionally in the event of stormy weather.
Openings hours Cash Desk
Empress Charlotte Entrance: daily 10am - 4pm
Meise Village Entrance: open Wednesday and Friday, weekends, during school holidays and public holidays: 10am - 4pm
The Solvay Estate – Solvay Castle - La Hulpe
The Solvay Estate is a vast estate of over 200 hectares on the outskirts of Brussels. It is a listed Exceptional Heritage in Wallonia. It features a part of the Sonian Forest and the magnificent Solvay Castle.
This castle is a beautiful French-inspired castle, formerly owned by Count Solvay. You can not visit the inside of the castle, but it can be rented for events like weddings, seminars, receptions and more.
The estate was laid out in this English romantic style, with an enormous variety of trees.
Here, you can enjoy some strolls, rest on big lawns and dream away in this beautiful verdant surrounding. There’s also a big lake with alleyways and vantage points.
Villers Abbey - Villers-la-Ville
This ancient Cistercian abbey is located in the small town of Villers-la-Ville in Belgium. These majestic ruins are one of the most prestigious testimonies of the life of the Cistercian monks. The abbey was founded in 1146 and is now considered one of the most beautiful architectural sites in Europe. It’s amazing how well everything is preserved here.
Adults: € 9
Students and senior citizens: € 7
Audio guides: € 1,5 (60-90min)
1st November - 31st March
Daily: 10am - 5pm
1st April - 31st October
Daily: 10am - 6pm
Annual closing: December 24, December 25, December 31 and January 1
Station Chateau d'Ardenne - Houyet
This beautiful little castle is actually an old abandoned train station. You can find this hidden gem in Houyet in the province of Namen.
The story behind: In 1874, king Leoplod II built the Château Royal d’Ardenne. It was a castle, that was used as a luxurious hotel for kings and the rich people in the world. In 1896 a railway was built between Celles and Houyet. In order to receive guests in front of the luxury hotel, this railway station, called Château d’Ardenne, was built. The station was closed in 1919, when the hotel suffered a lot of damage during WWI and was closed. The hotel reopened in 1921, but the station was closed for good.
UPDATE: We’ve been informed that this site is now under surveillance due to the risk of collapse. You can still walk past the building, but we do not recommend entering it for you own safety!
The High Fens are one of the most beautiful pieces of nature in the Ardennes. They are a part of the High Fens-Eifel nature park in the east of Belgium. Here, you can take numerous beautiful walks in every season.
Some paths are paved, while others consist partly of wooden decking paths. These ensure that the soil remains untouched and the plants also remain unharmed.
When everything is covered in snow during winter, various cross-country trails are set out here. This makes it the ideal place for your nature (day)trip in any season.
Ninglinspo Valley - Aywaille
The Ninglinspo is a 3,5 kilometer long stream, tributary of the river Amblève and it’s the only ‘mountain’river in Belgium .The valley of Ninglinspo is classed as an outstanding heritage area of Wallonia, and is protected since 1949. In this valley, you can enjoy several sing-posted walks of different lengths and degrees of difficulty. You will walk over bridges and forest trails past some beautiful viewpoints.
Auberge du Ninglinspo, Sedoz 5,
4920 Sougné-Remouchamps (Aywaille)
Fondry des Chiens - Nismes
Fondry des Chiens, also known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Belgium‘, is a sinkhole in the Viroin-Hermeton Natural Park. It’s a protected and unique place in Belgium. The sinkhole was created by the seepage of rainwater through the limestone soil. These natural pits are called Fondries. You can enter the 20 meter deep Fondries and enjoy the beautiful fauna and flora.
Want to see more of Belgium? We have put together a detailed guide with all our recommendations for Belgium!
There are over 70 interesting places and we have created 3 itineraries you can follow on your next visit to Belgium.
This guide includes information about the places, the exact locations, both city and nature locations and it comes with an interactive map. You can get your Belgium guide here!
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