Yes, the holiday season is nigh, but unfortunately not everyone will be able to get away to travel the globe’s exotic quarters this summer. For those poor souls staying at home for whatever cruel reason, we’ve strolled the streets of Belgium’s cities on your behalf, searching for our favorite green oases that offer a break from busy city life. Joke De Wilde and Anne Catharina Richard have captured on film some unexpected glimpses of nature in these urban jungles, from abbey vineyards to natural swimming pools and beautiful rolling greenery.
Antwerp is bursting with bountiful greenery: beautiful Rivierenhof is arranged around two historic castles, while Boekenberg park boasts a natural swimming pool. Boelaerpark is another beauty spot in Borgerhout/Deurne, and the gorgeous Nachtegalenpark is the former property of aristocrats and now home to a small animal park with lots of things to do for the kiddies.
From the famous Citadelpark in the heart of Ghent to the vast Burgoyen Ossemeersen Nature Reserve on its outskirts (especially great for bird-watchers) Ghent’s green oases have a lot going for them. Make sure you fit in a stroll in the St Peter’s Abbey gardens – where you’ll even find an ancient vineyard, no kidding.
Tervuren’s Arboretum and the Jean-Félix Hap Park, a true hidden gem, are among our favorite green escapes in the capital. And L’étang des enfants noyés, a mystical little lake surrounded by legends of drowned children, set in the middle of Brussels’ Forêt de Soignes, can make you forget you’re even in a city. Especially nice for a stroll in the morning mist.