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Go green: Discover the city's parks and gardens

One of Europe’s greenest cities, Brussels is perfect for urban walks, bike rides and weekend runs. The city is dotted with parks and gardens, ranging from the ancient beech forest on the edge of the city to tiny pockets of urban green hidden behind apartment buildings.

The city’s natural resources are mapped out on a useful Brussels Gardens app, so you can easily track down urban green spaces, wildlife spots and plant life in your neighbourhood.

The easiest way to discover the wild side of Brussels is to pick up a Villo rental bike at one of 350 docking stations across the city. Traffic in Brussels can be a problem, so urban cyclists need to plan routes that follow quiet side streets and avoid the busy boulevards. But you can avoid almost all the traffic by following the Promenade Verte/Groene Gordel – a 60km bike and walking route that runs through quiet parks and woods on the edge of the city.

For inspiring bike adventures in Brussels, check out the monthly video reports on the urban cycling blog The Ride Life. The cool young cyclists behind this blog create routes that take you off the beaten track to discover quirky shops, pop up bars and local restaurants.

You can also explore Brussels on foot following one of the three walking trails that form part of the Grandes Randonnées long-distance network. These walking trails take you through quiet streets and leafy parks. You can pick up GR guides in the map shop Anticyclone des Acores, or just follow the red-and-white route markers posted along the way.

The organisation Trage Wegen has gone one step further and mapped out all the slow routes for walking in the city. You can use its online maps to discover thousands of meandering routes across town.

For those who want to burn off some serious calories, there are three forest running trails that start near the Forêt de Soignes sport centre, or you can sign up for a Brussels Sight Jogging tour to see the city at a gentler pace.

The city’s biggest parks are hubs of activity in the summer, with food trucks, concerts and playgrounds. It’s worth checking out Parc Josaphat in Schaerbeek, where you find a mini golf course, an archery range and the restored Buvette St Sebastiaan tavern, run by the people behind Brasserie de la Senne beers.

Brussels is now working on a plan to revitalise canalside districts and create more activity on the water. You can discover this hidden district on a Brussels by Water boat tour on Sundays or plan your own bike ride along the canalside cycle path.

As part of Brussels’ busy summer party season, don’t miss Brüxsel Jardin – electronic DJ music in great outdoor spots around the city. Most events take place during the daytime. Simply sit back in a deckchair, drink in hand and enjoy the music and atmosphere. Free entry.

Finally, PiKniK (Elektronik) is a series of gatherings in the parks of Brussels over the summer – ideal for enjoying a picnic in a green setting while listening to some electro sounds mixed by guests DJs. Every Sunday, weather permitting. City greenspots Parc Duden, Bois de la Cambre, Parc de Forest and Parc Royal are all on the programme.
From 23 July-22 September

DB

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