Once every year the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken open their doors to the public. They are one of Belgiums most beautiful tourist attractions during Spring and the perfect excuse to also take a day trip to Brussels.
This tradition has been going on for years and during those 3 weeks in Spring visitors can admire the beautiful collection of exotic plants and flowers.
I visited the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken 2 years ago, took hundreds of photos but then completely spaced out on writing an article about them!
On all of my photos you’ll also see that there are no other people in sight and I’ll give you my best tips and tricks later on so you can get the same photos without having to use Photoshop!
The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken – Plan The Perfect Visit
The first part of the Royal Greenhouses was built in the 19th century when King Willem I ordered the built of the Orangery next to his palace.
Later on King Leopold II wanted to extent this Orangery and together with the architect Balat he designed the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. They built a complex of seven greenhouses in total that took 31 years to complete.
The greenhouses are world famous not just because of their stunning Art Nouveau architecture but also because of their enormous collection of exotic and rare plants from all over the world.
Every day the gardeners of the greenhouses work tirelessly to preserve the collected trees and flowers from all over the world.
The greenhouses are part of the Royal Palace and on any regular day you’ll be stuck in front of the tall iron gates. But King Leopold II wanted to showcase this work of art to the public so he decided to open up the Palace gardens once a year. A tradition was born and one that stands strong until this very day.
Visiting the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken is one of the most famous Spring activities in Belgium.
When can you visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
The greenhouses are open once a year during 3 consecutive weeks in Spring. For 2021 those dates are from 17th of April 2021 until the 7th of May 2021.
The opening hours differ on a daily basis. On some days they are open the entire day from 9.30AM until 5PM, on other days they only open from 1PM until 5PM.
On selected days it is possible to attend the Nocturnes where the greenhouses are accessible in the late evening from 8PM until 11PM.
Like I said before it’s a very popular activity and I speak from personal experience when I say: “Go early”!
During my visit 2 years ago I arrived 1 hour before opening time (so 8.30AM) and still I wasn’t the first one in line. Luckily I was second in line but the amount of people I saw arriving after me was truly insane.
Rows and rows of cars started lining up and tons of busses entered the parking lot.
Across the street from the Royal Palace there was a waiting station and as soon as it was time to open the police offers in place escorted us across the street.
Tips for taking photos at the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
If you don’t want hundreds of other people in your photos or you don’t like to be surrounded by a lot of people you have to follow the next tips:
- Arrive 1 hour before opening time and wait in line
- Once the gates open get ready to walk in a really fast pace to be one of the first ones at the ticket booth. Tickets are €2,5 and for children under 18 entrance is free.
- Don’t waste time in the Theatre Greenhouse and the outside garden. It will be possible to visit these places later on.
- Once you’ve passed by the gardens of the Royal Palace at a fast pace you’ll probably be the first one to arrive at the greenhouses.
- You’ll now have a head start of about 5 minutes before more people will start to show up!
- As far as I know the usage of a tripod isn’t allowed so make sure to bring someone with you who you’ve taken photos with before.
How to reach the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken
BY CAR – There’s plenty of parking space in the area and you don’t have to drive through the busiest part of Brussels.
BY BUS – From Brussels Central station bus 230 will drop you off at the Royal Greenhouses.
BY TRAIN – You can take the train to Bockstael from Brussels Central Station. From here it’s a 1.9km walk to reach the greenhouses.
BY TRAM – If you’ve arrived at Brussels Central Station you need to walk until the Bourse and here you take tram line 3 until Araucaria. After getting out you’ll reach the greenhouses after 10 minutes of walking.
ON FOOT – If you want you can also reach the Royal Greenhouses on foot. For reference it’s a little more than 1 hour walking from Brussels Central Station.
Things to do at the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
- Visit the Theatre Greenhouse – This is the first greenhouse you’ll walk through after buying your ticket. It’s especially used to protect the camellias against the cold during the Winter.
- Discover the gardens of the Royal Palace – After visiting the first greenhouse you’ll now walk through the main palace gardens next to the other greenhouses. This pathway is lined with beautiful cherry blossom trees and in the distance you can see the Japanese pagoda. This was also built on demand of King Leopold II cause he was inspired by a similar one on the EXPO in Paris in 1900.
- Discover the Palm Greenhouse, with its subtropical plants, the Azalea Greenhouse and the 200 meter long Great Gallery. This last one was my favourite cause all of the walls are lined with beautiful flowers.
- Marvel at the beauty of the Winter Garden – This is the masterpiece of the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken and was the first greenhouse that was built.
Things to do around the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
While the greenhouses aren’t located in the centre of Brussels it’s really easy to combine your visit with some other fun activities!
- Visit the Atomium – One of Belgiums most well known landmarks is only a few 100 meters away! The Atomium is open Friday to Monday and you can buy your tickets online.
- Go on a day trip to Brussels and visit the Grand Central market, the Royal Galleries and the Mont des Arts all in one day!
- Visit one of the nearby castles in Belgium such as the castle of Groot Bijgaarden or Gaasbeek.
Where to stay when visiting the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
If you want to make a weekend out of it why not stay at one of these fabulous places in Brussels?
|Hotel Metropole – An interior of stunning marble, alluring gold, royal red and sophisticated architecture that highlights the hotel’s wealth of history.|
Royal Windsor – Located only a short walk from the major sites in Brussels. On the hotel’s roof top terrace guests can enjoy the gorgeous open Brussels skyline and an unbeatable view of the Town Hall building.
Vintage Hotel – The most spectacular feature is an experience named ‘glamping’: a vintage Airstream Caravan from 1958 parked in a courtyard of the hotel. Here guests can relive a nostalgic experience with the bonus perks of modernity.