Belgium is a small country. We don’t have impressive national parks like the USA, stunningly blue lakes like New Zealand, or white beaches and warm oceans like Asia, but we do have great beer and some gorgeous must-visit spots. One of those lovely spots is the Hallerbos near Brussels. When the bluebells flower, the forest is covered with a beautiful purple carpet. It’s magical!
The Hallerbos doesn’t have its magical purple carpet year round though, so keep reading to find out when you can visit the bluebells at the Hallerbos in Belgium.
When to visit the Hallerbos in Belgium?
The Hallerbos is nice for a walk year round, but when the bluebells flower, it gets magical. That’s when you’ll want to visit. The bluebells bloom somewhere in the second half of April. It’s not at the exact same time every year, due to the weather conditions, so you’ll want to keep an eye on the Hallerbos website to stay up-to-date on when’s the best time to visit.
There’s only a week to 10 days every year during which the conditions in the Hallerbos are perfect for a visit. The bluebells have to be flowering and the beech leaves still have to be young in order to let the sunlight through to the flowers. When you want the sun to shine as well, there’s even fewer perfect days to visit the Hallerbos in Belgium. Nope, we’re not known for our sunny days.
How much does it cost to visit the Hallerbos?
Entrance to the Hallerbos is free all year round. You’re just asked politely to stick to some (common sense) rules: stay on the path at all times, keep your dog on the leash, and don’t pick any flowers, in that order of importance.
Did you know stepping on the bluebells is worse than picking them, as they won’t be able to sprout again when stepped on? You don’t want to be responsible for shrinking the purple carpet of bluebells in the Hallerbos, do you?
How to get to the Hallerbos?
The Hallerbos is located near Halle, just a day trip away of Brussels, the Belgian capital. There are several options to get to the Hallerbos from wherever in Belgium you are, but we’ll discuss some options starting from Brussels.
Traffic in Belgium is often pretty busy, but driving there is definitely an option when visiting the Hallerbos. By car, it will take you about 30-45 minutes to get from Brussels to the Hallerbos. There are 8 car parks situated around the forest. You can find a map here. It’s in Dutch, but the P’s are the car parks. P8 is the most central car park, so usually the busiest. We parked at P7, which wasn’t that busy and still close to the Bluebell Walk. (More about that walk later.)
If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can reach the Hallerbos by public transport. Coming from Brussels it will take about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the Hallerbos. That’s a 15 minute train ride, followed by a 15 minute bus ride and 15 minutes of walking from the Forest Museum to the start of the Hallerbos walking tracks.
According to the Hallerbos website you can also rent a Blue-bike to get from the train station to the Hallerbos, but that’s a bit too much of a hassle (and too expensive) if you aren’t already a Blue-bike member or are just staying in Belgium for a short period of time. If you still want to learn more about renting a Blue-bike, check their website for more information.
During the flowering season of the bluebells there used to be free shuttle busses leaving from the train station in Halle. It is unclear if this service is temporarily unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic or simply discontinued.
The Bluebell Walk at the Hallerbos in Belgium
There are 3 marked walking tracks in the Hallerbos. During the bluebell flowering season, there are another 2 marked walks: the Bluebell Walks. One starts at car park P1 and is 4.8 km, the other starts at car park P8 and is 5.1 km. You can find a map and some more information on the Hallerbos website.
However, we decided on doing an unmarked Bluebell Walk. This walk is the best one for walking amongst the bluebells as much as possible. And that’s why you’re visiting the Hallerbos, right? You can find a map and a gps track file of this Bluebell Walk here. It’s a 7 km loop track, starting at car park P8, that took us about 2 hours to complete, including tons of photo stops and a couple of geocache hunts.
We drove to the Hallerbos from Hasselt, our home town, which took us nearly 1.5 hours due to a small traffic jam. While parking our car at car park 7, we were immediately greeted by oceans of bluebells on our left. We walked over to the information sign marking the edge of the Hallerbos and started taking photos right away.
While walking the Bluebell Walk, you’ll hear the birds whistle and (unfortunately) the cars speeding over the highway in the distance. It’s easy to block out that last sound though, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy walking through this magical purple forest. Do watch out for joggers and horse droppings while admiring the bluebells. Have fun!
To get a taste of what the Hallerbos is like, here’s a short hyperlapse of me walking amongst the flowering bluebells:
The bluebells at the Hallerbos in short
- What? a purple carpet of flowers covers the Hallerbos
- Where? in the Hallerbos, about 20 km southwest of Brussels
- When? second half of April
- Cost? free
- Bring? your camera
- Remember? stay on the path at all times
Check out the Hallerbos website for up-to-date information on this year’s flowering season.
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