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Visiting the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken

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The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are an impressive complex of greenhouses on the Royal Domain of Laeken in Brussels. For only 3 weeks a year, these flower-filled greenhouses are opened to the public, a unique opportunity to walk the gardens of the king of Belgium.

The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken

The Castle of Laeken is the official residence of the King of Belgium and his family. It’s located about 5 km north of the city centre of Brussels, in a residential suburb called Laeken. In Dutch we call it “het Kasteel van Laken” and in French it’s “le Château de Laeken”.

Castle of LaekenCastle of Laeken
The OrangeryThe Orangery
Theatre GreenhouseTheatre Greenhouse
Queen Elisabeth's StudioQueen Elisabeth's Studio

The castle grounds, known as the Royal Domain of Laeken, are off limits to the public for most of the year. Every year in spring though, the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are opened to the public for about the 3 weeks. A unique opportunity to explore a beautiful part of the Royal Domain.

The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken were designed by Alphonse Balat in 1873, when King Leopold II reigned Belgium. With grand pavilions, splendid glass domes and flower-filled arcades, this glass city of flora blew our minds.

The plant collection filling these greenhouses today is based on the original collection planted in the age of King Leopold II. Some of the plants are still the original ones, which is pretty impressive. Besides that, a great number of rare and valuable plants adorn the Royal Greenhouses.

Birthe in the Geranium GalleryBirthe in the Geranium Gallery
Small Geranium GallerySmall Geranium Gallery
Queueing inside the Royal GreenhousesQueueing inside the Royal Greenhouses

When to visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken?

The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are opened to the public for only 3 weeks a year, in the middle of spring. Usually that’s the last 2 weeks of April and the first week of May. In 2018 the Royal Greenhouses were opened from April 21st until May 13th. The dates for 2019 aren’t publicly known yet, but we’ll keep you posted!

Because the Royal Greenhouses are only open for a limited period, it can get pretty busy. It’s probably best to visit on a weekday, as most people are working then. We visited on a holiday and had to queue both to enter the Royal Domain of Laeken and inside the greenhouses. It was tricky to take photographs without other people in it, and we weren’t really able to stop wherever we liked, but rather had to go with the flow of the crowd.

You can visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken during the day or at night. We visited during the day, but have seen gorgeous photographs of the greenhouses at night as well, when lit up.

The Winter Garden as seen from outsideThe Winter Garden as seen from outside
Birthe and some beautiful flowersBirthe and some beautiful flowers
Inside the Winter GardenInside the Winter Garden

We explored the Royal Domain of Laeken for about 2 hours, including at least half an hour of queueing. We’d say a casual stroll (including photo stops) through the greenhouses will take you about an hour and a half. Account for some more time if you want to have a drink at the café or check out the souvenir shop.

How to get to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken?

The main gate of the Castle of Laeken is the entrance (and exit) to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. If it’s busy, people will be queuing up to cross the street in  Laeken Park. Once you enter the main gates you will pass a security check and the ticket booths. From there you can follow the arrows towards the greenhouses. You’ll get a glimpse of the Castle of Laeken as well.

By car

We live in Hasselt, just over an hours drive from the Royal Domain of Laeken, so drove over there. Police were managing traffic at the entrance to avoid chaos. There’s free parking across from the main gate of the Royal Domain, in Laeken Park. Notice the monument that was erected in memory of King Leopold I.

The King Leopold I monumentThe King Leopold I monument
The queue at Leaken ParkThe queue at Leaken Park

By public transport

Right at the main gate to the Royal Domain is a bus stop called Serres Royales/Koninklijke Serres. You can find a journey planner and pricing information on the STIB-MIVB website.

By taxi

If you prefer a private ride instead of public transport, you can always take a taxi or an Uber.

By bike

Is the weather nice? Rent a Villo! bike to get to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. Villo! is an easy and cheap bike rental system with stations located approximately every 450 meters and available 24/7. The one closest to the Royal Domain of Laeken is on the Eeuwfeestlaan. From there it’s a 15 minute walk through  Laeken Park to get to the main gate of the Royal Domain.

For just €1.60 you can buy a 1 day ticket that allows you to rent a bike for an unlimited number of times, if you park it again within 30 minutes. If you bike longer than 30 minutes, a small surcharge is applied. You can find more information on the rates and the location of the stations on the Villo! website.

Congo Greenhouse and the Winter GardenCongo Greenhouse and the Winter Garden
End your visit with a drink in the cafeEnd your visit with a drink in the cafe
Birthe & her sister LiseBirthe & her sister Lise

What will it cost you?

The entrance fee for the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken is €2.50 ( ~ $3.00). Children under the age of 18 can enter for free. Parking is free as well. Note that tickets can’t be reserved beforehand. You can only buy them at the ticket booths inside the main gate of the Royal Domain of Laeken.

The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are definitely something to put on your Brussels bucket list. So plan your visit to Belgium’s capital right! Have you been yet? How did you like it? We’d love to read about it in the comments!

 

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Visiting the Royal Greenhouses of LaekenVisiting the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken