How To See HALLERBOS When You ONLY Have LIMITED Time

Bluebells in full bloom
Wild Bluebells in Full Bloom

Springtime is a really good time to visit Belgium. Not only because of the weather that gets better every day but also because of the variety of flowers you can enjoy in full bloom during this season. One of them is the wild bluebells in Halle or Hallerbos as most commonly known.

What is Hallerbos?

The Hallerbos – literally translated in English as the Forest of Halle – also known as The Blue Forest – is located in the municipality of Halle (in Dutch) or Hal (in French), in the province of Flemish Brabant, just 20kms south of Brussels.

This area of forest between Zenne Valley and the Sonien forests is a favorite not only by locals but also by the growing number of tourists from around the world. Thanks to the beautiful purple carpet of bluebells, which bloom around mid-April to early May.

Every spring, millions of blooming bluebells work together to form a blue-violet carpet on the forest floor. The sight of it definitely gives you a sense of tranquility, especially when hearing different birds singing along. Its color is so calming to the eyes, a real treat indeed! Plus the bluebells’ delicate scent gives your nose a sense of freshness in the air.

Although many photographers do come here to capture the beauty of the Blue Forest, I can say that any high-tech camera lens doesn’t do justice to the real beauty your bare eyes can see in this forest. You really have to see it for yourself to understand what I mean.

Aside from oak, pine, and beech trees that are abundant here, the giant Sequoia trees also make a visit to this forest more than worth it.

BlueForest
Each spring, the Forest of Halle is carpeted with bluebells.

When is the best time to see the wild Bluebells in Hallerbos?

The secret to the “Blue Forest’s” experience– is of course THE TIMING. Not only for YOU who plan to visit and experience the beauty of nature but also for the forest itself. The soil has to be warm enough for the flowers to thrive, but at the same time, the leaves of the beeches and other trees shouldn’t be fully bloomed yet, since it will cut off the necessary rays of the sun that are vital for the wild bluebells to thrive as it should be.

Many tourists (and locals alike) wanted to see this beauty in nature but sometimes missed the opportunity because they have chosen the wrong date. The best time to see the bluebells in Hallerbos is usually from mid-April up to early May. But of course, since the bloom is entirely dictated by the changing weather, for best planning, I advise you to see their yearly spring schedule here so as not to miss its peak bloom and get the best out of your visit.

Bluebells_focus
The bluebells bloom in perfect conditions

How to reach the Hallerbos and see the wild Bluebells?

The good news is – Hallerbos is a public forest so it is absolutely free! There are different ways to reach there. You can easily reach it by car, by public transportation, and even by bike.

Nature and Forest Management offers a free shuttle bus during the peak of the blooming season so as to avoid overcrowding of cars. Especially during weekends, when people plan to go mostly in big groups, which can result in long lines and time wasted. The free shuttle bus is available from 9am-8pm, and is running every half an hour.

Arriving by Car

If you are driving there, Hallerbos is located just 20kms south of Brussels. So if you are coming from the center of Brussels, you will arrive in Hallerbos in about 35 minutes. The address of the main parking lot (P1) is Hogebermweg, 1500 Halle.

In my personal experience, the best parking lot to choose is Park 8 because it is closer to the hiking trail where the bluebells are located. This is especially practical for those who had limited time in the forest and just wanted to see and enjoy the wild bluebells in full bloom. Parking 4, 7 & 10 are also closer to the bluebells, but might quickly be full.

But of course, if you enjoy hiking and have the time to walk through the whole forest, you can park your car in any of the car parks around. Park 1 & 11 have bigger car capacity. If you choose to go to this parking lot, you can quickly see and admire the Sequoia trees and then walk to where the bluebells are located.

PRO TIP: Always check their website for real-time updates, especially for the parking spaces. Sometimes during peaks, they close some of the parking areas to avoid heavy traffic to the forest. You don’t want to go and drive there and might end up not being able to park your car at all.

Hiking Trails

Aside from the three different bluebells walk varying from 1.6km, 4.8, and 5.1kms, the Hallerbos has two hiking trails of 4km and 7kms, all are very easy and suitable for all ages. There is also a short trail of 1.8km intended for those with limited mobility.

Each walking path where the bluebells are located were surrounded by a protected rope so please be a responsible tourist and please stay on the designated path. The flowers are very close to the pathways so you can definitely find the perfect spot for your Instagram post without hurting the plants which might affect their future blooming seasons.

Please stay on the designated pathway

Public Transportation

Indeed, the Hallerbos’ bluebells are definitely there to the enjoyed by anyone, young and old alike. Even if you don’t have a car, you can easily reach it by means of public transportation too. Here are your possible options:

  • BY TRAIN: There are a few trains passing to Halle Station. But the fastest I found was this one. The travel time is approximately 1 hour.
    1. From Brussels Central Station take an SNCB train direct to Halle. If it is an IC train, it will be only 2 stops so in about 15 minutes you will reach Halle station.
    2. Once you reach Halle Train Station, walk for about 3 mins to the bus station called the Halle Station Perron 7. And from there take the De Lijn Bus 155 (Halle-Drogenbos-Anderlecht). It’s a 12-stop bus ride until you reach Essenbeek Hallerbos stop.
    3. What is left on your journey is only 800 meters or 10 minutes walk to reach the entrance of the forest. PLEASE NOTE: It is possible to take the train to Halle either from other train stations in Brussels like the Brussels North, Schaerbeek Station, or from Brussels South Station via the S2 train direction Braine le Comte. But travel time from these other stations may take longer.
  • BY BUS: If you are coming from southwest Brussels, for example, in Anderlecht, you are well located to see this beautiful forest. Because from there, there’s a bus that goes directly to Hallerbos. Your travel time will be approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.
    1. From the Metro Station Het Raad (Metro line 5) in Anderlecht, take the De Lijn Bus 155 direction Halle. It is quite a long trip (51 stops) so you might want to bring a book or listen to your playlists or some podcasts.
    2. After about an hour on the bus, you will get down at the bus stop called Essenbeek Hallerbos.
    3. From there, it is only 800m or 10 minutes walk to reach the entrance of the forest.

Some locals liked to go there by their mountain bikes and there is a very nice bike path from Brussels that will lead you all the way to Hallerbos. Inside the Hallerbos, there is a designated trail for mountain bike users.

PRO TIP 2: If you like to enjoy the forest without the crowd, try to plan your visit during weekdays. Some of the best times to go there are in the early morning before 11AM or late in the afternoon starting from 5PM. Photography lovers do love to come here to catch the sunrise or the sunset. But if you are only here on a weekend, just try to arrive as early as possible and you will definitely enjoy its beauty!

*All the pictures here are taken on April 21, 2022, between 6-7PM

Indeed, visiting Hallerbos in the spring to witness the magnificent view of the forest turning into a “Blue Forest” should be on your list of things to do while in Brussels. Going there is very accessible and should not take too much of your time. All you need is good planning and knowing when is the right time to go. Please feel free to save this post for your next spring visit to this famous forest.

So whether you are visiting Belgium only for a short time and are very limited with your time, it is still possible to include it in your itinerary. Count for at least 3 hours to up to half a day for your visit to Hallerbos. If you do, I am sure you will never regret it!

Happy Planning!

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