Are you looking for an afternoon spring or summer getaway in Belgium? Do you adore tropical plants and horticultural collections? If so, the Meise Botanic Garden is an excellent place to go!
The National Botanical Garden in Meise, Belgium
A bit of history on the Meise botanic garden
The history of the National Botanical Garden of Belgium dates back to the French Revolution when the first Botanical Garden of Brussels was founded. It took a while before the garden gained some stability, suffering frequent name, location, and director changes.
Its future was finally secured in 1938 when the Belgian State – then the owner of the Garden – purchased the Domain of Bouchout from the royal family. The National Botanical Garden of Brussels has been located there since January 1, 1939.
Bouchout Castle dates back to the 12th century. Its last well-known inhabitant was princess Charlotte of Belgium, sister of King Leopold II, who died there in 1927.
But the last person to have lived on the domain was the painter Erwin Ganz, a friend of the royal family who was granted permission to continue living on the premises until he died, which was in 1948.
Visiting the Meise botanic garden
I visited the Botanical Garden in Meise in April, and granted, it was a bit too early in the season. The Belgian winter was long that year, and when entering the botanic gardens, the bright yellow daffodils contrasted heavily with the still leafless trees.
The botanic gardens don’t close during winter, though. It's open all year round, and while there may not be any flowers to spot outside in winter, visitors can find all kinds of plant species in the greenhouse complex, also known as the “Plant Palace.” It consists of different smaller greenhouses that all simulate other climates and hold vegetation from those climates.
Tip: be sure to take off your jacket before you enter the greenhouse complex because most of the rooms there are tropically hot!
I didn't visit the greenhouse complex until I'd seen the rest of the garden, as it was a lovely day, and I was in the mood for a stroll. The National Botanic Garden of Belgium is 92 hectares, making it the world’s largest botanical gardens. So there's a lot of strolling (yes, that's a word) to be done. I saw most of the garden in over two hours, but I have to say I think it would have taken me much longer if the flowers had been out already and if I hadn't been just by myself.
There were a lot of families there as well, and I think it's a great place to let your kids play on the grass while watching them from a bench in the sun.
There's also a lovely terrace where you can have a drink and a snack, plus you can find themed walks at the ticket counter that act like a guided tour. It takes you through the different plant species according to the season. There is even a GPS hunt activity, which involves searching for some of the park’s hidden treasures. When I was there, the Garden had a “Magnolia Walk.”
You can check the activities available during your visit to the Brussels botanical garden website here.
Of course, I took some photos during my visit, which you can find below. At the bottom of the post, I've also gathered some practical information in case you want to visit the Meise Botanic Garden yourself (you should!).
Some views of the Meise Botanic Garden:
Some flowers and blossoms up close:
Spring has arrived at the Meise Botanic Garden:
Inside the Plant Palace:
National Botanical Garden of Brussels
Domain of Bouchout
By car: there's a parking lot in front of the entrance to the Meise Botanic Garden.
By public transport:
Bus from Brussels:
- lines 250 and 251, stop “Meise: Nationale Plantentuin” (You need to ask the driver to stop here as it's not a standard stop)
- lines 260, stop “Meise: Private Dreef” (You need to ask the driver to stop here as it's not a standard stop) – the Garden is a 1-km walk from the stop
From Brussels National Airport:
- by taxi: €32 – €42
- by bus: line 821 to stop “Meise Boechtstraat”. The closest entrance to this stop is Entrance B (“Meise Dorp”) and not the main entrance to the Garden
The park is wheelchair friendly and suitable for people of all ages. Up-to-date visitor information can be found at the National Botanical Garden website.
Add the Meise Botanic Garden to your to-do list
And there you have it! The Meise Botanical Garden deserves a spot high up on your list of things to see in Brussels, no matter the time of year. The world’s largest botanical gardens have activities throughout the year, stunning horticultural collections, plenty of spaces to relax, stroll at your leisure, take scenic photos, and learn more about tropical plants and flowers from all over the world. It truly is an experience you can’t miss!
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