Must do in Brussels: visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken

Did you know that the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are open to the public three weeks a year?

Annual ticket sales start in April. Be quick about it then, as the nearly 150,000 tickets are usually sold out within days!

In this blog, we tell you all about our visit to these beautiful conservatories, including photos. At the end you will find practical information about the route, buying tickets, parking and public transportation.

 

In 2024, you can visit the greenhouses from Friday, April 26 to Monday, May 20.

The dates for 2025 are not yet known, as soon as we know, we will update this blog!

Visiting the King

Did you also think that the Belgian King lives in the Royal Palace of Brussels, across from the Parc du Parc du Parc? I did. But no, surprise, he lives here in Laeken, 7 kilometres from the palace.

We have just passed through security and are standing in front of the Castle of Laeken. After living in Belgium for 15 years, 7 of which I worked in Brussels, I am finally here. Not that I have a lot with the Royal Family, but it was really time to see this. Indeed, the greenhouses would be super beautiful, and a real must-do in Belgium.

So I finally managed to get tickets, something I was always late on in past years.

Off to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken!

The Royal Gardens

The walk starts at the Orangery. Soon we are outside again, where we have a choice of the long or short route. We choose the long route of 3 kilometres. So we can also see (part of) the Royal Gardens.

The long route was a good choice, the views are beautiful. It would be even nicer if the sun was shining, but – unfortunately – that’s not going to happen today.

It’s quite busy. As we occasionally pause for a photo, the crowd shifts a bit and happily looks quieter already. Fountains, endless views of clean greenery and even some ruins. If I were queen, I would be in this garden often!

1001 flowers

Meanwhile, it is raining, so I am very happy that we can go into the greenhouses. We thought we saw quite a lot of people outside, but it’s not very bad when compared to inside. Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, call me naive, but I didn’t expect so many people.

At a snail’s pace, we shuffle through the greenhouses. I have to admit, it does look magnificent. Really beautifully done. And because we walk so slowly, you do look closely at all the details. It’s those moments when you appreciate nature fiercely. Or me anyway. Because check how beautiful all those flowers are, unimaginable right? I must say, it’s nice to have this feeling back, because the last time I had that was in Panama. Nature is just wonderful and these Royal Greenhouses display it beautifully!

The occasional photo of the royal couple reminds us that we are on the royal estate. Great anyway that they want to share this with us 3 weeks a year!

I can’t tell you any more exactly which greenhouse has what in it, but it’s really beautiful. Some sections are closed, but can be admired from the trail. Those are actually the best bits, too, because there are no other people in your picture there.

Denis is busy testing out his new 360-degree camera, I’m keeping busy with our new 90 mm macro lens. Without tripod and without flash admittedly, it is therefore not an easy, rather impossible job. The photos in this article are the best I could get out of it. Long live the denoise function in Lightroom.

As I sit at ease cleaning my lens, a horde of police arrives. We must hurry is the message, at 5:30 p.m. it closes, and it is at least another half hour’s walk. And the best is yet to come, the policeman assures me. Damn.

Tearing through the most beautiful part

By choosing the 3:30 p.m. slot, we only have a total of 2 hours. And that turns out to be way too short. I could spend hours photographing here!

But it can’t, it’s not allowed, they take the closing hour seriously. “Come back next year” says the friendly officer when he sees my disappointed eyes. There is nothing else to do. We stroll through the greenhouses at breakneck speed, the crowds long gone, but not much time to enjoy them. A quick photo here and there, time for creativity is gone.

A shop full of plant fun

We are at the end. We end up in a store where you can buy all kinds of things. Plants, cards, bulbs and all kinds of garden accessories. Again, we are urged to make our way to the exit. Too bad, but still good for my wallet. Believe me, we have plenty of plants in the house as well. Although, do you ever really have enough plants?

No kidding, this outing was 10 times more fun than I expected!

* this map is from the official visitor’s guide

Practical information

The route

We thought we would have seen everything in 20 minutes. WE DIDN’T. The complex is many times larger than we thought. Since corona, the royal gardens have apparently been added to the itinerary.

You have two options, either take the 3 kilometre route where you walk through the royal gardens, or take the short walk where you see only the greenhouses.

Wondering which parts of the Royal Greenhouses you can visit?

  1. The Orangery
  2. The Theater Greenhouse
  3. The Débarcadère and the Palms Plateau
  4. The Palm Greenhouse
  5. The Azalea greenhouse
  6. The studio of Queen Elizabeth
  7. The Geranium Gallery and the Diana greenhouse
  8. The Mirror Greenhouse and the Underground Gallery
  9. The Embarcadere
  10. The Congoserre
  11. The Winter Garden

If you take the long walk and the weather forecast is not great, be sure not to forget a jacket and/or umbrella. Learn from our mistakes 😉

How do you buy tickets for the Royal Greenhouses?

This year, you could buy tickets to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken on Thursday, April 11. The website and payment system were initially overloaded for a long time (because lots of people, like me, were waiting), but at 12:15 I was finally able to buy tickets. Most time slots were also available at that time.

The link of the website where you can buy tickets will appear on the Monarchy’s official website. On the day of the “launch,” the wait is for the website to be linked. In 2024, you can buy tickets on this official website: royal-serres-royales.be

So over a period of 3 weeks, you can choose different time slots. You cannot cancel or change it after buying.

 

What does a ticket to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken cost?

In 2024, a ticket to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken cost €6 per person. There are no additional costs involved, including parking.

You pick a time slot and the real intention is to go in during that period. How long you stay on the domain next doesn’t matter. As long as you go out at 5:30 p.m., when it closes. In addition to day tickets, there are also “nocturnes” for sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights where you can only take the short course. So on the short course of 2 kilometres, you skip 1 kilometre that goes through the royal gardens.

 

How long do I need to visit the greenhouses?

We went in at 3:30 pm and came out with some pressure at 5:30 pm. Had the police not urged us to go outside, we would have easily stayed there an hour longer.

Do you photograph little? Then you’ll be done in probably 1.5 to 2 hours.

Do you photograph or film a lot? Don’t make the same mistake as us. We were not even halfway there when we were told it was going to close in half an hour. The best part was then yet to come (yes, the agent was right) and we had to trudge through that. Rather, takes 2.5 to 3 hours.

 

How do I get to the greenhouses?

By car

You can park for free across from the greenhouses, in parking Dynasty. Although it looks different on Google Maps, this is really across from the entrance to the conservatories.

 

By public transportation

The Brussels-North train station is closest to the Royal Greenhouses. Then take bus R31 or R30 from De Lijn, and get off at the Royal Serres stop.

STIB bus line 53 also stops at the Serres Royales stop. Streetcar lines (STIB) 3 and 7 stop a little farther from the property, at De Wand stop. Always check current services via the website of SNCB, STIB or De Lijn.

 

What can I bring or not bring?

Definitely do not bring a drone or tripod. The website says not to bring a large backpack, but a normal backpack is fine. You are not supposed to bring food and drinks. But of course, no one gives a hard time about a bottle of water.

 

 

That was it! Are you planning to score tickets to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken next year?