Length 4.4 km (2.7 miles), terrain: small hills
Brussels Running Routes:
Avenue Louise/Bois de la Cambre
EU Quarter/Woluwe Park
For more running routes, see Route List
A lot of the Brussels tourist sights are clustered together at the north edge of town, in Laeken (Laken in Dutch, in this bilingual town). This is where you'll find lots of the stuff from the tourist brochures: the Atomium, Brupark, Mini-Europe, the Kinepolis, the Exhibition Center, royal palaces (3 of them!), oriental towers, the Art and Design Museum and Heysel -- the main soccer stadium.
But what you might not have heard is that there is also a big park there, Laken Park (Parc de Laeken), a great running spot that links the various attractions together. During one fairly short run you can enjoy some nature and see (from the outside, anyway) a lot of what the Brussels tourism industry has set up for you.
So, if you feel like doing this scenic little run, take either Metro line 6 or tram line 7 to Heysel and get out there. You'll find yourself standing between the stadium to the west, the Expo to the north and the Kinepolis (IMAX cinema and 29 screens) to the south.
|The Grand Palais at Expo|
In fact, this whole area, including Laken Park, was part of both of the World's Fair-grounds, now open as a public park.
You'll pass the IMAX theater on the right, and -- right next to it -- the Brupark amusement park with its big water slide.
And just past that on the right is Mini Europe, a little exhibition that has many of the most famous spots in Europe recreated for visitors.
To the left, you'll pass the ADA design museum.
You can run directly under the Atomium, then exit to the left, where the green woods and meadows of Laken Park await.
|Along the lake: looks like a river|
You'll see an outdoor amphitheater across the water to the right. When you come to the bridge over the lake, cross it, heading southeast towards a lookout over the lawn-filled valley to the south.
|The local beechwoods|
From now on, all the trails are paved.
|RAF memorial and American Theater|
Just before the pavilion, you'll see a divided trail to the right, heading uphill to the south. Take that trail.
NOTE: The Chinese and Japanese pagodas would be straight ahead, past the pavilion, if you want to see them. But they straddle a loud street, so I left them out of this route.
You'll pass a bit of woods behind a wooden fence, and then see another trail to the left, continuing up the hill towards a gothic spire. Take that trail.
|Heading towards the spire|
Keep running until the trail comes to a paved street, Avenue des Narcisses (there is no traffic here, though). Turn left here and continue running uphill straight towards the gothic spire. The spire is a monument to the royal dynasty and King Leopold I.
|Last stretch to the tower, guarded by trained watchdogs|
But the biggest palace is south of here, so let's run downhill along Avenue de la Dynastie towards the iron fences guarding the main royal palace, the Château de Laeken.
|Château de Laeken|
So now, turn right to run parallel to the fence, then turn back into the public park to the right on paved Avenue des Seringas, a wide footpath.
|Start of Seringas|
|Chapel of St. Anne|
|Along Seringas, with Atomium in distance|
Now just follow the dirt trail just inside the park to run northwards towards the Atomium, and from there continuing straight towards the Expo and the start of the run.
That was a lot to see in one little area!