Treinstapper from Grote Routepaden: from Groenendaal to Halle

Groenendaal railway station
Toerisme Vlaanderen - Brabantse Wouden - Zoniënwoud - Bjorn Snelders - 2

With the Groenendaal-Halle Treinstapper, you walk around the area south of the capital city Brussels, the heart of Europe. The greenery of this region will undoubtedly charm you. Via the ancient woods of the Sonian Forest, you walk through the undulating countryside, through the fairytale Hallerbos to the town of Halle. Along the way, beer lovers can take a break at the De Lambiek Visitors’ Centre. After all, there’s a very good reason this region is known for Lambic beers, Geuze and Kriek. Put on your walking boots... and follow the path that is also highly favoured by pilgrims.  

Here are some of the highlights along this Grote Routepaden (GR) walk from Groenendaal to Halle. This is one of the Treinstappers that we have selected from a larger selection.   

 

Walk from Groenendaal station to Halle station via Grote Routepaden (GR)

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Start

Groenendaal railway station
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Groenendaal railway station

Welcome to Groenendaal station. Here you are on the Brussels-Namur line, in the municipality of Hoeilaart, near the vast Sonian Forest. The station, which was built with attention to detail in natural stone, is a protected monument in typical ‘national’ style. The ‘shelter’ across the railway tracks somewhat resembles an orangery. 

Practical information: Groenendaalsesteenweg, Hoeilaart 

Toerisme Vlaanderen - Brabantse Wouden - Zoniënwoud - Bjorn Snelders - 2

The Sonian Forest

Groenendaal station is our gateway to the Sonian Forest. You cannot miss it; here you find the world’s largest beech trees. Their trunks have diameters of up to 160 centimetres and some of the trees reach heights of 50 metres. They are often more than two centuries old. Parts of this ‘Primeval Forest’ are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. Together with the magical Hallerbos, which is covered each spring with a purple blanket of wild bluebells, and the Meerdaal forest-Dyle valley, it is part of the Forests of Brabant National Park. A valuable walking tip! 

Practical information: Duboislaan 14, 1560 Hoeilaart 

Bosmuseum Jan Van Ruusbroec

Forest Museum Jan Van Ruusbroec

There are many stories hidden in this ancient forest. The Forest Museum tells you all about the history, inhabitants and forest management of the Sonian Forest. The museum is housed in a historic farmhouse the location of which also makes it an ideal base for long walks and cycle rides

Practical information: Duboislaan 2, 1560 Hoeilaart

Arboretum Groenendaal

Groenendaal arboretum

Meet ‘Dikke Eugène’, a six-metre thick poplar tree. Along with over 400 different species of trees and shrubs, it is to be found in Groenendaal Arboretum, one of 26 Belgian botanical gardens and arboreta. Groenendaal Arboretum was created in the late 19th century at the initiative of King Leopold II.   

Practical information: Duboislaan, 1560 Hoeilaart 

Zoniënwoud ©️ Bart Goossens

Brussels-Capital Region

On this route, you walk for quite some time on the border between Flanders and the Brussels-Capital Region. The latter is made up of 19 municipalities including the capital city Brussels, the heart of Europe. Don’t have much time but still want to discover Brussels through some stunning vistas? Then be sure to climb the Kunstberg. At the top, you are rewarded with stunning views of bustling Brussels, with the Kunstberg gardens in the foreground. Or enjoy the city panorama in Forest Park. For longer stays or on your next visit, we recommend this route: 48 hours in Brussels, a bustling capital city

Monument gesneuvelde boswachters

Sonian Forest War Memorial

At this central spot, we commemorate the 11 Belgian foresters who died or went missing during the First World War. When designing the ‘Forest Man’ monument, artist Richard Viandier drew inspiration from the funeral rituals of the Celts. Indeed, it will not have escaped your notice that this place has something of a ‘Stonehenge’ feel to it. The site consists of a circle of 11 stones or ‘menhirs’, each dedicated to one of the 11 foresters.   

Practical information: Harasdreef, Uccle 

OLVkerk Alsemberg

Church of Our Lady, Alsemberg

From a simple little chapel next to a farm in the 12th century, to a church known for its beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary, to a popular pilgrimage site. The Church of Our Lady in Alsemberg, built in late Gothic style and recognisable by its typical 14th century architecture, even received the ducal title. Be sure to take a look inside the church. The Baroque-style confessionals, the authentic Romanesque baptismal font and the gilded devotional statue of Our Lady will make you pause and think of times gone by. To this day, many pilgrims still find their way to Alsemberg.  

Practical information: Kapelaansplein, 1652 Alsemberg (Beersel) 

Bezoekerscentrum De Lambiek

Beer centre De Lambiek

We take a moment to enjoy a delicious fresh Belgian beer. We do so at Beer centre De Lambiek in Alsemberg. Here you can also learn about the history, ingredients and brewing process of the Lambic, Geuze and Kriek beers. Did you know that Lambic is the oldest of the still existing beer sorts in Belgium? For the connoisseurs, it is a wheat beer: complex, layered and tart. You can drink the beer as it is, but it also serves as the basis for the iconic Geuze and Kriek beers that are so typical of Brussels and the surrounding region. Once a month, the beer centre opens its doors. When that is and more information about admission prices can be found on the website of Beer centre De Lambiek. Cheers! 
Are you a beer lover? Then you probably already know that our Belgian beer culture is on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Why is that ? You can read about that on the beer pages on this website.  

Practical information: Gemeenveldstraat 1, 1652 Alsemberg   

Papiermolen Herisem

Herisem paper mill

Among the meadows, fields and forests lies the former Winderickx Cardboard factory. This is also known as the Herisem mill.  This 16th-century paper mill transitioned gradually to cardboard production in 1853. The cardboard factory closed in 1940, but the machines have remained untouched ever since. This is one of the best-preserved sites of the once-thriving paper and cardboard industry in Flemish Brabant. You can visit the site, which includes the original paper mill and cardboard factory. During your visit, it is quite special to observe how the gradual transition of the artisanal craft of papermaking into an industry took place.  

Practical information: Fabriekstraat 20, 1652 Beersel   
 

Hallerbos in bloom © LeBackpacker

Hallerbos

Welcome to paradise on earth! Every April, countless bluebells bloom in the Hallerbos, creating a fairy-tale purple carpet of flowers. The Hallerbos is the most important and extensive forest area between the Senne River and the Sonian Forest. Together with the Sonian Forest, the Meerdaal Forest and the green Dyle Valley, it is part of the Forests of Brabant National Park. The walking opportunities are plentiful! But be mindful of protecting this beautiful piece of nature.

Basiliek Halle 5

St Martin’s Basilica in Halle

Arriving at our final destination, we soak up another piece of the history of this city at St Martin’s Basilica in Halle. Have you already heard about the cannonballs of Our Lady of Halle? Legend has it that she caught them in her cloak in 1489 to protect the town of Halle from siege. The many stained-glass windows tell the story of this place; how it grew into a place of pilgrimage. The basilica is also home to some masterpieces of European art history. Check out the visiting options on the website of St Martin’s Basilica.  

Practical information: Kardinaal Cardijnstraat 1, 1500 Halle   

Halle railway station
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Finish

More Treinstappers

Have you been bitten by the walking bug? Discover new places, beautiful landscapes and hidden gems (including many green ones) in Flanders thanks to the series of Treinstappers from Grote Routepaden. Besides Groenendaal - Halle, we highlight three more from a larger selection.

More information about these highlights

Continue your adventure through the Forests of Brabant along GR512 Brabant Hilly Route or explore the outskirts around Brussels via Streek-GR Groen Gordel. Have fun walking!  

Toerisme Vlaanderen - Brabantse Wouden - De Doode Bemde - Bjorn Snelders - 4