Mediaeval masterpieces, from sprawling formal gardens to wild flowers - plus smaller 'hidden' gems guests on big bus tours miss!
4 days/3 nghts from Brussels
Why not connect with our popular SCHEDULED Chelsea Flower Show tour?
This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes. Price based on how many travelers, your chosen package inclusions and your chosen level of accommodation.
This tour begins and ends in Brussels
Spoilt for choice in Brussels! Brussels is well connected with an international airport and via the Eurostar from London and TGV rail services from most major European cities including Paris and Lille. We are happy to assist you with incoming journey if you wish. Please ask us for details.
Brussels hardly requires an introduction as everyone at least knows the Manneken Pis! This famous statue of a little boy peeing in a fountain is a perfect representative of the irreverent Belgian humor. There is so very much more to this wonderful city, explore the Grote Markt and Grand-Place, La Monnaie, Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral, meander the cobbled streets, sampling the local chocolates and beers…cooking classes are available too, for those that have an interest. Perhaps enjoy a special treat for garden lovers, visit the Koninklijke Serres (Royal Glasshouses,) which is only opened to the public for a few weeks each year (subject to schedules.) Part of the royal palace grounds, the Royal Glasshouses were built by King Leopold II to accommodate his collection of plants from the Congo.
NOTE: This garden tour involves ample walking and visits many rural locations and places of interest with several steep inclines, many with pathways of grass, stone, gravel and dirt which can be very slippery when wet. Suitable footwear is essential. Those with mobility issues may not find this itinerary suitable. If in doubt, please discuss conditions with us. It can be modified appropriately.
We can depart from the Brussels meeting point late morning to accommodate guests arriving via rail this morning from London and our scheduled Chelsea Flower Show tour.
Royal Botanical Gardens of Belgium in Meise is our main visit today. This is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, set in the grounds of a historic castle with ample parklands, a lake and 14 inter-connected greenhouses featuring an overview of plants and flowers from around the world. On the grounds, weather permitting, we may be able to enjoy an afternoon picnic!
Our overnight location for these few days is the mediaeval town of Leuven with the magnificent 15th Century town hall and impressive Grote Markt. During our time here, we will enjoy a walking tour of Leuven’s Groot Begijnhof neighborhood, founded by a unique order of women in 1292 and now deemed a Unesco World Heritage site. We will wander the narrow cobbled streets and admire the homes, gardens and the church of this walled community within the city.
PROPERTY SUGGESTION: Groot Begijnhof Hotel or similar http://www.bchotel.be/
The area of Hasselt is known for numerous parks and gardens, so perfect for us to explore today! The charming town itself has a few buildings remaining from the 11th Century. The local specialty is a juniper berry flavored type of gin, “National Jenever,” so perhaps something to sample over lunch?
We will spend time in the Japanese Gardens here, said to be the most authentic of its kind in Europe, also the largest so the “must see” garden of the area. We can round out our day exploring the ancient towns of the Maas-Valley, viewing some traditional architecture and local gardens.
Later, if time permits, perhaps a short visit to the formal gardens of Kastell Alden Biesen, a Renaissance style French garden surrounding an 18th Century moated castle.
NIGHTSTOP: Leuven, same property as above
We will spend much of our day in one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands. Maastricht, founded by the Romans, spans both banks of the River Maas and hosts a maze of old cobbled, hilly streets; it is often called the Crown Jewel of the South. This is a unique part of Holland, surrounded by the borders of Germany and Belgium. Here we’ll find an interesting Cosmopolitan flavor as we enjoy a guided walking tour of the city.
There are several private gardens around Maastricht and our little group will explore one or two of them. A great opportunity to meet the locals! There’s the quaint yet special rock garden of Bèr Slangen, begun in 1950 and the garden ‘rooms’ of de Heerenhof, which exhibit both formal and cottage style plantings of an English inspiration.
As time permits on our way back to our accommodation, we may enjoy a short visit to the village of Hoegaarden. Known for its famous white beer, this place offers a lovely, if petite, roomed Flemish show garden.
NIGHTSTOP: Leuven, same property as above
This morning we will have time for further exploration of our base city. Leuven Botanical Garden is small at just 4 acres but is well worth some time. This is the oldest medicinal herb garden in the country, dating from the 18th century; there is also a water garden, an Alpine conservatory, a fruit garden and greenhouses of tropical plants to admire.
This afternoon, dependent on time of year of your chosen visit, we can visit either a lovely rose garden or Belgium's 'mini Keukenhof' the spring extravaganza that is Groot-Bikgaarden.
Sint Pieters-Leeuw is on the outskirts of Brussels, home to Coloma Rose Gardens. Located in the former Coloma castle grounds, this delightful place hosts more than 30,000 bushes and 3000 varieties, one of the largest rose gardens in Europe.
Spring gives the opportunity to stroll the flower labyrinth of Groot–Bijgaarden in their spring flower show. Discover 500 varieties of spring bulbs including 300 tulip varieties. Another special treat for visitors only available for a few weeks each year!
Our tour finishes this evening in Brussels.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.
Please note that, as this is a custom designed trip, your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.
This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.
Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability.
SGT is at your service!
The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.
The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!
At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!