Naturism in Belgium: Athena naturist campsites

Belgium counts about 10 naturist resorts. Did you guess that? Don’t worry if you didn’t, even most Belgian naturists don’t know this. Most will come up with about two or three resorts, and there’s a 95% percent chance that the ones they name are the Athena campsites.

 

The Athena club was founded in 1955 by Irène and Robert Lambrechts, who were also co-founders of the Belgian Naturist Federation. Today, Athena is still a family business and owner of the three most popular naturist resorts in the country.

 

We had to return to Belgium to get our COVID vaccinations and figured that the time between the two shots was the perfect moment to learn more about naturism in our own country. In the end, we have visited naturist places in all corners of the world but didn’t really know all that much about the options in Belgium. The obvious starting point was, of course, at the Athena campsites.

Athena Helios

Athena Helios: The active one

If you’ve visited this campsite two or more years ago, your experience is likely to be very different from what you’ll read in the next paragraphs. The reason is simple: A change of management. During the last two years, Athena Helios is being run by a young family who managed to blow a fresh wind through the campsite. They focus a lot on entertaining naturist families – quite obvious, they have their own four children to keep busy at the campsite – and have been very successful in doing so.

 

We have to admit, we visited Athena Helios on the National Day of Belgium. Not just a bank holiday, but one that Belgians like to celebrate. The result was a weekend full of activities at the campsite. Body painting, a table tennis tournament, and a memorable concert of the Just Married Band, just to name a few. Nevertheless, we could feel the young vibe all around the campsite and are pretty sure that this won’t be different on any other day.

 

One of the big advantages of Athena Helios is its location in the green belt around Brussels. It feels like camping in a forest, but at less than 20 kilometers from the center of Belgium’s capital. The international airport is only 10 kilometers away, which means that it’s actually easier to get there from Athena Helios than from Brussels. Other interesting places to visit nearby the campsite are the city of Leuven, the Sonian Forest, and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren.

Athena Le Perron

Athena Le Perron: The natural one

Athena Helios may have a forest feel, but for more splendid Belgian nature you’ll have to travel further south. Tucked away in the rolling hills of Belgium’s East Cantons you’ll find Athena Le Perron. To quote one of the other visitors: “It feels as if you’re at the largest naturist campsite in the world”. In itself, Le Perron isn’t all that large, but because it’s located on the top of a hill, it gives endless views over the green surroundings and probably the best sunsets that you can find in Belgium.

 

Nature is definitely the main reason why people choose Athena Le Perron. Not only on the campsite but also in its surroundings. This is one of the greenest parts of Belgium with plenty of forests and hiking or cycling trails. Within a radius of about 20 kilometers from the campsite, you can find some interesting highlights like the Signal de Botrange (Belgium’s highest point), the Coo waterfalls (one of Belgium’s highest waterfalls, the Plopsaland theme park, typical villages like Malmedy and Eupen, and lots more.

 

Even if you don’t want to restrict yourself to just one country, there are two border triangles nearby. Within less than an hour’s drive from the campsite, you can find yourself in the Netherlands, Germany, or Luxembourg.

Athena Ossendrecht

Athena Ossendrecht: The fancy one

Here’s a fun fact: The largest and most popular naturist campsite of Belgium is technically located outside of the country. Athena Ossendrecht lays right next to the border between Belgium and the Netherlands, but on the Dutch side. Since this is the largest of the Athena resorts and is often considered the crown jewel of the group, we and probably every other Belgian naturist just claim it as our own.

 

We had already visited Athena Ossendrecht back in 2018 but did feel quite disoriented when we arrived. This place was not exactly how we remembered it. During the last couple of years, there had been several investments, especially in terms of rental accommodations. With a variety of mobile homes, glamping tents, and the brand new cozy Coco Sweets – in which we stayed – there’s is something for every comfort need and budget. This puts Athena Ossendrecht on the same level as plenty of other naturist resorts in Europe. In fact, on a sunny day, you might imagine yourself on a campsite in the south of France instead of in Belgium (or the Netherlands, if you insist).

 

The campsite is located right near the Kalmthoutse Heide, one of Belgium’s greatest natural parks, which makes it an excellent base for natural hikes or cycling trips. At a 20 minute drive, you can find yourself in Antwerp, one of Belgium’s most vibrant cities. If you drive in the other direction, you’re likely to end up on one of the Dutch nude beaches.

 

Summary

Belgium may not be at the top of Europe’s most popular naturist destinations, and we only visited three of the ten naturist resorts, but we can honestly say that we were happily surprised about what our own country has to offer for the naturist traveler. Not only did we find nice naturist resorts with lots of friendly and welcoming people, but we also found a variety of which even we didn’t know existed.

 

For more info and reservations: Check out the Athena website: https://www.naturisme-athena.org

 
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8 thoughts on “Naturism in Belgium: Athena naturist campsites”

  1. Next week Tuesday September 28 the Belgian national broadcast television will dedicate a prime time program to naturism in Belgium. Let’s hope that such an initiative will improve the acceptance of naturism.

    For Dutch speaking interested people : broadcast starts at 20:35 on VRT. The program will afterwards be available on-line.

    Reply
    • Yes, it’s “Durf te vragen”, isn’t it?
      We had a call with the producers earlier this year. Unfortunately, the recordings happened during the travel restrictions and we couldn’t risk returning to Belgium to join the program and then possibly get stuck.
      But we’re sure that it will be a good show.

      Here’s a small sidenote, we happen to know that (among probably many other resources) they used our book “Alles Uit” for their research. It’s kinda fun to think that our book will be on an expense note in the archive of the national television 😀

      Reply
    • Natuurlijk, Nederlands kan ook maar daar heeft de overgrote meerderheid van de lezers van de blogs van N&L niets aan. En Nederlandstaligen die deze site bezoeken kennen ook Engels, anders zouden ze deze posts niet kunnen lezen 😉

      Reply
      • Inderdaad, Engels is nu eenmaal onze voertaal. Hoe graag we ook onze blogs in verschillende talen zouden publiceren, dit is helaas onmogelijk omdat enorm veel tijd in beslag zou nemen.

        We hebben wel een vertaal functie. Het is een de plugin van Google, dus deze werkt niet perfect. Maar het helpt 😉

        Reply
  2. Het beste vertaalprogramma op het internet is momenteel Deepl (www.deepl.com). Dit is ook beschikbaar als plugin voor surfprogramma’s zoals bv. Chrome en Edge, of (voor websitebouwers) als WordPress plugin.

    Reply
  3. Goed artikel. laten vertalen naar Nederlands (Dutch!)
    Jammer, dat jullie niet even de andere namen hebben genoemd. Krijgen we daar ook nog een beschrijving van? Ook het andere Belgische terrein wat buiten België ligt, Le Trois Vallon in Frankrijk, Gezellige mensen, mooi terrein en op een prettige afstand vanaf Utrecht, Nederland.

    Koekel trensleet geeft vaak vreemde vertalingen: skinny dip wordt magere duik. birthday suit wordt verjaardagspak. Zo zijn er nog vele, maar die mogen jullie zelf opzoeken.

    Reply
    • Hallo, helaas waren we maar kort in België en hebben we enkel de Athena campings bezocht. Hopelijk kunnen we later ook een aantal andere bezoeken.

      Inderdaad, onze vertaalfunctie is ver van perfect. Het is dan ook de gratis versie van Google… De betalende versie zou een pak beter werken, maar dan kijken we naar een kost van vele honderden euros per maand… Best is gewoon een vertaal plugin in jouw browser installeren en die gebruiken ipv onze vertaalfunctie.

      Reply

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