Getting to Brussels
Right in the heart of Europe, Brussels has superb air, road and rail connections. More than 60 million Europeans live within 300km of Brussels, less than two hours by high-speed train. For those who fly in, it takes only 20 minutes from the airport to the city centre. And when you have arrived, it’s easy to move around the compact city, by public transport or on foot.
Brussels’ main airport is Brussels Airport, (locally still commonly referred to as Brussels National or Zaventem, IATA code: BRU). Several major carriers operate out of the airport, including the local Brussels Airlines, which is owned by Lufthansa.
Direct trains run every 15 minutes in both directions. It takes just 17 minutes to travel into central Brussels.
Brussels has three main train stations: Midi-Zuid, to the south of the city core, Central-Centraal, which is right next to the city center, and Nord-Noord, to the north of the city center (at Place Rogier). High-speed trains stop only at Midi/Zuid, except the ICE also stops at Nord/Noord. There is a shower at Midi/Zuid located in the toilet near platforms 19-20 (between Origin’O and Quick).
Thalys, www.thalys.com. The high speed Thalys train connects Brussels with Cologne, Paris and Amsterdam. It is much cheaper to book further in advance. With your Thalys ticket you can also take a local train to or from Central-Centraal, Nord-Noord, Schuman and Luxembourg/Luxemburg stations
Eurostar, www.eurostar.com. The Eurostar train line links Lille Europe, Ashford and London St. Pancras with Midi/Zuid.
ICE, www.bahn.de. German ICE connects four times a day to Cologne and Frankfurt (€39 one way, “Europa Spezial Belgien” offer starting from €29).
TGV, en.voyages-sncf.com. Connects Lyon, Marseille, Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice and many other French destinations to Midi/Zuid.
NMBS/SNCB, www.belgianrail.be. The Belgian train service.
Most sights in Brussels are fairly close together, within reasonable walking distance of each other. The oldest part of town can have uneven cobblestone roads, but the rest of the city is fairly easy to walk. Many roads in the old town are closed to cars.
By public transport
The metro in Brussels is quite clean and safe compared to most metro systems. Metro entrances are marked by big “M” signs in blue and white, with the station name underneath. All announcements are made in Dutch, French and English. There are 6 metro lines. Single tickets, called Jump 1 cost €2.00 if pre-purchased.
You validate the ticket in the small orange machines located in buses/trams, or at the entrance to metro stations/major tram stops. The orange machines time-stamp the ticket, both in ink and magnetically, and it will be valid for one hour. You can interrupt your ride and interchangeably use any STIB/MIVB transport. You should revalidate your ticket for each new ride.