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Getting to Belgium


By plane

Brussels Airport (also known as Zaventem due to the town in which it is mainly located) is Belgium's main airport, IATA code BRU. It is not located in Brussels proper, but in surrounding Flanders. The airport is the base of the national airline Brussels Airlines , which was founded when SN Brussels Airlines and its low budget sister company Virgin Express merged in March 2007. All other full-service airlines use BRU, as well as budget carriers such as Vueling and SkyEurope. Check flight to Belgium .

There is a train ( 2.90) running every 15 minutes to Brussels centre taking 25 minutes, some of them continuing to Ghent and West-Flanders and a bus line number 12 and 11 ( 3) every 20 to 30 minutes to Place Luxembourg (European Parliament) district. The bus stops at NATO and Schuman (for the EU institutions) on its way to the centre. There are also two trains per hour to Leuven, taking 13 minutes. A taxi to the centre of Brussels costs around 20 (as of 2004) when booked in advance, otherwise around 30. Taxis bleus: 02 268 0000, Taxi Brussels: 02 411 4142, Taxis verts: 02 349 4343.

There are two other airports in Belgium with scheduled flights. Ryanair and Wizzair fly to Charleroi airport (aka "Brussels South", IATA code CRL), about 50km away from Brussels. You can get to Brussels Gare du Midi on the Ryanair coach in about an hour (10.50 each way). If you're going to any other part of Belgium, ask at the Ryanair ticket desk for a combination bus+train ticket via Charleroi Sud station (11 each way if bought in the airport, but more expensive in stations).

However, if you are really stuck, it is not unusual for taxi drivers to take credit cards. The price of a taxi ride to Brussels is a set fare (approximately 95 as of May 2006) and you can check with the taxi driver if he will accept your credit card(s) or not.

Antwerp Deurne airport (IATA code ANR) has some business flights, including VLM 's reasonably priced link to London City airport. Other airports include Oostende, Liege and Kortrijk, but they only handle freight and charter flights.

 

By train

There are direct trains between Brussels and:

  • Amsterdam, Luxembourg (normal trains, running every hour)
  • Paris, Koln/Cologne, Amsterdam
  • Lyon, Bordeaux, Paris-CDG airport and many other French cities (TGV Bruxelles-France).
  • London all tickets from London allow you free onward travel within Belgium; all tickets to London include free travel from any Belgian trainstation to Brussels South, where Eurostar departs.
  • Frankfurt, Koln/Cologne (ICE)
  • Berlin, Hamburg (night train )
  • Zurich, Switzerland, via Luxembourg (normal trains, 2 daily)

They connect with domestic trains at Brussels' Gare du Midi/Zuidstation, and with all Eurostar or ICE and some Thalys tickets, you can finish your journey for free on domestic trains. For all high-speed and sleeper trains, you need to book in advance for cheap fares, either online or using a travel agency.

You might want to check the TGV connections to Lille too. The trains from the rest of France to Lille are more frequent and usually cheaper. There is a direct train connection from Lille Flandres to Ghent and Antwerp. If your TGV arrives in Lille Europe, it will take a 15 min walk to the Lille Flandres railway station.

Plan your trip with the Deutsche Bahn timetable . It has all domestic and international connections across Europe.

Smoking is no longer allowed in Belgian trains.

By car

Major European highways like the E-19, E-17, E-40, E-411 and E-313 pass through Belgium.

By bus

You can get to Belgium from all over Europe on Eurolines coaches. International busses have stopovers in Antwerpen , Brussels north-station, Leuven & Liege.

Due to the Bosnian war in the 1990'ies there are bus companies serving the Bosnian diaspora, which provide a cheap and clean way of getting to the other side of the European continent. Semi tours runs three times per week from various destinations in Bosnia and Hercegovina to Belgium and the Netherlands, Off-season approx (159) for a return ticket.

By ship

There are overnight ferries to/from Zeebrugge from Hull in England and Rosyth in Scotland, but they are not cheap. There's also a vehicle-only daytime service from Oostende to Ramsgate in England.

Get around

Being such a small country (300 km as its maximum distance), you can get anywhere in a couple of hours. Public transport is fast and comfortable, and not too expensive. Between larger cities, there are frequent train connections, with buses covering smaller distances. A useful site is InfoTEC , which has a door-to-door routeplanner for the whole country, covering all forms of public transport (including train, bus, subway and tram).

A look on the map may suggest that Brussels is a good starting point to explore Antwerp, Ghent, Brugge, Namur and Leuven on day trips. Antwerp is popular among those who want to be in a cosmopolitan place, and Ghent is tops with those who like a good mix of open-minded provincialism. Liege is beautiful, but too close to Germany to be a good base for day trips. Mechelen is considered boring by tourists, but has a very good brand new youth hostel next to a train station with trains to everywhere else every 30 mins.

To do some local sightseeing, especially in Flanders, a lot of infrastructure is available for cycling. Bikes can be rented virtually everywhere. In the country side of Wallonia, mountainbikes are available, and rafting is popular along the border with Luxembourg.

By train

Most of Belgium is well connected by train, run by NMBS (SNCB in French)with most of the main routes passing through Antwerp, Namur or Brussels. This is where you'll arrive on international trains, and both can be reached by train from Brussels airport or by coach from Antwerp or Charleroi airport. Transfers are very easy. Note that all Eurostar & ICE and some Thalys tickets allow free same-day transfers by domestic trains to any other Belgian station. Also, there are Thalys trains from Paris directly to Ghent, Brugge and Oostende with no need to switch trains in Antwerp or Brussels. From London (by Eurostar) you need to switch in Brussels for Antwerp, Leuven or Ghent, but for Brugge, you can already switch in Lille (France) with no need to make the detour via Brussels.

Source: Wikitravel.org