Getting around Belgium is easy if you know how – with an integrated Belgian public transport system, you can also travel cheap around Belgium.
Belgium’s location at the centre of western Europe means international transport links and Belgian public transport are typically good. This guide explains the main national and international public transportation systems so you can get around in Belgium.
Getting around Belgium on public transport
Belgium has an excellent public transport network, which is accessible and efficient. One of its strengths is an integrated train, tram, metro and bus system, which makes connections easier between different transport types.
Three regional operators manage the network: De Lijn (Flanders), TEC (Wallonia) and STIB (Brussels). For beach vacations, along the Belgian coast runs the world’s longest tram route, De Kusttram providing easy access to the entire coastline from the French and Dutch borders.
The MOBIB-card has replaced old magnetic cards and paper tickets, and are available for purchase at any local railway station or online at www.belgianrail.be. The card costs EUR 5 and lasts five years, and travellers can load on any kind of ticket or season pass. Children under six years travel free while 6–12 year olds can travel free under some adult passes, or pay for a child’s pass.
In 2017, the Hi Belgium Pass was introduced by Brussels Airlines, Brussels Airport, SNCB and various tourist offices, which combines a return flight, unlimited public train transport and two tourist activities for EUR 149.
Public transport in Brussels
The Brussels city public transport is run by STIB/MIVB, while bus transport outside the centre is run by De Lijn in Flanders and the yellow and red TEC buses in Wallonia. Not all tickets are interchangeable between the companies, but certain tickets allow access to all three networks, such as the ‘jump’ ticket for Brussels transit and the MTB season pass.
In Brussels, you can buy multiple-ride or season tickets (on MOBIB-cards) from STIB/MIVB tickets offices or special booths at metro stations, online, or from newsstands and supermarkets. Single tickets can be bought from bus or tram drivers, although pre-bought tickets are 20 percent cheaper. Multiple-ride tickets cover five or 10 journeys and, like single-journey tickets, must be time stamped in the orange boxes. Once stamped, you can travel anywhere within an hour – on bus, tram, or metro – but you should stamp your ticket at each change. Children age 6–11 can travel free if you buy a MOBIB-pass, and up to four children under six can travel free with any adult.
If you are under 26 you can opt for the Go Pass 10, a deal offering 10 journeys for up to 10 people for EUR 51 in total. With a Key Card deal, you can get 10 short-journey for EUR 20, or 10 journeys by train to anywhere in Belgium for EUR 76. Check the company’s website or ask at an office for details.
Public transport in Antwerp
The public transport system in Antwerp is managed by De Lijn and is based on trams and buses, with an underground tramline running through the city. Multiple-ride or season tickets can be bought at De Lijn booths (Lijnwinkels) in various locations, as well as in some newsstands, supermarkets and stations. Buying tickets in advance saves you about 20 percent and can even be bought via SMS, although single tickets can be bought from the driver if needed. Friday and Saturday trams run an hour later to coincide with the night bus timetable.
Public transport in Gent/Liege
- STIB/MVIB | 070 23 2000 | www.stib-mivb.be
- De Lijn | 070 22 0200 | www.delijn.be
- TEC | 010 23 5353 | www.infotec.be
Domestic trains in Belgium
The dense train network in Belgium is state-owned and operated by SNCB/NMBS.
For the most part it is efficient and inexpensive. Booking is best done before boarding; while it is possible to buy a ticket from the guard, you will be charged a EUR 3 surcharge if you boarded at a station with ticket sales. Ticket offices are often busy but you can buy online or via mobile or using the NMBS/SNCB app. You can print your own ticket from the company’s website, or present your ‘SMS ticket’ on the train. Make sure you get all the details correct as tickets are not transferable and must be supported by showing the guard your ID.
Job seekers can also claim discounted tickets, and pregnant women can upgrade to 1st class for free in the last four months of their pregnancy. Check the website for details.
SNCB/NMBS | 02 528 2828 | www.belgianrail.be
Discounted weekend trips in Belgium
For local getaways, there are various ways to save money, such as with a B-excursion pass, which includes transport and admission to attractions, or half price return travel on the weekend. Children under 12 years travel free on SNCB trains when accompanied by an adult. One adult ticket allows up to four children to travel free. Separate tickets are not required, but you may be asked to show proof of their ages (an ID or official document). Read about the best weekend getaways in Belgium.
International trains in Belgium
Belgium is truly the railway crossroads of Europe, with trains entering Brussels from all over the continent. Brussels Gare du Midi is the terminus for several international trains, including Eurostar coming from London and Paris, TGV trains from France and Thalys, connecting France, the Netherlands and Germany to Belgium. Alternatively, you can take the conventional EuroCity trains to most European cities. Bookings for the high-speed train services can be made online or at the station.
If you want to drive to England, it’s just a short journey to Calais for the Eurotunnel shuttle service.
- SNCB/NMBS Europe | +32 (0)70 79 7979 | www.b-europe.com
- Eurostar | +44 1233 617 575 | www.eurostar.com
- TGV | 3635 (40c/min) | www.tgv.com
- Thalys | +32 (0)70 66 7788 | www.thalys.com
Taxis in Belgium
Taxis may not take you off the street if they are too close to one of their special waiting ranks, where you should go to take a cab. All taxis are metered and have different tariffs according to whether you are in the city centre or the outskirts. You can arrange a taxi or transfer by phone, or pay set fees for certain longer trips (such as to the airport). All information, including the driver number, should be clearly displayed inside the taxi. Tips are included in the meter price.
The Brussels-Capital region also runs a shared taxi service called ‘Collecto’ (www.collecto.org) from 11pm to 6am, for EUR 5–6 per person. You can book by calling 02 800 3636, and wait at any of their pick-up places located at some 200 STIB stops. Private driver apps, such as Uber, have also appeared across Belgium.
- Brussels Region Taxi Department | 0800 94001
- Taxis Bleus | 02 268 0000 | www.taxis-bleus.be
- Taxi Verts | 02 349 4949 | www.taxisverts.be
- Antwerp Taxi | 03 238 3838 | www.antwerp-tax.be
- Taxis Melkior | 04 252 2020 | www.melkior.be
- V-Tax | 09 222 2222 | www.v-tax.be
Read about airports in Belgium.