Brussels at a Glance
Transportation in BrusselsFotolia
Brussels is a bilingual city, as every road sign demonstrates.
Brussels has two airports: Brussels Airport and the smaller Charleroi Airport in the south. Both are served by regular bus services from the city center. A bus from the European Quarter takes about 30 minutes to reach the main airport. You’ll need twice as long for the journey to Brussels South on the dedicated shuttle coach leaving Brussels main station (Bruxelles Midi) every 30 minutes.
Due to its central location within Europe, Brussels can be easily reached both by rail and automobile. Brussels maintains high-speed train connections with other major European cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne, and Frankfurt. For train connections within Belgium, please check the website of the SNCB/NMBS, the Belgian National Railway Society.
Belgium has a good road network, with Brussels in the center of a fan-like arrangement of old national roads. You can approach the city on motorways from all directions, and they all lead to the outer ring road. From there, it is easy to get on the inner ring road and to the city center.
Public transport in Brussels is organized by STIB, the Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (called MIVB in Dutch). STIB operates the Brussels metro and an extensive network of bus, tram and night-bus services. Thanks to a standardized ticketing system, STIB ticket holders may use trains and coaches within the boundaries of the city. The metro is undoubtedly the fastest means of transport, and the walls of most metro stations were embellished with works of art that you can admired while waiting for the next train.
Tickets can be purchased at ticket machines in metro stations, at the kiosk, from the driver or online (season tickets only). A single fare costs between €1.90 and €2.50 – the more expensive tariff applies to tickets bought from the driver on board. There are 10 different “formulas” of season tickets available. Alternatively you can get the new MOBIB pass, an electronic card charged at will with season or single tickets. For more information on fares and timetables, please consult the STIB website.
Taking a Taxi
Taxis can be hailed on the street or at a taxi stand. There is no main taxi hotline, so it’s worth keeping a record of the telephone number of at least one taxi company in Brussels. A list of all taxi companies with contact details can be found on the website Bruxelles Mobilité.
If you hail a cab on the street, make sure it’s registered in the Règion de Bruxelles-Capitale, otherwise your ride might turn out to be very expensive. You can recognize available taxis by their white “libre” (free) sign on the windshield. Fares are the same across all taxi companies, i.e. €1.66 per km for daytime rides within the 19 municipalities, and €2.70 for every journey outside the city boundaries. The taxi meter always starts at €2.40, and for night rides between 10pm and 6am, there is a surcharge of €2.
Other Means of Transport
There are several regional transport providers operating bus and train services, notably the Flemish company De Lijn and the Walloon transport society TEC (Transport en commun). Brussels is currently investing heavily in the RER project (Réseau express régional): The city aims to use pre-existing railways for a new train network in order to provide a fast and reliable service for commuters and a real alternative to the car. At the moment, this network is supposed to be in use by 2017.
In its fight against congestion and pollution, Brussels City Council has introduced several schemes, such as the Bruxell’Air premium (limited free public transport for people who scrap their cars) and various carpooling schemes. If you are interested in using one of the carpooling schemes, go to the website of such providers as Cambio, Zen Car, Carpool, Kidspooling, or VAP.
Cycling is also being actively encouraged by Brussels authorities by means of interactive cycling maps, cycling classes, and various promotions. For more information, please check the bicycle section of Bruxelles Mobilité.