How to use public transportation in Brussels: metro, buses, streetcars, streetcars, electric trains
Public transportation in Brussels

How to use public transportation in Brussels: metro, buses, streetcars, streetcars, electric trains

You can do without a rented car or cab in Brussels. Public transportation in the city allows you to get to any attraction. You can move around Brussels by metro, bus, streetcar, and by electric train it is easy to get to the nearest cities. In order not to get lost in an unfamiliar place and not to go in the other direction, it is better to plan your route in advance, and I will tell you how.

Tickets for public transportation in Brussels

Ticket prices

The fare is the same for all types of public transportation. It is more advantageous to take a pass for a fixed number of trips or for a certain time. Fare:

  • 2,10 € — ticket for one trip, it must be used within one hour, you can’t transfer with this ticket, even if the time has not yet expired;
  • 7,50 € — day pass;
  • 14 € — for two nights;
  • 18 € — for 72 hours;
  • 8 € — ticket for 5 trips;
  • 14 € — for 10 trips.

Where to buy tickets

The most convenient way to buy tickets is to buy them from special machines, which are located at almost every bus stop. They have an easy-to-understand interface, and a minimum knowledge of English is sufficient. In the machine you can choose the type of ticket and lay out the route. You can pay by cash or card.

On buses, you can buy a ticket directly from the driver, but only in small bills. It’s unlikely he’ll have change for even 10 €.

How to activate a ticket

The purchased ticket must be attached to the validator in the transportation system every time you travel. A travel ticket must also be validated every time, otherwise the travel will be considered fare evasion. In the subway, instead of validators, there are sometimes turnstiles: you can pass through them by holding your ticket to the reader.

There are regular ticket inspectors on the transportation system. Even if you have a ticket but it is not activated, you will be fined from 100 €.

All detailed information about fares, routes, opening times of transportation lines is available on the Brussels city portal.

Brussels subway

The Brussels subway is strikingly different from the Moscow or St. Petersburg subways. It is something between a streetcar and an electric train. There are no escalators, long trains or deep tunnels, and part of the lines run in the open air. The network is not very large: you can’t get to every district of the city by metro, and you have to walk for another 15—20 minutes to some sights.

The Brussels Metro has a total of 4 lines — 1, 2, 5 and 6 — and 59 stations. Lines 3 and 4 are streetcar lines, although they also run underground. Detailed line diagrams and signs hang at each station. If you follow them carefully, the risk of getting lost is minimal. After a day, everything becomes clear and convenient.

Brussels metro route diagram
Brussels metro route diagram

In addition to the diagrams, the stops have electronic boards that show the time until the arrival of each train. Approximate working hours of the metro: from 5:30 to midnight. The exact time differs for each line and can be viewed on the city’s official website.

Streetcars in Brussels

The streetcar network, unlike the metro, is much better developed. Streetcars have been running in the Belgian capital since 1869, and during this time the network has grown to 19 routes. All streetcar cars are new and beautiful, moving around the city almost silently. Despite the narrow streets, the streetcar does not interfere at all with car traffic and looks very organically on the ancient streets.

Streetcar lines 3 and 4 are partially underground. At some stops, you can get off the streetcar and go straight to the subway. On the one hand this is convenient, but on the other hand it can be confusing at first. Fortunately, the route numbers on the arriving cars are illuminated with large numbers, you just have to remember that 3 and 4 are streetcars and the rest are subways.

Many stops also have boards with the arrival time of the next streetcar.

Important: When getting off the streetcar, you must press the door open button, usually located on or near the door and lit in green. If the button is not pressed, the right door will not open and you risk missing your stop.

Brussels buses

There are a lot of bus routes in the city and they can take you to almost any place. Each stop has information about the routes, intervals and times.

There are 11 night bus routes, which are a great help after an evening of partying. And buses 12 or 21 will take you to Brussels International Airport.

Electric trains (suburban trains)

Brussels has 3 main train stations: North, South and Central. The Central station serves only international trains, while the Southern and Northern stations also serve regional lines.

It is convenient to get to the nearest towns, such as Bruges and Ghent, by train. The trip takes an average of 40—60 minutes.

It is most convenient to buy a ticket for an electric train at a vending machine at the station. There are always employees nearby who can help you with the purchase and tell you which platform your train leaves from. It is more profitable to buy a ticket for several trips at once. Such a ticket looks unusual — in the form of a blank table. For each trip, you need to write in the table the time you got on the train, the point of departure and arrival, your name and surname.

Routes and ticket prices can be checked on the railroads' website.