Getting around Brussels: Public Transport

Angelina

Updated on Jun 09 • 5 minute read

Getting around in Brussels is easy, thanks to the extensive public transport network and compact city centre. To make the most of getting around Brussels smartly, use this guide to know:

  • types of public transport in Brussels
  • types of tickets and travel subscriptions
  • Brussels public transport prices
  • where to buy tickets

Brussels public transport

Public transport is the best way to get around in Brussels due to the city’s chaotic, frustrating traffic scene. Brussels’ public transport network is managed by 4 companies.

  • STIB (in French), also referred to as MIVB in Dutch, connects every corner of the city through bus, metro and tram lines. The integrated ticketing system makes it easy to switch between these modes of transport.
  • SNCB operates the trains and connects you to the different cities.
  • De Lijn operates buses in the Brussels and Flanders regions.
  • TEC operates buses in Brussels and the neighbouring Wallonia region.

Brussels metro: STIB (MIVB)

The metro is the quickest way of getting around in Brussels. If you’re travelling within the centre, you’ll be at your destination in a flash.

How often does the metro run in Brussels?

The metro runs:

  • during peak hours: every 3 minutes
  • after 8 P.M.: every 10 minutes
  • on weekends: every 5 minutes

There're often delays so be sure to give yourself time. Most of the STIB lines run from Monday to Sunday, 5 A.M. to 12 A.M. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can catch a night bus from 12 A.M. to 3 A.M.

To get up-to-date information and easily plan your journeys, download the STIB-MIVB app.

Trams in Brussels: STIB (MIVB)

The 17 tram lines in Brussels stretch over 147 km. Powered by renewable energy, they tend to be faster than buses, though are still far behind the metro. Many streets don’t have separate tram lines, so there’s a big chance you’ll be dragged into a traffic jam during peak hours.

How often does the tram run in Brussels?

The trams run at a similar frequency to the metro, however each line has different timing. Most tramlines in Brussels run between 6 A.M. until 12 A.M.

Buses in Brussels: STIB (MIVB), De Lijn, TEC

Buses are a good way to travel to areas not covered by metro lines. However, they’re notorious for being busy and slow. They don’t run as often as the metro and should be avoided during peak hours.

Keep in mind that buses in Brussels’ suburbs are run by either Flemish De Lijn or Wallonian TEC and they’ve their own ticketing system. So if you need to travel there frequently, buy the right tickets or check if your travel subscription includes these lines.

How often do buses run in Brussels?

The frequency of the bus varies a lot depending on the bus line, area and company. It's best to check directly on the bus providers website or travel app to see how often the bus you need runs.

Buses run throughout the day and most of the night and are also the best way to travel at night on weekends. On Friday and Saturday nights between 12 A.M. and 3 A.M., you can catch a bus every 30 minutes.

Trains in Brussels: SNCB (NMBS)

If you plan to commute to other cities or make day trips, use the intercity trains. As they’re run by SNCB (NMBS), trains don’t accept STIB (MVIB) tickets.

How often do trains run in Brussels?

Trains run frequently with a maximum interval of an hour between each train. You can purchase your ticket from a ticket machine marked with a blue circled letter ‘B’ at any railway station. The tickets aren’t time-specific, so you can use them at any time during the day. The tickets are checked and stamped on the train after boarding.

Brussels public transport tickets, travel cards, and season tickets

In Brussels, you can use the same ticket for bus, metro, tram or a combination. Trains and suburban buses have their own ticketing systems, however, they’re included in certain subscription plans.

If you don’t plan to travel frequently, you can buy a single 1-hour or 1-day ticket when you need one. The hour begins once the ticket is validated.

But if you’re going to use public transport in Brussels regularly, you should get a MOBIB card. There’re 2 types of MOBIB cards: 1) Basic where you can only upload tickets 2) Personal where you can upload both tickets and subscriptions (season tickets).

Season tickets can save you quite some money and hassle if you travel often! The most popular season tickets are:

  • STIB-MIVB: unlimited number of journeys on the entire STIB network (bus, tram, metro in the Brussels urban zone)
  • BRUPASS: unlimited number of journeys on the entire MIVB-STIB network, all De Lijn and TEC buses within the Brussels-Capital Region and the Brussels urban zone, and all NMBS-SNCB trains within the Brussels-Capital Region.
  • BRUPASS XL: unlimited number of journeys on the entire MIVB-STIB network, all De Lijn and TEC buses within the Brussels-Capital Region and the Brussels urban and suburban zone, and all NMBS-SNCB trains within the Brussels-Capital Region and in the suburban zone.

How much does public transport cost in Brussels?

Public transport in Brussels is generally on the expensive side and can eat away from your monthly budget. Here’re the fares for different tickets and subscriptions in Brussels:

Type of ticketPrice
1-hour ticket€2.10 - €2.60
1-day ticket€7.50 - €8.00
MOBIB card€5
STIB-MIVB monthly season ticket€49
STIB-MIVB annual season ticket€499
Monthly BRUPASS€56.50
Annual BRUPASS€583
Monthly BRUPASS XL€78
Annual BRUPASS XL€583
Annual STIB for 18-24-year-olds€12

Prices vary depending on the method of purchasing your ticket as well. For example, here’s how much a 1-hour (1 journey) ticket costs:

  • Paper tickets from a ticket shop or vending machine: €2.60
  • On board from the driver: €2.50
  • Contactless payment with your bank card: €2.10
  • Via MOBIB Card: €2.40

Where to buy Brussels public transport tickets

You can pay for public transport in Brussels contactless, purchase a ticket or a monthly card. If you decide to buy a ticket or charge your travel card for all means of public transport in Brussels, you can do it at any:

  • GO vending machines
  • KIOSK or BOOTIK ticket offices
  • Newspaper shops, bookstores and supermarkets

Buying a MOBIB card

©Leona Fujii

You can purchase a personal MOBIB card for €5 in a BOOTIK shop or online on MyBOOTIK with an electronic ID card or a passport-sized photo.

You can then easily load a ticket on your card in a BOOTIK, KIOSK, GO vending machine and through Go Easy. However, the simplest method is via the mobile app.

Season tickets can only be bought in a GO vending machine, ticket office or via this form (only for BRUPASS and BRUPASS XL).

Tips for using Brussels public transport:

  • Validate your ticket or travel card. Don’t risk paying a fine of €107.
  • In most of the public transport in Brussels, doors don’t open automatically. Pull a handle on the door in the metro or press the green button on the door of a bus or tram to open the door.
  • Trams and buses in Belgium stop only on request. So signal to the driver or press one of those blue buttons on a metal pole close to you to request the next stop.
  • The signs in public transport are bilingual: French and Dutch. So if you’re not familiar with these languages, memorise the words or translate them online.
  • Purchase tickets by contactless bank payments to avoid paying more. Optionally, get a season ticket if you travel frequently.
  • If you buy a ticket directly from a driver, make sure to have the precise amount. They aren’t required to change more than €5.
    • If you use paper tickets, validate them at the little orange machine.
    • If you use a MOBIB card, validate it at the red machine on a bus or tram or scan it at the gates of a metro entrance.

When transferring between vehicles with a 1-hour ticket, you don’t need to pay for your second journey as long as your second validation happens within the 1-hour window.

Now you've got all the knowledge to do so- it's time to explore Brussels!

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