As the Capital of the European Union and the Capital city of Belgium, transport links to Brussels are pretty well established. The majority of visitors will arrive by plane to one of two major airports which feed the city: Brussels (or Zaventem) Airport and Charleroi.
Brussels’ main airport is very well-connected to the city centre, allowing you to easily travel by train, bus, taxi, car sharing or by picking up a rental car. The train into the city centre only takes 17 minutes, The bus to the European quarter in town is a little longer (30 minutes) but also a little cheaper. If you have a lot of baggage - and particularly if you’re travelling in a group - you might consider getting a taxi. It’s around €45 to the centre, but split 3-4 ways the convenience certainly outweighs the price!
A word of warning regarding taxis: there is a considerable amount of illegal activity and ripping-off of travellers by certain taxi drivers in the area. If you leave the airport and are told by a taxi driver there’s a delay or problem with the bus service, ignore them and investigate by yourself. They will happily fill a car for €40-50 per person, which is absolute extortion over a 50km journey.
If you do decide to go by taxi, expect a fare in the region of €90 for the whole vehicle. The bus takes about an hour to get to the centre, and there are also two train services: a direct to centre train (18 minutes) or a longer, cheaper service which takes about an hour. All of these options are substantially cheaper than even a normal taxi fare.
Travelling from any of the major Dutch cities - like Amsterdam and Rotterdam - is easy, as there are trains running to/from the two countries up to 16 times a day. Eurostar services will also take you from selected parts of France and from London, while of course there are national train services to take you from any other part of Belgium right into the centre.
From the city centre train station to the very outskirts of the city, public transport in Brussels has you covered. A smart integration of buses, trams, metro and trains means that you can get wherever you need to go with minimal hassle and usually a short journey time to boot. As we discussed in our analysis of the cost of living in Brussels, the cheapest way to get around is to purchase a MOBIB card - these are top up-able cards which you can use in place of paper tickets. Not only more convenient, you also get reduced journey rates, like €13.50 to €11.20 for a 10-ride ticket.
You can use the STIB-MIVB website to stay up-to-date on traffic, any works being conducted and the latest travel offers.
The metro system is good in Brussels, but it lacks the perpetual carriages which are present at the likes of London or Munich. Instead, they run every 10-15 minutes, which is still more than adequate. With 70 stations across the city - recognizable by the white "M" on a blue background - there’s plenty of cover. The city has also made an effort to improve the experience of its public transport users by displaying impressive artworks at many of the stations.
With lines crisscrossing the entire length and breadth of the city (and far beyond it) both buses and trams are tried and tested ways of getting around Brussels. You don’t need special tickets for taking either, thanks to the unified ticketing system used in the city, so just check out the schedules and routes, grab your MOBIB card and enjoy your journey!
Taxis are easy to find in Brussels, but you might find your bank balance would rather take the metro - they are extortionate. If you’re running and late and need to cover ground fast, then they might be a good option for a shortish journey, but anything over a few km and you’ll be burning a hole in your wallet. There are taxi stands by all of the main avenues or squares in the city, so you’ll always be able to find one if there’s a need.
Public transport in Brussels is pretty good all-round, but the trains are exceptional. They connect millions of Europeans to the Belgian capital, offering high speed trains which can travel 300 km in just two hours and making it one of the most visitor-friendly cities in Europe. Travelling to a nearby country is a piece of cake, so weekend (or even day) trips to the likes of Delft or Amsterdam are very feasible. Of course you can also visit other Belgian cities or the areas around Brussels just as easily.