By Plane -- Brussels Airport (tel 0900/70000 for general and flight information, tel 322/753-7753 from outside Belgium; www.brusselsairport.be; airport code BRU) is 15km (9 miles) northwest of Brussels city center. This airport handles most of Belgium’s international air traffic. There is one terminal that handles all flights, national and international. Moving walkways connect passengers with the Arrivals Hall and Passport Control, Baggage Reclaim, and Customs. Conveniences like free luggage carts, currency exchange, ATMs, restaurants, bars, shops, baby rooms, restrooms, and showers are all on tap. The Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel is located directly outside the airport’s main entrance.
For tourist information and to make hotel reservations, go to Brussels Airport Information Desk in the Arrivals Hall; it is open daily 6am to 9pm.
The Brussels Airport Express train service to Brussels’s three main rail stations (Bruxelles-Nord, Bruxelles-Central, and Bruxelles-Midi) has up to four departures hourly daily between 5:30am and 11:30pm, for a one-way fare of 8.50€. The ride to Bruxelles-Central takes 17 minutes and trains leave from the basement level of the airport. Most airport trains have wide corridors and extra space for baggage.
Every half-hour from the airport’s bus platform C outside Arrivals, Airport Line no. 12 (Mon–Fri 8am–8pm) and no. 21 (Mon–Fri 8–11pm and Sat–Sun 5am–11pm) depart to the European District in the city. The fare is 8€ for a round-trip ticket purchased from a ticket machine before boarding the bus and 12€ return for one purchased onboard. For more info: tel 32/70-232-000; www.stib-mivb.be.
Taxis that display an orange sticker depicting a white airplane offer reduced fares (around 45€) from the airport to the center city.
Brussels-South-Charleroi-Airport (tel 0902/02490 for general and flight information, 322/7815-2722 from outside Belgium; www.charleroi-airport.com; airport code CRL) is 55km (35 miles) south of Brussels. It is the domain of European budget flights rather than transatlantic services; there are Brussels City Shuttle (www.brussels-city-shuttle.com) connections every 30 minutes between the airport and Brussels-Midi/Zuid rail station. Round-trip fare is 28€.
By Car -- Major expressways to Brussels are E19/A16 from Amsterdam (driving time: 2 hr. 20 min. on a good day) and the E19/E17 from Paris (driving time 3 1/2 hr.). Take the E40/A10 from Bruges and Cologne. If possible, avoid driving on the hell on wheels that has become the R0 Brussels ring road; if you miss your turn off, expect to go all the way around again. Once you’re installed in your hotel, leave the car at a parking garage. Brussels is choked with traffic even in the middle of the day, parking is scarce, and one-way systems baffling.
By Train -- The Brussels metropolitan area has three main rail stations: Bruxelles-Central, Carrefour de l’Europe; Bruxelles-Midi, rue de France (the Eurostar, Thalys, TGV, and ICE terminal); and Bruxelles-Nord, rue du Progrès. All three are served by Métro, tram, or bus lines, and have taxi stands outside. For train information and reservations, call tel 02/528-2828 or visit www.sncb.be.
From London, Brussels is served by Eurostar (tel 08432/186-186in Britain; tel 44/1233-617-575 from outside the UK; www.eurostar.com); from Paris, Amsterdam, and Cologne by Thalys (tel 320/7079-7979; www.thalys.com); from everywhere in France apart from Paris by TGV (tel 3635 in France; tel 33/892-353-535 from outside France; www.voyages-sncf.com); and from Frankfurt by ICE (tel 0900/9296; 0.35€ per minute; www.nsinternational.nl).
Warning: Attracted by rich pickings from international travelers, bag snatchers roam the environs of Gare du Midi, and pickpockets work the interior. Do not travel to or depart from the station on foot if you can avoid doing so; take a taxi or use public transportation. Inside, keep a close eye on your possessions. You’ll be appreciative of the strong police presence.
By Bus -- Eurolines (tel 08717/818-178 in Britain or 32/02-274-1350; www.eurolines.com) buses from London, Paris, Amsterdam, and other cities arrive at the bus station below Bruxelles-Nord train station.
Passport to Brussels
One of the best discounts is the Brussels Card (www.brusselscard.be), available from all Brussels tourist offices. Valid for 1, 2, or 3 days, and costing 24€, 36€, and 43€, respectively, it allows free use of public transportation; free and discounted admission to about 30 of the city’s museums and attractions; and discounts at some restaurants and other venues, and on some guided tours. It comes with an informative booklet about the sights and a map.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.