Updated January 19, 2019
Although there are other airports, the vast majority of Belgian air traffic passes through these two, so Brussels airports are almost equivalent to Belgian airports:
- National or Zaventem is the largest, most important, and with more connections and airlines; competition makes prices affordable.
- Charleroi, although small, is the one used by low-cost airlines.
- Others are also small, but low-cost flights are scarce, so tickets are expensive and travelers opt to buy a cheap plane ticket and move to their final destination by train or bus.
BRUSSELS NATIONAL AIRPORT (ZAVENTEM)
Located 13 km northeast of the city center. It is the main airport of the country. There are lockers to leave luggage for € 7.5 (you can only pay by coins, there’s a machine to change bank notes) per day, unlimited, although after 72 hours the luggage is placed in a guarded room.
To get there and away:
- At level -1 is the TRAIN station. There are 16 trains a day that go directly to the Netherlands (20 to The Hague). The rest are national trains. For most destinations you have to change in Central Brussels. Direct routes (include the airport surcharge or Diabolo fee (€ 5.30)):
- Brussels; passes through the three main stations in the following order: Nord (17 minutes), Central (22) and Midi / Zuid (29). Every 5-10 minutes. 8.30 €. A cheaper option is to go by the pedestrian lane to Zaventem (the adjacent village, 20 minutes to its center) and there take in the station one of the frequent local trains to Brussels, saving us the Diavolo fee.
- Antwerp: 32 minutes. Every 30 minutes. 12.10 €.
- BUSES. On the ground floor. There are three options:
- STIB Airport Line, which leaves the platform C:
- It is a 30-minute express service between Brussels Airport and the European Quarter, pedestrian distance from the center if you do not carry a lot of luggage. Some buses stop before Luxembourg Square, so ask before you go up.
- From Monday to Friday from 5 am (from the city, from the airport the first leaves at 5:40 am) until 8 pm, it is line 12; it only stops at the main stops. On weekdays after 8 pm until 12:15 am (from the airport, from the city the last leaves at 23:38), and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, it changes to number 21, stopping at all stops, so forget about arriving in 30 minutes.
- Frequency: every 10-20 minutes line 12 and every 12 to 30 minutes line 21.
- To buy the ticket in the vending machines GO before getting into the bus costs € 4,5, in the bus is € 6.
- The company De Lijn operates the following services and some other to smaller destinations:
- Brussels North train station (lines 272 and 471), 3 €.
- Expo, where the Atomium (820).
- Mechelen (lines 681, 682 and 683).
- Leuven (616, 651 and 652).
- Brussels airport – Antwerp express: adult € 10. Buy the ticket on the bus. From 4 am to midnight, an hourly bus. It takes 45 minutes.
- Flixbus: makes the night route Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels (stopping at the airport), Lille, Paris.
- STIB Airport Line, which leaves the platform C:
- All major international car rental companies have offices at the airport.
- Taxi: approximately 45 €.
- Uber: approximately 30 €.
- And for the more active, there is a bike and pedestrian line that leads to the center.
BRUSSELS SOUTH OR CHARLEROI AIRPORT
Brussels South? Not really, this airport is Charleroi’s, a 200,000 inhabitants city with little appeal to tourists, 60 km south of Brussels. It was an easy prey for low-cost carriers, the main one (more than 95% of its air traffic), Ryanair, which has turn it in its bastion. It is a good option, provided you consider that after the flight you expect a comfortable but at least one hour long transfer to the center – north of the country, and is ideal for those who are going to visit the south.
- BUS: flibco.com company. The least complicated. Prices indicated are when buying the ticket online; machines at the airport or on the spot have a surcharge from € 3 per trip. There is no discount to buy one way or return. The most popular destinations are:
- Brussels (Midi / Zuid station): every 20-30 minutes, € 14, 1 hour. The website is Brussels City Shuttle, that belongs to flibco.
- Bruges: 9 a day, € 18,20, 2 hours and 10 minutes.
- Ghent: 9 a day, € 16,20, 1 h 20 minutes.
- Lille: 12 a day, € 18,20, 1 h 30 minutes.
- Luxembourg: 11 a day, € 23,50, 2 hours and 30 minutes.
- BUS + TRAIN: Bus TEC A. The stop (Gosselies) is about 10 minutes walking northwest. € 5. It is a bus line that takes you in 20 minutes to Charleroi train station, where you can take the train to any destination. This option is useful and economical if you are going to buy a train pass (it is the one I used), but not if you are going to buy a simple route, since those 5 € plus the price of the train ticket would cost the same as a flibco bus, and you would have to walk to the stop and then change transport.
- Vehicle rental: There are offices of Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt and Budget.
- Taxi: FIXED PRICE € 90 from the airport to the city but € 120 in reverse.