Updated February 18, 2019
The national company is SNBC. Traveling by train in Belgium is fast, easy and comfortable, and is not expensive if you buy a pass.
There are frequent trains in all directions, passing most by one of the three main stations in Brussels. All prices here refer to second class. Although they can be purchased in advance on the official website, it is not necessary; there is always room, although it is true that, since second class is not numbered, I was forced to stand up some whole trips.
- On Board Fee: since February the 1st 2015, you can buy the ticket directly on the train to the inspector. It has a surcharge of € 7 on the price of the normal route, but the truth is that it can be very advantageous in two circumstances: if the train is late and you have no time to buy the ticket, and if, for any reason, the inspector doesn’t show up.
- Ticket Standard: depending on the distance, or if it is return or one way, you will have to pay a different price. It is important to note that if you buy a route from one place to another, but we want to get off the train and go back up some time later at another intermediate station, it is perfectly legal to do so whenever it is done on the same day that the ticket is purchased .
- Go Pass 1: only for under 26: each journey, regardless of where it is within the country, costs € 6.4.
- Weekend ticket: 50% return trips (from 7 pm Friday to 11:59 pm Sunday).
- Go Pass 10: only for those under 26: 10 trips to anywhere for 52 €.
- Key Card: 10 routes at 23 €, only short journeys. Ideal for those who stay in the outskirts of a city.
- Rail Pass: probably the most interesting for tourists and travelers wishing to move around Belgium:
- 10 one-way journeys to any part of the country for € 77, valid for one year. As in the standard ticket, it is especially interesting if you are going to visit several locations on the same day that are on the same railway line, for example: if today we are in Brussels and want to go to Bruges, we can write in our ticket “origin Brussels, destination Bruges” and today’s date, but we can get on and off the train at any intermediate station throughout the day, such as Ghent.
- This is also valid to come and go from any airport to the city where we spend the first night. Especially useful if our accommodation is far from the airport. In my case, I arrived at Charleroi airport and stayed in Ghent: a standard one-way trip would cost € 16.3 today (plus the airport surcharge, but there is also a charge for using the pass).
- Those who have little time and therefore are going to visit few cities, should calculate if it is profitable. To have a reference, a standard Brussels-Bruges round trip cost € 28.6.
- DO NOT CONFUSE WITH THE 10 JOURNEY CARD. It is a different pass, which allows you to discount in 10 one way or 5 round trips, but always the same route. It is useful for people residing in Belgium that have to do the same train route occasionally, but not for tourists.
- The Railcards and the MOBIB card are also not useful for tourists, they are for residents who use the same train lines and other public transport frequently.
In Belgium there are almost none direct intercity buses between the main hubs, which forces us to go by train, or to continually change lines (for example, a bus ride from Brussels to Bruges would take 6 hours and requires us to change at least 5 times).
Flanders is served by the company De Lijn, which also manages the trams. There is no direct inter-city bus:
- Simple ticket: € 3. Valid for 60 minutes, you can transfer as many times as you want (validating it every time).
- SMS Ticket: 1.8 €, sending DL to 4884 you’ll get an SMS with a code that serves as a simple ticket.
- Lijn Card: 10 trips of 60 minutes for € 16.
- Group ticket (from 5 to 44 people): 1.3 € per trip.
- 1 day: € 9 (7 if purchased in advance).
- 3 days: € 14.
- 5 days: € 20.
- Euroregio: for € 18, two adults and two children can travel for one day in eastern Belgium, the south of the Netherlands and the adjoining area of western Germany.
Wallonia is controlled by TEC. There are few intercity buses known as express lines, most from Namur to the south. Single tickets and 1-day passes can be purchased in advance, with a slight discount. It’s website is not in English.
|1 day pass||3 days pass||Multi Pass||Multiflex Pass|
|Next (zones 1-2)||
2,5 €, 60 minutes, all transfers allowed.
5 € (group of 5: 10 €)
8 x 8,80 €
|12 x 13,20 €|
Horizon (all zones without express bus)
|3,5 €, 90 minutes, all transfers allowed.||
6 x 13,20 €
Horizon + (all zones + express bus)
|5,5 €, 90 minutes,all transfers allowed.||10 € (group of 5: 25 €)||16 €||
4 x 13,20 €
Brussels has its own bus and tram company, STIV / MIVB.
The only one in the country that connects different locations is the Coast Tram, a scenic tram that goes all the way from La Panne to Knokke. It takes 2.5 hours, and it belongs to De Lijn, so the prices are those of that company.
VEHICLE: OWN OR RENTED
A highly recommended option for moving around Belgium for families or groups of 3 or 4 members. Crossing the entire country in its largest dimension, from northwest to southeast, is only 300 km. The disadvantage is, as always, to park in the center of the main cities.
In Flanders there are motorways connecting cities. The further south we go in Wallonia, the roads will be simpler, but much more scenic.
Given the small size of the country and its extensive and effective rail network, it is very infrequent and expensive to travel using domestic flights.