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Main station Bruxelles Midi
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Travel advice Trains in Belgium

 

Brussels is the capital of Belgium, one of the smallest yet charming capital cities in Europe, where almost everything worth a visit is within walking distance. Brussels is also the de facto home of the European Union, housing important institutions like the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of the European Union.

This page will take you through where to visit in Brussels, how to get there by train, and how to book your tickets with us.

Popular train routes to Brussels

It's easy to get to Brussels from major Belgian and European cities thanks to the high-speed rail infrastructure in central and western Europe. Have a look at our table below and discover some of the most popular routes to Brussels, including journey times and train operators.

Route Fastest journey Train company
London to Brussels 1h 56m Eurostar
Amsterdam to Brussels 1h 45m NS, Thalys, SNCB
Paris to Brussels 1h 22m Thalys
Cologne to Brussels 1h 43m Deutsche Bahn, Thalys
Rotterdam to Brussels 1h 10m NS, Thalys, SNCB

 

There are three main train stations in the city – Bruxelles Central (Brussels Central), Bruxelles Nord (Brussels North), and Bruxelles Midi (Brussels South). As the capital region is officially bilingual, the station names will be written in French, as above, and Dutch. The Dutch station names are Brussel Centraal, Brussel Noord and Brussel Zuid respectively. Whether you’re travelling to Brussels from within Belgium or across the border from Amsterdam, Germany or further afield, you’ll likely arrive into one of these three stations.

Bruxelles Midi

Bruxelles Midi is the busiest train station in Belgium and is predominantly served by international services, including Eurostar trains from London, Thalys trains from ParisAmsterdam and Cologne, and high-speed German trains from Cologne and Frankfurt.

Bruxelles Central

Bruxelles Central is the city’s second-busiest station, with high-speed services departing for key locations across Belgium and the Netherlands (Antwerp, Amsterdam, Ghent). It’s also served by Regional Express trains. Bruxelles Central is the newest of the city’s main stations.

Bruxelles Nord

Bruxelles Nord is the terminus for the north-south tram line and the departure point for most urban and national buses and international coach services. Every service headed to Bruxelles Midi stops at Bruxelles Nord, apart from Eurostar and Thalys trains.

If you have a Eurostar or Thalys ticket, this allows for free transfer on Belgian domestic trains from Bruxelles Midi to any of the main stations in Brussels.


London to Brussels on the Eurostar

It takes just over two hours to travel from London to Brussels on the Eurostar. The train departs from London St Pancras International and arrives at Bruxelles Midi, with nine services per day leaving for Brussels. Remember to bring your passport for the customs checks at St Pancras. Unlike air travel, you’re allowed to bring as much liquid on board as you like, and there are no limitations on baggage weight. You’re allowed two bags up to 85cm x 85cm in size.

The train leaves London and speeds through the south-east of England, entering the 50km-long Channel Tunnel at Folkstone. The deepest part of the tunnel is 75m below sea level so you might notice a slight change in temperature in the carriage (however, you’ll still be able to use your phone while in the tunnel, as phone signal extends into the tunnel). The train then speeds through northern France, stopping at Lille before heading to Brussels.

Want more information about the journey? View train times, compare prices and read a review of the journey from London to Brussels by our trusted travel writer.


How to book trains to Brussels

Booking train tickets abroad can be daunting. You have to contend with a different language, unfamiliar place names and new train companies. Luckily, we make it simple to book trains to any station in Brussels, in English.

Using our Journey Planner above, follow these steps to book your train tickets to Brussels:

  1. Enter your origin (where you’re travelling from). The destination field is pre-filled.
  2. Pick a date and time you’d like to travel.
  3. Select how many passengers are travelling and whether you’ll be using railcards.
  4. We’ll show you the prices and times for the route you’ve chosen. Select your preferred train and whether you want to travel in Standard or First Class.
  5. Enter the full names of all passengers you’re buying tickets for (name must match their IDs) and an email address to send your tickets to. 
  6. Continue to the checkout and book your train tickets to Brussels!

Trains in Belgium

Belgium has a high-quality rail network, administered by SNCB, the National Society of Belgian Railways (in French: Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges). If you’re taking trains from around Belgium, you will almost certainly find yourself on an SNCB train at some point.

SNCB operates four main train services –

  • Intercity (IC). These cover the short-distance routes between cities in Belgium and some longer routes into neighbouring countries like Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Germany.
  • Local (L). Feeding into the Intercity network, Local (L) trains connect towns and villages with main cities.
  • Train D'Heure de Pointe (P). Meaning 'Rush Hour Trains' in English, P trains run during commuter hours to ease the strain on the rail network. As such, you'll only catch a P train in the mornings and late afternoons.
  • Regional (S). Sometimes called RER in French and GEN in Flemish, Regional (S) trains run in and around Brussels on suburban lines.

There are also a handful of train companies operating in Belgium that aren’t affiliated with SNCB. These include Eurostar, who run services from the UK; Thalys, who run high-speed trains from Paris to Brussels; and Deutsche Bahn, who run high-speed InterCity Express trains from Germany to Belgium.

For more information on the Belgian train network, visit our Trains in Belgium page.


What to see in Brussels

The city is incredibly multicultural, widely regarded as one of the most diverse cities in the world. In the Schaerbeek Municipality, over 200 nationalities live side-by-side! As such, you won’t have to go far in Brussels before stumbling upon top-quality international cuisine. Arriving in the heart of the city by train, you can simply stroll out of the station and enjoy the beauty of the architecture and culture right away. If you’re coming from the UK, the Eurostar from London (London St Pancras) takes around 2 hours to reach Brussels; from Paris (Paris Gare du Nord) the journey can be as little as 1 hour 22 mins.

Under 20 minutes on foot from Bruxelles Midi station, the Grand Place is the first attraction to visit. This is the city’s main square, known locally as the ‘Grote Markt’, and considered one of the great market squares in Europe. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. Grand Place is the historic heart of the city characterised by its typical cobblestone paving, antique buildings and classic cafes. Just three minutes’ walk away is Brussels’ famous cheeky statue, the Manneken Pis. Translating literally to ‘little pee man’ in Flemish, this cheerful bronze child is constantly surrounded by hordes of tourists – you can’t miss it!

If art’s your thing, Brussels is a perfect destination. The city is home to the Magritte Museum, which displays hundreds of works by the Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte, as well as to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée), full of drawings and figures of the Smurfs and Tintin.

No trip would be complete without a visit to the Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon, right in the historic centre of Brussels. The Royal Palace is also nearby, seven minutes away on foot. Finally, be sure to visit the Atomium, a futuristic building created for the world's fair Expo 58, with the giant model of an iron crystal cell. And if you get thirsty, Belgium is the perfect place to be, since it’s known worldwide for its fantastic beer. In Brussels, you’ll never be too far away from a bar – just remember to match your tipple with the famous moules-frites, a popular dish of mussels and fries.

Still not sure what to see in Brussels? Check out our guide to spending a day in the Belgian capital.


Visiting from the USA?

Brussels is an incredibly multicultural city, so is naturally accepting of visitors from all over the world. However, there are a few things to know if this is your first time in the city – or Belgium – and we’ll take you through these travel tips below.

Firstly, the Brussels capital region is officially bilingual – meaning all road signs and official documents are written in French and Dutch. Of the two languages, French is much more widely spoken in the city. This is what you’ll hear on the streets, in restaurants and bars.

Luckily, English is widely spoken as a second language in Belgium. In particular, people in the service industry should speak a good level of English. You shouldn't have trouble communicating with locals but do learn a couple of French or Dutch words as a courtesy. 'Thank you' is Merci in French and Dank je in Dutch (pronounced 'dank ye') – you're welcome!

The currency in Belgium is the Euro (€). ATMs will be easy to find in Brussels. Most of them will have an English language option, so you won't accidentally withdraw your life savings! Keep some cash on you for purchases of under €20, but card acceptance is widespread.

Keep in mind that tipping customs vary quite significantly from US norms. Waiters in Brussels earn a living wage, so tipping is not mandatory. However, if you were happy with the service, feel free to round up the bill by a few Euros. Consider 10% as a maximum tip to leave.

Finally, you will not need a tourist visa to visit Brussels, provided that your trip is under 90 days. Your passport must be valid for three months after your scheduled date of departure from the country. If you do get into difficulties, the US Embassy is located on the Boulevard du Régent, next to the Parc de Bruxelles.

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