Transport and Driving in Belgium
Due to its small geographic size and well-established transport network, expats will find that getting around Belgium is relatively easy. The country has an extensive train network, Belgian cities all have bus networks, some have trams, and Brussels has an established metro system.
Public transport in Belgium
Belgium has a well-established and efficient rail network, which offers the best way of getting around the country. Brussels, Antwerp and Charleroi all have very good urban rail networks, while Brussels also has a metro system, which offers the best way to navigate the city.
High-speed trains are operated by Thalys and Eurostar and offer services between Brussels and other European cities, including Amsterdam, London and Paris.
Belgium has an established bus network for both inner-city and intercity travel. However, buses are not as popular as trains for getting around Belgium, except in the rural Ardennes region, which has few rail lines.
A number of Belgian cities have tram lines, including Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. A coastal tram system offers travel along the whole Belgian coast. In Brussels, the tram is integrated with the metro system, making it a convenient means of travel around the city.
Taxis are plentiful in Belgian towns and cities, with numerous private companies offering services. Taxis don't all look the same but can be identified by the taxi sign on the vehicle’s roof. Metered taxis generally operate in different zones in a city, and offer variable rates. It’s best to negotiate the fare before setting off on a journey.
Driving in Belgium
With such an extensive public transport network, expats living in Belgium will find that it’s not necessary to own a car. However, those wishing to have their own vehicle will find that driving in Belgium is quite easy.
Roads in Belgium are well maintained and toll-free motorways connect all major towns and cities. One thing that expats may take a while to get used to is the road signage, which can be confusing at times. Road signs in Belgium are generally bilingual, but road signs in more rural areas are often written in either French or Flemish. This can be confusing as place names can have different spellings in French and Flemish and may suddenly change from one language to the other, depending on the region.
Traffic drives on the right hand side of the road. The speed limit on highways is 74mph (120km/h) and in city and urban areas it is 31mph (50km/h). Seatbelts must be worn in both the front and the back, while children under 12 are not allowed to travel in the front seat.
Drivers from non-EU countries need to have an international driving permit to drive in Belgium.
Expats driving in Belgium should also be aware of the prioritè à droite (priority to the right) rule, whereby priority should be given to traffic merging from the right. In cities, trams also always have right of way over any other vehicle.
Air travel in Belgium
Due to its small size, there are very few domestic flights between Belgian cities. The main airport in Belgium is Brussels Airport. Other major airports in Belgium include Ostend-Bruges International Airport, Brussels South Charleroi Airport, Liege Airport and Antwerp International Airport, which all offer flights to other European airports and further abroad.