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Antwerp is generally an easy city to navigate as it’s a compact metropolis. De Lijn, the public transport company, operates a comprehensive network of buses and trams. Expats wanting to travel out of the city can catch a train operated by the national railway service.
Those who plan to use buses and trams frequently should consider getting a multi-ride Lijnkaart card. It works out cheaper than paying for individual rides. It can be bought at stations, supermarkets and newsagents. Expats will also be able to get public transport maps from station ticket booths. Single tickets are valid for an hour at a time, so passengers can swap between modes of transport. Tickets and cards are usually inserted into a ticket machine when boarding.
Walking around Antwerp is also pleasant. Around a fifth of the picturesque city centre is demarcated as pedestrian zones.
Buses in Antwerp
The city’s main bus station is the Franklin Rooseveltplaats. It’s close to the zoo and the Antwerpen-Centraal train station. Buses also leave from both this train station and the Antwerpen-Berchem station in Zurenborg.
Trains in Antwerp
Trains are operated by the NMBS and are the best option for long-distance travel as well as for residents who commute from the outlying suburbs. Tickets can be bought at station counters or through the NMBS website.
Trams and pre-metro in Antwerp
The pre-metro, which runs underground as well as on surface lines, is part of the tram system that covers Antwerp and its surrounding suburbs. All trams use the same tickets as buses. The most prominent stops are Diamant station, below the central train station, and Groenplaats, from where the line continues west under the Scheldt River to the Van Eeden station.
Taxis and ride-sharing services in Antwerp
Taxis are allowed to transport up to four passengers, while taxi buses can accommodate eight for the same price. Those with an official taxi permit have an illuminated sign on the roof and a red licence plate. Tariffs are determined by the city authorities and should always be shown on the meter. At the end of a journey, the driver must print out a ticket bearing the company’s name and telephone number for queries or complaints.
Ride-sharing services are readily available throughout the city but are often deemed unnecessary as a result of Antwerp's excellent public transport system.
Cycling in Antwerp
The city has a large network of cycle lanes as well as the Velo public bicycle hire scheme. Various passes can be bought from the Velo website or customer service offices near the Stadspark and the zoo. After receiving a card, people can take a bicycle from stations across the city before dropping it off at another station closer to their destination.
Driving in Antwerp
Expats with a driver’s licence from a non-EU country that doesn’t have an exchange agreement with Belgium can legally drive in the country for a year. In some cases, they’ll need their home licence translated into French or Dutch. After 12 months, the home licence becomes invalid and expats will have to pass a driving exam at their local municipality to get a Belgian licence.
Parking in Antwerp is limited and is managed by the local parking authority. The city is divided into different parking zones, some of which require permits that can be bought from district council offices or the parking authority. Multi-level garages are easy to find, though they can be a bit pricey. To avoid being fined or having their car towed away, expats should not park on yellow lines, at bus stops and in front of driveways.
Are you an expat living in Antwerp?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Antwerp. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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