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A modern city with good infrastructure, Brussels is relatively easy to navigate. Expats have various options when it comes to travelling in the city, with good public transport and road networks.
Public transport in Brussels
The comprehensive public transport system in Brussels can be a bit overwhelming at first. Almost all public transport within the city is run by state company STIB-MVIB. Tickets allow passengers to use a combination of the metro, trams or buses to get to their destination.
Tickets can be bought online, at vending machines and kiosks in metro stations, as well as at shops around the city. It's possible to buy tickets onboard but these are more expensive.
Buses in Brussels are orange and silver in colour and are assigned a number and a colour on transport maps and signposts. Routes and timetables are on the STIB-MVIB website.
The Brussels Metro is fairly simple, with only six overlapping lines. The metro service is reliable and journey times are fairly short, although some routes get crowded during rush hour. Most trains have a display and announcements in multiple languages, telling commuters the stop as well as giving a map of the line they are on.
Trams are mostly above ground, making them useful for seeing the city and gaining a sense of direction. Some trams also go to metro stations and run underground in places. As with the metro, most trams have a display to indicate their next stop and destination.
Taxis in Brussels
There are many different taxi companies in Brussels. Taxis differ in appearance, but almost all have a sign on the roof. Taxis in Brussels operate in different zones, with different rates depending on the location and the time of day. As taxis can use bus lanes, they tend to be a bit faster than private vehicles.
Ride-sharing services and applications are also widely available in the city, although often made unnecessary by its excellent public transport network.
Cycling in Brussels
Cycling in Brussels is a good way to get around and see the city. However, riders will need to be moderately fit to cope with its many hills. There's an extensive network of cycle routes that are easy to navigate. It's reasonably safe to ride around the city, though it's better to use cycle routes to avoid the busiest traffic. There are also several cycle-hire schemes in Brussels for commuters who don't have their own bikes.
Driving in Brussels
The road network in Brussels is generally good, although there are a few junctions and areas where road surfaces could be better. A ring of freeways circle the city, several parts of which go all the way into the city centre.
Expats should also be aware that the city's known for having some of the worst traffic in Europe. Drivers in Brussels also have a reputation for impatience. This can make for an interesting combination and can take some getting used to.
Walking in Brussels
The centre of Brussels is relatively small and the majority of its attractions and amenities are within easy walking distance of each other. The European Quarter, which houses the EU buildings and the major banking and insurance companies, is some distance from the tourist sights though.
While there are areas that should perhaps be avoided after dark, walking in Brussels is generally safe. The biggest issues during the daytime are likely to be crossing the road. Trams always have right of way. Expats should also be aware that some cycle paths share the pavements, which can be hazardous if pedestrians are not aware of their surroundings.
►See Transport and Driving in Belgium for more about getting around
►The official STIB/ MVIB website is useful for network maps and prices
"You don’t need a car in Brussels itself, and in fact it could be a liability in some neighbourhoods." Read more about David's experiences in Brussels.
Are you an expat living in Brussels?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Brussels. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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