- Download our Moving to Brussels Guide (PDF)
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 initially be a bit overwhelming. Almost all public transport within the city is run by the state company STIB-MIVB. Tickets allow passengers to use a combination of the metro, trams or buses to reach 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 purchase tickets onboard, but these are more expensive. For frequent commuters and tourists, Brussels offers the MOBIB card, a reusable smart card that allows unlimited travel within a certain period. It too can be used across the metro, trams, and buses. More information can be found on the STIB-MIVB MOBIB page.
The official STIB-MIVB website is helpful for network maps and prices. For real-time updates and efficient navigation, several mobile applications are available for Brussels's public transportation. The STIB-MIVB app provides updates on timings, routes and any potential disruptions, ensuring a smooth journey.
Buses in Brussels are orange and silver in colour and are assigned a number and colour on transport maps and signposts. Routes and timetables are on the STIB-MIVB website.
The Brussels Metro is fairly simple, with only six overlapping lines. The service is reliable, and journey times are fairly short, although some routes can get crowded during rush hour. Most trains have a display and announcements in multiple languages, telling commuters the stop and 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. Taxes can use bus lanes, so they tend to be faster than private vehicles.
When using taxis in Brussels, it is customary to round up the fare as a tip for the driver.
Ride-sharing services and applications are also widely available in the city, although often made unnecessary by its excellent public transport network.
- For traditional taxi services, you can visit the official website of Taxis Verts, the largest taxi company in Brussels.
- For an alternative approach, the Uber and Bolt apps are widely used in Brussels, as is the local alternative, Heetch.
- For eco-friendly rides, Djump offers rides in electric vehicles.
Cycling in Brussels
Cycling in Brussels is an excellent way to get around and see the city. However, riders must be moderately fit to cope with its many hills. There's an extensive network of cycle routes that are easy to navigate. Riding around the city is reasonably safe, although it's better to use cycle routes when available to avoid the heaviest traffic.
Brussels also has several cycle-hire schemes for commuters who don't have their own bikes. The city's bike-sharing program, Villo!, offers both traditional and electric bikes. More information can be found on the Villo! website.
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 circles 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 take some getting used to.
While driving in Brussels can be convenient, finding parking in the city centre can be challenging at times. There are paid parking zones and multi-storey car parks, but spaces fill up quickly during peak hours. It's advisable to use public transport when visiting the city centre. More information can be found on the official Brussels parking page.
Walking in Brussels
The centre of Brussels is relatively small, and most of its attractions and amenities are within easy walking distance of each other. Conversely, the European Quarter, which houses the EU buildings and the major banking and insurance companies, is some distance from the tourist sights.
While there are areas that should perhaps be avoided after dark, walking in Brussels is generally safe. The most significant issues during the daytime are likely to be crossing the road. Trams always have the right of way. Expats should also be aware that some cycle paths share the pavements, which can be hazardous if pedestrians are unaware of their surroundings.
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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