Brussels has two major airports: the central Brussels-National (www.brusselsairport.be) — also known as Zaventem — and the outer lying Brussels-Charleroi (www.charleroi-airport.com).
Where are the airports?
Brussels-National is the closest airport, located 13km northeast of Brussels in the small town of Zaventem. It serves most major airlines, including the national carrier Brussels Airlines. Charleroi is 60km south of the city, about an hour’s drive away and serves budget airlines.
Getting to/from Brussels-National
The train station is located in the basement (level -1). The express shuttle service departs every 20 minutes and takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the city centre with stops at Brussels Nord, Brussels Centraal and Brussels Midi/Zuid. Trains run from 6am—midnight and a one-way second-class ticket costs 2.60 euros, first class 4.10 euros.
The bus station is located on the ground floor (level 0). There are two operators:
De Lijn (www.delijn.be) operates an express service which drops at Brussels Nord (bus no. 471), NATO (bus no. 471) and the Roodebeek metro station (bus no. 659). All depart from platform A and a one-way ticket costs 3 euros.
MIVB/STIB (www.stib.be) operates a 30-minute express service from the airport to EU quarter. From Monday to Friday before 8pm you need bus number 12, and on the weekend or after 8pm you need bus number 21; all buses depart from platform C. A one-way fare (un aller simple) bought on the platform prior to travel costs 3 euros, on the bus 5 euros.
Taxis are available outside the arrivals hall 24 hours a day. A one-way fare to the city centre usually costs 45 euros and the journey will take around 40 minutes depending on traffic — the ring-road can get very busy during rush hour. Only taxis with a blue and yellow emblem are licensed.
Getting to the city from Brussels-Charleroi
A shuttle bus (www.voyages-lelan.be) departs every 30 minutes for Brussels Midi. Buses run from 8.15am to 11.45pm from the airport and are arranged to coincide with the Ryanair flight timetable. A one-way ticket costs 13 euros, a return 22 euros and these can be bought on the bus. The journey takes an hour. To get back to the airport, the bus stop is located on the corner of Rue de France and Rue de l'Instruction on the west side of Brussels Midi station. Buses in this direction run from 4am to 8pm Monday—Sunday.
You’ll need to catch a bus (Bus A) from the airport to Charleroi train station (journey time 20 minutes), and there are direct trains from there to Brussels city centre. Ask for a billet bulk at the airport (10 euros), which covers the cost of the bus and the train to the city centre.
A taxi rank is located outside the main terminal building. All companies charge a (hefty) fixed flat rate of 85 euros from the airport to Brussels city centre.
Getting around Brussels
For information on getting around the city once you’re there, see my How to get around Brussels page.
Getting there by Eurostar
Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) run up to nine services a day from Kings Cross St Pancras International to Brussels Midi/Brussels Zuid; journey time one hour and 50 minutes. They frequently run weekend-break promotions combining rail travel and hotel accommodation, so check their website.
Getting there by Eurotunnel
This high-speed car train (www.eurotunnel.com) runs from Folkestone to Calais 24 hours a day, with up to four departures an hour during the day and every hour between 12am and 6am. The journey takes 35 minutes and from Calais it’s a two-hour drive along the E40 to Brussels.
Getting there by ferry
Travel by boat has been heavily eclipsed by the faster Eurostar and Eurotunnel, but if you’re not in a rush you can benefit from huge savings offered by the cross-channel ferries. P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com) and Sea France (www.seafrance.com) run services from Dover to Calais, while DFDS Seaways (www.norfolkline.com) sail from Dover to Dunkerque.
Getting there by bus
Eurolines (www.nationalexpress.com), a division of National Express, operates four daily departures from Victoria coach station in London to Brussels. The journey takes approximately eight or nine hours, but coaches are fairly comfortable with reclining chairs, videos and onboard toilet. All buses use the Dover—Calais ferry route to cross the Channel.