Cheap flights to Brussels
Ryanair has a good range of choice and often good prices although you always have to consider your luggage, everybody knows how strict they are! The downside is that Ryanair flies into Brussels Sud-Charleroi airport, which is about 50min from Brussels.
Another low-cost company is Easy-jet which flies into Brussels National (Zaventem), but has fewer options, at least from Italy (the only connection is with Milan).
Sometimes you can find good offers with Brussels Airlines, just check their website before deciding.
London, Paris and Amsterdam have very good – and if you’re lucky quite accessible – train connections.
Once in Charleroi Airport
Take the shuttle bus to Brussels Midi station directly outside the airport (ticket: €13 one way, €22 round trip), it’s almost a one hour ride and runs every 20min.
Sometimes there are taxi drivers offering to bring you to Brussels Midi station for the same price as the shuttle bus ticket (€13). It’s a real offer! You’ll be in Midi station a bit earlier, it’s a 30/40min ride depending on the traffic.
There’s also the train option but I’ve never tried it because you have to take a shuttle bus from the airport to the train station anyway.
Zaventem Brussels Airport
The train station is situated on the -1 level of the airport. The train to Midi station runs every 15min, the journey takes 20min and the ticket is €7.80.
The bus station is situated on the 0 level of the airport. You can take the bus to place de Luxembourg – which is nearer to the city centre – n12 (till 20:00) or n21 (from 20:00) from platform C. It runs every 30min and the ticket is €4 (please note that you can buy the ticket on the bus BUT it will cost you €6 instead of €4).
Transport once in Brussels
Public transport in Brussels is not too bad. The metro is made up of six lines running in pairs, it is frequent and rarely delayed. Buses are usually on time (except for during rush hours – from five to ten minutes’ delay) and trams are a plus as they reach areas with no metro stops. As I’ve already said life takes place during the earlier hours of the day, so as you can guess this is reflected in the transport service: the last bus/tram/metro runs around midnight. On Fridays and Saturdays there are a few night buses (every 20min till around 2.30) but they all start from Bourse in the centre and spread out with a sunburst pattern leaving a few uncovered areas.
Prices: a one way ticket for either bus/metro/tram is €1.90 (if you buy from a ticket machine; €2.50 on board the bus/tram). If you plan to use local transport a few times during your trip, either a five journey ticket (€7.70) or a ten journey ticket (€13.50) might be what you are looking for. You can also find options for 24/48/72 hours if you’re staying for a short time but plan to use the transportation a lot. For more info see the STIB website.
If you’re moving into Brussels and plan to live here for a while you will want to buy the MOBIB card and then either add the monthly pass (€47.50) or the yearly pass (€499).
You can buy tickets in all metro stops at the vending machine, and some metro stops also have a counter. Sometimes there are vending machines near the main tram and bus stops, e.g. Trone.
Fun – not really – fact about transport in Brussels: quite often drivers drive as if in a tug-of-war game (don’t ask me why) so I would suggest you always hold on tight, just in case!