Transport Options in Brussels
Brussels is reflective of a major European city in that public transport in the city is fantastic. Around 365,000 people commute into the city every day, many driving, creating traffic jams, parking problems and adversely impacting the environment. The public transport options range from the underground metro system, trams, a comprehensive bus network and overland trains. The abundance of both public transport and private motorists can make for long trips in and around the city and it is advisable to take public transport as it is quicker and certainly less stressful.
The city is easily accessible either by air, rail, or road to most major western European cities. Brussels International Airport, in the north-east area called Zaventem, has connections with most major international airlines and even if there may be no direct flights from where you are, usually, one stopover in another European city will leave a short hop into Brussels. There is a train station at the airport with service every 15 minutes or so into the city center, as well as to the surrounding areas, as well as regular bus service into Brussels and all its surrounding areas. There is also a well-organized taxi system that can be utilized. There are a number of low-cost airlines that fly into Brussels, though passengers should be warned that Brussels South airport is actually an airport in Charleroi, a good one-hour drive from Brussels.
Brussels is a hub of the high-speed Eurostar, TGV, and Thalys trains and also offers service on ICE into Cologne. The location of Brussels makes trains a very effective and fast way to travel. By train from the city, you can be in London, Paris or Amsterdam in 2 hours or less. The main train station for high-speed trains is Brussels South, also known as Brussel Zuid, or Midi. The other major stations in the city for international travel are Brussels North and Central stations.
The debate about whether to have a car or not in Brussels is a difficult one but ultimately it boils down to what you want to do. Most people in Brussels do have a car but do not necessarily use it for commuting to work. Rather many people use their cars for going out in the evenings and on weekends or public holidays. The Belgian coast is popular on hot days and a trip that on a quiet day would take around an hour or so from Brussels may take well over two hours by road. The same trip would take half the time by train, but the convenience and flexibility afforded by having your own mode of transport on days like that are too difficult to overcome for most people. Many people do, however, embrace a complete reliance on public transport as it is relatively inexpensive and often reimbursed by their companies. This is even more attractive for those who live in the particular areas of the city where it is a walk to work or just take a short hop on a tram, train, or bus, and the expense of a car and finding parking are not a part of everyday life.