Belgium is a small country that’s well-served by a modern and comfortable train system. Most people stick to the main cities of Antwerp, Brussels, Brugge, and Ghent (all of which have multiple train routes every day) but even smaller towns are connected by rail. There is also a separate high-speed train that connects Brussels to a handful of international destinations (Paris, Amsterdam, London, etc.). But don’t worry if you have questions because our Belgium Train Guide will cover everything you need to know about buying train tickets in Belgium and how to find the best prices.
How To Buy Train Tickets in Belgium
Let’s take a look at the various train ticket options…
Buying Domestic Train Tickets in Belgium
All domestic train tickets in Belgium use a fixed pricing model that is based on the distance traveled so tickets are always the same price no matter when you purchase them—simply show up at the station and buy your tickets. You can also buy tickets early at Omio (and have them sent straight to your phone) if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of buying them at the station. You can also check schedules and prices at belgianrail.be.
Domestic Train Discounts
- Weekend Round Trip Ticket: If you buy a round-trip ticket for a journey after 7 pm on a Friday night and return on/before the last train on Sunday then you get the entire journey costs the same as a one-way ticket.
- Ten-Journey Card: Spending a lot of time in Belgium? You can buy a pack of 10 one-way tickets (good for a year) for €77 2nd class or €118 in 1st class — which is under €8 for 2nd class. These tickets can be used for any journey.
- Go Pass 10: Are you under 26? Check out the Go Pass 10 which is 10 tickets to any destination for €59—which is €5.90 per ticket. Not too shabby.
Buying International Train Tickets In Belgium
Belgium has quite a few high-speed connections to other international cities—the most notable destinations are Paris, London, and Amsterdam (but there are connections to just about every major city).
All these train tickets should be purchased in advance as they get much more expensive as the departure date approaches. For example, a Thalys high-speed train from Brussels to Amsterdam can be as cheap as €29 when purchased three months in advance but you’ll pay closer to €100 if you buy it the day of travel.
Where To Buy International Train Tickets
While you can buy international train tickets from any train station in Belgium, you’ll get the best prices when buying the tickets from a third-party booking website.
- Omio: Omio is a great train booking engine that lets you book tickets from just about every country’s rail service and other digital tickets are sent straight to your phone. Omio charges little to no markup and they make the booking process very user-friendly.
- TrainLine: TrainLine is another third-party train ticket booking site that connects directly to multiple European rail networks.
More Tips For Using Trains in Belgium
- Brussels Main Train Station: The main train station in Brussels is called Brussels Midi in French, Brussels Zuid in Flemish, and Brussels South in English (i.e. they’re all the same station but they’re often called by either of their names).
- Brussels Central is a different station that still serves many routes and Brussels Nord is another less-frequently used station.
- Study The Departures Board: You’ll find your train platform via the departure board at the train station. Don’t worry if you don’t see your train because they typically only display trains departing within the next 10-20 minutes.
- Train Delays: Belgium doesn’t have the best record of trains being on time so it’s common for trains to be 10-15 minutes late.
- Train Schedule: There are two trains every hour that connect Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels.
- Self-Service Machines Are In English: All the ticket machines (and train station signs) are in English—there is a good chance customer service people also speak English.
- Pack A Picnic: You’re allowed to bring your own food and alcohol on trains. It’s great for those long train rides.
- No Luggage Limits: There aren’t any weight limits on luggage and you can bring as much as you want (well, as much as you can carry). Simply bring it on and store it above your head, behind your seat, or in the luggage racks in each car.
- Open Seating: Domestic trains don’t have assigned seats so sit anywhere.
- Making Connections: Belgium is a small country so many routes connect through Brussels. Don’t worry if there isn’t much time between trains because switching trains is usually fairly quick and easy (it’s not like flying).
- Get To The Train Station Early: Train stations are usually fairly easy to navigate but they can be a little confusing.
- Luggage Storage: Most large train stations will have luggage storage options but small stations most likely won’t have luggage storage.
- Know Train Station Names: Brussels has multiple train stations so this often creates confusion. Double check to make sure you have the right station—especially when booking your ticket. Also, it’s common for there to be stops in the suburbs outside big cities but you won’t want to get off there (just watch what most of the train is doing).
Check out our Complete Guide To Train Travel In Europe for more tips about traveling Europe by train.
More Belgium Travel Advice from The Savvy Backpacker
- Brussels City Guide: What to do, see, and eat in Brussels.
- How To Choose The Best Travel Insurance: Travel insurance will help cover those non-refundable train tickets if something goes wrong during your trip.
- Packing List For Europe Travel: Tips on packing light — which makes train travel much easier.
- Travel Resources: Our favorite online travel resources.
- Step-By-Step European Travel Planning Guide: Everything you need to know about planning your budget travel through Europe.
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- How To Purchase Train Tickets for Europe | Strategies For Buying European Train Tickets - February 16, 2024
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Thanks For Reading! — James