Brussels’ efficient public transport system is operated by Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB in French, MIVB in Flemish) Main kiosk (02 515 20 00; Rue de l’Évêque 2; 10am-6pm Mon-Sat); Branch kiosk (Gare du Midi; 7.30-5.30 Mon-Sat, 8.30am-2pm Sun). Metro, trams, premetro (trams that go underground for part of their journey) and buses make up the network. Public transport runs from about 6am to midnight, after which a nightbus network operates.
Tickets are valid for one hour and are sold at metro stations, STIB/MIVB kiosks, newsagents and on buses and trams. The pricing system is simple – a single-journey ticket costs €1.70, five-/10-journey tickets cost €7.30/12.30 and a one-day pass for unlimited travel is €4.50. Children under six travel for free.
Tickets must be validated before travel in machines located at the entrance to metro platforms or inside buses and trams. Tickets without validation (random checks are made) incur fines of €55.
The city tourist office, Brussels International, sells one-day passes as well as the Brussels Card.
There’s no central transport hub for buses or trams which means working out where to jump on is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Also, make sure you know in which direction you’re heading. Many bus (and tram) routes start at one side of the city and finish on the other, it’s possible to be on the right-numbered bus (or tram) but travelling in the wrong direction. Pick up the STIB/MIVB’s free transport map to help find your way around.
Tram and bus stops have red-and-white signs. Premetro trams run mainly between Gare du Nord and Gare du Midi, travelling underneath the ruler-straight boulevard known consecutively as Adolphe Max/Anspach/Maurice Lemonnier.
Brussels’ nightbus network expanded in 2007, with 11 nightbus lines now operating around the capital on Friday and Saturday nights until 3am. Most lines depart from the Stock Exchange (stop Bourse/Beurs), and single tickets cost €3.
Driving in Brussels has its thrills. The slightest hiccup on either ring road brings traffic to a halt, and Friday afternoons are notoriously congested.
Parking poses the usual problems. Signs saying betalend parkeren/stationnement payant mean that it’s paid street parking (usually 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday).
Two central car parks:
Inno Parking (Rue du Damier)
Parking 58 (Rue de l’Évêque) Check out the great view from the 10th floor.
Brussels’ metro system opened in 1965. Metro stations are marked by signs with a white ‘M’ on a blue background. There are three lines: Line 1A goes from Roi Baudouin station to Herrmann-Debroux; Line 1B runs from Erasme to Stockel; and Line 2 is a loop that joins Simonis with Delacroix, basically following the Petit Ring. There’s a train roughly every 10 or 15 minutes.
Keep an eye out for artworks while in the metro and premetro stations. The following are highlights:
Bourse Paul Delvaux’ Nos vieux trams bruxellois depicts old trams in the capital.
Horta Relics from Horta’s Maison du Peuple have been integrated into the station’s foyer.
Porte de Hal Comic-strip artist François Schuiten’s wall compositions entitled Le Passage Inconnu (The Unknown Passage) merge old trams and futuristic vehicles in scenes mirrored in his best cartoons.
Stockel Walls adorned with life-sized paintings of Tintin and pals.
Taxis are metered, and cabbies have a reputation for aggressive driving and argumentative behaviour. Taxes and tips are officially included in the meter price so you should ignore requests for extra service charges.
Fares are calculated starting with a basic day/night rate of €2.40/4.30, plus €1.15/1.30 per kilometre within/outside the Brussels region. The waiting rate is €22 per hour. You’ll find taxis near all three central train stations as well as outside Hôtel Amigo, near the Grand Place and at Place Stéphanie on Ave Louise. Alternatively, call Taxis Bleus (02 268 00 00) or Taxis Verts (02 349 49 49).
Cycling in central Brussels is not for the faint-hearted: intolerant drivers, slippery cobblestones and tram tracks are all potential hazards. That said, there are some bike lanes (usually painted red and marked with white lines) and paths (separated from the traffic), but these are mostly on the outskirts of town where there’s a bit more room. Closer to town, the busy EU thoroughfare Rue de la Loi now has a dedicated cycle lane.
For bike hire contact ProVélo’s La Maison des Cyclistes (02 502 73 55; www.provelo.be; Rue de Londres 15; metro Porte de Namur; per hr/half-day/full day/weekend/week €4/11/13/24/72; 10am-6pm Tue-Fri, also Sat Apr-Oct). Children’s bikes and child seats are available, and they also run guided bike tours (April to October).