Not too big, not too small, Brussels is juuust right for leisurely exploring. Getting around Belgium’s capital is easy by foot or by wheel and there’s no shortage of sustainable public transport in this historic, foodie city.

The city's multilingual signage and complex ticketing systems can be confusing, but once tickets are in hand, getting around Brussels is as easy as navigating any other European capital. Here are some tips to help you on your merry way.

Understanding the Brussels transport system

Just as Belgium is culturally divided into French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders, public transport in Brussels is run in multiple languages by multiple companies who have only a love for acronyms in common. Getting a handle on who does what is the key to understanding public transport in the Belgian capital.

Jardin Mont des Arts
Don't overlook walking: downtown Brussels is very pedestrian-friendly ©kavalenkava / Shutterstock

Brussels’ excellent integrated bus-tram-metro system is operated by the transport company STIB/MIVB (made up of French STIB and Dutch MIVB), and its tickets are valid for all trams and the Metro, but not for all city buses. Most downtown buses are run by STIB-MVIB, with signs in French, but buses to the city’s outskirts may be run by Flemish company De Lijn (white and yellow buses) or Wallonian company TEC (yellow and red buses), with their own ticketing systems.

Belgian train company SNCB-NMBS, has a similar split identify; SNCB is French, NMBS is Dutch. Which name you see will depend on where you are, and the language you’re reading in. Just remember that they’re the same thing, and they don’t accept STIB/MVIB tickets. Head spinning from all the acronyms and divisions? Welcome to Belgium!

Whatever the company or language, services run from about 6am to midnight and connect every corner of the city. Maps showing routes and connections in English, French, Dutch and other languages can be downloaded or viewed on the STIB/MVIB website and the websites of other operators.

Transport Passes

Luckily, you can now save yourself a headache on public transport with the BRUPASS. Introduced in 2021, this combined ticket can be used on any form of transport within Brussels, including STIB/MVIB buses, trams and the metro, De Lijn and TEC suburban buses and SNCB/NMBS commuter trains.

BRUPASSes are loaded onto a plastic MOBIB card, which you scan when getting on and off public transportation. The MOBIB card itself is €5, so it only works out cheaper if you’ll be in Brussels for a few days. To use the pass on SNCB-NMBS trains, validate your MOBIB card on the ticket vending machines by selecting 'Validation Brupass' before boarding.

Sold at kiosks and ticket offices in major train and metro stations, BRUPASSES are available for single trips and blocks of 10 trips, or as season tickets; the 10-trip BRUPASS is the most economical option. You'll need the slightly more expensive BRUPASS XL version for day trips outlying stops on the SNCB-NMBS train network.

Brussels tram
A tram trundles through downtown Brussels ©Shutterstock / JJFarq


No matter what you do in Brussels, take the tram at least once. Powered by renewable energy, trams in Brussels are the most scenic and sustainable transport option, and you'll get great views of the city as you trundle around the cobbled streets. This is also the best way (next to walking) for getting a sense of how the city fits together.

Trams are easy to find, too. STIB-MIVB operates 147km (92mi) of tram lines throughout the capital, and tram stops are identified by signs and shelters beside the tracks. Purchase tickets from the driver at the front, then pay attention! Trams don’t automatically stop at each stop, so when nearing your destination, press the button by your seat and the tram will halt and let you off.

Local’s tip for taking the tram: Taking a short hop sans ticket might seem tempting, especially when late or after a few tripels, but don’t cave in to that temptation. Unsympathetic police patrol tram stations, and fines for traveling without a ticket are €100+. Save yourself a fine and just buy a ticket.


Run by STIB/MVIB, the metro is the fastest way to get around Brussels. Signage is clear even if you don’t speak French, trains are frequent and (mostly) on time, and there are no traffic jams… though you might have to fight your way onto the platform during rush hour. As an extra perk, Brussels’ metro runs on renewable energy.

All stations have STIB/MVIB ticketing kiosks. Buy a paper ticket or charge up your reusable MOBIB card, then scan your ticket or tap your card to open the gates. If you want to bypass tickets completely, contactless payment was recently introduced on the Brussels metro. Just tap your credit card or mobile phone (with Google Pay or Apple Pay) on the red scanners by the gates. However, you can only use one card per passenger.


Several companies operate buses in Brussels: STIB/MVIB runs most buses downtown, while De Lijn and TEC cover the suburbs. Frustratingly, their tickets aren’t interchangeable, so choose the right ticket for your journey. Tickets can be purchased from drivers for all three companies; De Lijn also sells e-tickets on their app and website, and TEC has its own app for e-tickets. Validate e-tickets in the app right before boarding, then show the confirmation to the driver.

Bikes in Brussels
A row of bicycles waiting for riders in Brussels ©Shutterstock / Latent Image


Belgium is a bicycle-loving country, and pedal enthusiasts fill Brussels' bike lanes. Cyclists have to stop at lights–and should, for safety reasons–but since bikes can easily bypass queues of traffic, cycling is still a fast way to travel around the city. If you come to Brussels on the Eurostar, folding bikes can be carried (in a bag) even if you can't secure a space for a full-sized bike.

If you'd rather arrange wheels on arrival, some hotels offer complimentary bicycles, and many have spaces to charge electric bikes. For rentals, local bicycle sharing platforms such as Billy Bike, Villo! and Blue Bike make it easy to rent by the hour. Download the company’s app, link your card to an account, then you’ll be ready to roll.


Depending on which Brussels neighborhood you’re staying in, you might not need to use overland trains at all. Trains are only really necessary to head to the airport or take day trips from Brussels. If you do need the train, head to one of the three main stations: Gare du Nord (north), Bruxelles Centrale (central), and Bruxelles Midi (south); most intercity trains through Brussels stop at all three.

Train tickets are sold at ticketing terminals and offices in stations, or via the Belgian train system’s website or app. Note that trains in Belgium have first and second class compartments, indicated by numbers by the doors. To be fancy in first class you need a pricey first class ticket.

Local’s tip for taking the train: Belgium trains are often delayed… sometimes for more than an hour. If timing is vital, leave early so your plans won’t be ruined by delays.

Brussels street scene
Driving comes second best to taking public transport in Brussels ©Jonathan Smith / Lonely Planet


Cars are the most difficult way to get around Brussels. Petrol prices and parking fees are steep, road signage is excessive and illogical, and Belgian drivers are notoriously unconcerned with rules. If you want to get around Brussels by car, more sustainable solutions are Taxi Verts or ride sharing apps like Heetch or Uber (which was technically banned in Brussels as of 2021 but is still used). If you have a European driver’s license, you can rent a car in Brussels by the hour with car-sharing apps Poppy and Cambio.

Accessible transportation in Brussels

Widespread accessible transportation in Brussels isn’t a thing... yet. Some stations are only accessible by steps, elevators don’t always work, and travelers must book ahead to receive assistance on trains. You can however book accessible taxis through Taxi Verts. Until the issues are resolved, is a handy city guide for disabled travelers. It lists accessible stations in Brussels by transport type and provides contact information for booking assistance in advance.

You may also like:
5 best neighborhoods to get a feel for Brussels
Brussels’ best city parks with a Belgian twist
The 10 best day trips from Brussels

This article was first published Aug 27, 2021 and updated Aug 30, 2021.

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