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Local transport

Local Transport

Major cities have efficient public transport – mostly buses but also metro and trams in Brussels and Antwerp. Services don't run all night.

Boat

Travelling by inexpensive hop-on hop-off river ferries is one of the delights of visiting Liège. Such ferries are less helpful for most tourists in Antwerp, though occasional long-distance boats do operate on excursions as far afield as Brussels. Canal boats in Bruges, Lier and other cities provide tours rather than point-to-point transport.

Short-Hop Bicycle Hire

Several cities operate bike-hop schemes. Grab a bicycle from the nearest automated stand, ride towards your destination then drop it off at the nearest empty stand. As long as you return it within 30 minutes, hire charges are minimal or nil, but if you keep the bike longer, fees acrue rapidly on your credit card: so keep changing bikes if you want to ride around town all day.

  • To start, use a credit card to buy a membership or day pass, usually online.
  • You'll receive a swipe card or PIN code that releases a bike when you need one.
  • When returning a bike, double-check that the return has been registered to avoid charges. If there is a hitch when returning, phone the helpline immediately.
  • Download the app, which gives real-time info as to which stands are full or empty.
  • If you arrive at a full stand and so can't drop off the bike (not uncommon on Saturday nights in popular nightlife areas), enter your code and you should get an extra five minutes to find an alternative.

In Hasselt, Mechelen and Kortrijk, Mobit short-hop bikes use a QR-coded key-release system activated by smartphone using the app. Your account is debited per 20-minutes of usage.

Taxis

Taxis are metered and tips are not required. While you’ll often find taxis waiting outside airports and major train stations, elsewhere you’ll usually need to phone for one (ideally an hour or so ahead). Trying to flag down passing taxis is usually fruitless. Uber is limited to Brussels after legal battles to ensure that operators are fully qualified taxi drivers.

MOBIB

The MOBIB card is an electronic purse akin to the OysterCard in London or the OV-Chipkaart in the Netherlands, allowing contactless payment for public transport. There are two types.

  • A personalised MOBIB is valid on all three of Belgium's bus-tram networks and on Belgian Railways, and increasingly all season tickets are likely to require one.
  • Meanwhile anonymous MOBIB Basic cards are easy to buy without ID. They cost €5 and are valid five years, so they're worth buying if you'll make more than 10 rides on STIB transport (in Brussels) or TEC buses (Wallonia), although as yet the basic version is of little use to tourists in Flanders.