In 1835 Belgium was the first European country on the continent to build a railway system. Since that historical day there has been a lot of progress and innovation. Nowadays Belgium has an extensive railroad network.
A great number of Belgian cities can be visited by train. Major stations are Bruxelles Midi / Brussel Zuid, Brussel Centraal, Brussel Noord, Antwerpen Centraal, Gent SintPieters and Luik Guillemins. The Belgian railways (NMBS) will bring you from Brussels to Antwerp in 40 minutes, from Bruges to Ghent in 30 minutes, from Ghent to Antwerp in 50 minutes.
The Belgian railway (SNCB) has direct lines to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and Germany. The train connection to Amsterdam is possible through normal trains that runs every hour. The connection between Brussels and Paris is only possible by the Thalys and reservations are required. There is also the connection to London by Eurostar. Reservations are compulsory.
There are several types of train that will take you to your destination in a day. They have 1st and 2nd class seats. Some have a restaurant car and others a mobile mini-bar offering hot and cold drinks, snacks and a range of light meals.
Most of the high speed trains (Eurostar, Thalys, and TGV, but ICE as well), have a bar open to all passengers. Here you will find a wide range of hot and cold drinks, snacks and light meals. In some international daytime trains, a minibar is brought through the carriages, offering an assortment of hot and cold drinks, sweets and snacks. Some trains even have restaurant cars.
For domestic trains in Belgium seat reservations are not required.
For the trains to and from Brussels airport a supplement of €2,20 is required, which can be bought at the station or in the train.
There are some international trains to and from Belgium that require a reservation fee, like the Eurostar to London, the Thalys to Amsterdam or Paris or the TGV to France. See the reservation fees for international trains.
Rail tour suggestion: Ostend - Brussels - Luxembourg
Take your Eurail Benelux Pass and start at the seaside town Ostend. Visit medieval cities like Brughes, Ghent and Antwerp (why not stay a night?). The Belgium capital Brussels makes an interesting stop. Then make a trip to Maastricht in the south of th Netherlands, and continue your journey to the capital of Luxembourg with its remarkable natural site.
Tour stages and average journey times:
- Ostend – Bruges (15 mins)
- Bruges – Ghent (23 mins)
- Ghent – Antwerp (49 mins)
- Antwerp – Brussels (50 mins)
- Brussels – Liège (1 hour 5 mins)
- Liège – Maastricht (28 mins)
- Maastricht – Namur (1 hour 20 min)
- Namur – Luxembourg (1 hour 55 min)
From Luxembourg you could continue to Trier in Germany with its impressive remains of Roman structures or Metz in France.
Read a detailed description of this tour in the recommended guide Europe by rail, available from Thomas Cook Publishing.
Airport - station link
From Brussels international airport there are train connections (every 20 min.) to stations Brussels North, Central, Midi and to many other destinations in Belgium.
Eurail aid office in Belgium
For questions about Eurail, visit the international ticket office at Brussels south station (Gare de Bruxelles-Midi).
See Eurail aid offices for opening hours and more aid offices in Europe.