Traveling can be pretty expensive. In this blogpost I will try to give you 10 valuable tips on how to travel around in Belgium on a tight budget and give you hints and tips on how to save money.
How to save money on your flight to Belgium:
- Dont forget to check for cheaper flights to the Netherlands and Germany !
Although Belgium has several airports serving countless international flights, sometimes it can be cheaper to book a flight to the Netherlands or Germany and take the train from there. Popular alternative airports with excellent railway connection to Belgium are: Eindhoven (NL), Schiphol (NL) Düsseldorf (DE), Frankfurt (DE) and Köln (DE)
2. Check Skyscanner for the cheapest flights available
Instead of only checking airline companies websites for flight tickets, make sure you’ll have a look at www.skyscanner.net to compare prices with other companies and find the cheapest tickets available. This website has saved me lots of money in the past!
How to save money on getting around:
3. Use the public transport system instead of a Taxi or Uber
The public transport system in Belgium is fairly well organised and quite affordable. It’s absolutely the cheapest solution to get you from the airport to your destination and for general travel. A day pass to the local public transport system is often cheaper and faster then a taxi or an Uber for a single ride.
4. Plan weekend trips using the public railways
This one is a huge money saver. During the weekends, starting at Friday 7 p.m. , return tickets are 50% cheaper on all Belgian trains. Lookout for extra weekend deals / combi tickets.
5. Get a Multi 10 trips rail pass
When you’re traveling with multiple persons and planning to do several train rides, it’s worth looking into a Multi pass. These 10 journey passes can be shared with family and friends and cost 87€. This gives you the opportunity to take your friends and family with you to any destination in Belgium for a fixed rate of 8.70€ per person. Travelers between 12 and 25 can buy a Youth Multi 10 trips rail pass for only 55€.
For more information about the Belgian public transport system, read on in my Belgium Public Transport Guide: https://belgiumtravel.info/belgium-public-transport-guide/
How to save money on food:
6. Avoid restaurants at tourist hotspots:
In general, the better the location, the higher the rent and thus the more expensive it is to order a drink or something to eat. And although Belgian food is great, this isn’t a guarantee for a better quality or service. So if you’re on a budget and don’t care about the view or location, head into the narrow less crowded streets to find a more affordable restaurant, bistro or tavern.
7. Eat fries at a “Frituur”.
Yes, in Belgium, fries are a main dish! Go to a local “frituur” or “friterie” and order yourself a bag of those deliciously golden crispy fries, with some meat snacks and one of the many delicious sauces available. It’s cheap, delicious and you’ll be stuffed. Avoid by all costs places that advertise them as “Belgian Fries” since this is a clear indication they are aiming at tourists.
8. Drink local beers from the tap
Belgium has a unique drinking culture, with numerous beers available. Local Pubs are referred to in both Dutch and French as “Café’s” and they can be found nearly anywhere. Prices of beer vary heavily depending on the location. Café’s around the market squares in big cities will be much more expensive then the tiny ones in side-alley’s. Yet if you want a typical Belgian café experience, you’re better of with the ones in de side ally’s where all the locals hangout.
Don’t get fooled by café’s claiming to have +100 bottled beers! We all know the best beers are served by tap. Every café has a few local beers on tap to offer and they are always the best and cheapest option to go for. Usually they also have a few popular high quality strong beers on bottle as well.
9. Buy your chocolates at the grocery store
Belgians never buy their chocolates from the fancy chocolatiers you’ll find at major tourist destinations such as Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent. Instead they’ll buy their high quality chocolates in regular supermarkets. Cote D’or and Callebaut are 2 of the most favorable Belgian chocolates widely available.
10. Eat a sandwich for lunch
Sandwiches, or belegde broodjes in Dutch are a typical undervalued Belgian lunch classic. Basically it’s a french baguette cut in half, with various options of fillings. The true classic is a “Smos” in Flanders, where the bread is topped with cheese, meat, salad, tomatoes, boiled egg and mayonaise. Another Belgian classic is the “Broodje Americain” which consists of raw meat, pickles and onions.
Avoid going to a Subway if you want to experience a typical belgian sandwich (belegd broodje). Instead, look out for a small local “broodjeszaak” or “sandwicherie”. Often they are combined with a bakery or “frituur”. The Panos bakery chain is also know for serving delicious typical Belgian sandwiches.