The Belgium public transport network is quite extensive, making it easy to travel through Belgium on train, tram or bus. At first our public transport system might sound a bit confusing for foreigners, since it’s nearly as divided as our local governments. Luckily it’s far much easier to explain and rather convenient to use, once you get a hang of it and know the tricks.
In this guide I will try to explain everything you need to know about getting around in Belgium using the public transport network, how all the different ticket systems work and what kind of tickets you should buy to get the cheapest rate.
Last update: 20 februari 2023
- Introduction to Belgiums Public Transport Network
- The Mobib Travel Card
- Types of public transport in Belgium
- Taking the bus in Belgium
- Taking a tram in Belgium
- Using the Metro in Belgium
- Traveling by train in Belgium
Introduction to Belgiums Public Transport Network
There are 4 different transport companies operating the public transport lines in Belgium. It has to be noted that all of these companies and lines offer great connection with each other.
- SNCB/NMBS operates the national railway services.
- MIVB/STIB operates bus, tram and metro lines in Brussels
- De Lijn operates tram and bus lines in Flanders
- TEC operates tram and bus lines in Wallonie
The Mobib Travel Card
All different transport companies use their own separate ticket systems and rates. To make things easier, the MOBIB Travel card was introduced in 2018. It’s a chipcard that allows you to buy all the tickets you’ll need with 1 card and top it up at one of the many dispenser points. The card is valid on the entire Belgian public transport system.
Pricing: The Mobib Travel Card costs 5€ and is valid for 5 years.
More Info: https://www.stib-mivb.be/article.html?l=en&_guid=30af0085-2483-3410-5394-a71daf08acd1
Types of public transport in Belgium
Taking the bus in Belgium
One of the most popular modes of transportation is the bus, which is a great option for covering short to medium-distance journeys. Buses are affordable, accessible, and run frequently, ensuring that travelers reach their destination on time.
There are three main bus companies in Belgium, each operating in different regions. In Brussels, the bus network is run by MIVB/STIB, while in Flanders, it is managed by De Lijn, and in Wallonia, TEC is in charge. Understanding which company operates in your area is crucial for buying the right ticket and ensuring a smooth journey.
The cost of bus tickets in Belgium varies depending on the region and the bus line you’re traveling on. In general, bus fares are budget-friendly, making it an attractive option for travelers. For more information on bus fares in Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia, read on.
Taking a tram in Belgium
In addition to the local bus network, several of Belgium’s largest cities also have an extensive tram network. Trams are part of the same transport network as the buses and use the same ticketing system, making it convenient for travelers. Cities such as Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Liège, and Charleroi have well-established tram systems. Along the Belgian coast there’s also a 67km long tramline connecting all Belgian coastal resorts.
Using the Metro in Belgium
Currently, Brussels is the only Belgian city with a metro system. The metro is operated by MIVB/STIB and is an efficient option for commuting in the city. Antwerp, on the other hand, has a series of pre-metro tunnels that are used by the tram lines, providing travelers with a convenient alternative to traditional metro systems.
Traveling by train in Belgium
Belgium has an extended railway system, making it very easy to travel travel by train between all major cities and several smaller towns.
Tickets & fares:
Single Ticket Fares
Below are a few examples of the fares between most visited tourist destinations in Belgium.
Find your ticket rates and plan your journey on SNCB official website (belgiantrain.be)
|Brussels (central station)||Antwerp (central station)||7.70€|
|Brussels (central station)||Ghent (St-Pieters)||9.30€|
|Brussels (central station)||Bruges||14.70€|
|Bruges||Antwerp (central station)||15.40€|
|Ghent (St-Pieters)||Antwerp (central station)||9.90€|
Note that the MOBIB Travel card is not needed to get the best prices for NMBS/SNCB train tickets.
Standard Multi (Rail Pass 10 trips):
A Standard Multi Rail pass for 10 trips costs 87€ and is valid for an entire year. Unless you’re traveling short distance, the fixed price of 8.70€ per trip allows you to save extra money. However the best thing about this railpass is that you can share it with your family and friends.
During the weekends, return tickets are sold at half price! They can be used starting from Friday 7 p.m. until Sunday evening.
Travelers and backpackers from ages 12-25 can travel inexpensively with the youth ticket to any destination in Belgium for a fixed rate of 6.60€
Youth multi (Go Pass 10 trips)
The Youth Multi Go Pass is a cheap and share-able 10 journey pass for travelers from ages 12-25. It costs 55€ and allows you to travel anywhere in Belgium for a fixed rated of 5.50€. Just like the Standard Multi Rail Pass, it can be shared between family or friends.
Youth Holiday Pass
During the Belgian school holidays you can get a special Youth Holidays Pass, allowing you to travel all across Belgium for just 18€ for an entire week. In July and August you can also buy a Youth Holidays pass that’s valid for an entire month costing 29€
Brussels Airport Supplement (Diablo Fee):
Brussels – Zaventem Airport has a underground train-station with up to 6 trains per hour, bringing you to all major Belgian cities and beyond. It’s an end-station wich means it will only serve passagers who arrive and depart at Brussels Zaventem Airport.
An additional Airport Supplement of 5.70€ per journey, called Diablo Tax, shall be charged on top of your regular railway ticket. Find out more about it on this link: https://www.belgiantrain.be/en/tickets-and-railcards/airports/diabolo-fee
- Single ticket fares vary according to the destination.
- 10 trips railpasses cost 87€ and can be shared with your friends or family
- Weekend return tickets are 50% cheaper!
- Children under 12 always travel for free
- Are you under 26? A youth tickets lets you travel for 6.60€ per single trip
Brussels Public Transport system:
The Brussels Public Transport system consists out of 3 different companies, who each run their own coaches, trams and metro lines. The good news is that they all share the same ticketing system, called the Brupass. This makes it very easy to get around in Brussels by bus, tram and metro.
In order to buy a Brupass ticket, it’s required to buy a Mobib travel card first at the price of 5€. This card will always help you get the lowest fares and is valid throughout the whole country.
The Brupass is valid all around Brussels city centre on all public transport networks. The Brupass XL allows you to travel to the outskirts of Brussels and Brussels Airport.
|Ticket Type||Brupass||Brupass XL|
|Single journey Brupass||2,40€||3,10€|
|10 journey Brupass||15,60€||21€|
When you plan on doing more then 3 single trips in a day, buying a Day Pass will be the cheaper option.
More information: https://www.belgiantrain.be/en/tickets-and-railcards/train-and-other-transport/train-bus-tram-metro/brussels
Brussels Public transport map: http://www.stib-mivb.be/irj/go/km/docs/resource/Plan_tiny/index-en.html
Public Transport in Flanders:
The local public transport system in Flanders consists mainly out of bus & tram lines, which are all operated by De Lijn.
Tickets & Rates:
Single tickets are valid for 60 minutes. Within this time period you can change lines unlimited. After the 60 minutes you can continue your ride towards your destination. If you need to change lines again, you need to buy a new ticket.
- Single Tickets cost 2.50€
- Lijn cards are prepaid cards. They cost 17€ for 10 rides.
- Day passes cost 7,50€
Where to buy your tickets:
The easiest and most convenient way to buy your De Lijn tickets is buy using the official app.
SMS tickets are available, by simply texting DL to 4884. Please keep in mind that your cellphone-provider will charge you a small amount extra.
On-board you can by a single journey ticket by using a contactless bank card or other medium. Simply hold it in front of the white terminal and wait for the validation.
Finally you can buy your single ticket or 10 trip tickets from various selling points. You can locate them by using this link: https://www.delijn.be/en/storelocator/
If you already have a MOVIB travel pass, you can use it as a carrier to buy your tickets at one of the ticket vending machines. However the card is not necessary in order to purchase “De Lijn” tickets.
In order to plan your route and consult the timetables it’s best to download the official “De Lijn” app from your appstore. This app is available in English and thanks to the route planner, it will notify you when you reached your destination. Tickets can be bought through the app as well.
Public Transport in Wallonia:
Busses and tram lines in Wallonie are operated by TEC.
Tickets & rates:
Just like in Brussels and Flanders are Single tickets valid for 60 minutes. Within this time period you can change lines unlimited. After the 60 minutes you can continue your ride towards your destination. If you need to change lines again, you need to buy a new ticket.
There are 3 kinds of single tickets, depending on the distance you’re traveling:
- A single Next ticket will bring you across up to 2 zones and costs 2€ in pre-sale, or 2,50€ on board. This ticket will get you all around the city.
- A single Horizon ticket has no zone limitation and costs 3€ in pre-sale or 3€50 on board. These tickets are used to cover medium distrances and travel towards or between cities.
- A single Horizon plus ticket includes the fast busses which cover larger distances between different towns. In pre-sale you’ll pay 5€ and on board 5€50.
Where to buy your tickets:
It’s advised to buy your tickets in advance, since on-board tickets are much more expensive. The TEC app allows travelers to buy single tickets online at the best rate.
Travelers who have a MOVIB travel card, can load their ticket on it using the TEC E-Shop, as well as the Ticket Machines and TEC Vending points that can be found around most train and bus stations in Wallonia..
Onboard paper tickets are available at a higher price.
FAQ: Frequently asked questions
Only if you want to visit and travel around Brussels. Without Mobib Travel card you won’t be able to buy a Jump Ticket for the Brussels public transport system. For the rest of Flanders and Wallonia you don’t really need a Mobib Travel Card to get the cheapest public transport tickets, as long as you buy them in pre-sale instead of on-board. But having one sure does makes things much easier! Read more about this below.
The answer is probably yes! Having a Mobib travel card will make it easier buy all the tickets you need at the lowest fare possible.
This depends on how much your planning to travel around the country and rely on the public transport system. If you plan to visit and / or stay in Brussels, the Mobib travel card will needed in order to purchase JUMP Tickets at the lowest fare. However for the Belgian trains or to get around in Flanders and Wallonië, there are several other options to buy tickets tickets at the cheapest rate. Read more about this below.