Brussels is a city full of contrasts. You will find it bureaucratic and informal, as well as, historic and hip at the same time. This multicultural metropolis is quickly becoming an attractive weekend getaway and holiday destination. There are two airports serving Brussels area: Brussels airport (12 km from the city centre) and Charleroi airport (60 km from Brussels). Brussels airport is the main hub for international flights in Belgium and has a good connection with the Brussels city centre, as well as, the major cities in Belgium. Charleroi airport, on the other hand, is closer to Charleroi but has become popular over the years for arrivals in Brussels due to the low budget airlines served by this airport. There are several Brussels airport transfer options and in this guide, we’ve summarized the essential information you need to know before booking your airport transfer.
1. Public transport
The public transport in Brussels is a good alternative for getting around the city. The relatively short distance between the Brussels airport and the city centre makes the travel time shorter. There are regular train and bus lines operating from the airport to Brussels, as well as, the other main cities in Belgium.
The airport train station is located at the -1 level of the terminal, where the Airport City Express trains are departing every 15 minutes. These trains make stops at the three main stations in Brussels: Bruxelles-Nord, Bruxelles-Central and Bruxelles Midi. The travel time is 15-25 minutes depending on your drop off station. It is easy to change to the metro or other trains lines which will take you to your final destination. The Brussels airport also has direct international train link to Amsterdam. The train also makes stops in the following cities: Dordrecht, Rotterdam and the Hague.
The Express airport bus 12 makes stops at the Brussels-Luxembourg Train Station and Schuman metro station from where you can easily change to other train or metro lines to get to your destination. The travel time is around 30 minutes in normal traffic conditions. At night, after 8 pm this bus line is substituted with the slower bus 21. There is also an Express bus available to Antwerp and you can check the schedule for more details.
Although the Charleroi airport is not close to the city centre as the Brussels airport is, still there is a good connection to the city centre via public transport. There is a train connection between the Charleroi-South Station and the major train stations in Brussels. To reach the Charleroi-South Station you will need to take the airport shuttle bus and the journey takes 20 minutes. You can buy tickets from the vending machines at the airport and these tickets include the bus and train ride.
2. Car hire
Car hire is always a good idea when you want to visit more than one place during your stay abroad. It provides you with the flexibility of making your own itinerary and time schedule. However, if you’re staying only in Brussels, car hire might not be a good idea. Just like every other big city in the world, Brussels is a busy city. What you may not know, Brussels is also the most crowded city with vehicles in Europe. It’s easy to get stuck in the traffic especially in rush hour.
If car hire is still your choice, all major car hire companies can be found at both airports. It is recommended to book the car online and avoid filling out paperwork at the airport. You will save valuable time as all you need to do at the airport is pick up your car.
3. Brussels airport taxis
The airport taxis are a fast and efficient way to get from the airport to your destination. They are located at the taxi ranks outside the terminal building. The taxis charge by the meter and the taxi fare will depend on the distance between the airport and your destination. You need to be aware that Brussels is a crowded city so you might get stuck in traffic during rush hour. This will affect the cost of the Brussels airport transfer and might get higher than expected. Also, it is important to get licensed taxis in order to avoid overcharging.
4. Shared airport transfer
Apart from public transport, another good option for solo travellers is the shared Brussels airport transfer. Both at Brussels and Charleroi airport, there are few companies which offer shuttle services. They have predefined routes with few stops, so you will need to check their route map if your accommodation is nearby any of the stops. Another option would be to get off at one of the train stations in Brussels and change to one of the metro lines.
The main disadvantage of this Brussels airport transfer type is the longer travel time due to the multiple stops. This is especially an issue when your stop is the last and you need to take another transport type to get to your destination.
5. Private Brussels airport transfer
The private Brussels airport transfer is a door-to-door service which is arranged prior to your trip. The transfer can be booked online, at least, 24 hrs before your arrival in Brussels. The taxi driver will be waiting for you at the meeting point and take you directly to your accommodation. The price for the Brussels airport transfer is fixed and all-inclusive. This means that you don’t have to worry about additional charges as the luggage, flight monitoring and „meet and greet“ service are included.
Another advantage is that the cost is split among the passengers, which is especially convenient for larger groups. Sometimes the cost per passenger may be lower than the other Brussels airport transfer options.