DOMESTIC TRAIN TRAVEL
SNCB, or NMBS in Dutch, is Belgium’s main rail operator and it is the country’s largest operator. On the SNCB website you can find information on timetables, domestic connections and international rail links. You can also buy your train tickets online at this website. Seat reservations are not available on Belgian trains (except for groups). The first train leaves at approximately 5 AM and the last one departs at approximately 11 PM, but check the website for accurate timetables.
Some help with the tickets:
Travel is valid only for the dates shown on the ticket. There are one-way and return tickets in First and Second class, but there are also specials and passes to look at.
- If you`re traveling in a weekend, there`s the Weekend Ticket which offers a 50% discount on the return ticket. It`s valid from Friday after 7.01 pm until Sunday midnight (Sometimes it`s extended when there`s a long weekend with a public holiday). Check the conditions here.
- If you`re planning on traveling a lot by train, you should look into investing in a Rail Pass. This pass allows you to travel alone or with others for ten single journeys for 76 euros* in 2nd class to any destination in Belgium. It`s valid for a year. If you want more comfort, you can buy a rail pass for 117 euros* in First class. It`s easy to use, every journey you make, per passenger you fill out a line stating the date, departure and end station. (More info)
- Still under 26 years old? Then there`s the Go Pass for you. Same conditions as the rail pass but then for those under 26 and for a cheaper price of 50 euros* for ten single journeys. (More info)
- Children under 12 can travel for half price if they are traveling alone or if over 4 children are traveling with an adult. Otherwise children can travel for free in certain conditions.
- Senior Ticket: for people aged 65 and over, you can travel at a reduced rate. 6 euros* in 2nd class for a return journey to anywhere in Belgium. Subject to conditions.
- B-Excursions: All-in-one excursion tickets to sightseeing destinations at reduced rates. A return journey in 2nd class, admission to the attraction and a connection by bus, tram and metro if necessary. Check out the options.
As you can see there are plenty of options, so make sure to have a look at all ticket options before traveling.
Tip: You can either buy your tickets online, at the train station or on the train itself. Be aware though if you have to buy your ticket on the train because you had to run for your train or you were at a smaller train station that didn`t sell tickets, be sure to alert the train guard as otherwise you might be charged with a fee for not having a valid ticket.
INTERNATIONAL TRAIN TRAVEL
International trains into the Netherlands, Germany, UK and France:
- Thalys: this European high-speed network connects Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. You can find more info at Thalys.com
- Eurostar: this high-speed train connects London to over 100 destinations in Europe, including Brussels. Info at Eurostar.com
- TGV-Europe: high-speed trains that depart from Brussels every day to cross France. More info on destinations can be found at TGV-Europe.com
- ICE International: every day, the InterCity Express connects Frankfurt or Köln with Brussels and Liège. Check www.bahn.de for more information routes and prices.
Have you ever taken the train in Belgium?
*Prices accurate at time of publishing