“Antwerp (Antwerpen/Anvers in Dutch/French) is Belgium’s second city, biggest port and capital of cool. It has long been a powerful magnet for everyone from fashion moguls and club queens to art lovers and diamond dealers. In the mid-16th century it was one of Europe’s most important cities and home to baroque superstar painter Pieter Paul Rubens – as many a museum will regularly remind you. Despite many historical travails thereafter, and severe WWII bombing, Antwerp retains an intriguing medieval heart with plenty of café-filled cobbled lanes, a riverside fortress and a truly impressive cathedral. Today, however, Antwerp’s top drawcards are its vibrant fashion and entertainment scene, along with its startling architectural and cultural contrasts.” – Lonely Planet
Antwerp has a small international airport located only 6 km (3.7 miles) outside the city. You can take public transport with a few transfers or a 15 minute cab ride to the center.
“If you set out to design a fairy-tale medieval town, it would be hard to improve on central Bruges (Brugge in Dutch), one of Europe’s best preserved cities. Picturesque cobbled lanes and dreamy canals link photogenic market squares lined with soaring towers, historical churches and lane after lane of old whitewashed almshouses.” – Lonely Planet
“Historic yet hip, bureaucratic yet bizarre, self-confident yet unshowy, Brussels is multicultural to its roots.” – Lonely Planet
Brussels Zaventem Airport is the main international Airport and a 20 minute train ride from the city center. Brussels Charleroi Airport is an hour bus ride away and services the airport for budget airlines.
From Zaventem the fastest and easiest way to get into the city if you don’t want to shell out for a taxi. It is a 20 minute ride and costs €8.60 on weekdays and €14.80 on weekends for a one-way ticket. To get from Charleroi you can take a shuttle bus to Bruxelles-Midi train station (Brussels-South) where you can easily connect to the rest of the city.
As is the case with much of Europe, Brussels is very well connected by train and if you’re not taking a long haul flight the trains are a fast and convenient way to arrive. Check busbud to compare prices and Eurolines directly for schedules and information.
Once here, it is easy to get around via public transportation.
Antwerp, Ghent or Bruges are great next stops in Belgium. Pairs, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Cologne and Dusseldorf are your largest international options.
Visit my Belgium travel page for more general information on what you should know before you come and other helpful Belgian travel advice.