By Car, Brussels
For our hotel Meininger Brussels City Center, I found a parking garage very nearby for a good price (about 100 metres walking).
It's in the Fernand Brunfautstraat (straat = street), underground. The tariff is a maximum of 13.50 euro per 24 hours. This is about 10 euro cheaper than the regular parking garages.
Parking on the streets in Brussels is an almost no-go... too short parking allowance, too expensive, too unsafe.
Don't be put off by the neighbourhood, nor the rather messy state in which the garage is at the moment. There is a parking guard who is really helpful.
We normally drive to Brussels as it takes us less than two hours from Düsseldorf. As all hotels I have ever stayed in in Brussels are in the same neighbourhood, the European quarter, we know our "hood" quite well and this includes we know where to find free parking. We normally park the car at Ambiorix Square, near the European commission, and take the Metro from there.
The area is very safe, parking at the square is free (watch out! Some of the streets leading to the square have paid parking!) and it's a short walk to the Metro station "Schuman". From there it takes something like 10 minutes into the city centre and metro tickets are cheap (9,50 EUR only for a three day pass bought from the machine in the station).
Finding the city is easy, but like most European cities the roads do not go on a grid system. If lost best to go to a hotel to ask for directions. A gas station may also be useful if you speak French. In addition the main ring road has several tunnels so if unsure of your location do not go under the tunnels as those are for getting to places faster, but could result in you missing your turnoff. Also note street signs are on building sides, not on lamp posts like in most North American cities so they are tougher to find.
If driving on a main road in Brussels, consider this: cars on small side roads which are crossing or turning into your main road could have right of way. And to make it more confusing, it's not all small side roads that have priority, but just some of them. So you could be driving down a main road when the rules will change and for the next six blocks, cars from side roads have right of way, then it changes and you have right of way. Confused? You should be, unless you live here and know what's going on.
Hey far as I can remember Brussels is fairly easier to get to by eurostar train and once you're there, quite a few things to see are in walkable distance.
As far as places further afield, I found the train service quite easier to navigate.
But wouldn't you like to tour the city in a passion wagon such as this???
Yeah come on, admit it ;-)
As in most big city, parking in Brussels is usually a nightmare!
If you have to come by car, I'd recommend parking outside the city and taking the metro to the centre!!
Now, if you absolutely have to drive in the centre itself, be aware there is not much free parking (during business hours), you could either park in one of the different underground parkings ( but count something like 5E/hour) or somewhere outside...
In this last case, you'd need enough coins to feed the parkmeter!! For example on the 'place des palais', it would *only* cost 1E for an hour or 2.5E for two hours (but this is also the maximum time you are allowed to park there!). If you need to park longer, in some other area, you could pay 12E for a half day.
Don't think there is no control and you could easily park for free: look at the fines you see on the picture...
...and no, it's not mine ;-)
Driving to Brussels from the surrounding area is no problem. The highways are wide & fast, easy to navigate, and well-lit. The problems start after you enter the older sections of Brussels. The streets are narrow, parking is limited, there are many pedestrians around the tourist areas, and the roads are full of cars. I had a very difficult time driving here, and our next trip to Brussels we took the train.
Driving in Brussels is, if not an art, a most definite skill. It's not for the squemish.
Road rage is not the stuff front pages are made of; it's more subtle. Don't take it personally if you see an obsene gesture coming from the people in another car.
Traffic jams in the morning along the inner and outer ring are normal between 7:30am and 9am and between 5pm and 7 pm.
Tunnels are routinely closed on Fri/Sat night for maintenance.
Speed limits are generally not observed (esp on highways) but some roads in and out of the city have speed cameras (i.e. N8 to Ninove). Curiously enough, the position of the traffic police is broadcasted on national radio every morning.
Parking on the street is relatively safe but finding a parking space can be a headache. There are many covered (paid) parkings but don't assume they are safer than the street.
Although the metro and tram system in Brussels is very good I can also say that Brussels is quite car friendly too. There are a number of reasonably priced car parks dotted all around the city that I have used. Also at the weekends there seems to be an exodus of expats and the streets were surprisingly quiet and easy to drive through
Another way to get to Brussels and/or drive around in Brussels is by car.
There are two Rings that surround Brussels a smaller Ring which is a kind of inner Ring and the big outer Ring.
But if you are not used to drive in a big city like Brussels, then it is not so easy, especially on week days, as then there is a lot of traffic and also traffic jams.
So then it is better to park your car near the big Ring and proceed with public transport to the city centre.
By the way, the car at the picture is not my car, but an oldtimer I did see at the Place Louise.
I (as always in Europe) arrived to Brussels by my car. I didn't know a city. I had only quite good map with one-way streets marked. Hmm... my map was a little too big to use it inside a car while driving haha. Traffic was heavy (a hell in morning rush hours 7.30 - 9.00 am!) and a little difficult for me especially that my target was difficult to find out, hehe it was any FREE parking lot possibly not very far from a downtown/center. So, surely I got lost a few times. Finally I found my parking lot at the back of Palace of Justice (not so close to Grand Place :-).
I can't recommend you driving to Brussels unless you are an experienced driver with a good guide on passenger seat and you like driving. Or park your car at Bruhl (Expo) and take the subway (suggestion of my friend Paul - Pavlik_NL - thank you :-).
Otherwise better get there by train or plane.
Check your train: European Timetable
Bon voyage :-)))
From my VT-friend bart_warreyn from Brussels:
I have never heard of Bruhl, this must be a misunderstanding. The Expo is in the Heysel-area in the Northwestern part of Brussels (close to where I live) where you can also see the Atomium. There is a big parking site here and you can get to the city easily by subway. More of these parkings exist at Roodebeek (East Brussels), Delta (Southeast) and Erasme (West) (all connected to the centre by subway).
Thank you very much for your explanations.
Brussels traffic and the direction signs really drove me mad! It took me nearly an hour to get out of the city. It is just increadible! How do others find their way on time?
I am sorry to say that but for me Belgians and road signs really don't go together ...
Starting from Flanders to the Capital of Belgium - via the Euroroad E40 during the week - is asking for problems - patience and time ! Aalst and Ternat - the bottlenecks - everyday - than you better take the railway (NMBS) - if they are not on strike !!
Passing Ternat and the last pumpstation "Texaco" - drive left to the center - via "Koekelberg" and drive into the famous unhealthy tunnels - this in order to get into the center! It is a shame for the Brussels environment policy !
Belgium and Brussels is easily reached by car. From Frankfurt it is about 3 - 4 hours ride.
The last time I left Frankfurt (city center) at round about 4.30pm and was already in Brussels at 8pm. I guess that was really fast cause my friend was a bit suprised. She expected me to arrive later ...
Renting a car from Midi station was convenient for me, as I had taken the train in directly from Amsterdam.... but returning the car can be tricky. Please note that the rental area is on -4 in the parking garage - a wrong turn gets you on the first floor, and there's nowhere to go from there but the exit.... stay to the extreme left and follow the signs!