I have used a direct train service from the Airport to city centre. It only takes 15-20 minutes. There are three station: North Station (Gare de Nord), Central Station (Gare Central) and South Station (Gare de Midi) and station just below terminal building. Central Station is the nearest station and only minutes walking to Grand Place.
Brussels has three main railway stations; Brussels South (Midi), where the main International trains terminate, Brussels Central, which is the closest to the old city and Brussels North. The North station is an interesting-looking building, built in a sort of 50's Art Deco style (I'm not sure of the difference between Art Deco and Art Nouveau but I'll plump for "Deco") with its imposing clock tower and functionalist artworks.
The station itself however isn't as interesting internally as it is from the outside, being definitely functional with its bleakly cavernous concourse and scruffy little shops and cafes. This the the northern part of the city's main commuter network with over 200,000 passengers per week.
But useful to know is that it shares its space with the Eurolines bus terminal as well as many of the regional De Lijn bus services and is accessible as the northern terminus of the Metro tram line 3.
This is the destination station you'll need to reach (by train but also by metro) district of the European institutions.
This is one of the oldest railway stations in Belgium. It was built with the personal and financial help from Leopold I (first king of the Belgians) and receive his the name. Its construction is the work of the architect Tilman-François Suys. It was inaugurated in 1854.
On 28 May 2000, it received its present name after a deep restoration integrating highly modern district. Buildings and façades have mostly kept their original appearance. All the railway installations are now in the basement (worth a visit!)
C'est la gare de destination qu'il vous faudra pour rejoindre (en train mais aussi en métro) le quartier des institutions européennes .
C'est une des plus anciennes gares de Belgique. Elle fut construite avec l'aide financière personnelle de Léopold Ier (premier roi des Belges) et dont elle portera le nom. Sa construction est l'œuvre de l'architecte Tilman-François Suys. Elle fut inaugurée en 1854.
Le 28 mai 2000, elle reçu le nom actuel suite à une restauration profonde l'intégrant au quartier hautement moderne. Les bâtiments et surtout la façade ont gardé leurs aspect original. Toutes les installations ferroviaires se trouvent maintenant en sous-sol (vaut une visite !)
Very handy if you are arriving by plane, Airport City Express takes 15-25 minutes to get you from the airport to one of Brussels mainline railway stattions. Trains depart every quarter of an hour.
At under 5 EUR, it is the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city itself.
The place that was closer to our B&B was Bruxelles Nord so we decided to take the airport express train. The ticket booth is on level -1 and the platform was on the level under the ticket booth. The trip itself takes between 10 and 15 minutes and it goes non-stop to Bruxelles Nord.
As of March 2010, the fare was 5.05 euros per person (adult), one way.
There's other ways to go to and from the airport, like the airport bus and taxis and you can go to several cities in Belgium as well, as for the link below.
Brussels has a good train network , not only within Belgium but also to other European countries, such as France, the Netherlands, etc.
Trains are regular and fares are not expensive , and you can chose between several classes available, all of them with good standards. There are rail passes if you are planning to stay longer and want to travel to different places.
When coming by Thalys, you'll arrive in Brussels Midi (South) Station. From there you can have a connection to Brussels Central Station, which is the main station to visit the center of the city.
Only a 5 minutes walk from the Grand Place.
There is a really easy way to get to the city from the airport. Just take the train. It's cheap and quick. The train station is stroll away once you arrive and it costs 2.80 euro ($3.84) per person for a fare to Brussels North Station. This is a lot cheaper than taking a taxi into the city.
Excellent service from inside airport to city centre (Gare Centrale for example). Other stations too, on the way in, and beyond central station (Gare du Midi etc).
Every 20 minutes most of the day & not expensive - €2.90 single in May 08.
Much safer than a taxi - drivers are all suicidal - and much cheaper!
Take the Thalys - international version of French TGV. Trains about every hour, and big discounts available off peak if booked in advance. Fast & comfortable. They leave/arrive at the Gare du Midi. Thalys also goes to Amsterdam & Dusseldorf, but I've never tried...
Did it 1st class once (on business) - good service!
Brussels can be confusing to arrive at by train for the first time. There are three train stations in the center of the city and your train could stop at any or all of them. They are appropriately named North (Gare du Nord, Noordstation, Brussel Noord), Central (Gare Centrale, Centraal Station, Brussel Centraal) and South (Gare du Midi, Zuidstation, Brussel Zuid). As you can see, naming the stations in French and Dutch can add to the confusion. If that weren’t enough, the train tracks go underground through the center of Brussels, and so the Central station is also underground. My advice to train travelers is to make sure you know which station you are arriving and departing from.
In general, trains seem to originate or terminate at either the North or South stations, passing through the Central station at which they may or may not stop. The South station is the largest and most recently renovated and seems to accommodate the high speed trains. The north station also houses the bus terminal.
There are many trainstations in Brussels but the most known are :
-Brussel Noord/Bruxelles Nord
-Brussel Centraal/Bruxelles Central
-Brussel Zuid/ Bruxelles Midi
It is a bit confusing with the bilinguality of Brussels for the foreigner I admit but with a bit of imagination and help you will be able to find your way around pretty easy.
Logical if you enter Brussels from the Northern side you will first pass Brussels North station.
If you are on the most left track (facing Brussels) you might catch a glimpse of the red light district just next to the trainstation. Hardly dressed women are offering themselves to passing by men, even on early hours you would not immediatly expect.
A little but nearer the station and a wall will block the view of this somewhat less nice side of Brussels.
The main entrance however is completely different: new modern buildings are raising up with incredible speed.
From here the train goes underground to it's next stop (passing Brussels Congress) of the Central Station (see picture 1).
Here it is a bit confusing to take the right way out as there are ways towards the metro, the main entrance/exit and other smaller exits.
The building itself is a nice piece of Art Deco designed by the famous Victor Horta and constructed in 1952.
From here the train goes underground further coming above again near Lachapelle station and stopping at Brussels South (see picture 2).
At this station you can catch the TGV and the Eurostar. There are about 22 traintracks so it is really huge. As in many big trainstations keep your pockets closed and safe for pickpockets!
Every Saturday there is a huge market near this trainstation.
One of the best things about living or staying in Brussels is that whenever you like or get bored of the city, there are plenty of first class destinations which are at a stonethrow from your home or hotel room.
Do you fancy Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or even London? Just hop on the train and relax. You will be dropped in the very heart of your preferred destination in almost no time.
Note that Brussels main Station is called Midi (or Zuid in Flemish). It is there that you catch high speed trains to international destinations. The Central Station (and even North Station) is much more handy for the people staying in the monumental area, but only national trains stop here, as well as Inter-City trains (not Thalys) with Holland as destination.
You also have at your avail the dense network of the Belgian railways, which has Brussels as it main hub and takes you virtually to any significant place of the country. Some of the trains are sadly not very modern and cleanliness is quite often overlooked, but distances are so short that few of the most popular destinations are further than one hour away from Brussels.
Brussels is well connected with its airport and other European cities by rail. We found the trains to be on-time as well as a relatively low cost compared to some other countries. It is about a 3 hour train ride from places like Amsterdam and Luxembourg. For a little less time, one should be ablee to get to any train stop in the entire country. Central Station is closest to the major sites, although Brussels does have several train stations.
We purchased a Benelux Tourrail Pass before coming to Belgium. It cost less for the pass than it would have been for us to buy point to point tickets for each journey. Sometimes, it is cheaper to buy the tickests seperately or to use another type of railcard. To get the benefit of the Tourrail Pass, it is best to have at least 5 days of rail travel planned. We were able to justify the cost of the pass with trips between Brussels and the airport, Brussels to Brugge, Brussels to Welkenraedt, and Brussels to Luxembourg.
Brussels has 3 main train stations, North, Central and Midi. All the trains from inside Belgium get to these stations.
By train, Bruges is 1hour far from Brussels, Ghent 40 minutes, Antwerp 35 minutes and Liege 1 hour.