- The capital is Brussels.
- Form of government - constitutional monarchy
- Currency - Euro
- Area - 30,510 km²
- Population - 10,414,336 (July 2019)
- Official language - Dutch (off., 60%), French (off., 40%), German (off., less than 1%)
- Religion - Catholics (75%), Protestants, etc. (25%) - many people are not religious
- Electricity - 230/50 Hz (European plug)
- Country code - +32
- Domain - .be
- Time zone - UTC+1
Belgium (Gaul België, Fr. Belgique, German Belgien) is a beautiful country located on the North Sea coast and is part of the Benelux. Among most Western European capitals within 1000 km of Brussels, and given its membership of the long-standing international community "Benelux", Belgium is at the crossroads of many Western European roads. Belgium's closest neighbors are France (to the southwest), Luxembourg (to the southeast), Germany (to the east) and the Netherlands (to the north).
Belgium is a densely populated country trying to balance the contradictory results of urbanization, the development of transport networks and industry with trade and agriculture. The country imports large quantities of raw materials and exports a significant amount of manufactured goods, mostly to other EU countries. Belgium is the birthplace of Peyo, the creator of the Smurfs.
Belgium is home to several former medieval powers, formerly called the Belgae (or Belgica, which date to the Roman Empire period). You can spot remnants of their civilization everywhere as you travel through the country.
In the ninth century, when the Carolingian Empire collapsed, the territory of the present-day countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg became part of the great kingdom of Lorraine. It was soon absorbed into the Holy Roman Empire. Nevertheless, the status of Lower Lorraine in the feudal empire did not change, and gave rise to the so-called Low Countries-a term by which the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are meant.
The Low Countries were among the richest countries in medieval Europe. A reflection of this wealth can be found in the luxurious buildings of the various cities of Belgium. Gradually these lands came under the control of a strong and ambitious family, the Dukes of Burgundy. The duchy of these rulers included the Low Countries and stretched right up to the borders of modern-day Switzerland.
With such wealth, an elaborate plan and friendly alliances, the dukes sought to reunite the divided Lorraine. But the imminent death of the last of their line, Charles the Bold, prevented this dream from coming true. Nevertheless, Burgundian valuables, displayed in museums and left as landmarks, provide evidence of their domination of the land.
The Low Countries then came under Habsburg rule. But soon, in the process of the Reformation, Belgium and the Netherlands were separated from each other for the first time: the northern part of the state followed the ideas of Protestantism and opposed Habsburg rule, while the southern part remained faithful to the Habsburgs and its old religion. These two parts can be associated with the present-day territories of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Belgium had many different names: Austrian or Spanish Netherlands. The name depended on which Habsburg ruled the country. In the 16th century, the powerful King Charles V the Wise, who was born in Ghent, came to power and ruled the empire from the modern capital of the country. Many places in Belgium are named after him, including the famous city of Charleroi and one of the beers. Every year the people of Brussels recreate his first parade in the city, this performance is called Ommegang.
For a time Belgium was even part of the Napoleonic Empire. After Napoleon lost the war, the empire collapsed and the Low Countries became part of the newly created Kingdom of the Netherlands. Nevertheless, religious opposition did not cease to exist. The split in power deepened, in part because of political differences. In 1830, after a rapid revolution and a brief war with the Netherlands, Belgium became independent.
During both World War I and World War II, Belgium was under German occupation, so there are many war cemeteries near the former battlefields. Most of the cemeteries are located near Ypres (hence the name of the substance Yperit, a gas that was used everywhere during World War I).
For the past 50 years, Belgium has been a modern, technological and highly developed country in Western Europe, a member of NATO and the EU. Socio-economic, political and cultural contradictions between the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Flanders, and the French-speaking inhabitants of Wallonia have led in recent years to some amendments to the constitution of the country, which officially recognized these regions and their autonomy.
Coastal plains predominate in the northwest of Belgium, hilly terrain in the center of the country, and wooded hills and valleys of the Ardennes Forest in the southeast.
The Belgian climate is temperate. There are mild winters and cool summers, and the weather is mostly rainy, humid, and cloudy. The average annual temperature is about 10 °C.
The mains voltage in Belgium is 220-230 V, 50 Hz. The sockets use CEE 7/5 type plugs with protruding grounding prong, a CEE 7/7 hybrid plug with grounding, or a CEE 7/16 plug without grounding. German plug types are not compatible with Belgian plugs because they do not fit on the grounding prong of the socket. Electrical appliances in Europe mostly have a hybrid plug that fits both CEE 7/5 and CEE 7/4.
Tourists from countries using mains voltage up to 230 V, 50 Hz, but with other plugs, you only need to buy a special adapter for connectors.
Tourists from other countries using mains voltage up to 110 V, 60 Hz need a voltage converter. However, you should first check the mains voltage information on the device, as some devices may work with any voltage.
Belgium consists of three federal districts, listed from south to north.
Cities and regions in Belgium
The southernmost region of the country, whose inhabitants mostly speak French. In the east of Wallonia, near the German border, there is a small German-speaking region. The provinces of the region (from east to west) are Luxemburg, Liège, Namur, Walloon Brabant, Hainaut.
The capital of Belgium, whose residents speak two languages. Brussels is also the headquarters of the EU.
Flanders is located in the north of the country and its inhabitants speak Dutch. The most famous Belgian cities in the region are Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.
Belgium has a very high level of urbanization, a huge number of cities located in a relatively small area.
Brussels is the official capital of Belgium and the unofficial capital of the European Union. Today it is one of the most multicultural cities in Europe. Brussels has a beautiful historic center around the famous Grand Place with its Gothic town hall and baroque guild halls.
Other popular attractions are the Atomium, one of the symbols of Belgium, the European Quarter, the Palace of Justice, the Cathedral of Saint Michael and Gudule, the Stock Exchange, the Royal Palace, the "Pissing Boy" and the Art Nouveau Victor Orta houses. It is also home to several famous museums such as the Magritte Museum, the Belgian Comic Book Center and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts.
Antwerpen (Dutch: Antwerpen, French: Anvers) is Belgium's second largest city, located along the Scheldt River, and is famous for its enormous Gothic cathedral of Our Lady. The city is also particularly famous for four things: Rubens, diamonds, fashion and the second largest port in Europe. Attractions include the Grote Markt market square with its Renaissance town hall and guild houses in the shape of steps, the Central Station, the Plantin-Moretus Museum, the MAS Museum, the Zoo and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
Beringen, formerly a major coal mining town, is located on the site of Europe's largest and best-preserved coal deposit. Also worth visiting is the pilgrimage site in Beringen, which the locals call Koersels Kapelleke.
Bruges (Dutch: Brugge) is one of the most splendid cities of Europe in the 14th century, nicknamed "Venice of the North" because of its canals and romantic atmosphere. The historic center consists mostly of medieval buildings, including the famous bell tower, the Beguin and the Greningen Museum. If you want to spend the night, there are many small guesthouses and family houses in Bruges, which are much better and more comfortable than hotels. Damme and Lissevegue are popular towns on the outskirts of Bruges, which you can also visit.
Ghent (Dutch, French Gand) - in the past one of the largest cities in Europe - modern Ghent is a beautiful mixture of the styles of Antwerp and Bruges. It is a cozy medieval city with canals, lots of churches and a large castle. This is all combined with a large number of students, a modern art scene and several famous festivals. The Gothic Cathedral of St. Bavon houses the Lamb of God, one of the masterpieces of Flemish medieval painting.
Leuven is a small city that is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. Its beautiful historic center and lively nightlife make it a popular tourist destination. Leuven is also known as the birthplace of Stella Artois and Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewing company.
Lière is a charming Flemish town along the River No with a beautiful Beguin, a bell tower, step houses, a Gothic cathedral and small medieval streets.
Mechelen (Fr. Malines) is a medieval town with a beautiful historic district around the Cathedral of St. Rumboldt, also known for its carillon school, the oldest and largest in the world.
Tongeren (Fr. Tongres) is the oldest city in Belgium.
Ypres, formerly one of the largest cities in the Low Countries, is best known for its near total destruction during World War I. There are many war memorials and cemeteries in the city.
Binsch is a fortress city that is famous for its carnival.
Charleroi - although the name "Brussels-Charleroi Airport" suggests otherwise, Charleroi is not a suburb of Brussels, but actually the largest city in Wallonia (slightly larger than Liège). Unfortunately, it is not a city that most people would want to visit, unless they are keen on heavy industry and contemplating urban decay (in which case it is worth a trip there). Nevertheless, those who do come to Charleroi will be surprised to find that it is a friendly and peaceful city that also has a lot to see.
Dinan is a small town with a cathedral and a citadel, located on the river Mez, with stunning nature all around. Dinan is a popular place for extreme sports such as canoeing and rock climbing, which are best practiced in winter. Dinan is known as the place where Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone.
Liège (Luik, German: Lüttich) is the cultural center of Wallonia, located on the banks of the wide river Meuse. It is a very interesting city and a must-see if you are traveling in Belgium. Apart from some industrial buildings, Liège has a unique character: an eclectic mix of architecture from medieval to modern, spectacular views, exciting nightlife, many museums and a variety of natural surroundings to admire endlessly!
Mons (Dutch: Bergen) - also known as the "Bruges of Wallonia", the historical center of Mons is stunning!
Namur (Nid. Namen) is the political capital of Wallonia. Namur is a stylish city of about 100,000 people, boasting a well-preserved historic center and an impressive citadel at the confluence of the rivers Sambre and Meuse. Like Liège, Namur has spectacular views and impressive natural scenery.
Spa is an elegant little town in the Ardennes, the ancestor of the concept of spa.
Tourne (nied. Doornik) is the oldest city in Belgium, along with Tongeren. It is located on the banks of the River Scheldt and is famous for its impressive four-story cathedral.
Verviers (population: 55,936). Many people forget that the "little brother" of Liège to the east was one of the first cities in the world outside Great Britain, which gave rise to the mechanical industrialization of the 19th century, when the British entrepreneur William Cockerill (and his son John) set up store here in 1799. Verviers, located in the Vaudre Valley, shows many traces of its pre-mechanical history that date back to medieval times. Not many people might enjoy this town, but tourists who are interested in industrial history will be delighted.
- The Ardennes is the most sparsely populated region of the Benelux. It is dominated by hilly terrain covered with forests, tiny natural stone villages, and castles such as Bouillon or Durbuy.
- Fondry des Chiens.
- Limburg - this province has established a strong reputation as a cyclist's paradise. Limburg is also known for its castles, abbeys, orchards, small towns teeming with remnants of the past, and its history of coal mining.
- Tyne Cot Cemetery.
- Various abbeys - many of them famous for brewing, such as Orval, Chimay, Postel, Floreffe or Val-Dieu.
Belgium is not only a member of the European Union, but also of the Schengen Area. There are no border controls between Schengen countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which have signed and comply with this treaty (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK).
Also, a visa that has been issued to any Schengen citizen is valid in all Schengen countries. But beware: not all EU members have signed the Schengen Agreement and not all members of this zone have joined the European Union. This means that you will have to go through customs, but not immigration, control when traveling between Schengen countries and non-EU countries. You will also have to go through immigration control, but not customs control, when traveling between EU and non-EU Schengen members.
Before traveling, check the "Travel in the Schengen Area" section, which provides additional information on entry and exit requirements. If citizens of the aforementioned countries come to Belgium to work, they are allowed to stay in the country for 90 days without additional permits. But this rule does not apply to all Schengen Member States.
Brussels Airport (Zaventem - the name comes from the city in which it is located) is the main airport of the country (IATA code BRU). The airport is located in the region of Flanders, not in the capital. The airport mainly serves the national airline Brussels Airlines. Other airlines as well as low-cost airlines (Vueling, JetairFly and Thomas Cook) use the BRU code.
- Every quarter of an hour there is a train from the airport to the center of the capital (8.60 euros). The duration of the trip is about 25 minutes, some trips go to Ghent, Mons and West Flanders.
- STIB buses #12 and #21 (the fare is 4.50 euros in the machine and 6 euros by buying a ticket in the bus) run every 20-30 minutes. They go to the Luxembourg Square. On the way the bus makes a stop near the NATO headquarters.
- De Lijn-bus № 272 and № 471 (fare - 3 euros) go every half an hour or hour to the North Station of the capital. They also have stops near NATO headquarters.
- A cab to the city center costs about 35 euros. If you take care of it in advance and book a car, then the price will be lower. Taxis bleus: +3222680000, Taxis Autolux: +3224114142, Taxis Verts: +322349494949.
- There are also two trains (costing €8.10) that run every hour to Leuven (travel time is about 14 minutes), and two more (costing €10.40) that run every hour to Antwerp (travel time is 43 minutes).
Brussels-Charleroi Airport is located 50 km south of Brussels. It serves mainly low-cost airlines (Ryanair and Wizzair). You can get to Brussels South Station by bus routes. The trip takes about 60 minutes and the fare is 13 euros. If you plan to go to another city in Belgium, you can buy a combined ticket "bus + train".
It is sold in vending machines at the Charleroi train station, which is located near the airport. Such a ticket will cost about 20 euros one way. You can also get to the city by cab, the drivers here often accept credit cards. To Brussels a cab ride will cost about 100 euros (depending on the car), you just need to check with the driver about the possibility of paying by credit card.
- Antwerp Airport (IATA code ANR) hosts business flights such as CityJet from London Airport.
- Ostend Airport and Liège Airport have a limited selection of JetAirFly flights (depending on the season), but mainly accept business flights, charters and cargo planes.
It is also possible to fly into airports in neighboring countries, especially Amsterdam Schiphol airport, from which you can easily reach Brussels, Antwerp and Mechelen by train. Some low-cost airlines (Ryanair, Easyjet) offer flights to Eindhoven, Maastricht, Cologne and Lille, each with good transport connections to some Belgian cities.
Direct trains run between the Belgian capital and the following cities:
- Luxembourg (regular, runs every 60 minutes);
- Rotterdam, The Hague (regular, runs every two hours);
- Paris, Cologne/Cologne, Aachen, Amsterdam (Thalys trains);
- Lyon, Paris-CDG airport, and many other French cities (TGV Bruxelles-France trains);
- London, Ebbsfleet, Ashford, Lille and Calais (Eurostar trains). Please note, if you are going to any Belgian city, select the ticket "Any Belgian Station" (£5.50 one way, 2nd class) and the local transport in Belgium will be included in the Eurostar ticket. Depending on the distance, this is more likely to be priced lower than buying separate tickets. Passengers traveling from the UK to Belgium will have their French passport/ID card checked on behalf of Belgian customs in the UK before boarding, not upon arrival in Belgium. Tourists traveling from Lille/Calais to the Belgian capital are within the Schengen area.
- Frankfurt, Cologne/Cologne (ICE company).
All international flights intersect with Belgian domestic trains at South Station. Therefore, if you have tickets for Eurostar, ICE and Thalys flights, you can continue your trip free of charge on local Belgian trains. It is better to book seats at cheaper rates on all fast trains in advance, either online or with a travel agent. Belgium no longer runs regular trains with sleeper cars.
There are also high-speed trains from Lille to Belgium. Trains from other cities in France to Lille are quite frequent and they are usually cheap. From Lille-Flanders station you can go to Ghent and Antwerp by direct train. If a fast train arrives at Lille-Europe station, you can walk to Lille-Flanders train station in 15 minutes.
There is also an option to travel to Belgium by Deutsche Bahn trains on direct domestic and international flights. Please note that smoking is prohibited on the trains.
Belgium is crossed by the following pan-European highways: E-19, E-17, E-40, E-411, E-314 and E-313.
Using online services to find hitchhikers, you can find company to get to your destination. This is the cheapest way to get to Belgium (about 3 euros/100 km) from any European country.
Eurolines international buses run throughout Europe and stop in Antwerp, in the north of the capital, in Leuven and Liege. There are also other companies, such as Flixbus and Ouibus, providing transportation services.
Because of the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, Bosnian operators entered the market and provide an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to get to any country in Europe. Semi tours buses are operated three times a week from various cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the off-season the ticket costs about 65 euros.
On the ship
From England there is an overnight ferry to the port city of Zeebrugge, but the ticket is quite expensive.
- Belgian trains run from Lille-Flanders station.
- You can take the DK'BUS Marine bus from Dunkirk, France, to the Belgian railroad's De Panne terminus. But this bus only runs at certain times of the year.
- You can also take the DK'BUS to the Belgian border and then cross it on foot to the Belgian Esplanade streetcar station.
Eupen station (Belgium) and can be reached by bus from Aachen station (Germany). The bus is fast enough and the ticket is cheap compared to international train tickets.
From the Netherlands
- There are more than 20 bus routes between these countries.
- To avoid overpaying for an international train ticket on the Amsterdam-Antwerp route, you can get off at one of the border stations Essen (Belgium) or Rosendal (Netherlands) and walk to the other station. The path runs along the flat main road between the two cities amidst uninhabited terrain and is about 10 kilometers.
- In addition to the fact that the city of Baarle (Baarle-Hertog, nied Baarle-Nassau) has quite an amazing history, it is also a possible transfer point, as both Dutch and Belgian buses run at the Sint-Janstraat stop.
- The Belgian bus company De Lijn has launched an international bus between Türnhaut in Belgium and Tilburg in the Netherlands.
- Between Genk (Belgium) and Maastricht (the Netherlands) there is a bus number 45 of De Lijn. From Hasselt to Maastricht you can take bus number 20A. The railroad in this place is still under construction.
Since Belgium is quite a small country (the maximum distance from the opposite borders - 300 km), traveling through it, you can get to any place in a few hours. Public transport is fast, convenient and relatively cheap. Major cities are connected by a developed railway network and good bus routes. The country has a useful website InfoTEC, which describes interesting routes and places, which can be reached by various means (train, bus, metro and streetcar).
A glance at the map shows that from Brussels you can easily reach various cities: Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Namur and Leuven. Each city can be seen in one day, as they are relatively close to the capital.
Tourists go to Antwerp to see different cultures, and Ghent is suitable for those who like provincial cities. Antwerp, Brussels and Bruges are 20-40 minutes by train from Ghent. Trains run until late at night every 60 minutes.
Liège is a beautiful city, but because it is very close to the German border, it would take more than a day to get there.
In Mechelen tourists are usually bored, but there recently built a good youth hostel next to the train station, where trains run to different cities every half hour.
To travel to Belgian sights, especially in the region of Flanders, you can use a bicycle, as there is a suitable infrastructure for this. The rental bikes can be found almost everywhere in the country: in Wallonia you can rent mountain bikes, on the border with Luxembourg rafting is popular.
Belgium has an extensive rail network run by NMBS/SNCB. Most rail routes go through Brussels and Antwerp. There are also frequent international flights to these cities. Brussels and Antwerp are easily accessible by train from any airport in the country. Please note that all ICE tickets and some Thalys tickets offer a free same-day local train service to any other Belgian station.
If you are traveling from London by Eurostar, you can change trains in Brussels to Antwerp, Leuven, Liège, Namur, Mons or Ghent. To get to Bruges and Ghent quickly, you can change in Lille, France, so as not to go through Brussels. In any city, the station staff is always ready to help and guide you to the right route.
Usually, all destinations and routes at stations are written in the language of the particular locality. For example, if you are traveling from Flanders to Liege, the destination city will be listed as "Luik," the Flemish name for Liege. If you are traveling from the French-speaking area to Antwerp, it will be listed as "Anvers" and from the Flemish-speaking area as "Antwerpen".
The exception is Brussels stations, where destinations are listed in both languages. At the main stations, only some international trains and trains to Brussels National Airport are announced in English.
Announcements on board trains are made in the official language of the region through which the train passes. In Flanders all announcements will be in Dutch, in Wallonia all announcements will be in French. In Brussels, announcements are made in French and Dutch. If necessary, train staff speak both French and Dutch, and often also English, regardless of the region.
There are five main stations in Brussels, and three of them have two names in French and Dutch: Bruxelles-Midi=Brussel-Zuid (Brussels South Station), Bruxelles-Central=Brussel-Centraal (Brussels Central Station) and Bruxelles-Nord=Brussel-Noord (Brussels North Station).
Many trains stop at all 3 stations, but some Eurostar and Thalys trains only stop at Brussels South Station. The railroad tracks on which trains travel south toward Namur and Luxembourg also pass through the main stations Brussel/Bruxelles Schuman and Brussel/Bruxelles Luxembourg, which are located in the European quarter of the city.
When traveling during rush hour, there may be slight traffic jams between major cities (about 5-15 minutes). However, delays of more than 30 minutes are extremely rare. Trains running between major cities tend to be very crowded during rush hour, but it is possible to find a few standing places.
Regular tickets for Belgian trains are cheap compared to trains in Germany or Great Britain, and do not even need to be booked in advance. Seats cannot be reserved on local trains.
Seats in 2nd class usually cost no more than 20 euros, even for longer trips, and 1st class is about 50% more expensive than 2nd class. During peak hours, transportation can be crowded, so you will need to buy a 1st class ticket to get on the train. However, having a ticket does not guarantee a free seat.
Train tickets can be purchased at travel agencies, online in the SNCB app, third-party apps (Trainline, Loco2) or directly at train stations. Almost all stations have a ticket vending machine (only cards and sometimes coins are accepted), and larger stations also have ticket booths (cards and cash are accepted).
If you want to buy a ticket already on the train, you must notify the train conductor. In this case you will pay an additional fee (7 euros), unless there are no ticket booths and vending machines at the station.
However, today almost all stations are equipped with at least vending machines, so you should be prepared to be charged extra. The fine for fare evasion is about 200 euros, so given the many different ways to buy tickets, you should not risk being fined. Usually, tickets are sold during the current day, so there is no additional ticket check when boarding the train.
There are several ways to buy tickets at the lowest prices. First of all, for people under 26 years of age you can buy a "Go-Pass1" with a fixed price of €6.60 per trip, regardless of distance. If you are under 26 and want to save even more money and are planning several train rides, buy a "Go-Pass10".
The ticket provides 10 trips in 2nd class to any point in Belgium (including transfer to another train, if necessary) for 53 euros. This ticket is valid for one year and can be used by several people at the same time (in this case one line for each person) or transferred to other people without restrictions.
A similar ticket for people over the age of 26 is called the Rail Pass. It also allows you to make 10 trips within a year. The ticket costs 83 euros for 2nd class or 128 euros for 1st class. There are also some discounts available for frequent travel.
When using these tickets, make sure that you fill out the appropriate line correctly before you board the train or enter the platform. The conductor can be very demanding when checking the correctness of the ticket. If you have any doubts, you can ask the station staff before you board and they will be glad to help you.
SNCB/NMBS participate in the RailPlus program: if you have a RailPlus card (DB BahnCard, CD InKarta, SBB HalbTax), you get a 15% discount on the price of an international ticket. The Interrail card is valid on any SNCB/NMBS train at no extra charge.
Another option for cheap tickets is to buy weekend tickets. They are valid from 7 p.m. Friday until the last train on Sunday night (the last train may run as late as 2 a.m.). This ticket is only sold round trip, but it costs about 45-50% less than a regular round trip ticket.
For example, here are the different options for the cost of a round-trip ticket on the route Bruges-Brussels (or for any station within the Brussels area):
"Go-Pass1" (for people under 26 years): €13.20 per person.
"Rail Pass (for people over 26 years) (Mon-Fri): €28.20 per person.
Weekend ticket: €15.20 per person.
This information is the most important for tourists, more information can be found on the NMBS/SNCB website in the national languages of Belgium and English. The rules and conditions of use of the transport, however, are only available in Dutch or French. The website also has a searchable timetable, real-time delay information and a fare calculator, as well as a map of Belgian railroads and stations.
As in other European countries, route schedules usually change on the second Sunday in December. These changes are usually limited to the introduction of a few new train stations and the addition of a few regular lines. The next major changes are scheduled for December 2020, and the new schedule will be available a few months before that.
You can take a bus anywhere in the country, and in large cities there are also streetcars and subways. Usually buses travel only short distances from one city to another. Nevertheless, the trip by bus is much slower and does not cost much less than by train.
There is also the Kusttram (coastal streetcar), which runs 68 km along almost the entire Flemish coast from Adinkerke, near the French border, to Knokke Heist, near the Dutch border. This is the most convenient way to travel from Ostend to Zeebrugge. The trip from the start to the end stop takes about 2.5 hours. Streetcars run every 10 minutes in summer and every 20 minutes in winter.
In the city, a standard one-way ticket costs about 3 euros, and passes for several trips are also sold. Note that local transport is served by different companies: STIB/MIVB in the capital, De Lijn in Flanders and TEC in Wallonia. These companies do not recognize each other's tickets. To save on the cost of tickets, you can buy them from vending machines.
Most tourists do not need buses, because in Belgium it is easier to travel between different cities by train, and in the city to move on foot. The subway is built in Brussels and Antwerp, but even there you will be more comfortable walking, as the area of the historic center of the capital is only about 0.12km². Antwerp is larger, yet a horse-drawn carriage ride will allow you to see more sights than the metro.
Belgium has a very well-developed network of free highways. The main roads are in good condition, but the secondary roads are mostly bad. The only place where you have to pay a toll is the Liefkenshoektunnel in Antwerp. This tunnel is a good alternative for bypassing the often congested Kennedytunnel.
Information on road signs is always written in the local language. Only in the capital of the country are road signs in two languages. When travelling by any means of transport, you should read the signs carefully: many cities in Belgium may have completely different names in Dutch and French.
For example, Mons in French is Bergen in Dutch, Antwerp in Dutch and Anvers in French, Liege in French is Luik in Dutch, Lüttich in German, and so on. This peculiarity is inherent even in the names of cities in other countries: traveling by car, you can notice the city of Rijsel (that's French Lille) or Aken (German Aachen) on the signposts. Exits in Flemish will be marked with "Uit", in Wallonia with "Sortie", and in the German area with "Ausfahrt".
When traveling around the country while driving, you must remember the "priority on the right" rule. At intersections, cars on the right have priority unless otherwise indicated by signs or road markings. Such intersections can be found in urban and suburban areas.
Road signs in Belgium are very inconvenient, especially on secondary roads. There is no uniformity in diagrams and colors, many of them are in poor condition, located in an inconvenient place or are absent altogether. Travelers should have a road map (Michelin, De Rouck, Falk) or a GPS system to orient themselves.
Although the Belgian roads are in poor condition, they are very well lit, a lighting system left over from the 1980s. Traffic in Belgium is extremely congested, with Brussels and Antwerp at the top of the list of the world's most congested cities. Even small towns and rural areas, especially in Flanders, can have unexpected levels of congestion.
Speed traps and SPECS cameras are often located along roads and highways. If you are stopped by the police for speeding, you must pay the fine immediately, otherwise the police may impound your car.
Even small amounts of drunkenness carry serious penalties. For example, for 0.05-0.08 ppm you have to pay 125 euros on the spot. Exceeding these blood-alcohol levels will result in up to six months in jail and the loss of the driver's license for five years.
Some rented cars are already equipped with navigation, but it is better to note the need for a navigator when booking a car in advance. A good navigator in Belgium is the most reliable way to get from one city to another. Thus, you can get around and see a lot of sights and admire the architecture of the cities. You are likely to be surprised by the cleanliness and neatness of the towns and villages while traveling. Every day their inhabitants take care of the streets in front of their houses - it has become a tradition