Buy Eurostar tickets to Brussels

Buy Eurostar tickets from London to Paris

Booking tips...

  This is the best way to buy tickets, direct from www.eurostar.com with print-at-home tickets & no booking fees.

  Eurostar bookings open 120 days ahead and at certain periods up to 180 days ahead.

  I recommend selecting United Kingdom - English top right, whatever your actual country, otherwise you won't be able to choose all UK stations.

  To buy tickets to Brussels starting in 130 UK towns & cities go to www.eurostar.com, or buy a separate ticket to London from most British railway stations.

  Business Premier & Standard Premier = 1st class with drinks & meals. Standard = 2nd class.

 You print out your own ticket, or collect it at the station in London, Lille, Paris or Brussels.

 Tips on choosing a specific Eurostar seat

 Buy special connecting UK train tickets

  Recommended hotels in Bruges & Brussels

Belgium, less than 2 hours from central London...

Eurostar is the high-speed passenger train from London (St Pancras International station) to central Brussels (Midi station) via the Channel Tunnel.  There are departures throughout the day, taking as little as 1 hour 51 minutes now that the UK high speed line is fully open from London to the Channel Tunnel.  Eurostar trains travel at up to 186 mph (300 km/h) on the high speed lines, and Eurostar is now faster than flying from central London to central Brussels, as well as more comfortable, more convenient and more reliable.

Train times, fares & how to buy tickets...

  London to Brussels & Bruges by Eurostar, the fast & easy way...

  London to Antwerp, Ghent, Liège, Namur & anywhere else in Belgium

  London to Waterloo battlefield

  London to Ypres

  Other UK towns & cities to Brussels by Eurostar - Eurostar through tickets.

  London to Belgium by train & ferry the alternative to Eurostar...

  Scotland & North of England to Belgium by cruise ferry - by-pass London!

  Trains to Brussels & Bruges from other European cities

  Trains from Brussels to other European cities

  Trains from Bruges to other European cities

Other useful information...

  Advice on changing trains at Brussels Midi station

  Hotels & accommodation in Brussels, Bruges & Belgium

  Short breaks to Brussels or Bruges by train

  Luggage on trains & Left luggage facilities at stations

  Taking bikes   Taking dogs

  General train travel to Europe information


Useful country information

Train operator in Belgium:

SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges) www.belgianrail.be for times & fares in Belgium.

Eurostar trains London-Brussels:  www.eurostar.com. All-Europe online train times

 

Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpassesBuy a rail pass online

   

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

 

Dialling code:

 

+32

   

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

 

Tourist information:

www.visitbelgium.com.  Brussels bus, tram & metro info:  www.stib.be  

 

Hotels & guesthouses:

Find hotels in Brussels, Bruges & Belgium    www.tripadvisor.com

 

Page last updated:

17 June 2014.   Train times valid 15 June to 13 December 2014.

 

London to Brussels & Bruges by Eurostar

You can check Eurostar times & fares and buy tickets at www.eurostar.com.  There are no Eurostar services on Christmas Day.  More information about Eurostar.

 London ► Brussels, Bruges  (weekdays)  

Eurostar (30 minute check-in)  

Mondays-Fridays

 Depart London St Pancras

06:50

08:04*

08:58

10:58

12:58

15:04

17:04

18:04

19:34

 Pick up at Ebbsfleet (near M25) 

07:08

|

09:15

11:15

13:15

|

|

|

|

 Arrive Brussels Midi/Zuid

10:07

11:05*

12:05

14:05

16:08

18:05

20:05

21:05

22:38

 Change trains in Brussels onto the half-hourly InterCity train to Bruges.

 Depart Brussels Midi/Zuid

10:26

11:26

12:26

14:26

16:26

18:26

20:26

21:26

23:05

 Arrive Bruges

11:24

12:24

13:24

15:24

17:24

19:24

21:24

22:24

23:59

  London ► Brussels, Bruges  (weekends)

Eurostar (30 minute check-in)  

Saturdays

Sundays

 Depart London St Pancras

06:57

08:58

10:58

12:58

16:04

19:04

08:58

12:58

14:04

15:04

17:04

17:55

19:04

20:04

 Pick up at Ebbsfleet (near M25) 

|

09:15

11:15

13:15

|

|

09:15

13:15

|

|

|

|

|

|

 Arrive Brussels Midi/Zuid

10:11

12:08

14:05

16:08

19:05

22:08

12:08

16:08

17:05

18:05

20:05

21:05

22:08

23:05

 Change trains in Brussels onto the half-hourly InterCity train to Bruges.

 Depart Brussels Midi/Zuid

10:26

12:26

14:26

16:26

19:26

22:26

12:26

16:26

17:26

18:26

20:26

21:26

22:26

23:26

 Arrive Bruges

11:24

13:24

15:24

17:24

20:24

23:24

13:24

17:24

18:24

19:24

21:24

22:24

23:24

00:43

* The 08:04 Eurostar from London runs on certain dates only.

** The 06:56 Eurostar from Brussels only runs on Mondays.

For connections to other destinations in Belgium, simply use www.b-rail.be to find train times.  How to visit Waterloo battlefield.

Going to central Brussels?  Eurostar arrives at Brussels Midi, also known as Brussel Zuid or Brussels South.  However, Eurostar tickets to Brussels are automatically valid on any local train to Brussels Central (5 minutes walk from the Grande Place), Brussels Nord, Brussels Congrès or Brussels Luxembourg (the station nearest the EU Parliament).

Going to Bruges?  Buy a Eurostar ticket to Any Belgian Station.  When boarding a train for Bruges in Brussels, the departure indicators usually show 'Oostende', 'Knokke' or 'Blankenberge' as the destination of your train, 'Bruges' is just a calling point so not always shown.  Remember that 'Bruges' is 'Brugge' in Flemish, it's the same place.  Short breaks in Brussels or Bruges by train.

Ashford (Kent): Outbound, only the 06:50 Eurostar calls at Ashford (07:57 Saturdays), at 07:24 (08:24 Saturdays). Inbound, only the daily 16:56 Eurostar from Brussels calls at Ashford (17:33).

 Brussels, Bruges ► London  (weekdays)

Mondays-Fridays

 Depart Bruges

04:51

05:57

06:58

09:01

11:01

13:01

15:01

16:01

17:01

18:01

 Arrive Brussels Midi/Zuid

05:55

06:55

07:55

09:55

11:55

13:55

15:55

16:55

17:55

18:55

 Change trains in Brussels - remember the 30 minute Eurostar check-in.  Stop off in Brussels if you like.

 Depart Brussels Midi/Zuid

06:56**

07:56

08:52

10:56

12:52

14:56

16:56

17:56

18:56

19:52

 Drop off at Ebbsfleet (near M25) 

  |

  |

  |

  |

13:45

15:45

  |

18:45

  |

20:45

 Arrive London St Pancras

07:57**

08:57

09:57

11:57

14:03

16:03

18:10

19:03

19:57

21:03

  Brussels, Bruges ► London  (weekends)

Saturdays

Sundays

 Depart Bruges

06:00

07:00

09:00

13:00

15:00

18:00

07:00

10:00

13:00

14:00

16:00

17:00

18:00

 Arrive Brussels Midi/Zuid

06:55

07:55

09:55

13:55

15:55

18:55

07:55

10:55

13:55

14:55

16:55

17:55

18:55

 Change trains in Brussels - remember the 30 minute Eurostar check-in.  Stop off in Brussels if you like.

 Depart Brussels Midi/Zuid

07:56

08:52

10:56

14:52

16:56

19:52

08:52

11:56

14:52

15:56

17:56

18:56

19:52

 Drop off at Ebbsfleet (near M25) 

|

|

  |

15:45

17:48

|

|

|

15:45

  |

|

  |

20:45

 Arrive London St Pancras

08:57

09:57

11:57

16:03

18:09

21:06

09:57

12:57

16:03

16:57

19:10

19:57

21:03

How much does it cost?

London to Brussels by Eurostar starts at £39 one-way or £69 return in 2nd class.  Like air fares, the price rises as cheaper seats are sold.  A Eurostar ticket to Brussels not only entitles you to travel on Eurostar to Brussels Midi, it's automatically valid on connecting local trains to other stations in the central Brussels area, including Brussels Central (5 minutes walk from the historic Grande Place), Brussels Nord, Brussels Congrès.  This might save you a taxi ride!

London to Any Belgian Station including Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Liege starts at £45 one-way or £79 return in 2nd class:  Eurostar tickets to Brussels used to be automatically valid to any station in Belgium, but this arrangement ceased in October 2010.  You must now buy a ticket to 'Any Belgian Station', which is listed as a separate destination, costing £6 more one-way or £10 more return than a standard class ticket to Brussels.  In first class, it's £9 one-way, £17 return more than the price of a Standard Premier or Business Premier ticket to Brussels.  With a Eurostar ticket to Any Belgian Station you can hop on any onward train from Brussels to anywhere in Belgium within 24 hours of your Eurostar arrival in Brussels.  On the return leg, you can use any suitable train from your Belgian starting point to Brussels within 24 hours of your Eurostar departure back to London.  No reservation is necessary for Belgian domestic trains, you just hop on any train you want.  It's not valid on high-speed Thalys or German high-speed ICE trains (not to be confused with Belgian or Dutch IC trains, which certainly can be used).

Fares from London

to Brussels:

Standard

(2nd class)

Standard Premier

(1st class for leisure)

Business Premier

(1st class for business)

One-way

Return

One-way

Return

One-way

Return

Adult

From £39

From £69

From £107

From £189

£260 or £329

£450 or £570

Child under 12

From £29

From £49

From £70

From £123

-

-

Child under 4

Free, if they don't occupy their own seat

Youth 12-25

From £38

From £59

  -

  -

-

-

Senior (over 60)

From £29

From £49

  -

  -

-

-

Railpass holder

£82

£144

£103

£181

-

-

Wheelchair user

-

-

£35

£69

-

-

 

London to

Any Belgian Station:

2nd class:  Add £6 one-way or £10 return to any 2nd class Eurostar fare.

1st class:  Add £9 one-way or £17 return to any 1st class Eurostar fare.

For example, £69 return from London to Brussels + £10 add-on to Any Belgian Station

 = £79 return from London to Any Belgian Station...

How to buy tickets:  www.eurostar.com

If you are only going from London to Brussels, Bruges or anywhere else in Belgium, the best way to book Eurostar is online at www.eurostar.com.   You can print your own ticket or choose to collect it at the station before departure.  Booking opens 120 days ahead, but at certain periods it can open up to 180 days ahead.  You can also book by phone, calling Eurostar on 08432 186 186 (+44 1233 617575 from outside the UK).  Tips on choosing a specific Eurostar seat.

If you are going beyond Belgium, you can book the Eurostar and your onward trains together through a specialist European ticketing agency.  For a list of agencies, see here.

On board Eurostar & at St Pancras:  See the Eurostar page...

Eurostar has three classes, Standard class, Standard Premier (first class for leisure, called Leisure Select before Aug 2010), and Business Premier (first class for business).  Business Premier first class has flexible tickets, a hot meal served at your seat with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, access to executive lounges at stations and a 10 minute minimum check-in.  Standard Premier first class offers exactly the same first class seating, but with more affordable non-flexible fares, a cold meal served at your seat with complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, a 30-minute minimum check-in and no access to executive lounges.  You'll find Eurostar trains very smooth & quiet, even at 186 mph.  All passengers have access to two buffet-bar cars serving drinks and snacks.  Eurostar is all non-smoking.  For more information about Eurostar and the Eurostar journey, including tips on how to choose the best seats, see the Eurostar page.  There is a virtual tour of 1st and 2nd class seats on www.eurostar.com.

A Eurostar to Brussels at London St Pancras   Eurostar 2nd class seats

A Eurostar at St Pancras...

 

Eurostar 2nd class seats...

Eurostar seats 61 & 65, car 7, 8 11 or 12   Meal in Standard Premier

A first class table for two:  Seats 61 & 65...

 

Meal in 1st class (Standard Premier).

Arriving at Brussels Midi station...

Eurostar arrives at platforms 1 & 2 at Brussels Midi station (Bruxelles Midi in French, Brussel Zuid in Flemish, Brussels South in English, they're all the same place).  Brussels Midi is a fairly easy 25 minute walk from the famous Grand Place (Grote Markt) in the city centre, or there are buses, taxis & a metro.  You can get a free tourist map from the tourist information kiosk in the middle of Brussels Midi station concourse near the exit from the Eurostar terminal.  To walk to the city centre, leave the station from the main doors on the Eurostar terminal (platform 1/2) side of the station, turn right, walk along the side of the station/tracks for a few minutes and then turn left along the Rue Stalingrad to central Brussels.  Left luggage facilities are available if you need them, open 24 hours.  When returning to London, remember the 30 minute Eurostar check-in.  Click here for a map of BrusselsBus, tram & metro information for Brussels (English button top right).

Restaurants near Brussels Midi or the Grande Place:  There are many cafes & snack bars in or near Brussels Midi station, but for something a bit more upmarket, try the huge and modernistic 'Midi Station' restaurant, brasserie & bar, www.midistation.eu, which does a great steak tartare.  It's just opposite the main exit from Brussels Midi station on the platform 1 side of the station (the Eurostar terminal side).  It's only open Mondays-Fridays.  For something more down-to-earth (or at weekends when the Midi Station is closed) there's the friendly Brasserie de la Gare, also just across the road right outside the main platform-1-side station exit in the same row of bars - the Brasserie de la Gare does good beer and decent food, if you don't mind football on the big screen.  Just off the Grande Place in central Brussels there are vast numbers of 'tourist trap' restaurants, but try the 'Aux Armes de Bruxelles' (www.armebrux.be), one of the very few really good traditionally Belgian restaurants near the Grande Place.

The onward train from Brussels to Bruges & Ghent...

Top tip:  For Bruges or Ghent, look on the departure boards for a train shown as going to either Oostende, Knokke or Blankenberge as these are the trains which stop at Bruges & Ghent.  And remember that Bruges is Brugge in Flemish and Ghent is Gand in French.  In Bruges, you want the main station, usually shown as plain 'Bruges', not the little local station called Bruges St Pieters.  However, just to confuse you, in Ghent the main station is called Ghent St Pieters.

InterCity train from Brussels to Bruges, Ghent & Oostende   2nd class seats

An InterCity train to Bruges at Brussels Midi...

 

2nd class seats...

1st class seats   IC train from Brussels to Bruges, Ghent & Ostend

1st class seats...

 

Another shot of the InterCity train...

Short breaks to Brussels or Bruges... 2 nights Hilton Brussels City + return Eurostar travel from £169 /person 

The historic city of Bruges makes a truly excellent short break destination from the UK - better, in my opinion, than Brussels, although both cities are well worth the trip.  You can find short breaks to Bruges or Brussels combining Eurostar and hotel at www.railbookers.com, 020 3327 0761 or www.eurostar.com or www.lastminute.co.uk.  This is often cheaper than buying train tickets and booking a hotel separately.

Special deals to Brussels:  Railbookers have some excellent deals, from £129 per person (assuming two people sharing) for return Eurostar travel to Brussels and 1 night at the 4-star Hilton Brussels City, from £169 for 2 nights, from £229 for 3 nights.  2 nights to Bruges starts at £189 per person for 2 nights.  Call www.railbookers.com on 020 3327 0761.

Bruges - easy to get to by Eurostar & connecting train.

Bruges:  The Grand Place...

  A boat tour round the canals of Bruges

Bruges:  A boat cruise around the city...

Sponsored links...


London to Waterloo...

Visiting the site of the Battle of Waterloo, 1815...

It was 'the closest run thing you ever saw in your life', according to the Duke of Wellington.  And if he'd lost, perhaps this website would have been written in French.  You can visit the battle site, climbing the 'Butte de Lion' (the lion monument, built on a man-made mound in 1823-1826) for a superb view over the whole battlefield.  Next to the Lion is a visitors centre which explains what happened, a 'panorama' (a circular building built in 1912 which houses a 360 degree panorama painting of the battle) and across the road is a small wax museum.  Open 7 days a week, all year.  There are also tours of the battlefield starting from the visitors centre.  For visitor information, see www.waterloo1815.be/en/waterloo/.

How to reach Waterloo...

Buy a Eurostar ticket to Any Belgian Station, as opposed to just 'Brussels', as this is valid to any Belgian station by any suitable connecting train within 24 hours of arriving in Brussels and (in the return direction) on any suitable connecting train in the 24 hours before your Eurostar departure from Brussels.  After arriving at Brussels Midi by Eurostar, take a local train to either Waterloo or the next stop, Braine l'Alleud.  Trains to Waterloo run once an hour from Brussels Midi, Brussels Central & Brussels Nord, taking around 25 minutes from Brussels Midi.  Going to the original Waterloo station will give you a photo opportunity in front of the station name sign (!) but the town and station are actually 5.3 km from the battle site.  A taxi will cost around €20 each way, although there aren't usually any taxis waiting at the station, so call Taxis Fabrimone on +32 2 354  28 41 or Taxis Waterloo on +32 2 351 26 26.  Braine l'Alleud is much closer to the battlefield and museums, it's just 2.7km away and you can walk it in 35 minutes or take a taxi.  Map showing walking route from Braine l'Alleud station to battlefield.  Trains to Braine l'Alleud are more frequent than those to Waterloo, they run from Brussels every half hour with the fast ones taking just 14 minutes non-stop.  The departure boards at Brussels Midi will only show the train's final destination, so it can help to know that Waterloo and Braine l'Alleud are on the line from Brussels to Nivelles & Charleroi.  Allow at least 20 minutes to change at Brussels on your outward journey, at least 50 minutes on your return to include the 30 minute Eurostar check-in.  Advice on changing trains at Brussels Midi station.  You can check train times at www.b-rail.be

Waterloo station, Belgium   The Butte de Lion monument at Waterloo, Belgium   Panorama building and visitor centre, seen from the top of the Butte de Lion

Arrival at Waterloo station, a few miles to the battle site...

 

The 'Butte de Lion', built in 1823-1826 on the site of the allied front line at the Battle of Waterloo.  226 steps, 41 metres high.

 

View down the steps of the Butte de Lion, showing the 1912-built Panorama building and visitors centre.  The British front line was along the road...


London to Ypres (Ieper)

To reach what British soldiers knew as 'Wipers', first book Eurostar to Lille at www.eurostar.com.  On arrival at Lille Europe, walk to 500m to Lille Flandres station.  An hourly regional train runs from Lille to Kortrijk (the final destination of this train is usually Antwerp/Anvers), change at Kortrijk for the branch line to Ypres (Ieper) and Poperinge.  As the fare is fixed and you don't need a reservation, you can easily buy the Lille to Ypres ticket at the station in Lille when you get there.  Total journey time from Lille to Ypres is about 1 hour 15 minutes.  You can check train times from Lille to Ypres at the Belgian railways website, www.b-rail.be.


London to Antwerp, Ghent & other destinations...

Travelling to Antwerp (Anvers), Liège, Ghent, Namur, or anywhere else in Belgium?

If you buy a Eurostar ticket to Any Belgian Station, it's valid by Eurostar to Brussels and then by any suitable connecting train service from Brussels to anywhere in Belgium as long as you complete the journey within 24 hours of the Eurostar arriving in Brussels.  You can't use high-speed Thalys or ICE trains, but Belgian InterCity (IC) trains are fine.

In the inbound direction, you can travel from anywhere in Belgium to Brussels on any suitable train except Thalys or ICE high-speed trains within the 24 hours before your Eurostar departure from Brussels to London.  Again, InterCity (IC) trains are fine.  Trains generally run hourly or half-hourly between Brussels and all main Belgian cities, no reservation is necessary, you just hop on and find any empty seat.

A ticket to Any Belgian Station costs £6 more one-way or £10 more return than a Eurostar ticket to Brussels, in other words, from £79 return in standard class, which is extremely good value.  In first class, it costs £9 one-way or £17 return more than the price of a Standard Premier or Business Premier ticket to Brussels.

Beware of out-of-date advice.  Until 11 October 2010, a Eurostar ticket to Brussels was automatically valid to any station in Belgium.  This was a fantastic deal for passengers, but less fantastic for Belgian national railways (SNCB) as they received no revenue from this arrangement.  The arrangement ceased on 11 October 2010, and there are now two separate destinations shown on the Eurostar website, 'Brussels' if you just want Brussels itself and 'Any Belgian Station' if you want to travel beyond Brussels, the latter priced higher than Brussels.  Incidentally, a ticket to 'Brussels' still allows a free train transfer from Brussels Midi to Brussels Central, Brussels Nord, and several other central Brussels stations, but no longer to anywhere in Belgium.

You can use the online timetable at www.bahn.de or www.b-rail.be to check train times.  Allow at least 20 minutes in Brussels to make a connection on the outward journey, and 45 minutes (preferably more) on the return to allow for the 30-minute Eurostar check-in.

Advice on changing trains at Brussels Midi station.  Remember that Antwerp can also be written as 'Anvers'.  Bruges can also be written 'Brugge'.


London to Belgium by train + ferry

For over a century, the direct & traditional route from London to Brussels was via Dover and Ostend. However, there have been no ferries from Dover to Oostende since the 1990s.  Until recently there was a ferry from Ramsgate to Oostende, but for vehicles only as it refused to carry foot passengers.  But there is still an alternative to Eurostar worth considering, especially if you live in East Anglia, or have a phobia about the Channel Tunnel, with easy train-ferry connections at each end, and inclusive fares covering both train and ferry.

  The Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland

London to Belgium by Dutch Flyer train & ferry...  A train takes you from London's Liverpool Street station directly to the ferry terminal at Harwich.  You walk off the train, into the terminal, get your boarding card & cabin key at the Stena Line check-in desk and walk straight onto the overnight ferry to Hoek van Holland.  The new superferry Stena Hollandica is the largest ferry of its kind in the world.  See the Netherlands page for more details.  Take an onward train to Antwerp or Brussels next morning.

  Standard inside 2-berth cabin on the ferry

Cosy cabins:  The overnight Harwich-Hoek ferry is a floating hotel.  All passengers travel in a cosy private cabin with en suite shower & toilet and satellite TV.  This is the cheapest 2-berth cabin...

London or East Anglia to Brussels via the Harwich - Hoek van Holland luxury overnight superferry...

This is a slightly round-about route, but if you live in East Anglia, or you're desperate to avoid the Channel Tunnel, or there are problems affecting Eurostar, then this is a comfortable and very affordable alternative.  As it's overnight while you sleep in a private en suite cabin, it's actually quite time-effective, and fun, too.

London ► Antwerp & Brussels

Brussels & Antwerp ► London

Fares and how to buy tickets


Other UK towns & cities to Brussels & Belgium

Buy a through ticket to Brussels from over 130 UK towns & cities...

Eurostar offer through tickets from over 130 UK towns & cities to Brussels or Any Belgian Station - use the booking form above to see which UK stations have through tickets to Brussels or any Belgian station by Eurostar & to book online.

... or buy separate UK & Eurostar tickets...

Alternatively, you can buy separate tickets for the UK part of your journey.  There are special tickets to 'London International' from most UK stations which have better terms and conditions specially designed for connecting with Eurostar:  Buy a special add-on ticket from almost any station in Britain to London International (St Pancras).

East Anglia to Brussels by train & ferry

If you live in East Anglia, a convenient, affordable and time-effective option is to use the overnight Harwich to Hoek van Holland luxury superferry, see the section above.

Devon & Cornwall to Brussels by sleeper & Eurostar...

You can take the overnight Night Riviera sleeper train from Cornwall, Plymouth, Newton Abbott or Exeter to London Paddington, take the Underground to St Pancras, then hop on a Eurostar to Brussels, see here for details.

North of England to Belgium by cruise ferry ...

You can travel from Hull to Belgium by overnight cruise ferry, with or without a car.  P&O have a daily ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge, departing 19:00 and arriving 08:30 - see www.poferries.com or call 0870 2424 999.  For onward train connections from Zeebrugge to Brussels, Cologne or Paris, simply use http://bahn.hafas.de.  Arriving in Zeebrugge at 08:30 you should reach Brussels by 10:50 (change at Bruges) and Paris by 14:04 (change at Bruges and Brussels).

Scotland to Brussels by sleeper & Eurostar...

You can take the overnight Caledonian Sleeper from Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh,, Glasgow and many other Scottish town and cities to London Euston, walk to St Pancras, then hop on a Eurostar to Brussels, see here for details.


Guidebooks

Click to buy - Lonely Planet Western EuropeLonely Planet Belgium & Luxembourg - buy online at Amazon.co.ukRough Guide to Belgium & Luxembourg - buy online at Amazon.co.ukYou should take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, I think this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  I personally prefer the layout of the Lonely Planet, but others prefer the Rough Guide.  Both guidebooks provide the same excellent level of practical information and historical background.  You won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk...

 


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 

 


Find hotels in Brussels, Bruges & Belgium...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Recommended hotels in Bruges & Brussels...

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on mobile data and phone calls...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find a huge bill.  Consider buying a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone from www.Go-Sim.com, which can slash costs by up to 85%.  Go-Sim cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also allows cheap data access for laptops & PDAs.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not used between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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