Travel to Brussels without flying.
There are two different ways to get to Brussels in Belgium which don’t involve going anywhere near an airport (and it’s your budget which will likely determine which option you use):
- The direct Eurostar train between London and Brussels – which takes just 1 hr 53 mins (if you are arriving in London from other parts of the UK and need to travel across London first, see the Getting To London St.Pancras International From Other Major London Railway Stations article);
- A FlixBus coach from London to Brussels (around 8 hours). This is NOT an accessible option though (yes, some coaches are accessible, but until coaches have accessible toilets too they’re to be avoided – 8 hours is a long time to cross your legs).
There’s actually a third option too (UK train > ferry > train to Brussels). But there are so many changes of train involved, that it is not an easy option. Plus, one of the trains that you’ll likely end up on, between Lille and Brussels, is the Eurostar (which originated in London anyway – so you might as well just take it all the way from London to Brussels).
When it comes to accessible travel between London and Brussels – you really only have one choice then: the Eurostar train from London St.Pancras International to Brussels (Midi).
There’s a wee bonus for wheelchair users taking the Eurostar train though:
One companion travels for free. AND. You both travel in Premier Class – but at a standard rate fare.
Public Transport in Brussels
A one-way ticket is valid for an hour once you have validated it on a Brussels metro, bus, or tram machine. And it is valid on all three modes of transport during that one hour period. So you could start your journey by tram from your Brussels hotel, then transfer onto the Brussels metro (still using the same ticket). You will still have to validate your ticket on each leg of your journey though – but you won’t be charged again for travel within that same 60 minutes).
This bit is really important: ALWAYS remember to validate your ticket as you board buses and trams in Brussels; and before traveling on the Brussels metro. There are fines for not doing so.
Tickets can also be bought in discounted multi-trip bundles of five and ten trips, which is a seriously good way of saving money (but you should work out just how often you plan to use public transport when you’re in Brussels – as it might be better just to buy one ticket at a time).
A “one-day travelcard” is also available (multi-day cards are also available). However this card is only valid for travel around Brussels on the actual day of validation (rather than for 24 hours). So if you validate your ticket in the afternoon, it will expire at midnight on the same day
All Brussels public transport travel tickets and travelcards can be bought from an automatic “GO” machine in any Brussels metro station (GO vending machines accept coins, plus local and international “chip and PIN” credit and debit cards). Public transport tickets are also available to buy at some newsstands in the centre of Brussels.
Alternatively, you can buy a one-journey ticket from any tram or bus driver as you board (if you’re travelling around Brussels by tram/bus), but these tickets include a small supplement. So it is cheaper just to already have a ticket bought elsewhere.
Not all Brussels metro stations are wheelchair accessible (53 are wheelchair accessible though). To find out which stations ARE accessible, see >here<.
In general though, I’d not recommend a visit to Brussels for now. Difficulties with accessible public transport aside, historically, the Belgians have loved using cobbles on roads, pavements and squares. So it will be a rather bumpy ride.
Brussels as a European transport Hub
If you’re traveling on to other destinations in Europe, then it is likely that you will arrive in Brussels on the Eurostar train from London.
And even better, Brussels Midi train station (where you will arrive in Brussels on the Eurostar from London), is the same railway station in Brussels for onward travel to these other cities – both by regular trains, and by the growing number of night trains around Europe.
So if you are travelling onwards from Brussels, but you are spending a night or two there first, then it would be better simply to stay in a Brussels hotel near Brussels-Midi railway station.
Brussels Hotels / Brussels Hostels / Brussels Apartments
Grand Place Brussels
The perfect Brussels city centre location: just 170 metres from Grand Place – the historic heart of Brussels
Accessible Rooms Also Available
ibis Hotel Brussels Centre
Brussels Midi Train Station
The best hotel in Brussels if you are arriving on the Eurostar train from London
Brussels Midi Train Station is also the main hub for onward train travel to other destinations throughout Europe
Accessible Rooms Also Available
2GO4 Quality Hostel
Brussels Grand Place
Perfectly located by Grand Place in the centre of Brussels (offsite check-in: Boulevard Emile Jacqmain, 99)
Shared kitchen and TV Lounge
Shared Dorms & Private Quad Room Available
Brussels Hotels, Hostels & Apartments:
Finding a truly accessible hotel, hostel or apartment anywhere can be a bit of a nightmare.
But the accessibility filters on the Booking.com Brussels Hotel search (simply scroll down on the left), make it much easier.
There’s a wee trick though:
By default, the filters are a bit limited. So, ignore the filters initially, simply enter your desired dates, and make an initial search. You will then be presented with ALL properties that are available on your desired dates – and much more detailed filters (on the left – keep scrolling down until you see the “Property accessibility” and “Room accessibility” filters). NOW, filter the results as required. As I need step-free access & a roll-in shower as a minimum, I select BOTH of the “Wheelchair accessible” Property and “Roll-in shower” Room filters.
IMPORTANT: Always specify that you MUST have an accessible room, in the “Comments” during the hotel booking process.
DIY Walking Tour of Brussels
NOT recommended for wheelchair users though (those cobblestones).
This circular walking tour of Brussels takes in most of the attractions of central Brussels that you’ll want to visit: the Grand Place > Hôtel de Ville > Musée de la ville de Bruxelles > Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (Galerie de la Reine & Galerie du Roi) > Cathedrale St-Michel et Ste-Gudule > Parc de Bruxelles > Palais Royal de Bruxelles > Coudenberg Palace > Place Royale > Musical Instruments Museum > Museé Magritte & Museum of Abstract Art > Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium > Jardin du Petit Sablon > Notre-Dame des Victoires au Sablon > Place du Grand Sablon > Mont des Arts > Manneken Pis > and finally returning to the Grand Place.
And because it’s a DIY walking tour of Brussels, you can take it at your very own pace; stopping for a coffee/snack/drink where, when, and for as long as you like; and lingering at the attractions of Brussels which interest you (and speeding past those that don’t).
This circular DIY Walking Tour of Brussels is just 4 kilometres long (about 2.5 miles).
So if you were to simply rush round without stopping, you could easily complete the walk in 2 hours. However, I would recommend taking a full day to complete the circuit of central Brussels – as there’s just so much to see (and splitting the walk over two days would be even better).
And because it’s a circular walk of central Brussels, you can start/end the walk at any point (wherever is easiest to reach from your Brussels hotel). However, if you are planning to complete the walk in just one day, then I would definitely recommend starting/ending in the Grand Place (as it is best seen in the morning before it gets too busy – and the Grand Place is also rather stunning when it’s illuminated in the evening):