One of the things that gives me an infinite satisfaction is being able to organise a trip and save money thanks to discounted fares that I often discover by chance. And that’s exactly what I managed to achieve for my trip to Belgium, more precisely, when I took the train from Brussels Zaventem Airport to Bruges.
I’ve already written a lot about Bruges (10 best things to do in Bruges), but what I haven’t told you yet is how to get there. As you may imagine, there are different ways to get to this fascinating city: amongst them even renting a car, but this would mean travelling longer than a simple weekend, maybe treating yourselves with an on-the-road trip to the Flanders. That wouldn’t be a bad idea, would it?!
Nowadays, the flights to Brussels are extremely cheap, so many tourists like to opt for a short stay in Belgium. 2 or 3 days in which Bruges becomes a must-see.
If you decide to fly to Brussels on a Friday and come back on a Sunday, you should then enjoy all the benefits the Weekend Internet Ticket offers you.
But let’s talk about how to get to Brussels before dealing with the arrival to Bruges.
How to get to Brussels from the airport?
Brussel has just recently become amongst one of the top destinations in Europe. This is thanks to the ever more attractive rates and offers when leaving from any Italian airport.
The city of Brussels has two airports: Zaventem and Charleroi. Both of them offer regular scheduled flights operated by low cost companies.
Brussels-Zaventem is an international airport 12km northeast of Brussels city centre, which can be reached by train in about 15 minutes.
Brussels Charleroi Airport, on the contrary, is much further. It is located in the city of Charleroi in the South of Belgium. From here, Brussels can be reached both by coach and train. One option is Brussels City Shuttle that costs 14 euros (28 euros for a return ticket) and takes you to Brussels Midi Train Station in about an hour. From the station you can then take the train to get to Brussels Central or Bruges. Otherwise the best option is this Transfer Service that can bring you from any airports and leave you where you want, at the hotel or at the station.
If you wish to take the train from Charleroi Airport, you then have to get a bus to Charleroi train station and get your train from there.
All in all, the best alternative is the private transfer service.
From Brussels to Bruges by train with the Weekend ticket
Let’s get to the heart of this post: how is it possible to get from Brussels to Bruges by train saving 50%?
The trains in Belgium are efficient, clean and quiet. An excellent service corresponds to a higher price, therefore the tickets are all quite expensive. However, if you are visiting both Brussels and Bruges from 7 pm on a Friday to Sunday night, you luckily get a 50% discount.
How to get the discount? Easy-peasy! By getting a Weekend Ticket, which enables you to pay half the price you’d have had to pay for your train tickets.
The Weekend Ticket can be purchased on the Internet as well as at the ticket offices in Belgium. My recommendation is buying it on the Belgian rail website www.belgianrail.be.
If you’re landing at Charleroi Airport, you won’t be able to use the ticket directly from the airport. Indeed, the Weekend Return Ticket (which costs 23 euros) is valid only from Charleroi train station.
If, instead, you want to purchase the Weekend Ticket to get to Bruges from Brussels-Zaventem Airport, you can do so at the price of 27.60 euros (return ticket).
Careful: when buying the ticket on the Internet, please make sure to purchase it from “Brussels Airport-Zaventem”. Do not confuse it with the another station simply called Zaventem which is a small town 5km away from the airport.
The trains leaving from Brussels-Zaventem Airport often stop at Brussels Central as well as Midi. To get the connecting train to Bruges, you can get off at both stops. I got off at Brussels Central and I can definitely remember the trains to Gand and Bruges running at short and regular intervals. There are trains every hour and they’re all clean and punctual.
It takes just about more than an hour for the train to get to Bruges. The train track runs along immense fields with horses, cows and small houses with pointed roofs — the well-known fairy landscape everybody falls in love with when travelling in the Flanders.
Just so you know, a simple one-way Weekend Ticket from Brussels to Bruges only costs 15.60 euro.
What should I do after buying the Weekend Ticket online?
Once you’ve purchased your Weekend Ticket online, check your email as it will be sent there. If you bought a return ticket, you’ll have to print both the tickets (the first one to get to Bruges and the second one to come back) as they have two different bar codes.
At the station, you’ll then have to place the ticket on the bar Code reader located on the entrance turnstiles. Keep the tickets with you at all times as there are many railway ticket inspectors who make sure everybody has paid for their journey.
What if you wanted to stop in Gand / Gent when you’re travelling to Bruges or viceversa?
Update. Following several users who asked me if the ticket is valid even if you want to stop in Gand (Gent), the answer is NO.
Or rather, the weekend ticket is valid for that route you have purchased. If the ticket says Brussels to Bruges, then if you stop in Gent you have to make an additional ticket from Gent to Bruges.
Attention: you must make 2 weekend tickets. One from Brussels to Gent (Weekend ticket) and another from Gent to Bruges (Weekend ticket).