Brussels Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Brussels
Threat level: Medium-High
Tourists to Brussels are advised that the city is on high alert after many attacks both in the city and across Belgium. Security and military presence has been stepped up in an effort to improve the safety and well being of its citizens. Brussels is the centre of European Union activity and as such is a bustling hub of political, administrative and tourist activity.
Providing correct safety precautions are taken and travellers ensure their personal belongings are safe, trips to the European capital should be without any issues. There is lots to enjoy in the city which is rich in culture, including the Grand Place, Brussels Zoo and an array of parks, monuments and buildings.
Recent Security Risk Events
On the 25th of August 2017 on the Boulevard Emile Jacqmain in the centre of Brussels, Soldiers shot dead a man trying to attack them with a machete. Belgium's federal prosecutor's office said the attacker had not been "known for terrorist activities" but had shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack. The attacker was identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan national, named by local media as Oussama Zariouh.
Three suicide bombers caused widespread devastation across Belgium’s capital in March 2016, killing 32 civilians. Considered the deadliest terrorist attack in the country, it is believed that it was linked to the Paris attacks that hit France in 2015. ISIS claimed responsibility for both. As two of the bombs exploded in the airport, all air travel to and from the city was temporarily suspended and the head office for the European Commission was on lockdown. It took over a month for the airport’s departure hall to reopen again and then was only partial, due to the extensive damage. Brussels and the rest of the country remain on high alert.
After a number of attacks across Belgium including most recently to the south of the city in Charleroi, the city of Brussels has seen an increase in military personnel across the city. Tourists planning on visiting the capital city should remain on high alert at all times and be wary of any suspicious behaviour.
The major train stations in Brussels experience relatively high levels of theft, particularly Brussels Gare du Midi which is the Eurostar entry. Thieves will target such areas as they know there are large volumes of tourists passing through, who often carry valuable goods. It is advised that you keep your personal belongings close and safe at all times.
Travel around Brussels
There are a number of ways to get around the city, with many favouring the efficient and speedy metro system which runs between 6am and midnight. Stations are characterised by their white M symbol on a blue background situated above the station.
Tickets for public transport are typically valid for one hour and can be bought at metro stations, STIB/MIVB kiosks, newsagents and on buses and trams. You must ensure that your ticket is validated before travel commences, this can be done via machines at metro stations or when boarding buses or trams. Invalidated tickets can lead to fines of up to €55.
Brussels is not an easy city to cycle around at present as tram tracks, cobblestone pathways and impatient drivers continue to cause issues to cyclists. There are plans to make the city more bicycle friendly including the introduction of bicycle lanes.
If you wish to carry your bike on a tram or metro, you must purchase a bike pass (€15 for a year). Even then, you are not permitted to ride trams or metros with them during rush hour (7am-9am and 4pm-6.30pm).
Driving your own vehicle around the city can often be slow, as roads frequently get congested particularly during peak times. If you wish to park your car on the street, payment is required most of the time. Check this before you leave your vehicle as breaching parking terms can lead to fines.
Time now in Brussels:
Healthcare in Brussels
The healthcare system in Brussels and across Belgium is thought to be one of the best in Europe but all citizens will have medical insurance. EU nationals will be able to use their EHIC card and receive the same treatment as Belgium nationals but this often means treatment is paid for then claimed back from insurers. You should purchase adequate travel and health insurance.
There are no hospitals specifically for foreign tourists but generally many doctors are able to communicate adequately in English. St Pierre Hospital in the centre of Brussels is considered a hospital where treatment in English is possible.
British Embassy Brussels
Avenue d’Auderghem 10
Telephone: +32 2287 6211
US Embassy Brussels
Bd du Regentlaan 25
Telephone: +32 2811 4000
French Embassy Brussels
Rue Ducale 65
Telephone: +32 2548 8711
German Embassy Brussels
Rue Jacques de Lalaingstraat 8-14
Telephone: +32 2787 1800
Dutch Embassy in Brussels
Telephone: +32 2679 1711
For further embassy information and locations please see our live travel map below.
Other useful info
Emergency services operator: 112
Police emergency: 101
Red Cross ambulance: 105
Fire emergency: 100
Medical emergency: 100