As you know, we aren’t full-time travellers and we actually like our day jobs quite a lot. This is why, week-end trips are our elixir of life. However, taking the plane over and over again starts to weigh on our conscience, especially when we have another option. This is why, we made a small overview of all these beautiful destinations to reach from Brussels by train.
Of course, living in Belgium, in the heart of Europe, helps a lot when choosing destinations. Indeed, we have several countries just around us: We can reach France, Germany, UK, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in only a few hours by train. And we do make use of this great advantage.
These are our 10 favorite week-end destinations that you can reach by train:
Beautiful Paris! The City of Love and, I must say, one of my favourate cities in the world (again, being the German-part of our couple I am probably allowed to say that). Unbelievable that this world capital is just a 1 hour and 25 minutes train ride from Brussels away.
Climb up the Eiffel Tower, have a coffee on the famous Champs Elysées, feel like Amélie (from The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie) at Montmarte, take a Bateau-Mouche Boat on the Seine river, discover one of the thousands museums or theatres or try some awesome French cuisine. There are so many things to do in this city that a week-end in Paris is always a blast.
To reach Paris from Brussels by train, the fastest option is to take a Thalys. But with prices quickly rising up to 99€ one way, there is a much cheaper alternative called Izy where in exchange of one hour of your time (it takes you 2,5 hours instead) and some loss of comfort, ticket prices start at 10 €.
Another must-do destination in Europe, even though it does not belong to the EU anymore, is London. And as unreal as it sounds, there is a direct train connecting Brussels to London in only two hours using the Eurotunnel under the sea. Tickets of the Eurostar train quickly get quite expensive, so you better book in advance.
Arriving in London is always quite special as you seem to arrive in another world where everything is just a little bit different than in other parts of Europe: traffic is on the left side, the Euro as a currency is not accepted and instead of using kilometers they often use miles (even though they do use the metric system for other things).
In London, the Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Picadilly Circus and the Thames River with its Tower Bridge are among the must-sees for first-time visitors.
Amsterdam, the Capital of the Netherlands, is situated a two hours train ride from Brussels away. Famous for it’s canals surrounded by beautiful colorful houses, coffee shops and its red light district, a trip to Amsterdam ist definitely interesting.
The Thalys is the faster and more expensive option which takes you to Amsterdam in only two hours. There is also a cheaper alternative by taking the Dutch Regional train that takes 2h45 instead.
Another country, another destination. Luxembourg is the Capital of … well, Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in Europe and and with its less than 1,650 km2 ranked 167 of the 194 countries by its size.
You can discover the Old Town, visit the National Museum, see the bock cliffs as well as the Grand Ducale Palace.
The Belgian rail has a direct train service to Luxembourg which takes you 3 hours and costs 25€. Unfortunately, this local train stops basically everywhere before finally arriving in Luxembourg.
Discover the 4th biggest city of Germany with its famous cathedral and its Rhine river promenade. In 1 hour and 52 minutes exactly you can get there by train.
Thalys and ICE both are a valid option and prices usually are around 35 € one way although you better book in advance.
Cologne is also famous for its extensive carnival celebrations. Go there for the carnival week-end before Ash Wednesday and be amazed by colorful celebrations and huge parades. In December, the Christmas markets in the area are another typical thing to discover.
From Cologne, it is also easy to visit other cities in the area, such as Bonn and Düsseldorf.
Bruges is one of the most popular destinations for daytrippers in Belgium. Indeed, its beautiful canals quickly get under your skin.
Have some french fries at the main square Grote Markt, buy Belgian chocolate, take a boat tour on its beautiful canals and climb up its centuries old Belfry to oversee the city.
You can reach Bruges from Brussels in only one hour and tickets cost around 15 € one way.
If you stay in Belgium for a longer period of time or if you are travelling in a group, the rail pass might be a good option.
7. Sea side
A typical summer activity of most Belgians is to go to the sea for the week-end or even just for a day. From Brussels, you can take local trains to Oostende and just around one hour later you can enjoy Belgian beach life. Although, let’s be honest, it is not the Maldives and huge grey apartment blocks cover the beach promenade.
Still, on a hot summer day it’s always fun to walk at the beach, have some coffee, ice cream or waffle with a sea view and if you are not too cold you can try to swim in the sea.
From Ostende, you can reach several smaller beach destinations like Knokke by the Coastal Tram.
The train ticket from Brussels costs around 17 € each way although on week-ends special, cheaper tariffs apply.
Although a bit less close than the other destinations, you can go to Deauville in 4 hours and 30 minutes by train changing in Paris.
Walk at beautiful white beaches, eat Crèpes and drink some Cidre in order to discover local traditions.
To know more about what you can do in Normandy, check out our blog post on how to best spend a week-end in Normandy.
The beauty of Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace, will not disappoint you. With its unique cathedral and the beautiful district of La petite France, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Strasbourg is a great week-end destination.
There is a direct train that links Brussels to Strasbourg in 3 hours and 35 minutes.
Aachen, the most western metropolis of Germany situated at the border triangle of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, is another interesting day-trip from Brussels.
The most famous sites in the city are the cathedral, the Old Town and the gardens of Elisenbrunnen with its famous fountain. Don’t hesitate to visit the city in December, as the Aachen Christmas Market is definitely worth a detour.
From Brussels, you can take local trains that bring you to Aachen in just under 2 hours.