Practical information

Here is some practical information for foreign students in Flanders.

 

Getting around

Bicycles are very popular for getting around within cities and between campuses. Some of the institutions rent out bicycles to their students for a small fee. (To find out, check out the student/social services on the website of an institution.) 
It is also easy to buy a bicycle rather cheap from recent graduates or from second hand stores. Check out the Kringloopwinkel in your university city. A Kringloopwinkel is a second hand shop that sells anything from clothes over antique dressers to refrigerators. Large supermarket chains regularly have discounts on bicycles or stock sales.

Buses and, in some cities, trams are omnipresent. They run regularly and provide easy access to cities and campuses. De Lijn is the company that runs the buses and trams in Flanders (incl. Brussels). MIVB/STIB runs these in Brussels. 
It is always advisable to buy tickets before travelling by bus or tram and to buy a travel card for several journeys. This is much cheaper than buying a ticket from a driver. 
Some cities (e.g. Brussels, Leuven, ...) have free or cheaper public transport for students. Be sure to check out these deals before the start of the academic year.

Between cities trains, run by NMBS, are the transport of choice for students. If you’re younger than 25 you can buy a Go Pass. It gives you 10 trips (one way, any distance) for less than 50 euro.

There are also fast trains that take you to Paris (1 hour 25 minutes from Brussels), London (1 hours 51 minutes from Brussels), Amsterdam, Disney Europe, Cologne.
Travelling to further locations is best done by air from one of the airports. Several low cost companies have a hub in Belgium.

Money issues

The euro (€) is the currency of Belgium (and 14 other European Union countries). You can check out today's Exchange Rate here or here.

Euro notes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. Coins come in denominations of 1 & 2 Euro, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent pieces.

Banks are open Monday through Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm and are normally closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Some banks are open on Saturday morning (sometimes you need an appointment); some close for lunch. Some foreign exchange offices however are open both on Saturdays and Sundays.

ATM machines take almost all popular credit and debit cards and are can be easily found in every train station and shopping street.

Telephone

Calling Belgium

  • International Country Code of Belgium: 32
  • International access code + Country Code 32 + City Code


Calling in Belgium

When calling a Belgian number within Belgium always dial (0) + city code + number.
For international information call 1304.

Mobile Phone Netwoks

There are three Mobile Phone Networks in Belgium (Proximus, Mobistar and Base) and several small operators that use their networks. They offer dual band (900 – 1800) and G3 UTMS.

Airports

 

There are three international airports: one main airport and two smaller ones.

Brussels Airport

Located 13 Km northeast of the city center. 
IATA and ACI (Airport Councils International) voted Brussels Airport twice as Best European Airport. 
A train connects the airport directly to the Brussels city centre, and other university cities such as Leuven and Ghent.

>>Train schedules
>>Website: http://www.brusselsairport.be

Brussels South (Charleroi) Airport

Located 50 Km south of Brussels and is used mainly by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and for charter flights.
A bus connects the airport to Brussels and the Charleroi train station. An airport train station is being planned. 

>>Website: http://www.charleroi-airport.com

Antwerp Airport

Located just outside of Antwerp and a 1 hour drive from Brussels. There are direct flights to England (such as London City Airport), Ireland (Dublin), Germany (Hamburg and Munich) and Switzerland (Geneva). 

>>Website: http://www.antwerpairport.be

Guides and guide books