By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Brussels?

Do you need a car in Brussels > Should you rent a car in Brussels Belgium > Brussels ( BRU )
Do you need a car in 2? Is it worth hiring a car in 2? Should you rent a car in 2? Should you rent a car in 2?

Brussels Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all factors, including driving roads, hire and fuel costs, road safety etc. [Full notes - drive rating]


Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Brussels but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 449 - of which 19 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Brussels public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Brussels good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Brussels



Take to the waters!

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Brussels


Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Brussels", "is it worth hiring a car in Brussels", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Brussels?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Brussels?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Brussels?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

The Belgian capital is often overlooked on the way to other touristy cities in Belgium such as Bruges. This is a shame as Brussels also has plenty to offer. As Belgium is a relatively small country, the advice here applies to Belgium as a whole as well as just Brussels.

Do you need a car in Brussels? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Brussels?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Brussels? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Brussels as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Brussels?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Brussels?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Brussels?

  •  Flexibility — as with anywhere else, a car will give you the flexibility to explore Belgium at your own pace. Belgium has an excellent network of high intensity train services between the major cities. However, this is concentrated on what approximates to a cross shape leading out Brussels. Travelling between other cities is not always so easy. To enjoy smaller Belgian towns and villages, a car is a much better idea.
  • Brussels suburbs — architecture pundits will love the variety of designs on display in the suburban areas around Brussels. Heading out to and around the suburbs by tram can be tortuously slow. A car could be good idea for this kind of architectural tourism. However, you may prefer just to walk around anyway, and not worry too much about those trams!
  • Battlefields — a car is a more flexible choice for independent touring around the battlefields of Belgium and neighbouring northern France.

Why not? Visiting Brussels without a car

What is public transport like in Brussels? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in Brussels?

  • Eurostar additions — passengers arriving from London on Eurostar trains can pay a very small amount of extra to enjoy onward travel to and from anywhere within Belgium. This needs to be a journey in a continuous direction. Travel must take place on the same day as the Eurostar journey.
  • Brussels airport — for travellers taking flights to Brussels, the airport is easily connected to all the main stations in Brussels city centre. You have easy links onwards to the rest of Belgium.
  • Beer — One of Belgium’s biggest exports is its beer, and Belgian beer can be particularly strong. This is simply not something to mix with a driving tour! It’s much better to sit back and relax, and let someone else provide transport between bars.

Super stations!

For those that appreciate genuinely grand designs, Belgium offers two of the most impressive medium-sized stations in Europe.

  • For the classicists, Antwerp has a delightfully eclectic cathedral of a station. Then there is the more recent addition of two tiers of underground platforms stacked on top of each. These cater for high speed through trains and other services.
  • Meanwhile, in the southern city of Liège is arguably the finest work of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, featuring a delightful arched station hall.

Brussels to Bruges

  • Belgium’s most famous tourist honey trap is the beautiful city of Bruges.
  • Like its Dutch counterparts , Bruges has an extensive canal network.
  • The best way to appreciate a city like Bruges is on a bike. These can readily be hired at the station and at other locations in Bruges.
  • There are also plenty of boat tours available around the city.
  • Bruges is easily accessible by train from Brussels or anywhere else in Belgium.
  • If you drive there, you will only end up parking in an edge of town car park.

Do you need a car in Brussels? Conclusion: – Due to the excellent public transport in Belgium, which is supported by plenty of opportunities for cycling, or indeed just for walking around at a more leisurely pace between beers, there really is no need to hire a car in Brussels.

Verdict – No.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Would you hire a car in Brussels?

Have you driven in Brussels? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Brussels?

Do you need a car in Brussels? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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