Bicycle Touring Experiences from Belgium

Belgium

On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who travel to Belgium (you can share your experiences here).



Rail General -- Belgium, Denmark, Germany

What follows are details about our experiences traveling with bikes on trains in Belgium, Denmark and Germany during the summer of 1994. First, some general information:

In all 3 countries, when you buy your ticket at the station, you should mention that you are traveling with a bike for several reasons:

1. you must pay a fee for the bike
2. they will give you a tag showing destination that you must attach to the bike
3. they need to know you only want to take trains that carry bikes (ask them to give you an itinerary showing train connections if you have to change enroute).

You will have to load and unload the bike yourself, although some conductors can't resist helping a little. I find that hauling the bike up and down the stairs in the train stations much more trouble! Remember to take food and water with you on long trips. Arrive at the track early and watch the train as it comes in to see whether the bike compartment is at the front or the end of the train. Sometimes there's only 1 or 2 minutes to load so don't dilly-dally, but don't panic, either, as conductors will be watching out for you. If you don't see a bike compartment when you think there should be one, ask a conductor - if the train is not very full he might let you park it in a regular car.

Rick Hagen, June 03, 2015

DuVelo: Rent trekking bikes with Rohloff and belt.

We rent trekking bikes (Santos Travelmaster 2.6ALU) with Rohloff
and belt, waterproof Ortlieb bags, GPS. We pick up and deliver anywhere in Europe.

Call +32473/804707 www.duvelo.be

Dumortier Tom, March 20, 2012

Aeropuerto de Charleroi

Salir del aeropuerto de Charleroi en bici es muy sencillo puesto que no hay porqué incorporarse a ninguna vía que prohíba el uso de la bici.

El aeropuerto se encuentra en Gosselies, unos 8-10 km al norte de Charleroi.

[Getting out of Charleroi Airport is very simple since there is no need to use any route where bikes are prohibited.

The airport is in Gosselies, some 8-19 km north of Charleroi itself.]

Alfredo, August 15, 2005

Getting out of Brussels Airport

Exit the terminal on the baggage level. To the right, look for a red-painted bike lane leading away from the terminal. This path will take you along the side of the airport access road to the surface streets and the town of Zaventem.

Mark A. Matthews, July 21, 2005

Cycling in Belgium - Cycling in Flanders

On this website you will find detailed descriptions of bike routes in Belgium, as well as points of interest along routes of other regions.

These rides are grouped by city and route. Most of them include a description and a detailed itinerary.

Alain, March 23, 2005

Belgian Rail

10 Feb. 2005 Alan Reekie, Brussels

Train travel with a bike within Belgium is pretty straightforward, at least for individuals: EU4.30 on top of the fare [EU8.20 for a tandem] - you can buy tickets in advance and validate them on the day of travel - fill in details on tag from ticket, attach tag to bike and load it into the van yourself, (usually with help from on-board railway personnel). No reservations, carriage is subject to space available, first come first served (on some trains, the space allocated for bikes is shown by a large pictogram).

AFAIK there is some space on all services other than Eurostar, Thalys and TGV trains and some traditional international trains (see the operators' Web sites).

Official Belgian Railways bike pages (in French and Dutch, no English version available yet)

The corresponding information for international trains leaving Belgium is on-line (in French and Dutch respectively)

Note you can park your bike in a (paid-for) locker, or hire a bike at certain stations; details are available on-line.

In Brussels, you can take your bike with you on the métro network and on *only* low-floor trams (currently routes 91, 92 and 93) outside the rush hours (ie NOT 7.00 - 9.00 nor 16.30 - 18.30 Mon-Fri), price one flat adult fare extra.

Alan REEKIE, February 10, 2005

Getting out of Brussels intl airport....

I was soooo lucky to meet a cycler who was there for greeting his wife who was taking the plane. I just had to follow him. He was going in the center of Brussels but I can say that putting your bike on the train is th surest way of getting to Brussels!!

With the jet lag and all the right and left turns .... take the train!! Train is about $3 CaD and you have to go 3 floors down to take it!! Very convenient!!

ugo, December 11, 2004

Belgian Rail

The situation in Belgium

Belgian Railways have issued a leaflet in French and Dutch explaining what services are available for passengers wanting to take their bike with them on the train. For journeys wholly within Belgium, a flat fare of EUR 4.10 (EUR 7.90 for a tandem) applies per bike per single journey. A ticket entitling the holder to several such journeys *the same day* is available for EUR 6.90 (EUR 14.10 for a tandem). These tickets, which are valid two months after issue, can be bought from any staffed station before starting the journey (the price is EUR 2.30 higher if you buy the ticket on board the train, except where the station of boarding is then unstaffed).

Before departure, you must fill in the details (date, stations of departure and arrival) on the ticket and attach the tear-off part to the bike. You are responsible for getting the bike into the baggage-van (known in French as a 'fourgon - usually a small area of a passenger vehicle, which in some cases is identified by an outline drawing of a bike with a big label) and getting it off again as required, but the 'chef de train/treinwachter' will probably offer to help you. For international journeys, eg to France, by NON-TGV trains, similar arrangements apply, but the price is higher.

In the last few years, the Belgian Railways tariffs have been changed to discriminate heavily against short-distance cross-border travel, and many local trains providing these services have been withdrawn. So, an alternative possibility for people wishing to take their bike with them on the train between Paris and Brussels consists of journeys wholly within France and Belgium, linked by a short bike ride across the border. Several conventional trains conveying accompanied bikes run daily between Paris Gare du Nord and Maubeuge, which is about an hour's bike ride from the nearest stations in Belgium, Quévy (near the village of Aulnois) and Erquelinnes (on the border near Jeumont), both of which have hourly-interval services on weekdays, but on Saturdays and Sundays only the latter has trains, every two hours. Check the schedules on-line at URLs: www.sncf.fr and www.b-rail.be

On the Brussels Metro, cyclists can take their bikes with them in the end vestibules at no extra charge after the evening rush hour on weekdays, and on weekends, provided they hold a permit issued by the STIB/MIVB ( www.stib.be )

Alan Reekie, July 13, 2003

Ferry Belgium-Scotland

You can take your bike for free on the ferry from Zeebrugge to Rosyth.

No need to box it.

marc vanfleteren, June 08, 2003

BikeFriday since 9/11

In May 2002 I was Ride Director for a Bicycle Adventure Club ride in Holland. We had 71 participants (2 non-bikers) on three barges of Bike & Barge, Holland. Of those, there were 14 BFs, one a Tendem. I had suggested that each person with a BF case indicate to Security at various airports around the country that IT was a piece of excercise equipment. On arriving in Amsterdam, no reports were received of trouble . I cannot speak for return trips. But there must have been dozens of airlines and airports represented on this trip.
Frankly, I have literally been all-over the world with my BF on 24 trips, and the only complaint I have is that someone once stole the extra-safety belt around the Carlton case, and another time something punctured the case - no real damage. Otherwise, TROUBLE FREE

Wes Conner, June 03, 2003

Bike Friday on trains

I have taken two suicases on regular trains in Holland and Belgium, and on the TGV in France. No problem at all. On normal trains you may have to leave the suitcases just ouside the passenger compartment. On TGVs and similarly configured French trains there are racks next to the exit on both ends of the carriage. For peace of mind, you may want to have a bicycle lock to tie them to the rack. Traditional trains with small compartments may be a problem since racks are small.

Safe travels Guillermo


Guillermo and Victoria, April 16, 2003

Brussels, Belgium

You can enter the normal roadnetwork from Brussels Airport if you go first to the village of Zaventem. That's about 800 meters on the busy road, and just before the road goes up a bridge, you need to turn left underneath this bridge. This road will bring you to the centre of Zaventem village, hence you are free from riding on the motorway.

Feel free to try.

Best regards, Carl wobitra@yahoo.com

Carl Beringhs, September 19, 2001

Belgian Rail

Train travel within Belgium with a bike is pretty straightforward, at least for individuals (FB150 [EU3.75] on top of the fare - FB 300 [EU7.50] for a tandem - FB 80 [EU2.00] extra if you pay on the train) fill in details on tag on ticket, attach tag to bike and load it into the van yourself, probably with help from guard). No reservations, subject to space available, first come first served. I've not had any problems yet. AFAIK there is some space on all services other than Eurostar, Thalys and TGV trains and some traditional international trains (see below).

Official Belgian Railways bike page (in French and Dutch, no English version available yet)

http://www.b-rail.be/rnvn/F/formul/velosurtrain.html

http://www.b-rail.be/rnvn/N/formul/fietsoptrein.html

There are some restrictions about which stations you are allowed to load/unload a bike - the most significant restriction is at Brussels Central Station which is very crowded and underground; change/dismount at Midi/Zuid (probably the best choice) or Nord/Noord instead (almost all trains stop at all three).

For visitors arriving in the country there are well-served stations at Ostend harbour (through trains mainly go to Ghent, Brussels and Liege) and Brussels airport (through trains into Brussels and beyond to destinations in western Flanders and Hainaut). Very few journeys are likely to require more than one change.

A few traditional international train services to/from Brussels Midi and Namur (only) can be used - see http://www.b-rail.be/classic/F/general/bagagevelos.html (in French) http://www.b-rail.be/classic/N/algemeen/bagage_fiets.html (in Dutch) which list (as of 17 April 2000) these trains for bike transport:

  • Köln - Brussels: trains 415/424
  • Amsterdam - Brussels: trains 606/644 and the night train 288/289 (this train comes from Paris but I don't think that cycles are carried on the Paris-Brussels section)
  • Luxembourg - Brussels: hourly trains via Namur - I would guess that you can get off these trains at other points
  • Paris-Namur: train 331/338
  • Basel-Namur-Brussels: train 499/498
  • Brussels-Namur-Luxembourg-Basel-Zürich-Landquart-Chur: train 97/96 ("Iris") Reservation required, prices not given on the web site.


It appears from the same web pages that you can also take bikes on Motorail services (to Austria and Italy, mainly) tied on to the outside of your car (although we managed to get a tandem inside when we did it ...). I guess that the truly persuasive and adventurous car-free traveller on a relaxed schedule might just be able to arrange something with a bored motorist waiting in the queues at Schaerbeek, and then take the same train as a normal passenger ...

Cheers

Roger Hughes, Lonzée, Belgium phone +32 81 62 51 74 - fax +32 81 62 51 75


http://users.skynet.be/rohughes Roger Hughes, Lonzée, Belgium, April 14, 2000

Brussels, Belgium

your correspondent (RLesnik) claims that it is hard to cycle out of, but I'm pretty sure that there should be a fairly simple way out into Zaventem village and onto the ordinary road network. I'll research it further next time I'm up there. I guess that the first half km or so might be a bit hairy though. If he reckons that BEF 150 = US$7 then I want to handle some of his banking requirements ...

Cheers
Roger

Roger Hughes, Lonzée, Belgium
phone +32 81 62 51 74 - fax +32 81 62 51 75


http://users.skynet.be/rohughes
Roger Hughes, Lonzée, Belgium, April 10, 2000

Cycle Touring along Belgium's waterways

http://www.gamber.net/cyclebel/
An excellent interactive trip planning website.
Dan Gamber, April 07, 2000

Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport), Netherlands

We have just returned from the Netherlands and Belgium after nearly a month of touring the 2 countries. Wonderful times were had by all. But to get to the point, Bike box and/or bike storage at airports in Brussels and Amsterdam.

The airport serving the Amsterdam area has storage in the basement level. "(-1" on the elevator button) Again, follow the signs for "Left Baggage Center" The cost here is good, only US$3 per day. From the airport you can travel to any destination in the Netherlands via sign posted, well maintained bike lanes.

Train travel with a bike is easy in the Netherlands. Trains leave from the airport to any place in the E.U. Amsterdam Central Train Station has box and bike storage as well, but at $75.00 per week you are better off to store at the airport.

WARNING ...WARNING ...WARNING ... AMSTERDAM IS WILD BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAM
!! DON'T TURN YOUR BACK ON YOUR BIKE!!! NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND!! BIKES ARE BEAMED AWAY NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN
The tour books tell you the best way to see Amsterdam is by bike and the are correct, BUT WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU IS DON'T LEAVE YOUR BIKE, LOCKED OR UNLOCKED, TO GO INTO ANY PLACE. I have several photos of destroyed bike frames locked with 4 or 5 locks to immovable objects. A junkie in need of a fix will take anything.

The rest of the Netherlands are not so bad. But use caution in any large city. Bike theft is their commonest crime.

Rlesnik, September 19, 1999

Brussels, Belgium

We have just returned from the Netherlands and Belgium after nearly a month of touring the 2 countries. Wonderful times were had by all. But to get to the point, Bike box and/or bike storage at airports in Brussels and Amsterdam.

Storage for bikes and bike boxes is available in the basement level of the Brussels airport. Follow the signs to the "Left Baggage Center" The bad news is it is very costly, almost US$10.00 per day!! OK I guess if you miss or your flight is canceled and you don't want to be burdened with large packages. Long term is pretty much out of the question. I was unable to locate any other acceptable storage. The other bad news: it's your worst nightmare to try to cycle from the Brussels airport to anywhere. Good news? Yes, train travel with a bike is easy. Almost every train accepts bikes a small charge(US$7.00) From time to time the bike care may be full so you have to take another train. It is a beautiful country, with lots of history as well as wonderful people. If you get the chance, go there.

Rlesnik, September 19, 1999

Swiss Rail

Just saw your web pages and thought I'd send you a message ...

We tried this year to go to France from Belgium with our new bikes, but gave up and went to Switzerland instead (using the overnight train). Our main stumbling block was that we had to dismantle our new bikes and carry them as hand luggage (didn't seem to be any other solution). This wouldn't have been so bad if all we had was the bikes, but we had bags for camping, etc. so we decided to find somewhere else to go instead ...

We also looked for buses which took bikes, but the various companies we tried had all stopped doing it.

Switzerland was great (and easy to get to from Belgium, since they had a very large and mostly empty luggage compartment) .....

Yours,

Paul.

Paul Massey, August 13, 1999

Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport), Netherlands

The airport inn Amsterdam has a storage room for oversized items. We stored a tandem bike box (85"x28"x8") for three weeks when we toured the Netherlands and Belgium in the summer of 97. Cost was about $100. cdn.

Frank Chappell, August 05, 1999

Luxembourg (Findel)

As a side note on airports. We, in the East of France, often consider Luxemburg International Airport when going to the US. This is a very small airport (one where you still walk on the tarmac to board planes), a few miles from French, German and Belgium borders, and Luxemburg city. Although I've only been there by car, I don't think there is any problem to bike to the airport (basically, the access is a regular road, not a freeway!). Icelandair has a daily service to Boston, Baltimore and a few other places, British Airways used to have also a regular service (not sure what it is nowadays).

Admitedly, the North-East of France is not the most popular cycling place of France, but tourers interested in Alsace, les Vosges, Schwartzwald (Germany) and Rhine valley ay consider this entry option.

Bonne route,
Jean-Pierre Jacquot CRIN (Centre de Recherche en Informatique de Nancy)
Chef du Departement d'Informatique de l'Universite Henri Poincare
post: CRIN B.P. 239 F-54506 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy Cedex France
phone:+33 83.59.20.16 fax: +33 83.41.30.79

Jean-Pierre Jacquot, June 11, 1997

Tricycles on Trains in Europe

There are massive differences between the treatment of bicycles and of tricycles. In the UK, bicycles can be taken onto most trains outside rush hours but tricycles typically can only be taken onto trains with guards vans (InterCity trains and very few local trains). This is OK for long-distance travel but you may have to cycle into and out of the cities to get to a station.
In Germany, bicycles can be taken onto all local trains, most InterRegio and very few InterCity trains, making long-distance transportation a problem. About half of these trains are capable of transporting a trike but it is rather difficult to find out which ones. I haven't had much problems with my Kingcycle with front and rear fairing though. It should be possible to send your trikes ahead (this used to be the standard way of getting your bike to a holiday destination).
I think in the Netherlands and in Belgium you can take a bicycle onto almost every train. I assume that again trikes are too bulky for some types of trains.
In France and most of Scandinavia, you have to send the bike in advance though in Scandinavia you can almost rely on the bike being on the same train as you; in France you have to send it two or three days ahead.
Only a limited number of international trains take bicycles; on other trains you may have to get off before the border and get on again on the other side (while the intra-Schengen borders are not manned any more, they still exist in buerocrat's heads).
Rolf

Mr. Rolf-Martin Mantel, May 01, 1997

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