Bruxelles-Central train station is aptly named as it’s located close to the heart of the city – Le Grand Place is only a 10 min walk away (if you don’t get lost in the maze of streets in this part of Bruxelles).
Despite its great location, Bruxelles-Central is akin to a commuter station, rather than a major railway terminus.
It has fewer facilities than the city’s main station, Bruxelles-Midi and the ICEs and Thalys trains to/from the Belgian capital DON'T call at Bruxelles-Central.
However, they’re the only trains that pass through there without stopping.
Meaning that the Intercity Brussels trains to/from The Netherlands DO call at Bruxelles-Central.
So if you will be travelling between the very centre of Bruxelles/Brussels and Amsterdam, Den Haag/The Hague or Rotterdam by train, then the Intercity Brussels trains can be a better option than taking The Thalys.
At Bruxelles-Central the voies (platforms/track) are located in a tunnel, similar to a Metro stop, the station experience is similar to using a large Underground station.
You won't see the trains arriving from a distance, instead they will enter the station from a tunnel.
The voies (French) / spors (Dutch) have been brightened up as part of a recently completed refresh of the station.
However, frequent trains depart in rapid succession from each platform, so take extra care that you’re boarding the right train.
It can be a good idea to make sure you can see an electronic train departure indicator, from where you are waiting on the platform.
In common with most other Belgian stations the voies (platforms/track) aren’t zoned, partially because reservations aren’t available on any train that calls at Bruxelles-Central – including the InterCity trains.
People tend to congregate in the middle of the platforms, near to exits from the escalators on the voies (platforms/track).
So it can be easier to board the trains if you distance yourself from the crowds, by doing this you can also increase your chances of finding a seat.
However, the best option can be board the train by whatever door is nearest when it arrives and then move through the train to find a seat(s).
If you have luggage it's worth seeking out the escalators which are on each platform/track at Brussels-Centraal station, you don't have to use the stairs.
Though check the signage carefully as one set of escalators only gives access to the other platforms/spors and NOT the exit.
When ascending on the escalators which lead up to street level, you will initially be taken up to the lower level concourse.
A short flight of stairs lead to the other escalators which go up to the street, but these escalators don't head up to the main exit/entrance.
For the museum complex at Parc du Cinquantenaire take either Metro Line 1 (direction Stockel) or Metro Line 5 (direction Hermann Debroux) to Merode station.
Bruxelles Central offers easier access to the Parc du Cinqantenaire attractions than either the Zuid or Nord stations, because they don't have direct Metro links to and from Merode station.
The Museum of Fine Arts and the other museums in the Coudenberg complex are a 5-10 min walk from Bruxelles Centraal station.
Leave the station by the Rue de la Chapelle exit, turn to the left and walk up the stairs to the Jardin Du Mon des Arts.
The museums are 3-5 mins from the opposite side of the jardin/garden.
For the Atomium take Metro Lines 1 or 5 westbound to Beekkant station and transfer there to Metro Line 6 (direction Roi Baudouin) and take this Metro Line 6 train to Heysel station.
Though Bruxelles-Midi station has a direct link by Metro to Heysel station.
If you will be heading for the area around The Council of European Union offices take Metro line 1 (direction Stockel) and Metro Line 5 (direction Herrmann-Debroux) to Schuman Metro station.
Hotels within 10 min walk of Bruxelles-Central Station
Hilton Brussels Grand Palace
Agora Grand Place
This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.