Berlin to Bruxelles / Brussels by train

How to travel from Berlin to Brussels by train

There aren't any direct daytime trains between the German and Belgian capitals, but despite the connection being required, this is typically a straightforward journey across northern Europe by swish high speed trains.

But from May 25th there will be an option of taking a direct night train on three days per week



Option 1 - travel by day

Travel Information

There are no direct daytime trains between Berlin and Bruxelles/Brussels.
So this journey involves taking an ICE train between Berlin and Koln and then an ICE or a Thalys train between Koln and Bruxelles..

However, DB, the German national railways website, only sells tickets when the entire journey is by ICE train and it usually has the cheapest tickets on this route (see the 'Ticket Information' below)


When looking up this journey, most of the connections involve making a transfer between trains in Koln Hbf of around 34 mins.
That applies when making the end-2-end journey on 2 x ICE trains.

If possible avoid the options that involve connecting into a Thalys train anywhere other than Koln hbf.
That's because when making the transfer between an ICE and a Thalys anywhere other than Koln hbf, the connecting time between trains is usually shorter; which ups the pressure on making the connection in time, but it will make no difference to the overall time of the end-to-end journey.

Also Thalys is the only direct train service between the likes of Dusseldorf or Essen and Bruxelles; and in comparison there are more frequent direct trains between Koln/Cologne and Bruxelles/Brussels.

Rail Pass users should avoid the journey options which involve taking the Thalys trains.

2 x ICE trains = up to 5 x optimum connections per day
ICE train + Thalys train = up to 3 x optimum connections per day


Book in advance and save: YES

Online bookings usually open: 6 months ahead of the travel date.

'Europa Spezial' tickets are the cheapest option for this journey and they are exclusive to DB; and can therefore only be used on the ICE trains between Koln/Cologne and Bruxelles/Brussels.

Look up this journey on DB and the connections that involve a Thalys train between these cities won' be available, as DB Bahn does not sell tickets for Thalys journeys.

However, look up this Berlin to Bruxelles journey on the other agents and you will have a wider choice of departures, as they will sell the journeys that include taking the ICE AND / OR the Thalys between Koln/Cologne and Bruxelles/Brussels.

But before booking a journey involving a Thalys train, it can be worth checking on DB Bahn if the most heavily discounted 'Spezial' tickets for the journey by 2 x ICE trains, are still available.
The difference in arrival/departure times between the Thalys and ICE connections can be as little as an hour and the overall journey times are very similar.

Missing the booked connection at Koln Hbf:

In the rare event of the train from Berlin arriving too late in Koln/Cologne to make a booked connection, tickets can be transferred free of charge to the subsequent departure on to Bruxelles; irrespective of whether it is by an ICE or Thalys train.
If the next departure is by ICE then any reservations can be swapped to the next train at the Reisezentrum desk in Koln Hbf.

However, if the next departure is a Thalys train the Reiszentrum desk cannot issue tickets or reservations for the Thalys train.
If need be you can then claim your cost of the Thalys tickets back from DB.

This potential for a complication with the tickets / reservation is another tick in the box for making the journey on the combination of 2 x ICE trains.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB Bahn from  €39 (approx)

DB Bahn Guide

DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.

It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.

A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.

Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.

B-Europe *

B-Europe Guide

B-Europe is the website provided by Belgium's national railway operator for the sale of international rail journeys from and to Belgium.
Therefore tickets can be booked for the following international train services to/from Belgium

  • Eurostar
  • IC trains to France, Luxembourg and The Netherlands
  • ICE trains to Germany
  • Thalys trains to Germany, The Netherlands and Paris
  • TGV trains to destination in France other than Paris
    B-Europe offers a 'Best Fares' policy for journey by these trains.

It also sells international end-to-end journeys solely by train, with connections outside of Belgium, if you will be heading to popular destinations in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

Users of Eurail and InterRail passes can also book seat reservations on the Eurostar and Thalys services without paying booking fees.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination: Koln Hbf/Dusseldorf Hbf or Koblenz Hbf

These trains commence their journey at Berlin Gesunbrunnen station - which is to the north of the city centre.

They also usually depart from the lower level (tief) in Berlin Hbf.

If your journey is commencing in West Berlin, the quickest option is to take a Regio or S-Bahn train from Berlin Zoologischer Garten station to Berlin-Spandau station and join these trains to Koln there.

Check your connections in Berlin on this public transport map.

The train heading to Koln or Koblenz will be joined to another train heading to Dusseldorf.
The trains are separated on arrival at Hamm (West).

So check the electronic departure screens on the gleis/platform at Berlin Hbf, so that you're waiting in the right zone for easy boarding into the part of the train heading to Koln/Cologne.

Trains travel at more than 250 km/h on the high speed line between Berlin-Spandau and Wolfsburg.

But aside from that this is an exceptionally uneventful journey, so having something to read or watch with you, is recommended.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

The service of high speed trains between Brussels/Bruxelles and Cologne/Koln is split between
ICE and Thalys trains.

Final Destination: Paris Nord –  the Thalys trains

Final Destination: Bruxelles Midi –  the ICE trains

All trains also call at:  Aachen and Liege

Most of the ICE trains also call at: Bruxelles-Nord

Note that the Thalys trains do NOT call at Bruxelles-Nord.
Neither the ICE or Thalys trains call at Bruxelles-Centraal.

The ICE trains travel at the same speed as the Thalys trains; most of the ICE trains are around 4 mins slower than the Thalys trains due to their additional station call at Bruxelles-Nord.

Between Koln and Aachen Between Koln and Aachen
Between Aachen and Liege Between Aachen and Liege
Between Liege and Brussels Between Liege and Brussels

For virtually the entire train journey from Koln to Bruxelles the trains, will either be travelling at up to 290 km/h on purpose built high speed lines, or up to 200km/h on section of railway, that has been re-engineered to allow trains to travel faster.

It is a journey of six distinct phases:

  1. Between Koln and Aachen the trains travel at up to 200 km/h on a re-engineered stretch of railway.
  2. Then for most of the the 25 min journey between Aachen and Liege the train will travel at up to 290 km/h on a high speed line; this is also the most scenic part of the trip.
  3. Then for around five minutes after departure from Liege, the train will travel fairly slowly on a route which ascends from the city.
  4. Next up is the HS2 Belgian high speed route as far as Leuven, in theory the ICE and Thalys trains can accelerate back up to around 290 km/h on this part of the trip.
  5. From Leuven to just north of Brussel-Nord station the maximum speed is 200 km/h.
  6. For most of the journey between Brussel-Nord and Brussel-Zuid the railway crosses the city centre in a tunnel.

Option 2: travelling overnight

Travel Information

Final Destination: Bruxelles-Midi / Brussel-Zuid; these trains do not call at any other stations in Brussels
This train also calls at Antwerpen Centraal

European Sleeper is a new train operating company with a mission to provide links between cities with no direct train connection.
It's trains aren't brand new, though they have been refreshed, but if you:

  • will want to travel direct by train between the German and Belgian capitals;
  • need a morning arrival in Brussels;
  • won't need to depart Berlin on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday.
    then this service provides a new option for the journey by train from Berlin to Bruxelles / Brussels.

The train departs on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday


Book early and save: Yes
Online Bookings Usually Open: up to 6 months ahead of the travel date

The ticketing options depend on the type of accommodation you wish to travel by on the train.
The seats are straightforward, the ticket(s) will include a reservation.

In the couchettes you can either book a place; or solo travellers can pay more and book the entire compartment in order to have sole occupancy.
If you will be travelling in groups of 4 or 6 people, you will be the only occupants of the compartment.
But if you will be travelling in a group of 5, the only method to ensure you won't be sharing the compartment with somebody else, is to book six tickets.
Similarly if you will be travelling in a group of 3 and don't want to share a four person compartment with anybody else, you will need to book four tickets.
Female only couchette compartments are available.

The sleeping cabins are priced according to how many people will be occupying them during the journey.
Solo travellers can either:

  • Book a bed in a triple cabin and accept that you may share it with up to two other people (cheapest).
  • Book a bed in a double cabin, accepting that you may be sharing it with another person.
  • Book a single cabin, to ensure privacy (most expensive).

Pairs of travellers, who are happy to share a cabin, can either:

  • Book two beds in a triple cabin, accepting that you may be sharing it with another person.
  • Book a double cabin.

Groups of 3 travellers will have sole occupancy of a triple cabin, but groups of four or more will need to split the accommodation to whichever suits them; 2 x double cabins, or 1 x triple + 1 x single etc.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
European Sleeper Train *

On this journey

Journey Features


Good to Know

The train is typically scheduled to depart from Berlin Hbf at 22:56
Connecting trains typically depart from:

  • Dresden Hbf at 19:55
  • Munchen Hbf at 17:54
  • Poznan Glowny at 19:26
  • Praha hln at 17:28
  • Wien Hbf at 13:10
  • Warszawa Centralna at 16:32

The arrival time in Brussels is scheduled to be at 09:27
Typical connections which should be available are:

  • at 09:51 to London St Pancras International (not Sundays)
  • at 10:13 to Paris Nord
  • at 10:17 to Lyon, Nimes and Montpellier
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