Between Leuven and Liege

Bruxelles / Brussels to Aachen by train

How to take the rail journey from Bruxelles/Brussels to historical Aachen



From Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel Zuid to Aachen Hbf

Journey Summary

Travel Information

Final Destination: Frankfurt (Main) – the ICE trains

Final Destination: Essen/Dortmund/Koln – the Thalys trains

All trains also call at: Liege

Most of 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-Central.

A choice of train services:

The service of high speed trains between Brussels/Bruxelles and Aachen is split between
ICE and Thalys trains.
The timetable is arranged so that either one of these types of trains departs in each hour.

What type of train you will be travelling by generally makes little different to the ticket prices, the popularity of each departure has a bigger impact on prices.
Though the tickets for the ICE trains are made available two months ahead of the Thalys trains, so the very cheapest tickets for the ICE trains can have sold out before the Thalys tickets have been placed on sale.

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.

Departing from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station:

Aim to be at Bruxelles Midi/Zuid station a minimum of 15 - 20 mins before your train is due to depart.

You will usually* have to pass through security checks before boarding these trains and queues can build up at busy times.
*The security checks are at the entrance to voies (platforms/tracks3 -6) and these ICE and Thalys trains to Koln are usually scheduled to depart from this part of the station.
But check the departure screens before heading for the security checks, these trains can occasionally be scheduled to leave from voies (platforms/tracks) 7 or 8.

Usual service is:
7 x ICE trains per day (Mon-Sat)
8 x ICE trains per day (Sunday)
5 x Thalys trains per day (Mon-Fri)
4 x Thalys trains per day (Sat/Sun)


Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open:

6 months ahead of the travel date on the ICE trains

4 months ahead of the travel date on the Thalys trains.

Booking tickets:

When making an online booking, check that you’re looking at booking info for the direct trains.

Use the ‘earlier trains’ and ‘later trains’ buttons to search for the cheapest ticket prices.
Trains departing at different times can be cheaper than others leaving on the same day, so you may need to look through the day's departures to find the cheapest fares.

It can also be worth comparing the prices across the agents, particularly if you want to take a specific trains, as there can be variations in price.

However, DB does tend to offer the lowest prices for the journeys by ICE train.
And DB now ALSO sell tickets for the Thalys services; though you will see 'Determine price' listed on the DB website for Thalys departures

Seat reservations:

Book 1st class ticket journey tickets for the ICE trains and your seat reservation is included - but they're optional when booking 2nd class tickets, or if you will be travelling with a 1st or 2nd class rail pass.

In contrast seats will automatically be assigned when booking any ticket for the Thalys trains.

Using rail passes:

If you will be travelling from Bruxelles to Aachen with a valid Eurail or InterRail pass, target the ICE trains, because you won't have to pay any rail pass reservation fees to travel by those trains.

Also the optional reservation fees of €5.90 in 1st class and €.4.50 in 2nd class are relatively expensive for such a comparatively short journey.

In contrast the mandatory rail pass reservation fees for the Thalys trains will be €30 in 1st class and €20 in 2nd class; so definitely avoid those for this trip!

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
B-Europe from €19.90

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.

DB from €19.90

DB 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.

Two types of ticket have recently been made available;

  1. Cheaper 'Young' tickets which can only be booked by those aged 15-26 on the travel date.
  2. Flexi Plus tickets, which are now the most expensive type of ticket, but they're the only type of 2nd class tickets which DO include a seat reservation.
Trainline from €19.90

Trainline Guide

Omio from €20

Omio Guide

Omio is an online ticket agency which offers tickets for rail journeys in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

The three key advantages of using Omio are

  • it offers prices in multiple currencies
  • it usually offers price comparison with other modes of travel including flights and buses
  • when visiting Europe, you can book journeys in multiple countries in one transaction.

The disadvantage of booking with Omio is that it often adds a booking fee to the final price; therefore when it does so without offering a price advantage, SMTJ doesn't tend to offer Omio as a booking option.

Save A Train from €19.90

Save A Train Guide

Happy rail from €19.90

Happy rail Guide

Happy Rail is a Netherlands rail ticket agency which sells tickets for both national and international journeys within a range of countries including Belgium France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.

HappyRail doesn't charge booking fees in the conventional sense, but if you're not Dutch you can expect to pay additional transaction fees, which will be added to the total cost.
That's because the most common form of online payment used in The Netherlands is 'iDEAL' and HappyRail doesn't charge a transaction fee for 'iDEAL' payments, but only Dutch residents can sign up to 'iDEAL'.
Other forms of payment include Visa debit cards will incur a fee.

On this journey

Journey Features

High Speed (total journey)

Good to Know

Aachen cathedral is around a 15 to 25 minute walk from Aachen hauptbahnhof, bus routes/lines 11, 21, 31 and 51 go to the nearest stop at Ellsenbrunen.

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