Bruxelles / Brussels to Hamburg by train

How to take the rail journey from Bruxelles/Brussels to Hamburg

There are no direct trains from Brussels/Bruxelles to Hamburg, but there is typically a very straightforward journey with only one connection required,



From Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel Zuid to Hamburg Hbf

Travel Information

There are no direct trains between Bruxelles/Brussels and Hamburg, but the simplest journey options involve only 1 x change of train at Koln Hbf station.
Making this connection is not absolutely guaranteed, but a typical transfer between trains is around 50 - 55mins, which should ensure a stress-free connection.
And IF the train from Bruxelles/Brussels does arrive in Koln/Cologne particularly late, tickets will be valid on the next train on to Hamburg.

Alternative connections:

When looking up this routing you'll usually see faster options, but these involve a second, comparatively tightly timed AND non-guaranteed connection in Hannover.
There is no need to make more than one transfer between trains when making this journey.

Between Bruxelles and Koln/Cologne:

ICE and Thalys trains share the service of direct trains between Bruxelles and Koln/Cologne.
This doesn't particularly affect the journey time and connections, but it matters when booking tickets.

DB generally offers the cheapest tickets on this route on this route, but it only sells tickets for journeys that involve taking an ICE train between Bruxelles/Brussels and Koln/Cologne; and NOT the connections which involve departing from Bruxelles by Thalys train

Up to 8 x connections per day


When travelling from Bruxelles/Brussels to Hamburg by train, some journey options involve taking an ICE train between Bruxelles and Koln/Cologne, while others involve taking a Thalys train between the two cities.
The ticketing terms and conditions vary depending on the trains you will be travelling by.

(1) ICE train + IC train:

Bookings open: 6 months ahead of the travel date (usually)

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.

DB will have the cheapest tickets and price match with the other agents for the journeys which involve taking an ICE train from Bruxelles.

Rail pass users should take the ICE trains.

(2) Thalys train + IC train:

Bookings open: 4 months ahead of the travel date (usually)

Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for the Thalys trains, but rail pass users will need to be pay a reservation fee prior to boarding.

DB does not sell tickets for the Thalys trains; but journey options involving both ICE AND Thalys departures from Bruxelles can be compared on B-Europe.

General booking advice for ALL journey options:

  • When making an online booking, check that you’re looking at booking info for the direct trains.
  • 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. Use the ‘earlier trains’ and ‘later trains’ buttons to search for the cheapest ticket prices.

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.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB from €39.90

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.

On journeys within Germany and on most international journeys from and to Germany on trains operated by DB:

  • For journeys by the express trains, EC. IC and ICE trains an adult (on German railways an adult is a person aged 15 and over) can take up to four children aged 6 - 14 with them at no additional charge.
  • Tickets need to be booked for children aged 0 - 5, but there is no charge for them.
  • Those aged 65 and over can take journeys at a discounted rate.
  • Dogs, which are too large to be placed in pet carriers, require tickets which cost 50% of the adult rate.

When booking both types of the discounted 'Sparpreis' tickets seat reservations are an optional extra, so need to be added when booking if you want an assigned seat(s).

B-Europe from €39.90

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.

Trainline from €39.90

Trainline Guide

Journey Features

High Speed (total journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination: Frankfurt (Main) – the ICE trains
Final Destination: Essen/Dortmund/Koln –  the Thalys trains

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 Cologne/Koln 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 service you will be travelling by generally makes little different to the cost of tickets, the popularity of each specific departure has a bigger impact on prices.
Though DB offers limited numbers of Super Saver Europa tickets on the ICE trains, but not for the Thalys trains.

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/tracks) 3 -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.

Journey Features

Not High SpeedScenic - No

Good to Know

Final Destination: Hamburg-Altona (or Kiel or Lubeck)

All trains also call at: Bremen and Hamburg-Harburg (in the suburbs south of the city centre)

All of these trains will call at two stations adjacent to Hamburg city centre - Hamburg Hbf and Hamburg Dammtor.

So it can be worthwhile working out which of these stations in the city, will suit your needs best, before making the journey.

Despite there being no high speed lines between Koln/Cologne and Hamburg, some trains between the two cities are ICE 1 trains.
The percentage of ICE 1 and ICE 4 trains used on these services will increase, as more ICE trains are being switched to this route.

Some trains in the timetable are also EC trains and not IC trains - these trains will have commenced their journeys in Switzerland - so you may find yourself on a Swiss and not a German IC train.

Although the lack of a high speed line means that it doesn't matter which train you take, in terms of journey time.

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