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4 hours in Brussels

We have about 4-5 hours to spend in Brussels on our way to Bruges from London, arriving at Brussels-Midi. (side note: I booked a walking tour to help us see some things quickly.) This is our first trip to Europe and we have literally NO experience navigating train stations. I'm wondering if it will be easiest to store our luggage (4 large carry-on's at least)... in the automatic train lockers at the station, or if it would be easier to use Nannybag, which I've seen advertised. I just don't want to deal with dragging our luggage around as much as possible, but I don't even know if the lockers are big enough (we can figure them out and get our bags back out or if there will be a language barrier. Also would feel strange to possibly leave our bags in the back room of a store... ?

Posted by
6529 posts

Once you arrive at Brussels Zuid/Midi you should change train and continue to Brussels Centraal, which is in a better location for seeing Brussels. No need to buy an additional ticket.

It would in my opinion be easiest to use the lockers at Brussels Centraal. The largest are 89 cm x 50 cm x 80 cm according to the internet.

Posted by
7489 posts

Not for nothing, but there are at least six trains an hour from Midi (and Centraal, and Noord) to Bruges. But maybe you are saying that you can't check in to your non-hotel for four hours anyway.

I'm sure there are lockers in Midi, but I don't know the dimensions or price. Many people find the area around Midi "sketchy", but I think it's safe midday on a business day. But the tourist sights are near Centraal, and a novice traveler will be especially put off by a sketchy area.

Month of year? Time of day? Does Nannybag operate in Brussels?

Posted by
6996 posts

Be aware that you need to be at Gare du Midi at least 90 minutes before your scheduled Eurostar departure, and preferably a bit longer, for border crossing procedures.
But even if you only have 3 hours, you can still make it to the Grand Place and back.

By the way, trains from Bruges to Brussels all continue to Bruxelles Central, so you do not even need to change trains at Midi.
You can just:
- take train from Bruges to Bruxelles Central
- leave luggage in locker at Central
- visit Brussels city center
- head back to Central, get luggage, take next train to Gare du Midi (no ticket needed, your Eurostar ticket is good for this).

EDIT: Oh, I misread, from London to Bruges you do have the full 4 hours.
Trains to Bruges leave from Bruxelles Central, so the advice regarding lockers apply in reverse.
And your Eurostar ticket will cover you from Bruxelles Midi to Bruxelles Central.

Posted by
2453 posts

The luggage lockers at Centraal were easy to use and quite large. We fit two large carryon bags in one. Follow the luggage storage signs or ask someone to direct you.

Posted by
7489 posts

balso wrote an excellent reply. But the OP says it's about London->Bruges, not vice-versa.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks so much for all of the feedback. We will be there in August. We are travelling from London to Brussels via EuroStar and in Brussels by noon with several hours before we can check in to our hotel in the evening in Bruges. I thought we'd take advantage of an afternoon in Brussels, but we could definitely continue on to Bruges instead. We are in Bruges for 3 nights so we will likely stay in Bruges that entire time. We are coming in on the Eurostar and it says that our tickets are to Brussels - Midi. So, I think we'd need to change trains to get to Brussels Centraal? Someone said we wouldn't need to change trains, so just to clarify.

If we stick with the original plan, I will definitely take the advice to go on to Brussels - Centraal and store our luggage there! We are meeting a tour guide at Grand Place, so it looks close. And then head straight from Brussels - Centraal to Bruges later.

You guys are the best!

Posted by
6529 posts

So, I think we'd need to change trains to get to Brussels Centraal?

Yes, you need to change trains. But you do not need to buy a new ticket, your Eurostar ticket is valid on the connecting train to Brussels Centraal.

Posted by
7489 posts

There are no trains that go completely from London to Bruges. So you were always going to change trains in Brussels. The Belgian trains that travel between Brussels and Bruges consider all three stations in downtown Brussels (not BRU, the airport) to be the same fare zone, so you can get on or off at any of them with the same ticket. (I mean, a ticket from Brussels to Bruges, let's say.)

Because Thalys and Eurostar are such important products, and because it was negotiated, their international tickets include the right to a single local trip from Midi/Zuid to either of the other two Brussels stations, just before or after the international trip, using the frequent (5 to 8 per hour) local trains. Some people complain about having to walk to another platform with their luggage, and the stairs (no escalators) can be tedious. The Eurostar platform has a single elevator far at one end, AFAIR.

So we are pointing out that your arrival ticket gives you a free ride (as I said, on a Belgian rail train, not the "Metro") from Midi to Centraal, which is almost, steps from Grand Place. And your (same-day as Eurostar trip) ticket to Bruges is valid from any of the three Brussels stations.