We fly into Brussels and need to get a train to Bruges. From what I have been reading one can get a train at the airport but do we need to travel to one of the other stations (North station ) to connect to a train to Bruges? Do we buy tickets at a machine or at a window? Thank you
There are frequent intercity trains between Brussels Airport and Bruges. Some are direct, and some require a change at Brussels Midi. Some trains make a lot of local stops, and you'll probably want to avoid those. Sometimes the trains that require a change are faster than the ones that don't. Be sure to check the times and number of stops.
When I was there in May, the train station at the airport had just reopened a few days earlier after the bombing last spring, so things were in a bit of disarray. But the people working there were extremely helpful and assisted me with buying my train ticket using a ticketing machine. In any case, the train ticketing machines in Belgium are very user-friendly and English is one of the options for the display. Depending on what kind of credit card you have, you might need to buy your ticket from a live person, but you shouldn't have any difficulty.
You should be able to check schedules and fares at http://www.belgianrail.be/en/Default.aspx.
Enjoy your trip!
There are direct trains every hour from the Brussels airport to Brugge, as Lane noted, many more with a change in downtown Brussels, mostly at the Nord station. See the Belgian Rail website in Lane's thread for schedules and prices.
You shouldn't have any problem buying the tickets at the station in the airport upon arrival. American credit cards don't seem to work in the automated machines, but you can buy them from a person at the ticket window.
Another option is to simply purchase a ticket for the entire journey via Belgian Rail site and print the ticket out at home. This way you don't have to worry about lines or machines:
Took the train from Brussels Airport direct to Bruges back in July. Although we are from the US, we always travel with a pin and chip card to use in automated machines. It took only about 3 minutes to purchase tickets with the machines and I was quite impressed with their English interface and their ease of use.
We boarded in the late afternoon and I must say I was amazed with how many people were commuting from Brussels, boarding at the stations in the city, to towns west of Brussels. The train was quite crowded but since we had boarded at the airport there were plenty of seats.