The Hi Belgium Pass is an outstanding packaged deal that Brussels Airlines offers to travelers interested in visiting Belgium. For a fixed price of €169 per person, you’ll receive tickets for a return flight to Brussels, unlimited train rides within Belgium and a voucher that’ll get you free entry to museums and sights in a Belgian city of your choice.
Sadly, this offer has been paused because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Table of contents
- Return flights to Brussels
- Unlimited train rides within Belgium
- Vouchers for activities and sights in two cities
- Alternatives to Hi Belgium Pass
- Tips for your journey to Belgium
Return flights to Brussels
You can fly to Belgium from 40+ cities all over Europe. Countries of departure are:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
The Hi Belgium Pass can be booked at the earliest 16 weeks before and at the latest 3 weeks before departure. Flights to Brussels airport will be available on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. And you can book your return flights on a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
That said, the fare that Brussels Airlines is selling includes one piece of hand luggage (up to 12 kg). Also, seats can only be selected 24 hours before departure during check-in. And changes to your itinerary are not allowed.
Unlimited train rides within Belgium
Belgium is one of the smaller countries in Europe. Therefore it is also perfect for a weekend trip. Since there is no need for long travels, you’ll be able to see a lot in a short period of time. The country has one of the densest rail networks in the world. The ‘National Society of Belgian Railways’ (SNCB/NMBS) operates a system with a total length of 3.454 kilometers.
The travel time from Brussels to other big cities in the country (e.g., Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges) is typically less than 1 1/2 hours. Also, the coast with its sandy beaches is only a 90-minute train ride away from Brussels.
The tickets included in the Hi Belgium Pass are valid for the whole time you spend in Belgium. And you can travel in the 2nd class wagon of almost any train. The only exceptions are the Eurostar, Thalys and ICE trains.
Vouchers for activities and sights in two cities
Now that you’re set up with transportation, it’s time to have a look at the what to do in Belgium. Included in your pass are vouchers that allow you to visit various museums and sights – for free!
Once you arrive at Brussels airport, you can choose from seven cities that interest you. In Brussels, for example, you can visit various museums for free. In Liège, you’ll save on admission to four museums and can rent a bike or scooter for half a day.
To find out what’s included for the city your’re interested in, check out the website that Brussels Airlines set up for their promotion.
Alternatives to Hi Belgium Pass
If you use the pass correctly and plan foresighted, you’ll get your money’s worth out of it. But if you only want to visit one city or if you’re limited to weekdays, it might be smarter to put together your own packaged deal. For example, you could book flights to Brussels with Ryanair. Tickets from many European cities start at prices below 30€.
You can combine your cheap flight with a Rail Pass for €77. An while it won’t include unlimited train rides, you get 10 connections in 2nd class. Thiswill most likely be sufficient when you’re planning on visiting only one city. If you’re under the age of 26, the Rail Pass is even cheaper – it will cost €52.
Of course, you won’t receive any vouchers for museums and other sights. But since you’d save up to 90€ by creating your own itinerary, there should be money left for your favorite tourist spots.
If you’re traveling from an airport that doesn’t offer cheap connections to Brussels or if you just prefer to travel with a Star Alliance carrier, the Hi Belgium Pass will be the right choice.
Tips for your journey to Belgium
After arriving at Brussels airport, the first way should lead you to the tourist information office. That’s where you will receive the vouchers for the two cities you’ve selected online before. If need be, the staff will be happy to advise you further.
1. Double-check the conditions of your airfare
Although the tickets for your return flight should only include one piece of hand luggage, one of our authors was lucky enough to get a fare that actually included a checked bag. While this might not be the case for everyone, it still pays to have a closer look at your ticket.
2. Use the app of your local railway company
Even if all your connections will be within Belgium, many websites of other European railway companies show foreign schedules as well. Sometimes this also includes delays in real time and other convenient services. Check out the iOS or Android app that your national railway service offers. You might find out that you can use it for holidays in other countries as well.
Google Maps is an easy solution if you want to keep track of your bus connections.
3. Use your voucher wisely
Once you received your voucher, there’s no way to exchange it. So you’re stuck with your first choice. Therefore it is advisable to get as much information as possible about the vouchers in advance. We heard about people opting for the Liège vouchers just to find out that there were no rental bikes available anymore once they arrived. So better be safe than sorry and check out the website.
4. Belgian frites
Next to chocolate, fries should be THE most famous food coming from Belgium. Consequently, you will see frites stands all over the place. No town can do without at least one so-called Frituur. Unsurprisingly they sell fries there. But you can also get other dishes, such as sausages, burgers or meat skewers.
Prices for Belgian frites are usually rather low, and the taste is, of course, second to none! Also, you can choose from various sauces which sometime might seem pretty exotic to other Europeans.
If you’re up to a culinary venture: try ‘Mitraillette’. It a baguette filled with meat, sauce and – what else – frites.
5. Rent a bike
Belgium is known as a bike-friendly country, ergo, it can be a great idea to rent one to get around. Automated bike rental systems are widespread in most larger cities.
In Antwerp, for example, a day pass will cost you around 4€ and is valid for 24 hours from the time you validate it. This includes the usage of bikes for up to 30 minutes. If you need to travel further, just return the bike, wait for 5 minutes and the half hour limit will start again.
6. Make use of lockers for your luggage
If you’re not planning on staying overnight in a city, you probably don’t want to carry your luggage around all the time. Almost every lager train station offers lockers that you can use to keep your bags safe while you tour the city.
They usually work fully automated and aren’t that expensive either. Your carry-on baggage should fit without any problems.
7. Save on public transport
The Hi Belgium Pass includes trips with the InterCity and regional trains. However, the use of other means of transport such as buses and trams is not permitted.
Tickets must, therefore, be purchased separately. Depending on the city, prices can vary considerably, and there are various ways to save money:
- Antwerp: €3 per trip, but only €1.95 as SMS ticket, day tickets cost €6 (or €8 when purchased on the bus).
- Bruges: €3 per trip. Just walk to the city center and took the bus back.
- Ghent: €3 per trip, day tickets cost €6 at the train station. Or €8 if you purchase it directly from the driver.
- Liège: Regular regional trains run between the three stations. These can be used free of charge with the Belgium Pass. Bus tickets cost €2.10 (valid for 60 minutes) and day tickets €5.
- Brussels: trains between the main stations can be used free of charge. Single trips by bus, metro, and tram cost €2.10 to €2.50. Day tickets are available for €7.50.
8. Save on accommodation
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about the costs of hotel rooms in Belgium. Approximately 100€ per night in a double room is the standard. But prices vary. In Brussels, for example, there are comparatively cheap rooms, whereas, in Bruges, one has to spend considerably more.
A little flexibility is recommended when choosing a hotel. It might be smart to visit one city but book your hotel for the night in another. Since train rides are included and trips don’t take very long, you can save cost.