We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Visit Brussels Line

La Rochelle
Level Contributor
1,287 posts
13 reviews
Save Topic
Visit Brussels Line

Does anyone know if the above (or any other hop-on, hop-off) tour operates at the moment, and where I can get more details? I found a website for the Visit Brussels Line, but the dates are all in 2004/05, so I'm wondering whether they may have stopped operating?

SANDEMANs NEW Europe - Brussels
City Tours, Bar, Club & Pub Tours, Walking Tours, Private Tours, Sightseeing Tours
Viva Brussels Tours
Sightseeing Tours, Walking Tours, City Tours, Historical & Heritage Tours
The Brussels Journey - Beer and Chocolate Tours
City Tours, Walking Tours, Beer Tastings & Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Food Tours
A Zonzo Tour
City Tours, Walking Tours, Private Tours, Sightseeing Tours
Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
33,966 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Visit Brussels Line

They can have had no reason to update the site, so I don't see that the dates mentioned are a problem, anyway they are certainly still operating. There are in fact 3 different companies (red, blue and green buses) and they all have a stop by the Central Station and by the Bourse, among others.

La Rochelle
Level Contributor
1,287 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Visit Brussels Line

Great - that's exactly what I was hoping to hear.

Is one company better than the others, or are they all a bit of a muchness?

Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
33,966 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Visit Brussels Line

I've always wondered, but as I haven't tried any of them, I'm not in a position to judge! One of these days I should go and see what they say about Brussels, in the meantime the different lines are:

BLUE buses, Visit Brussels line operated by Brussels City Tours (De Boeck) brussels-city-tours.com/engels/engframes.htm

This line, which was started by STIB the city bus company, seems to be the market leader. Tickets cost 16 EUR for 24 hours, 8 EUR for children, leaving on the hour and the half-hour (so more frequently than either of the others), they have 13 stops and commentary in 8 languages.

RED buses, City sightseeing line operated by Open Tours http://www.opentours.be/ Their website is so out of date it says tickets cost 450 BF (11.25 EUR but I would imagine it must be more by now). They leave from the Gare Centrale every hour on the hour and include free pick up from and return to hotels in the centre (not very useful if "centre" means within the inner ring, where few hotels can be more than 10 minutes walk from either the Gare Centrale or the Bourse anyway!). Children under 14 go free so this could be a good choice with children.

GREEN buses, Brussels sightseeing line operated by Golden Tours http://www.goldentours.be/ cost is 15 EUR for adults, 7 EUR children. They have a nice map of their circuit on the site which appears to have one extra stop compared to VB, at the Palais de Justice (on the other hand some of the blobs are not stops, for instance there is certainly only one, not two, for the Japanese Tower and Chinese Pavilion; and Institutions Européennes is a misnomer, the stop corresponds to Place du Luxembourg, which is near the European Parliament but not the other institutions, and there is no blob on Rond-Point Schuman, whereas VB stop at both) The timetable section is empty in both English and French but I think service is hourly.

La Rochelle
Level Contributor
1,287 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Visit Brussels Line

Thank you gaminari, very useful. I think we'll go with either the blue one or the red one.

La Rochelle
Level Contributor
1,287 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Visit Brussels Line

Well... we tried to take a sightseeing bus as planned.

It turns out that the blue and red lines have merged and operate together, so there are only two companies really - the blue/reds and the greens. We decided to go with the blue/reds.

We purchased our tickets from their stationary-bus-turned-ticket-office behind the Bourse and waited for a sightseeing bus to hop on. The first one that came was a red one. We went three stops on that one until we reached the Central Station, where we stopped and had to change buses as that's the end of the trip (the tours are not continuous). The next bus we hopped on was a blue bus and it wasn't anywhere near as good. The seats were padded, so they felt uncomfortably hot at that time of day, but worse of all, the upper deck had windows!!! I'd never seen that on a hop-on, hop-off bus. You couldn't open them either, which meant that it was a lot hotter (even with the roof off) and it was impossible to take good photos, as you couldn't stand up while the bus was moving (and it hardly stood still)! The bus cruised through town as if we were in a rush to get somewhere and bounced like mad on the cobbled streets - so again, no good photos, and the recorded commentary was out of sinc (on your left, you can see this and that... so you look to your left and can see nothing that matches the description, until you think to look straight ahead or to your right, and there it is!). It was also out of date, as when we got near the European building the commentator announced that it was closed down due to asbestos and would reopen when the repair work was completed, although it looked perfectly fine to us. Then we heard that the unification of EU would become complete when the euro is introduced in January 2002 (!!) so clearly the commentary was at least 5 years out of date. In the meantime, we're staring at a massive poster advertising Slovenia's entry into the euro-zone. So I suppose it wasn't that surprisingt hat the sightseeing website was out of date, as they haven't even updated the commentary on the buses! The maps they gave us were impossible to follow too. I'm not a map reader but I can find my way around Brussels and had great trouble following their maps. I don't know how a first timer would do it.

All in all, a rather disappointing experience and a waste of 32 euros (16 each) as we gave up half way through the tour - before we got to the Japanese tour, which is a shame, as I would have liked to see it. We tried to do the rest of the tour the following day, while our tickets were still valid, so we went back to the Bourse ticket office. We were told the next bus would be along in 5-10 mins (it was always 5-10 mins whenever anyone asked, even if they arrived 10 mins after you) but after waiting for a good 25 mins and still no sign of the bus, we decided to cut our loses and went to Brussels Beach instead (were we had a brilliant time :-)

Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
33,966 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Visit Brussels Line

That's unforgiveable! The euro was introduced in January 2002; the accession of the last 10 EU Member States took place in May 2004; and the newly renovated Berlaymont re-opened in October 2004. I'll have to try the greens one of these days for the sake of comparison but it sounds as though these buses are not really to be recommended. I'm sorry to say it is consistent with what I know of De Boeck, the company that took over the blue buses when STIB was required to get rid of them because the courts ruled that there was a conflict of interest with its public transport role. Clearly DB has never bothered to update the tapes they inherited at the time. This is the coach company that runs "normal" sight-seeing tours, with live guides, in and around Brussels; more than 20 years ago when I was new here, I took two fo their tours, to Waterloo and Bruges, and although it may be unfair to condemn them for the way they were so long ago, they were absolutely apalling.

Well, thanks for the report anyway, I'm sure it will be useful for others considering these buses in Brussels. It's a shame as I love using them in Paris and London, and when they are open-topped they are brilliant for photography.

La Rochelle
Level Contributor
1,287 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Visit Brussels Line

I know what you mean - I've taken L'Open Tour buses in Paris and the experience just doesn't compare. We did consider trying the green tour on the second day (just for the sake of comparison, and also because we wanted to see the rest of the city) but when the green bus passed by our stop we noticed it was almost empty, plus it had windows on the top floor too, so we thought perhaps it was no better than the blue/red buses, and decided to give it a miss.

I suppose if there's no real competition, they have no reason to want to improve the service they offer. Their attitude was very slackish, when you asked when the next bus would come by they always said "5-10 minutes" even if it would be 20 minutes according to the schedule, and one of the two drivers we had drove like he was rushing to get somewhere, not like he was driving a tourist bus. Very very disappointing.

London
Level Contributor
6 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Visit Brussels Line

Hi,

Just returned from a weekend in Brussels and we used a Visit Brussels Tour bus yesterday, so yes they are still running.

Stu