Dating back from 1666, Charleroi was built by Spaniards and later occupied by the French army. Currently, it is Belgium's third largest city, a francophone region with a population of almost half a million inhabitants. Charleroi is situated on the gently curved river Sambre, a left tributary of the Meuse. With a car hire in Charleroi, you can explore this beautiful region and reach Brussels with just a one-hour drive. Let Auto Europe help you plan your journey!
Charleroi has a rich industrial history, marked by coal mining, steel forging and glass production. Most factories closed in the 1950s; however, the city continues to be an important economic and cultural centre of the Wallonne region.
There are many attractions to keep visitors entertained in Charleroi. The Glass Museum, for instance, displays the production of glass around the world, including intricate pieces of Belgian glass work. The central square of Charles II is home to Saint Christophe Church, decorated with an impressive gold-leaf mosaic. A Sunday market is held on this square in the morning, where you will find fresh produce, local delicacies and colorful flowers.
Standing nearby is the City Hall, an imposing building inspired by art deco. The blend between classical and art deco styles are reflected throughout the streets of Charleroi and its marble and copper sculptures, luxurious tapestry and woodwork. Also on this square is the Museum of Fine Arts, which hosts a vast array of international and Belgian artists, such René Magritte.
Tourists looking for a quiet place to connect with nature can visit the Chateau d'Hanzinelle, a palace built in the 18th century with a beautiful verdant garden and blue lake. They can also stroll down the Arboretum of Monceau-sur-Sambre estate, a lovely green and vast park. Other landmarks include the striking Maison Dorée, designed by the architect Alfred Frère. Moreover, guided tours at Bois du Cazier will take visitors back the mining era and black stone extraction.
Don't miss the friendly pubs and mouth-watering restaurants located downtown, on the northern bank of the river. And for even more activities, make sure to take your car rental to the countryside and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Several roads lead to Charleroi. The R9 and R3 roadways connect the city with other districts in the vicinity. Additionally, large motorways link Charleroi with main international routes. The E420 and E19 are the fastest way to drive to Brussels, while the E42 takes your car hire from Charleroi to Lille, France. Traffic laws are similar to those in the rest of the European Union, and the steering wheel is located on the left side of the car. For tips on driving in Charleroi, please visit our information guide.
Charleroi recently underwent a revitalization project that created new car parks underground, in order to alleviate traffic and transform streets into more pedestrianised areas. Nevertheless, plenty parking spaces are present in the city centre and its surroundings. Free car parks are located in Expositions, L'Ancre Street, Place de l'Ouest and other streets. Pay parking lots are available at the Moulin car park, offering 2000 places, the Fastpark in Rivages street, with 206 places, Inno offering 350 and Place de de la Dingue, containing 273 places.
Charleroi lies on both banks of river Sambre and enjoys an oceanic climate. With over 120 miles, Sambre flows from the northern part of France into Wallonia, Belgium. This region represents a third of its population and over half of the Belgian territory. During the months of June, July and August, the city comes to live and invites tourists and locals to enjoy the mild temperatures and partly cloudy skies. Winters, however, are very long, and can bring cold windy days and clouds. This pattern results in temperatures that vary from 1°C to 23°C. Interestingly, there are approximately 200 rainy days per year in this region. From the beginning of May until February, the chances of rain are greater, especially in December.
The nearest airport servicing Charleroi is the Brussels South Charleroi Airport, in Gosselies, approximately 4.3 miles north of the city centre. It is the second busiest international airport in Belgium, used mainly by low-cost carriers and seasonal charters.
Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL)
Address: Rue des Frères Wright 8, 6041 Charleroi, Belgium
Telephone:+32 902 02 490
Charleroi counts with a robust public transportation system of bus lines (TEC) and a light-rail metro system (MLC), with four lines. Bus ticket prices depend on the number of zones crossed on the journey. But it is possible to purchase 1-day and 3-day tickets on board of buses and dispensers located at metro stations, costing 4€ (3.47£) and 8€ (6.95£), respectively. The city also offers two train stations; one named Charleroi-West railway station, and other named Charleroi-South. The latter connects the area to several other Belgian major cities, and it's the main station. Furthermore, pedestrians and cyclists have dedicated lanes and easy access to most landmarks. Taxis are also available throughout the city and to and from the airport.