Short peak rainfall intensities cause sewer systems to overflow leading to flooding of streets and houses. Due to climate change and densification of urban areas, this is expected to occur more often in the future. Hence, next to their minor (i.e. sewer) system, municipalities have to analyse their major (i.e. surface) system in order to anticipate urban flooding during extreme rainfall. Urban flood modelling techniques are powerful tools in both public and internal communications and transparently support design processes. To provide more insight into the (im)possibilities of different urban flood modelling techniques, simulation results have been compared for an extreme rainfall event. The results show that, although modelling software is tending to evolve towards coupled one-dimensional (1D)–two-dimensional (2D) simulation models, surface flow models, using an accurate digital elevation model, prove to be an easy and fast alternative to identify vulnerable locations in hilly and flat areas. In areas at the transition between hilly and flat, however, coupled 1D–2D simulation models give better results since catchments of major and minor systems can differ strongly in these areas. During the decision making process, surface flow models can provide a first insight that can be complemented with complex simulation models for critical locations.