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Amsterdam to Brugge

I was just given a round trip ticket from Houston to Amsterdam. I cannot make any changes to the already booked ticket for mid August. I leave Houston on a Wednesday and arrive Amsterdam on Thursday at 9:30am. I then return to Houston from Amsterdam on Monday morning. This would be my first time visiting the Netherlands and Belgium (because I must see Brugge!). Here is what I plan to do and I hope that I can get guidance from you.

Wednesday - Depart Houston. Nonstop to Amsterdam.

Thursday - Arrive Amsterdam at 9:30am.
Take train from Airport to Brugge. Depart Amsterdam at around 11:30am and connect in Brussels (there are no nonstop trains to Brugge). Arrive Brugge at around 3:00pm. Walk to hotel from station, no matter how long, to take advantage of the scenery. Spend evening in Brugge.

Friday - Spend day in Brugge.

Saturday - 6am train to Brussels.
Do some sightseeing in Brussels. Take a 4pm train to Amsterdam. Dinner in Amsterdam.
Another option is to hire a driver from Brugge to Amsterdam and make some stops along the way to see the main attractions.

Sunday - Early rise and spend full day in Amsterdam. one or two excursions?

Monday - Fly back to Houston at 11:45am, nonstop.

All I have booked is the ticket. I am waiting on your advise to book the rest (trains, hotels, etc.). I don’t mind if I am always on the go. I know that it is a lot to cover in very little time, but I don’t mind. Is there something that I am not seeing clearly or not accounting for? Thanks you!

Posted by
6387 posts

In your case I would skip Brussels on the way back not unless there is something you must see.
There is more delight to see in Ghent or Antwerp.
you could stop in both on the way back to Amsterdam if leaving at 6 am

Use the Dutch National Train line to book the prices are fixed:
https://www.nsinternational.nl/en

In the search results avoid any train operated by Thalys. The prices are higher and you have less flexibility compared to the Dutch and Belgian IC trains

Posted by
23257 posts

Are you skipping Ghent to see something specific in Brussels?

Posted by
4777 posts

Seeing that time is more of a premium than probably money; I would not get a ticket ahead for a specific train for your arrival. You do not know how long it will take to clear immigration, so just head to the train station and get the first train going in the direction of Brugge. It could be an Intercity train to Rotterdam, then another to Ghent and Brugge, avoiding Brussels. Simply go to the ticket window and have them find the soonest arrival in Brugge.

If you arrive for your day in Brussels on Saturday, you may find that sticking around much past lunch more than needed. You have the Grand Place, some shopping, but not much more unless one of the museums or beer appeals to you, basically get an earlier train to Amsterdam to get settled before dinner and have a nice evening. I would push the train up to no later than 2:00.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for all the great input!

Jazz+Travels - I think that you are correct and stopping in Ghent or Antwerp make more sense. Perhaps both. Thanks for your advise in regards to the train options.

Nigel - Not sure why I selected Brussels over Ghent. I've always heard great things about Brussels, that's all. I will likely reconsider.

Paul - Thanks so much for your advise. I didn't stop to think that it could take more than two hours to clear immigration and customs. For that reason, it makes sense to not purchase a ticket ahead of time and play my departure to Brugge by ear. The trains wouldn't sell out, would they? Also, is Rotterdam an easier way to get to Brugge than going through Brussels? On the return, should I skip Brussels altogether and instead hire a car service to drive me to Amsterdam making stops in Ghent and Antwerp instead, or will I regret? There's an App called Day Trip and if they pick me up from Brugge at 6:00am, I would arrive in Ghent at 6:47am. I could then enjoy Ghent until 8:17am and get to Antwerp at 9:11am and enjoy it for about an hour. I could even stop at Kinderdijk for another hour. If I do all of this, I can arrive in Amsterdam before 1:00pm. With this said, even if I push my trip to leave Brugge at 7am, I could arrive in Amsterdam at an earlier time as suggested by you. I can have the afternoon to explore Amsterdam and then go to a nice dinner, early to bed, and up early for a Sunday full day of exploring Amsterdam. I obviously want to see it all, like most people, but understand that it is unrealistic given the limited time that I have. Thoughts?

Posted by
6387 posts

The trains wouldn't sell out, would they? Also, is Rotterdam an easier way to get to Brugge than going through Brussels?

The Dutch trains don't sell out and just choose any route with one connection to Brugge not necessarily in Rotterdam.
A car service does not make sense as the old town in Ghent and Antwerp have pedestrian only streets

Posted by
23257 posts

Anybody who guarantee, even on a Saturday, that they can get into Antwerp at any specific minute is perhaps slightly guilty of porkies.

Traffic into Antwerp can be horrid at any time on any day. Personal experience here.

What you could see of Ghent so early in the morning for one hour I have no idea. Same in Antwerpen. All the good Jewish food in Antwerp is closed on Saturdays. No bagels.

Or do mean you just sit in the car and they drive you around each city? Can't happen in Ghent or Antwerpen because of the traffic free zones - just pedestrians and trams.

Sorry - I just don't get that one.

Trains on the other hand run to time and will cost an absolute tiny fraction of whatever you would have to pay a driver - you have to pay for them to get back too.

Has anybody heard of the group you mention who would drive you? They are new to me. I hope they are above board.

Posted by
11417 posts

There is no way I'd use car services instead of trains for this VERY short trip. Eveyln, I'd personally skip Brussels. Bruges and Amsterdam are already too much for 3.5 days, IMHO. We've spent 4 nights in Bruges with one day trip to Gent and it wasn't long enough. Yes, we are also "on the go" travelers but the more to try to cram into a short time the less you will actually experience. Very tight itineraries also leave NO flexibility for anything to go awry....and things can and do go awry.

Posted by
57 posts

A far more direct train route AMS to Bruges would be via Antwerp rather than via Brussels. I did this trip in reverse recently and booked through the Thalys website. A change of train is required in Antwerp and I had over an hour, so I wandered around just outside the train station and was astounded at the number of diamond jewelry shops across the street. Several blocks of glittering windows. Plus, the Antwerp train station is an amazing piece of architecture.

Posted by
2487 posts

You can safely buy your tickets from Amsterdam to Brugge in advance, sparing you standing in the queue on arrival, provided it is with the Intercity Brussels service and not the Thalys. The Intercity train is unreserved and your ticket is valid for any train running that day. If, for whatever reason, you can't make your intended connection on arrival at Schiphol, take a coffee and wait for the next one.

Posted by
6 posts

Nigel - The App is called mydaytrip.com. I've only read great reviews everywhere. This is my thinking process:
A car service is obviously more money than taking the train but, if time is an issue, I feel that this method can be more effective than taking the train. I take the train to Brugge once I arrive at the Schiphol airport. I spend that evening and a full day in Brugge. They will pick me up at the scheduled time and take me to my destination, in this case Amsterdam. You can select some stops along the way and pay extra. They won't drive you around like you think; but, instead they will drop me off at the desired location and let me explore before I get back in the car to proceed to my final destination. If I try to do this with trains, I have to plan accordingly to catch each connection, which will give me a later arrival in Amsterdam. If I go the car service route, they are pretty much at my leisure. This company gives you a time line that accounts for the stops.

Posted by
6 posts

Diane - There is no way I'd use car services instead of trains for this VERY short trip. Eveyln, I'd personally skip Brussels. Bruges and Amsterdam are already too much for 3.5 days, IMHO. We've spent 4 nights in Bruges with one day trip to Gent and it wasn't long enough. Yes, we are also "on the go" travelers but the more to try to cram into a short time the less you will actually experience. Very tight itineraries also leave NO flexibility for anything to go awry....and things can and do go awry.

Thanks. Yes, I've decided to skip Brussels. Please read my response to Nigel above and let me know if you agree with my thinking. And, thank you for your advice!

Posted by
6 posts

tonfromleiden - Thank you!! That's my thinking! It is nice to know that I have more flexibility with the Intercity and I will proceed that way.

Posted by
23257 posts

that sounds like what you want to do.

I wouldn't, but I'm not you.

Please write a trip report - after all this thread is in the reviews area - when you get back and let us know how everything went. I wish you good luck.

Posted by
11417 posts

I wouldn't, but I'm not you.

Ditto but it's your trip so....

Posted by
1653 posts

Wait, planning a cross country drive on a Saturday in mid/late August, northbound? There is a strong risk of major traffic jams from vacationers coming back home from the sunny shores of France and Spain... Saturdays are the worst day of the week for intercity driving in W Europe in July and Aug.
I'd really reconsider...

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all. It seems that traffic may be biggest issue on the Saturday. I am definitely reconsidering and very glad for everyone's advice. With this said, I should plan my return to AMS early enough on Saturday via train, and I should probably buy the train tickets in advance and adhere to my schedule.

Anything else that I should consider?

Posted by
203 posts

I agree that you should go from AMS to Bruges via intercity due to the many unknowns of flight arrival time, passport control lines etc...but I would suggest prebooking your return back to AMS on high speed Thalys, using the ABS (another Belgian Station) offer. Take an early train to Brussels Central, about 2 or 3 hours before your Thayls train which will leave from Brussels-Midi and walk around Brussels Grand Place or hit the Museum of Fine Arts. I agree with others that Bruges, Ghent (especially) and Antwerpen are better places to see and visit compared to Brussels, but for your limited time, a 2-3 hour Brussels stop over makes sense. I have no desire to stay in Brussels, however, for a few hours, Brussels makes for great little stop over.