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Belgium/Netherlands Itinerary Help

Hello, my husband and I have the opportunity to fly in and out of Brussels for a trip that is 6 full days/6 nights (leaving on 7th day). We are hoping for a little help on an itinerary. Could we find Bruges and Amsterdam in?

Posted by
2487 posts

Of course: distances are short and the public transport is excellent.

I don't find it a comfortable idea to be several hours from the airport for the flight back home. The slightest mishap on the way (a broken overhead wire or a cow running on the tracks) makes you miss your flight. So I would advise you to visit the Netherlands first and then Belgium.
After arriving in Brussels take the first train direction Amsterdam. The Intercity service is best: it stops at the airport, the train runs every hour and, being an unreserved train, tickets are valid for any train running that day, sparing you worrying about the connection in case your flight is late or the queue at Immigration longer than expected. Buy those tickets at the website of NMBS/SNCB (Belgian railways), that of NS (Dutch railways) or at the ticket window. Prices are fixed and there is no discount buying them in advance.

Consider staying in Haarlem or Leiden, which are both pleasant and not overcrowded historical cities and close to Amsterdam for day tripping with trains running at least every 15 mins.

Amsterdam to Brugge can be done with the high-speed Thalys service or the Intercity (with both a change in Antwerp or Brussels). The Thalys takes about 45 mins less, has a compulsory seat reservation and tickets can come with a considerable discount when bought in advance (at the Thalys website or via those of NMBS/SNCB and NS).

Opinions vary wildly about staying in Brugge or in nearby Gent, 30 mins away on frequent trains.
Getting you back at the airport won't be a problem: some direct trains or else a change in Brussels.

Posted by
7649 posts

So 3 days Netherlands, 2 days Bruges/Brugge, and final day Brussels? On my last trip, 3 years ago, I actually stayed in Gent, Belgium, before returning to Brussels, but had been to Bruges before.

Last night in Brussels on our first trip 11 years ago, it absolutely poured rain, so we ran across the street from our hotel, had dinner, then ran back to the hotel for sleep before our flight home. Not a big night on the town, but this was a real case of “when it rains, it pours.”

Posted by
307 posts

I would stay in Ghent and day trip to Bruges.
Can highly recommend the hotel Carlton in Ghent; the service and accommodations are excellent.
Ghent is a good base and preferred it over Bruges. Tofromleiden offers good advice.
Unless there is something drawing you to Amsterdam, consider Haarlem, Leiden or any of the other smaller cities. However, if you do visit Amsterdam, try to get reservations at Martine's Table for dinner.
Decide what you want to do and go with it!