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Driving Amsterdam to Bruges

I have priced train fares vs car rental for a day trip from Amsterdam to Bruges in June 2016. The car rental won out for 3 people. Has anyone made this trip? Any suggestions for route, drive time, or any other suggestions? I don't want to get backed up in crazy traffic, but love to drive and think this could be fun. Would like to visit Brugges, have to hit the Church of Our Lady between 1:30 and 5. The return trip could be a lazy meander. Would be happy to hear others experiences and ideas. Thanks.

Posted by
6788 posts

Well, purely from a cost perspective, I would double-ckeck to be sure you have planned all the details - eg cost of fuel, parking, any toll roads?

Stepping back though, I enjoy a nice drive as much as anyone, but I'd take the train, as it seems to me like it would be simpler and more relaxing. Parking can be a hassle in old city centers...

Posted by
2004 posts

Driving from Amsterdam to Bruges means you will have to deal with rush hour. In theory you can do the drive in about 3 hours if there is no delay, but you have to pick up the car first, find a place to park in Bruges and bring the car back the same day if that’s the plan. If you can drop off late in the evening you can avoid rush hour in the Netherlands.

As I live in the far south-west corner of the Netherlands I can’t give the exact details there, but to avoid rush hour in Antwerp in the morning you can drive at the north side through the Liefkenshoektunnel and costs €6. Parking in Bruges near the railway station costs €3.5 / 24 hours, parking Het Zand costs way more, both at walking distance to the historic centre.

Could the return trip a lazy meander? Have my doubts as the roads are busy here everwhere, it will be much calmer on the roads in the evening. You really need all your attention to drive safe. But you can think about a stop for dinner in Bergen op Zoom, Dordrecht or Willemstad between Antwerp and Rotterdam. Or you can drive through the Delta Region over the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier with a stop for dinner in Zierikzee. This route goes through the Western Scheldt Tunnel and costs €5.

Don’t take it too easy, it will be a (very) busy day, up to you to decide.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the great replies. We will be doing this drive from Amsterdam to Bruges on Sunday. Will that make much difference in regards to traffic and drive time??

Posted by
2004 posts

Sunday is indeed a hughe difference there will be no rush hour, not that I know. You can follow the route (names as shown on the signposts) Amsterdam – Utrecht – Breda – Antwerpen – Gent – Brugge, free of tolls. However with good (read hot) weather whole Belgium is on the move to the coast and the E40 Gent – Brugge is notorious for serious traffic jams at those days. On Sundays Brugge is always crowded.

As an alternative from Antwerpen to Brugge you can also take the E34 + N9 via Maldegem, north of Gent. You will hit the circular road around the historic centre at the east side and along the canal you can park the car for free, but a bit tricky with the fast moving traffic passing by. Some 2km further there is the large parking lot next to the railway station. 15min walk to the centre.

Going back you can drive to Damme along the canal and further to Oostkerke, via N374 direction Knokke-Heist and N376 to Sluis in the Netherlands. Due to roadworks the connection between the N374 and N376 is a bit changed and can be confusing. From Sluis you can drive to the Westerscheldetunnel (Western Scheldt Tunnel / toll) if the plan is to drive over the Storm Surge Barrier. You will have more feel with the countryside, but only follow this route if you have enough time and if there is enough daylight in the evening / late afternoon.

Posted by
33107 posts

Just drove from Brugge towards Calais today.

The main road south from 't Zand and the Station to the E40 junctions 8 and 7 is completely closed due to rebuilding the road layout and signage is horrible. Think getting most of the way around a roundabout and then see that they want you to go back where you came from in letters about 3 inches - 6cm - high. Rubbish.

I went back the way I came in yesterday all the way to Oostcamp junction 9, which avoided all the traffic and construction but added a fair bit of time.

It did mean I couldn't go past my favourite Frituur.

Posted by
12040 posts

I've driven extensively in Belgium, and made the trip up and down the main north-south route of the Dutch Randstadt several times... In short, some of the worst traffic in Europe. Even on Sundays, the Antwerp ring is a disaster by mid-morning. And the drive is not particularly scenic. Rather ugly for long stretches, actually.

Posted by
2004 posts

Thanks for the up-to-date info Nigel and Tom for your opinion. In this case I would prefer the E34 route and driving through the tunnel north of Antwerpen. I always experience those long stretches of freeways as boring too.