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Rail Travel in Belgium and Netherlands

I am struggling to figure out the best/cheapest way to purchase train travel tickets (or rail pass) for my upcoming trip, and would greatly appreciate any direction or input. Upon reading Rick's book, I think a rail pass is a good bet but not sure which kind. My daughter and I are spending two weeks in Belgium/Amsterdam, staying a few days each in Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam and Ghent, with a day trip to Frankfurt, Germany for just my daughter mixed in.

Of the 14 days we will be in Belgium/Netherlands, we are traveling by train on 6 of those days, to include the Frankfurt trip.
Monday Aug 3, Brussels Airport station to Central Station, and on to Bruges
Friday, Aug 7, Bruges to Brussels
Saturday, Aug 8, Brussels to Frankfurt, Germany, (round trip)
Sunday, Aug 9, Brussels to Amsterdam
Wednesday, Aug 12, Amsterdam to Ghent
Sunday, Aug 16, Ghent to Brussels, to Airport station to depart

The Belgian Rail website has a 10-day journey pass for $76 which allows use by two people, but I believe is only for travel within Belgium. That seems to make sense for the number of train rides we are planning to take within Belgium.

This is my first trip to Europe, and my head is spinning; any help or tips is very much appreciated! Thank you.

Posted by
4684 posts

The Belgian ten-journey ticket is only usable within Belgium, so I don't think it will be worthwhile for three journeys.

You don't say when your holiday is. If it is more than three months or so in advance, you can get significantly discounted fares for the international journeys, which go on sale 92 days before travel but tend to sell out fast. For trips between Belgium and the Netherlands, use www.thalys.com. For your trip to Frankfurt, use www.bahn.com. These will restrict you to specific journey times, though.

With careful use of these advance discount tickets, you will probably spend less than a pass would cost.

Posted by
16894 posts

At 4 hours each way, Brussels-Frankfurt is a long way to go for a same-day roundtrip; direct trains depart Brussels at 6:25 a.m. and depart Frankfurt at 18:29. Is that your plan? Other departures with connections tend to take longer. My preference would be to choose a closer/cheaper day trip, instead.

Brussels-Frankfurt is obviously your most expensive ticket, too, with advance-discount rates currently at €236 roundtrip, total for two adults. Fares will go up as discounted tickets sell out, or a Eurail Benelux-Germany pass does cover it, but you'd have to order a pass ASAP for home delivery by Friday. With either tickets or pass, a child can travel free, but the age limits are different, and I don't know your daughter's age. If you chose the Benelux-Germany pass, then one strategy to/from Amsterdam would be to avoid Thalys trains, due to their extra seat reservation fee.

Posted by
4 posts

Philip and Laura, thanks for the replies --- My travel time is beginning next week, arriving in Brussels on Monday morning, August 3. I was considering the 10-journey pass within Belgium for our two-week stay, because we will definitely be making the three trips within Belgium noted above and possibly a fourth for a day trip to Antwerp (probably from Ghent). So, with the journey pass being used by both my daughter (age 23) and myself, that totals 8 train trips within Belgium. So $76 seems to be cheaper than eight individual tickets. Would this pass have to be delivered to me, though? Because in that case, there is obviously not enough time.

The day trip to Frankfurt is to visit a friend who lives in Germany and is also traveling to meet us there. I plan to do what Laura stated, and spend the $236 for two adults round trip.

Any suggestions for how to spend the 6 hours we will have in Frankfurt?

Thanks so much.

Posted by
33141 posts

Does your friend know much about Frankfurt? Do they want to "do something" or just visit with you, maybe over a long lunch?

Without knowing a great deal about you or your friend it is difficult to know what would interest you?

Museums, Jewish heritage, riverfront, shopping - it is all there, but its a bit scattergun at the moment...

Posted by
4 posts

Of course, Nigel, sorry for being so vague! Actually, the friend is a friend of my daughters, and she will be spending the six hours strolling and 'hanging out' with her friend, while I will be pretty much on my own. I do enjoy art museums, history, shopping, etc. A pleasant shopping district with a casual place for lunch, and maybe a museum mixed in, would be a perfect six hours for me! Thanks again.

Posted by
7506 posts

Your trip is a little underplanned. Besides missing the discount rail windows, you don't seem to know how frequent and cheap the local trains are in Belgium are, and how close together your Belgian cities are. I would daytrip from the city that pleases you most. For me, Antwerp. For Martin McDonaugh fans, Brugge.

It turns out that the value of the belgian 10-trip is that you don't have to wait in line to buy tickets every day, and you can share it between multiple riders, as long as you fill in the lines before the train moves. Buy it in any big Belgian station.

Posted by
4 posts

Good to know I can buy the Belgian 10-trip at a Belgian station if I choose to.