We are traveling from Amsterdam to Bruges, Belgium in mid April. There are two options: transfer in Antwerp ($112, senior/comfort class) or transfer in Brussels ($125, senior/comfort class). Does anyone have an opinion about which station is more user friendly for English only speakers with some luggage? And are there any opinions or information out there concerning the fare? Both trains out of Amsterdam are Thayls trains and trains, actually it is the same train.
Antwerp gets you to Brugge faster. But it's a multi-level station, and off the top of my head, I couldn't say if Thalys trains dock on the same level as a train to Brugge.
Thalys stops in Brussel Zuid/Midi, and the layout of this station is a little more standard. All the tracks run parallel to each other on one level.
In summary, Brussel Zuid is probably slightly easier to navigate, but not so much that it overcomes the time advantage you get in Antwerp.
Thank you. I think I'll go for the Antwerp connection.
There are really no language problems in reading the signboards-Departures in Belgium. You might be confused by the staggered occurrences of the Dutch signs in Brussels that say Brussel-Zuid, which is the same as Bruxelles-Midi on the other half of the poles!
You might be forced to descend a stairway with no down-escalator in Brussels, but you could also walk all the way to the (single?) elevator. In either station you must look up your departure track on an electronic sign. I wonder if there is slightly better chance of getting seats on the, longer, local ride in Brussels. Probably a tossup, as well as whether you're stuck on the top level of a double decker commuter car to Bruges.
If you change in Antwerp you may have to take a lift or escalator up one or two levels from the long-distance platforms to the regional ones. If you change in Brussels Midi, unless you're extremely lucky, you will have to go down one level from the platform to the concourse, then up one level to a different platform. I don't see a great deal of difference.
If Brussels is quicker in total depends on how the connection is between the highspeed and the national train. For timetables and online tickets have a look at www.belgianrail.be, you can select English and there is a selection button for international travel.
Brussels can be quicker, but it doesn’t make a huge difference, btw the stationbuilding of Antwerpen-Centraal is an attraction in itself and hase a more pleasant vibe, for that reason a better place to wait for the train to Bruges.
In Antwerp are three levels, named +1, -1 and –2, the latter for highspeedtrains and the first, being the highest level is for national trains, like the intercity to Bruges. You can also find the platform numbers on the belgianrail website, but always look for realtime information on the sign-boards on the spot. If you have already your online ticket and for instance a half hour to change trains, you have plenty of time to navigate through the station, it’s not that difficult and enjoy the place in the process. There are left-luggage lockers in case you want to look a bit around for a while.
My wife and I recently took the train from Amsterdam to Bruges, transferring in Antwrep. If you buy the tickets in Amsterdam make sure you clearly state Bruges. Tickets issued were to Brussels not Bruges did not realize mistake until afterthe train left the station. The train conductor assisted and issued us new tickets with a transfer in Antwerp. The Antwerp train station is absolutely beautiful, spectacular. Lessens learned for us was to write or point on a map your desired destination. No comment on fare other than we likely paid dearly for fixing our ticket mistake on the train. Oh well.