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Trips to Belgium from Amsterdam

Hello,

I'll be in Amsterdam and would like to do visit Antwerp and Brugge via a high-speed train.

Can I take an express train from AMS to Brussels and then a train to Brugge and then then next morning to Antwerp?

I don't know what the best city would be to visit first, as Brugge is on the western part of the country. I was thinking furthest city first and work my way back to Antwerp? (I've heard that Antwerp, Brugge and Ghent are 'better' than Brussels, but I guess it's all personal preference? Perhaps there is less to do in Brussels?)

Any thoughts?

Thank you.

Posted by
16764 posts

The smaller towns are cuter, with less big-city traffic and offices. All those towns are quite close together. It does work fine to head to Brugge as your overnight destination and spend at least a half-day in Antwerp or Ghent on the way back to Amsterdam. See train schedules through DB. If you don't have Rick's guidebook for this region, you can see prioritized lists of key sights at http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/belgium - choose a city and then click on "at a glance."

Posted by
8906 posts

For the journey from from Amsterdam (or Schipol Airport as you said "AMS") to Brussels(or Antwerp), take the direct Thalys high-speed train. Thalys uses airline style pricing so the sooner you book the cheaper it will be (90 days allowed). Check schedules/fares and book tickets at this site: http://www.nshispeed.nl/en

Trains from Brussels or Antwerp to Bruges, don't allow reservations so you can purchase tickets at the station on the day of your journey; departures every hour.

Posted by
13930 posts

There's also a train route from Amsterdam through Antwerp and on the Bruges and Ghent. You could take that route. Where are you going after Belgium?

By the way, I like Ghent more than Bruges. It's easy to day trip from one to the other. Bruges is very touristy, but also very pretty. Ghent is solid Gothic, lovely after dark and since the university is in the old center, there's more going on in the evenings (cafes, etc). And hotels are cheaper.

Posted by
11613 posts

There's plenty to do in Brussels, depends on what interests you. I also loved Brugge and Gent (in that order). You could easily base yourself in Gent and visit other cities, although the train station there is further from the city center. Still, there are buses to the station every few minutes.

Posted by
1453 posts

Rule of thumb: Antwerp to Ghent takes 1 hour and Antwerp to Bruges 1½ hour with intercity train.
Brussels to Ghent needs an ½ hour and Brussels to Bruges 1 hour with intercity train.
Every city has more railwaystations, in this case I mean: Antwerpen-Centraal, Gent Sint-Pieters, (Station) Brugge (Not Brugge-Sint-Pieters!!!), Brussel-Centraal/Bruxelles-Central and Brussel-Zuid/Bruxelles-Midi, as the latter city is bilingual.
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You can make a loop in one day, to start in Antwerp then Bruges, Ghent and Brussels, but will be too much. Nevertheless the railwaystation in Antwerp is a nice place for waiting for the train to Bruges. Later in the afternoon you can after Bruges visit Ghent, tramride line 1 from the station takes less then 10 minutes to the city centre and on the way back to Amsterdam in the evening you can visit the Grand Place in Brussels, just a 10 minute walk from Brussel-Centraal. But you have to include a short (some) 5 minute ride from Brussel-Centraal to Brussel-Zuid/Bruxelles-Midi for catching the highspeed train to Amsterdam.
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You can also use www.belgianrail.be for detailed info.

Posted by
34 posts

What I'd like to do is take the high-train from AMS to Brussels and then do Antwerp, Brugge and Ghent in two days.

I realize I'd be rushing, but I'd still like to do it.

Any further suggestions on which city of the three I mentioned to start out with and then which one to stay overnight in?

Thanks again!

Posted by
34 posts

I meant Centraal Station in Amsterdam, not Schipol airport.

Thanks.

Posted by
1453 posts

Daniel,

I have no experience with highspeed trains from Amsterdam and Antwerp / Brussels, so I use the online schedules of www.belgianrail.com for a rough idea about the needed traveltime.
Quick trains to Antwerp according schedule are 1:12h, slower but cheaper about 2:00h and for Brussels is that 1:50h and about 3:00h.

Problem is always how much you are going to like each place, so hard to say how long you want to stay there, I’m thinking about the following options.

1 First stop from Amsterdam wil be Antwerp in the morning, around noon. Store your luggage there on the station and take the direct tram to the city centre, needs some 10 minutes I guess, walking less then 30 minutes. In the afternoon take the direct intercity train to Ghent and go first to your hotel / B&B and look around there. Do the daytrip to Bruges the next morning and later go directly to Brussels for visiting The Grand Place (+ more places), go back to Amsterdam in the evening.

2 Go first to Brussels and store your luggage there and visit The Grand Place in the morning and go next directly to your hotel / B&B in Ghent and do a daytrip to Bruges. Visit Ghent the next morning and go to Antwerp in the early afternoon, back to Amsterdam in the evening.

3 Use Antwerp as a base and do the trips first to Ghent and Bruges, visit Antwerp the next morning and Brussels in the afternoon, from there highspeed train back to Amsterdam in the evening.

If Bruges is a must stay place for you, you can swap with Ghent as base, if you are so lucky to find a place there. Packing light for one night makes storing the luggage very easy on one of the railwaystations.