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Amsterdam to Bruges

In his book, Rick Steves says, "In the Low Countries, cars are best for 3 or more traveling together ..."
We are 3 adults & 2 teenagers and will be traveling from Amsterdam to Bruges. Would it be more cost-effective to take the train or to rent a car? Hopefully, we won't have too much luggage.

Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Posted by
3 posts

I've been wondering the same thing for myself.. on this website you can go to "travel tips" then "trains and rail passes", under the bullet point "roughly how much would your point to point ticket cost" there is a link to "cost estimate maps" This will give you an idea of how much it is per way per person (I think the teenagers will be the same cost as an adult though not entirely sure about that). My guess is a car will be cheaper but you can easily get an estimate online for a car rental. Don't forget to consider how much luggage you all will have and get a vehicle big enough to accomodate you and your bags!

Posted by
169 posts

Well the caveat is that there is usually a very high fee for picking up a rental car in one country and dropping it in another. I am thinking the train will be less expensive.

Posted by
11292 posts

In addition the drop charge, the other thing to be careful of is to make sure you rent a car large enough for 5 people and their luggage, and to hold the luggage out of sight in the trunk (so you can feel a bit more comfortable when you make a stop; there are no guarantees, but if your luggage is sticking up in the back seat, it does make your car more of a target). Such a large vehicle is going to be much more expensive than a smaller car.

To estimate other costs like gas and tolls, a great site is Via Michelin: http://www.viamichelin.com/

To get real train prices (Rick's map shows estimates), go to the source - Belgian or Dutch rail. Here's the Belgian rail international site: https://www.b-europe.com/Travel

If you go by train the fast way, part of your trip will be on the Thalys. These use "airline pricing," so the tickets start out affordable for non-refundable and non-exchangeable ones, but get more expensive as the cheaper fares sell out or if you need more flexibility. If you go the slower non-Thalys way, there is no discount for advance purchase, so if you can take more time for the trip, you don't have to commit to a specific train in advance. Both routes are shown on the Belgian rail site I linked, so you can compare.

Posted by
183 posts

Thank you all so much for your very helpful replies. Having read them and talked with my husband, we both agree that the train will likely be a better option.

Posted by
1871 posts

9292.nl/en may be useful for Dutch train information.

Posted by
16883 posts

If this is just one travel day, not several different stops, then I think that also points to train over car. The best prices on the Thalys faster-train tickets go on sale 3 months in advance of your travel date.

Posted by
228 posts

By train it takes about 4 1/2 hours and is 31.02 euro per person. If you go from Amsterdam Centraal train station over Rotterdam it is 3 transfers. If you go over Vlissingen it is 2 transfers. Either way , you will have to take a ferry ride which is included in your train ticket price . ( Ferry in dutch = VEER ) Can everyone grab their luggage quickly for these transfers ? So the train for 5 people will cost 155.10 euro total. Compare this to a not too small car rental and check for extra's such as insurance , taxes , drop off fee etc. Hope this helps. Happy travels !

Posted by
183 posts

Thank you. I had no idea about the ferry ride. Yes, we should be able to grab our luggage quickly.

If anyone has any tips/suggestions (as needed), we'll be traveling as such:
* Eurostar from London to Amsterdam
* Amsterdam to Bruges (as noted here)
* Returning from Bruges to London (via Eurostar)

Thanks so much everyone.

Posted by
8889 posts

Amsterdam Centraal to Rotterdam DOES NOT involve changing. It is a main route with multiple trains per hour. I don't know where grrttgr gets his info from. Vlissingen is totally off route.

  • Eurostar from London to Amsterdam = 2 trains, London --> Brussels (Eurostar) then Brussels --> Amsterdam (Thalys)
  • Amsterdam to Brugge = also 2 trains, Amsterdam --> Brussels and Brussels --> Brugge. Sometimes it is quicker to take 3 trains: Amsterdam --> Antwerp, Antwerp --> Ghent and Ghent --> Brugge
  • Returning from Brugge to London = 2 trains, Brugge --> Brussels and Brussels --> London (Eurostar).

Cars are a liability in Amsterdam, and unneeded if these are the only places you wish to visit.

Posted by
28086 posts

An earlier poster quoted a price as €31.02. I've never seen a train fare ending in .02. Is that accurate?

What ferry? Yes, there are ferries around, but I see nowhere in this itinerary where a ferry is either required or convenient. The most direct, cheapest, and fastest route is mentioned elsewhere in these answers.

Posted by
183 posts

Chris & Nigel, thank you both for your helpful replies. Really do appreciate it.

Posted by
228 posts

Chris F . It would have been clearer if I had worded it differently. : Amsterdam-Brugge VIA Rotterdam instead of OVER Rotterdam.
Ditto for VIA Vlissingen instead of OVER. I got this info from NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen ) = Dutch Railway.

Posted by
8889 posts

grrttgr, over is Dutch for via, no confusion.
What is confusing is your mention of Vlissingen and ferries. Vlissingen is totally off route from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, and also off route from Amsterdam to Brugge. No way a ferry is required for either.

Posted by
228 posts

9292nl is where it mentions the ferry . I did not mention 3 transfers between Amsterdam and Rotterdam , only a Total of 2 or 3 transfers between Amsterdam and Brugge depending on what time you leave as there are different routes by train .

Posted by
1681 posts

“Via” Vlissingen is with 4½h to 5h more time consuming but with €34 (Schiphol fee) / €31 the cheapest option. The Dutch 9292 website is focused travelling as much in the Netherlands (with very limited / incomplete international travel options) and so doesn´t mention the “full” train option over Belgium, a bit confusing though. “Veer” is indeed the Dutch name for ferry, but in this case named till recently Fast Ferry (Vlissingen - Breskens), however nowadays Westerschelde Ferry.

The route, what most do over Antwerp or Brussels is with roughly 3h to 4h quicker but more expensive and to my opinion more convenient. Neither the route usually you will travel with the same train for the final leg to Bruges. The train trip Amsterdam over Brussels requires just one change.

If costs are important for you, the Vlissingen option can be considered. There are direct trains from Amsterdam unless you make use of the quicker 4½h route via Schiphol, you have to change trains in Rotterdam. With good weather the ferry ride is nice for a break, the bus ride likely a bit boring.

No idea if there are family discounts.

Posted by
68 posts

The Vlissingen route would be awesome if there was nice weather and you wanted to stop by the beach for a picnic lunch or to play in the ocean. If the weather is clear it would be awesome, but when I was there people had their winter coats on at the beach. That train route is a slow stop at every station ride through not very scenic countryside. The ferry was a ferry, nothing special.
I would take the faster train unless you will be there in nice weather and want to check out the Dutch beach scene. Not sure about driving since I am terrified of driving in Chicago and would never attempt it in Europe. Have a great trip, you will love Bruges

Posted by
1681 posts

Weather makes indeed a huge difference, coastal places here (I live 15km from the ferry) come more to life if the weather is fine. The ferry ride becomes nicer too if you can sit outside and enjoy the scenery, but have to say not really a reason for a detour. If you travel in a group or has somebody to talk to time passes by quiet easily, the scenery itself is I think too not entertaining enough to keep you busy, something to consider if travelling alone. The stop before Vlissingen, Middelburg is certainly worth a visit, for instance the area around the Oostkerk bring you straight back in time.

Posted by
7 posts

One part of the equation, too, is paying for parking. We rented a place in Brugge and paid a little extra for parking the car in the owner's garage. Once parked we never needed the car again, nor did we want to. We, too, drove from Amsterdam to Brugge (this April) and found it quite challenging to drive in the Medieval city. We used a car since we drove elsewhere so it was more economical for us. I suspect that the costs might be similar. One problem we were able to avoid, however, was a Belgian national transportation strike with all train traffic in Belgium at a standstill (April 22). Another disadvantage of car travel, however is that with 5 people plus luggage you will need a larger car and that inevitably creates parking problems, especially in cities like Brugge. So I wonder if you might just weigh the pros and cons of car vs train not necessarily excluding costs, but also in terms of other factors. (By the way, we found our car to be extremely economical in terms of gas, unbelievably using only half a tank in a medium sized car fro Amsterdam to Brugge. We've had that experience before in Europe: extremely economical yet peppy cars. It' a mystery)