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Amsterdam to Brussels to Brugge back to Amsterdam by train

Hello,

We are planning a trip to Amsterdam next summer, including Brussels and Brugge for a couple of days.

Would appreciate any advice on the best and more cost and time - efficient way to do this by train. Can we buy round trip tickets from Amsterdam to Brussels that would also cover Brugge - So basically looking at Amsterdam to Brussels to Brugge back to Amsterdam ? Also, our 2 kids are 20 and under.

Much thanks in advance!

Posted by
16860 posts

You can buy advance-discount Thalys tickets that include a connection to Bruges or Any Belgian station, available starting 3 months ahead of your travel dates. However, a good schedule for cheaper InterCity trains will also be back in place next year, making it less necessary to lock in dates and times ahead. Check train schedules later in the spring.

Posted by
11263 posts

On that route, there are no discounts for "open jaw" tickets like there are for flights. Therefore, you will be buying three separate tickets: Amsterdam to Bruges, Bruges to Brussels, and Brussels to Amsterdam. As Laura said, the fast trains start out inexpensive if bought in advance as non-refundable and non-exchangeable, and to up (substantially) as you get closer to travel or if you need flexibility. However, slower regional trains also run between Brussels and Amsterdam, if you need more flexibility. And between Brussels and Bruges, almost all trains are inexpensive locals, running twice an hour, with no reservations necessary or possible.

Look at tickets for a few days from now, to see your options and the last minute prices. Then, if your plans are firm and you want the discounts on the fast trains, book as soon as they become available.

For schedules, you can use Bahn: http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en. Here's Rick's tutorial on how to use it: http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/online-schedules
Note that it only has prices for trains that start or end in Germany (so not for your routes).

For booking, you can use Belgian rail's international site: https://www.b-europe.com/Travel

Posted by
42 posts

Laura, Harold, which website should I use to buy tickets for the faster trains from Brugge to Amsterdam? I am looking at Thalys and do not see an option! Thanks!

Posted by
4894 posts

There is no Thalys from Brugge to Brussels (nor the reverse.) Buying an "Any Belgian Station" option allows you to change trains in Brussels without buying the "second" ticket for the day. The "local" trains Brussels-Brugge-Brussels are incredibly frequent and don't require seat reservations or advance commitment to a specific train. Thalys does-penalty to change, like an airline. Will you have big luggage with you? Some of the Brussels-Brugge trains will have double-decker commuter cars, which can be a challenge with large bags. They can also be crowded, but you can probably stand in the vestibule with your bags if you get stuck.

Be sure to look at the timings on the routes you are studying. This is a substantial trip, because you've made Brugge a "must" for your trip to a different country. If it's not essential to spend the night in Brugge, it's very doable as a day trip from Brussels. But Brugge is much more "attractive" than Brussels. Have you considered Antwerp instead of Brussels? It depends on what you want to see the most of, or how you want to spend your evenings.

Posted by
25751 posts

You can't get from Brugge to Amsterdam by Thalys directly. You take the national train from Brugge via Gent to Antwerpen or Brugge to Brussel and pick up the Thalys in Antwerpen or Brussel. (Faster through Antwerpen).

Try http://www.belgianrail.be/en which is the webpage for the SNCB, the Belgian trains.

The reason you don't get anything on the Thalys site is that the only connection by Thalys from Brugge is Paris (Nord).

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you, Tim and Nigel for clearing the confusion!

Tim, we will be based in Amsterdam for about 8 nights only.

Tentative Plan -
Head to Brussels Thursday morning (Thalys), see the city and its attractions, stay the night at Grand Place
Head out to Brugge next morning to spend half a day
Back to Amsterdam by early evening.
Does this sound doable or are we missing something?

Thanks!

Posted by
25751 posts

OOh ouch!!!

That is a quick trip!!!

If you have such a short time I would suggest to spend the night in Brugge, and skip Brussel entirely. That's a lot of sitting on your bottoms for such a small return.

What had attracted you to Brussel? The peeing boy is pretty much a non-event, his peeing sister and the peeing dog are even less. Only the boy gets a costume....

The Grand Place is nice, but you can get the same thing but better at Delft, and pretty darn good at Antwerpen and Gent and Brugge.

Better chocolate in Gent, and pretty good in Brugge.

You won't find a church on church anywhere in Brussel. [EDIT: like there is in Brugge]

Posted by
4894 posts

I don't want to talk you out of visiting two countries, but in 8 days, I would take advantage of how many superb, repeat, superb ... day trips there are from Amsterdam. Whether your interest is art, flowers, cheese, windmills, science museums, ocean engineering, canals, boats, Atlantic ocean, bicycle riding, medieval town centers, World Wars, you can get there from Amsterdam in less than 1 1/2 hours - sometimes just 35 minutes.

Have you read Rick's (online) general guide to European train travel?

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains

Posted by
1540 posts

If you take the Thalys it doesn´t matter if you go via Antwerp or Brussels, both need just over 3 hours. Via Brussels looks like a detour, but the connection is more efficient. You will start in Amsterdam with the same highspeed train and arrive with exactly the same “local” train in Bruges. (Nigel - (Faster through Antwerpen) Or do I have overlooked something?) Other train options are cheaper, but costs more time.

So you don´t have to lose too much time with a visit to the Grand Place. As the highspeedtrains arrive at Brussels Midi, you have to go back just a few miles with the train to Brussels Central for a 10 min. walk to Grand Place. You can include nearby Manneken Pis, just to see where all the fuss is about and think “what are we doing here?” :). The whole visit needs a few hours or so, or even less.

Trains from Brussels Central to Bruges are the same as from Brussels Midi and if you have an ABS (Any Belgian Station) ticket you can continue your journey to Bruges with it, with a delay as long is at is on the same date if I´m informed well.

You can spend the night in Bruges and so include to my opinion easily a short stop in Brussels. For timetables the site of Deutsche Bahn is mentioned often, you can also use www.belgianrail.be as noticed before.

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you, Tim and Wil for such helpful tips.

@ Tim - Your suggestions for day trips sound very enticing indeed! Do you mind sharing the names of the places and how they are best clubbed together as day-trips? Thanks so much!

Posted by
4894 posts

Mom, if you don't have Rick's Netherlands guidebook, I'd suggest you find an older one in the library. The hours and prices may be out of date, but the cities don't change! And you have to decide what interests you before you make the plans. For example, Delft is of interest to old-master art-lovers, porcelain-buyers, and history buffs. But others might take a very similar train trip to The Hague for the beach or Royal Palace, or to Rotterdam for modern art, or Kinderdijk for windmills. (All these places are very close together, too much for one day.) Here's a list of cities we liked, but you have to look closer than you can get on a Newsboard:

Alkmaar
Haarlem
Amersfoort
Leiden
Keukenhof (MUST Google 2015 DATES)
Aalsmeer Flower Auction (Weekday mornings)
Deventer or other Hanseatic League towns
Utrecht
The Hague
Delft
Kinderdijk (there's a second windmill destination elsewhere)
Hoge Veluwe National Park, Royal Palace, and Kröller-Müller Museum

Posted by
42 posts

Tim, RS's book is on its way as we speak :) Thanks a lot for the time and all the helpful ideas.

Posted by
25751 posts

Keukenhof 20th of March to 17th of May, so unless you define summer differently than most unfortunately you will have to miss that one (copious tears now flowing)

The other popular windmill adventure is Zaanse Schans Don't be fooled by the true panoramic photo on their website which make it look like you are miles from everywhere. When it scrolls back across the bridge you don't see that just behind you is a built up industrial area and the train station. That's not wrong, they took it from the best angle - just like real estate. Also that's not to dissuade you, just so you are not surprised. It is a fun, very close to Amsterdam and therefor very full of tourists, very informative place. You can even watch clogs being hand made in your exact size.

Kinderdijk in the rural countryside east of Rotterdam really is surrounded by countryside, and the distances between the windmills is somewhat greater. You can see them in their natural environment, and you can even take a boat there if you wish.

I find the only real thing tying the two places together is that they both have operating windmills. For me they are like chalk and cheese, and I love both of them.

Did Tim's post mention Edam (with the floating basement) or Enkhuizen? Or Arnhem? Or Het Loo?

You could easily spend a month in the Netherlands and not retrace your steps.

Did anybody mention castles? Do the kids or you have any interest in real genuine castles?

Did you know that the Netherlands has mountains? Well, high hills that the Dutch are convinced are mountains. (Limburg).

BTW - Mom - I see that the kids are under 20. Does that mean 18 and 19 or 10 and 11?

Posted by
42 posts

Thanks, Nigel, for your suggestions.
We are targeting end of June - early July next year.
Kids will be 20 and 14 at the time of travel. Was just wondering if their train and museum tickets would be any cheaper.

Posted by
4894 posts

Hey Nigel, we actually spent three nights on the Rhine in Arnhem, with a great view from our soul-less business-hotel. Besides the distance, I didn't think it was a must-see for others. Even nearby Deventer has a larger and prettier medieval old-town. Although I'm not a "WW II tourist", I was also disappointed to drive over what turns out to be the third (!) bridge on "that" site. And it's so easy to overlook a plaque (in Dutch) that says, "This building was used as the German SS Headquarters in Arnhem". I did include Het Loo, but not by name. I even liked Nijmegen better, partly because there was a Queen's Day party all over, that week. But neither is otherwise worth the trip from Amsterdam, the OP Topic.

Posted by
25751 posts

ah, but just a handful of km southeast of Arnhem is the Kasteel Huis Bergh in s'Heerenberg, one of my favourite small castles anywhere. And in Arnhem is the fabulous Netherlands Openair Museum.