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Benelux: what countries to fly in & out?

In April 2022, my adult daughter & I will plan to do the Benelux counties and would like some advice of which counties to fly into & out. Planning to be there about 10 days & will be purchasing a EU rail pass. BTW: I'll be 79 when traveling and am a seasoned traveler but sometimes a bit slow. Any and all suggestions are more than welcome during this planning process.

Posted by
2141 posts

Amsterdam is the largest airport in the Benelux with direct flights from many US cities. Brussels is the 2nd largest with direct flights to a couple of US cities.

A bit outside the Benelux, Frankfurt can also be an option. Not that far away and with direct trains from the airport to several Benelux towns and cities.

Posted by
25722 posts

A Eurailpass for Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands, especially for a 79 year old (or even a 69 year old for others reading) may well be significant overkill.

The Belgian railways love pensioners. Travel out and back anywhere in Belgium after 9am weekdays or anytime weekends if you are 65 or more for ... wait for it ... €7.20 for the return trip. https://www.belgiantrain.be/en/tickets-and-railcards/senior-ticket No pass, no nothing. Just be prepared to prove your age if you are young looking....

The trains and buses in Luxembourg are fully integrated in timetables and service, and where one ends the other takes up. A zippy new tram network too. And - bonus - the price for Luxembourg transit (called CFL) https://www.cfl.lu/en-gb is very cheap. Don't even need to be a pensioner. And very comfortable.

So that leaves the Netherlands. Where did have in mind in the Netherlands?

When I know where you are interested in I can help there too...

Happy planning

Posted by
9774 posts

All public transit in Luxembourg is free. (If you want first class it will cost a few Euro.) So, if you are traveling from Luxembourg City to say Brussels, you will onlly pay for the Belgium portion of the trip.

As state, the rail pass may be overkill.

Let me put in a plug for Luxembourg. Many people skip it but I found it charming. Not overrun by tourists.

Posted by
1618 posts

Nigel, if you're still following this thread can you give us a short translation key for ticket vocabulary between English and American usage?
When you say 'return' does that mean 'round-trip'?

I still remember being sold a 'cheap day return' ticket from a strolling staff person in Victoria Station to go to Brighton for the weekend and not really understanding what I was buying -- why would I want a not-cheap ticket? why would i want to return a ticket if I'm going to use it right now? why are there different tickets for daytime and nighttime? What I wanted was a ticket that would get me to Brighton on the next train going there. And then when I was coming back up to London afterwards, I bought another one. ...

Posted by
25722 posts

English and American usage?
When you say 'return' does that mean 'round-trip'?

I still remember being sold a 'cheap day return' ticket from a strolling staff person in Victoria Station to go to Brighton for the weekend and not really understanding what I was buying -- why would I want a not-cheap ticket? why would i want to return a ticket if I'm going to use it right now? why are there different tickets for daytime and nighttime? What I wanted was a ticket that would get me to Brighton on the next train going there. And then when I was coming back up to London afterwards, I bought another one. ...

A bit off topic since we are discussing BeNeLux, but here goes, since I tend to write in English English:

Yes a return is a round trip.

A day return is used out and back on the same calendar day (or up to 3 am for clubbers)

Cheap because the standard open return is much more expensive. Cheap because it is after the peak ( = rush hour ) when all tickets are not cheap. Or anytime on a weekend or bank holiday.

The whole ticket name is marketing talk for a particular product, Cheap Day Return (note the capital letters).

There isn't (usually) a different ticket for night use. You are being pedantic.

Buying two singles ( = one way ) is the most expensive way. You overpaid.

Posted by
4886 posts

I also believe that some (the cheapest) day tickets around London are not valid during rush hour, so someone who has to be back in London by 6PM would not want one.

I agree that a Benelux Eurailpass is, by far, not the cheapest, but the OP may want to avoid dealing with buying any single tickets. However, some trains may turn out to require seat reservations, requiring a surprise wait in an annoying station line to buy the seat. OTOH, I have waited in some long rush hours lines in Belgium because my US credit card would not work in the automated ticket machines at the side of the ticket hall. You also have to reckon with number of train days for some passes. If you (for example) stay in Antwerp and visit Brussels, Gent, and Bruges as daytrips, which is what I would do, you'll be spending a travel-day of the pass on a $12 round-trip for each of you.

Have you read our host's travel tips, blue menu top right?

We can't give airport recommendations without knowing your home city and a rough itinerary of places you want to see. Are you asking to be told what you should see and visit? Is tulip season involved? There is more than you can do in ten days (how many on the ground?) How often do you like to change hotels? Are art museums important?

I'm tempted to recommend flying into Luxembourg and going home from Amsterdam, but that's not essential. We once started a Belgium trip in Cologne, because we had an easterly flower show to visit, and wanted to visit Cologne for three days.

Posted by
2878 posts

From your home airport of Louisville, KY I see several options to Amsterdam for less than $900 round trip with decent flight times, on several carriers and only one stop. The three countries you plan to visit are small enough that you could plan a trip in and out of AMS. Otherwise LUX, DUS, BRU and FRA could also be priced out for an open jaw ticket. Use Google flights or a similar search engine for flights then confirm and book directly with the airline.

EDIT: I too think a Eurailpass is probably not good value for your itinerary.

Posted by
656 posts

I will tell you what i did when I went to the Netherlands-Belgium in July 2018.

I started my flights at my home airport, Detroit Metro airport. The plane landed in Amsterdam. I might have changed planes in Philadelphia.

On the way back to Detroit, my flights left from Brussels. I changed planes in Atlanta, Georgia.

My reason for not starting in Brussels and leaving from Amsterdam, was mainly the cost. I figured out that my itinerary was the best combination of price versus right length of layovers versus total duration of both trips. In April the best flights for you, and starting from Louisville, KY, might be different.

Just do a lot of searching and see whether it is best to do what i did or start in Brussels and leave from Amsterdam.

I did not buy a EU rail pass. In these 3 countries, trains are frequent; there are a lot of trains. I bought all my tickets at the last minute from machines or agents at ticket windows. I don't know that there is any advantage to the rail pass.