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Day trip to from AMS to Brussels or Antwerp?

We'll have a few extra days in Amsterdam after a Baltic cruise. I'm looking for suggestions on day train trips? Recommendations to see Antwerp, Brussels, or Rotterdam? I think we'll be over the museums by the end of trip, so looking for nice places to walk, explore, eat good food, etc. Suggestions are welcomed!

Posted by
4872 posts

I wasn't a big fan of Antwerp - and I'd say the museums might have been the most interesting part to me (and I'm not even crazy about museums). Brussels is bigger and not that exciting either, though the huge Grand Place is really cool. I much preferred charming Ghent or Bruges, though getting to one of them by train from Amsterdam would take a lot of time. Ghent would be 30 min closer than Bruges and less touristy, though. Maybe doable.

Closer to Amsterdam, I spent a night in the town of Delft - loved it! I day tripped to The Hague. Didn't get to Rotterdam.

Posted by
4637 posts

I liked Antwerp better besides it's closer to Amsterdam. No comment about Rotterdam, haven't been there. I think many towns in Holland are more attractive. If you can see only two towns in Belgium let it be Ghent and Bruges.

Posted by
2487 posts

Antwerpen (the nearest city in Belgium) can be done within one hour or so, using the high-speed Thalys service. Unless you buy those tickets well in advance, it is a pricey affair with tickets for EUR 73, one way. (A cheaper train service takes one hour more.) Gent and Brugge, which most people find much nicer places, take an extra hour, with a change of trains in Antwerpen or Brussel.
But why go all the way to Belgium, when there are so many nice places just around the corner? You'll love Enkhuizen (1 hr from Amsterdam on half-hourly direct trains), Haarlem (15 mins, with 4 trains per hour) and Leiden (35 mins, dito). To the east you have Utrecht (30 mins), Amersfoort (35 mins) and even relatively far away Zwolle is, depending on the train you take, 1 to 1,5 hrs, all running every 15 mins, giving you maximum flexibility. Domestic trains in the Netherlands don't have reservation: your ticket is valid on any train that day.

Posted by
52 posts

Thank you all for the suggestions! I'll do some research and check train schedules. I'm also open to food suggestions for AMS. We found a fabulous asian restaurant on our last trip and will go back. But, open to other ideas as we'll have 3 pre cruise nights there and 3 after the cruise. Definitely want to go to Harlem. We're doing a food tour in Joordan as well.

Posted by
5378 posts

I agree with Tom. Leiden and Utrecht are 60% as good as Antwerp, and much closer. Delft is really nice, add Den Haag if you have time.

Posted by
306 posts

We stayed for two extra days after our river cruise.
We took the train to Ghent and spent a day there. Could have stayed another day or two.
Then went to Bruges for the other day.
Took the Thalys train from AMS to Antwerp and then the local train on to Ghent and Bruges.
Both are nice towns to wander in with lots of opportunities to eat and explore.
Stayed at the Carlton Hotel in Ghent; about 3 blocks from the train station in Ghent and was an excellent choice.
Highly recommend!
Ate at Three monkeys in Ghent; Panier d'Or in Bruges.

The night before we left to return home, we stayed at the Sheraton at the airport. We left the bulk of our luggage tat the Sheraton before going to Belgium and just took what we needed for the two days. It was very convenient.

We went to Bruges to view the Bruges Madonna and went to Ghent to see the Adoration of the Lambs panels at St. Baaf's Cathedral. Well worth the trip.
Have fun!