Hello. I'm traveling in mid-October with my adult daughter to Amsterdam. We are trying to figure out side trips and how to get there. Do we go to Brussels? Do we rent a car? HELP!
No need to rent a car !
If I was to take a day trip out of country I would choose Bruges way over Brussels . Take the train .
Do you WANT to go to Brussels ? If you wish to make a side trip to Belgium why not go to Antwerp , Bruges or Gent ? For side trips from Amsterdam you could take the waterland bus that's behind Centraal Station in Amsterdam . www.localbus.nl/ You still have plenty of time to check websites about what to see or do in Amsterdam . In October there are fewer tourists so lines should be shorter should you wish to go to Rijksmuseum or other attractions . Haarlem , Hoorn , Enkhuizen , Leiden are also nice cities to visit. Weather is unpredictable in the Netherlands so dress in layers . A fleece jacket under a coat or by itself is your friend ! and pack rain gear . Umbrella's are not too useful b/c there are lots of windy days . I pack a good poncho instead that will also cover a purse/backpack . If you are lucky to have nice weather you could take a trip to Zandvoort on the coast ( just past Haarlem so you could combine the 2 ) or to the islands in the North such as Texel . Renting a car is not too good an idea as traffic in the cities is just terrible and parking a nightmare . Public transport is comfortable and reasonable . Check out www.tripkey.nl/ to use for public transport . Most people speak at least some English . Have a great time !
Sunluvr - first, what do you want to see on your daytrips? That will determine where to go.
Do not rent a car. Instead, take the train or bus, if train doesn't go there but bus does.
You have a choice about train tickets. You can either buy RT tickets for each destination one at a time when you arrive at the train station for that days trip or you can use an anonymous ov-chipkaart and load funds onto an electronic card that you just swipe at the gate. There is a surcharge to buy the paper tickets so if you are taking a couple of trips you might as well have the convenience of a chipkaart.
I would hesitate to use Tripkey as they are still in the working stages of starting up a business and problems are being reported by clients (card doesn't work, card is not cleared upon return and they are charged for next persons use, very few service points, etc). The ov-chipkaart costs about 3 euro more than using trip key and it can be used for many years or given to someone else traveling to Netherlands to load and use.
You can use the ns.nl website to see how much each trip will cost you (don't forget to double price for roundtrip) so you know how much funds to load onto the card when you buy it. You can buy the chipkaart from a machine or a person at the service desk. Make sure it is validated for class 2 train travel - cheaper than first class and just fine. Then when the train pulls in you can get on any car with a 2 on it.
Once you tell us more about what you want to see, people can advise you on where to go.
The 9292 public transport planner gives you real time information on any journey with train, bus, tram, ferry or whatever, including the price.
I'm not so sure about the OV chipkaart, if only because it needs a balance of at least EUR 20 to be able to use it on the train, and it might be troublesome to get that refunded. And there might be issues with loading them using a US credit card. Train tickets bought at a ticket window cost you EUR 1 more. Bus tickets are bought with the driver.
I'm with tonfromleiden .The OV card was a pain to load as my MasterCard did not work nor my Amex card while in the Netherlands . So with cash in hand I and a lot of other tourists stood in line at Centraal Station to get it loaded . As Ton said , at least 20 euro must be on the card to get on a train . I seem to remember that for a tram ride the minimum was 4 euro . Many train stations are not staffed so you cannot buy a ticket at the window as we found out in Zandvoort . Unless you have a credit card that the machine accepts OR have lots of loose coins to feed the ticket machine , you're out of luck . The TripKey has had some problems as I've read here but most were also resolved . I'd love to hear from folks who have used TK and had NO problems . We hear about the problems so how about a success story ??
If what you need is a train schedule to other towns, including internationally, Looking Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the Deutsche Bahn train schedule link and tips for using it. Trains depart frequently all around the region.
For a trip like Amsterdam-Bruges, there can be trade-offs between which route is faster or has fewer connections in any given hour. Tickets on Thalys trains are more expensive and sold for reserved times, so you might avoid them for those reasons.
For a trip like Amsterdam-Bruges
The fastest connection I see, is with the Thalys and takes over 3 hrs (close to 4 hrs if you count getting to and from railway stations).
Antwerpen is feasible though as a day trip. On the Thalys only 1hr15. The tickets for the Thalys can come cheap when bought in advance at their website. These discounted tickets are tied to a specific date and hour, and are non-refundable.
@grrttgr I used Tripkey last year and had no problems. I've used the OV chipkaart in the past, and for foreigners, Tripkey is so much easier. Some travelers have reported problems, but it worked well for me.
I used my American Visa cc to purchase and load 300 euros onto two OV-Chipkaarts this past winter. We each ended with a balance of 18 euros. I researched and carefully planned our trips so I knew how much money we would be spending on train fare. As long as your balance is 30 or under at the end of your stay you are golden for an immediate refund. We walked into the train station, went to the service desk, signed off on a form, and were given our refunds along with the empty chipkaarts to reload again the next time we are in the Netherlands. In and out in five minutes. I almost offered the empty cards up here on the forum but decided to keep them in case. Good thing as we will be back in Amsterdam this fall. I don't want to waste time fiddling around with a travel card that might or might not work, that might or might not end up with somebody else's bill on my dime and having to get that settled out from overseas. For three euros more I have peace of mind.
@ T ; Thank you for a positive story about TripKey !