In September we will travel from Haarlem to Bruges by train. I have been looking on train websites. It looks like several ways to travel. Has anyone done this trip or have recommendations. Thanks.
That is a very easy trip. When traveling Netherlands Belgium or vice versa I have successful bookings using only the Dutch
https://www.nsinternational.nl/en/home or Belgian rail sites http://www.belgianrail.be/en/Default.aspx
Take the route with just 2 changes for example
Haarlem with a change in Amsterdam to Brussels or Antwerp then a change to Bruges
In some case depending on the time you are traveling or the time you book if you want to spend less pick a route that does not require you to take Thalys Amsterdam to Brussels or Antwerp, Most of the people on that route are going all the way to Paris, which makes it more in demand and drives up the price
What are the choices? Fast and expensive or slow and less expenisve?
If you go by Thalys to Antwerp or Brussels, it is an all-reserved hi-speed train. If you want a reasonable price, you pretty much have to buy nonrefundable tickets in advance, as last minute can be pricey, but it saves about an hour on the travel time. You still have to take local IC trains to get to Bruges from there. Takes about 3 hours.
If you use IC trains, it is a set price, you change trains more often, but it costs less and you can travel on any trains on that route for the day. Takes about 4 hours.
I would not pay extra for the Thalys - the IC trains are very nice and much less costly than the Thalys, and considering you only save about an hour of time, I don't think it's worth it. I went from Amsterdam Centraal to Ghent, Belgium (about 30 minutes from Bruges) and it was a very quick and pleasant train ride - I only had one change in Antwerp and it was worth it to see that beautiful train station. I would suggest purchasing your ticket from NS International, since it was €1 cheaper than using the Belgium train site. :)
Thank you. We have traveled before and are always happy on local trains. Thinking I will look for fewest changes. Would like to go through Antwerp as I have heard there is a beautiful station there.
We used Thalys to get to Antwerp and then Belgian Rail to Bruges.
You can make your reservations through a variety of vendors.
We chose Rail Europe but the Netherlands website is also very user friendly.
Both work well.
If you have the time, take the local/IC trains. If you want more time to look around, use Thalys.
The Thalys tickets can be quite reasonable if you purchase them when the window for the sales open.
You will enjoy the Antwerp station; it is worth the trip to see its beauty!