Hi! Rick Steve's Europe Through the Back Door suggests stopping off in Brussels for a short viewing of Brussels between Amsterdam and Paris, then hopping back on to Paris. It doesn't seem as easy as that when I am looking for tickets. I want to buy them ahead of the trip. Any suggestions? It appears to be double the price if you buy tickets from Amsterdam to Brussels, then another ticket from Brussels to Paris a few hours later....really have my heart set on stopping, but not for twice the price. Has anyone else done this before? Help! Thanks!
The bad news is that because all seats are reserved on Thalys trains and tickets are for a specific departure date and time, you will have to book separate tickets. However, the good news is that booking ASAP (up to 90 days allowed) at thalys.com can get you discount fares as low as €29 for Amsterdam-Brussels and €29 for Brussels-Paris. If you decide to skip Brussels, the cheapest discount fare ticket for Amsterdam-Paris is €35.
Rick's advice dated from the time when the trains were unreserved on this route. So, you could just hop off for a few hours in Brussels, then hop back on, for no additional charge. As Tim says, this is no longer true, although it will only cost you €23 if you get tickets now (per his prices).
Thanks, guys. I went to Thalys.com and for the date we are traveling, it is going to cost $895 for the 5 of us to take a train from Amsterdam to Brussels, stay for 4 hours, then take another train into Paris. To go directly from Amsterdam to Paris, it will cost $620. My question to you is: is it really worth the extra cost to stop there for 4 hours?
I like Brussels, but it's not worth that amount of money just for four hours.
There's another option that's much cheaper, but far slower. From Amsterdam, take domestic Dutch rail (Nederlands Spoorweg) to Rosendaal, which is a border station between the Netherlands and Belgium. From there, you can ride a commuter train to Antwerp, then a Belgian intercity train to Brussels. For this option, you may have to purchase three separate tickets. One for the Dutch portion, another for the Rosendaal to Brussels leg and Thalys for Brussels to Paris. But as I noted, this is a very slow route. There was formerly a non-Thalys intercity train that serviced all the major cities along the Brussels to Amsterdam corridor. It was discontinued to make way for a new high speed service (Fyra) that was supposed to compete with Thalys. Unfortunately, Fyra has proven to be a disaster, due to mechanical and electrical problems with the locomotives, and the service has been indefinately suspended. So, now Thalys remains as the only intercity rail option.
" it will cost $620. My question to you is: is it really worth the extra cost to stop there for 4 hours?" Not to me it isn't. But then, it's hard to imagine any place where that cost/time trade off would be worthwhile for me.