Unless you were hiring a car for some reason (in which case you should leave it on the outskirts of Amsterdam anyway), I would advise you to take the train, and preferably the normal Intercity train rather than Thalys as it is almost as fast (3 hours) and you can leave from the North, South or Central station in Brussels. If you take the Thalys you can only leave from the South Station (Gare du Midi) and you have to reserve a seat in advance. All these stations are very easy to access, in fact they are linked so if you get to one you can also get to the others.
You can look up the timetable on http://www.b-rail.be/main/E/, or www.thalys.com if you want to go by so-called high-speed train; unfortunately the high-speed track has not yet been built on that route which is why there is only 10 minutes difference between the Intercity (IC) and Thalys trains.
As the previous poster mentioned, the Inter City train is the best way to get to Amsterdam. The cost is pretty cheap, less than 20 euros one-way.
The Thalys will cost you around 35 euros one way and is a little more comfortable but not any quicker. You can find Mezzo fares on Thalys as low as 22 euros if you can travel during the right times. Check the fares at www. thalys.com
The Intercity trains leave at least once an hour all day, Thalys a little less frequently.
Which train station is closest to the grand-place. We plan to stay in this area. Any input on a nice affordable hotel there?
In the Grand Place area, there is the Carrefour and the Novotel. These are among the lower priced "nice" hotels immediately in the area. A favorite among travelers that seems to be more reasonably priced and is not horribly far from the Grand Place is the Welcome Hotel is usually a good bargain from around 95-150 euros per night.
If you click on the hotels listings you will see it always gets great reviews. Only 14 rooms so I would book early - www.brusselswelcomehotel.be
We travelled from Brussels to Amsterdam around this time last year. We booked Thalys tickets in advance and paid GBP24 return (each) which we thought was very reasonable. The journey took 2hr40mins and was comfortable. I'd highly recommend Thalys. Only point to remember is that there are no passport checks between Belgium and the Netherlands, so no need to arrive at the railway station an hour in advance. Our train wasn't even announced until 5 mins or so before it arrived in Brussels, and there were a few of us (foreigners) on the platform 30 mins beforehand, all wondering why nothing was happening! lol
We stayed at the Ibis off Grand Place (cheapest we could find) and took the tram to Midi Station. Very easy, unless you have lots of luggage.
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