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Bruges, Train Help, and choice of Antwerp/Brussels

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Cleveland, Ohio
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Bruges, Train Help, and choice of Antwerp/Brussels

This is our first time in Belgium. We will be staying in Amsterdam for a week and have four days to explore Belgium. (Tuesday morning - Friday night). We will be staying Friday night back in Amsterdam to catch an early morning Saturday flight. We are interested in seeing Bruges, Antwerp, and Brussels. But since we only have 3 nights we would like to keep hotel hopping down, traveling to a minimum, and costs of train tickets low. So we need help deciding which ones. We think we want to do at least one night in Bruges, and then a choice between Antwerp or Brussels. Can anyone help us on our itinerary and how it would work best with the trains?

We like good food, little bit of relaxation, some museums and history, and just want to get the most out of Belgium during our short stay. We understand Bruges may be a little touristy, but we like to see more of the local atmosphere as well. Thanks in advance!

Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: Bruges, Train Help, and choice of Antwerp/Brussels

You don't say when, which affects train prices in Belgium. However I will assume after the end of August. You don't say whether any of you are under 26 or over 65, so I'll assume not. You also don't say how many "we" are, which affects Rail Pass option within Belgium.

I don't know whether you are aware that between Amsterdam, Antwerp and Brussels (though not solely between the last 2), you have the option of high-speed Thalys or non-high-speed InterCity (IC) trains. For Thalys, price varies depending on how early you can buy tickets, it can be the cheapest option if you book 2 1/2-3 months in advance and (if travelling via Brussels) purchase add-on ABS fare to one other station than Brussels (e.g. Brugge), if continuing the same or next day. However it would be the most expensive option if buying on the day of travel. IC prices, on the other hand, don't vary according to when you buy them.

You also don't say whether or not price is a factor that would affect your choice. In case it is, here is how the various options work out pricewise (if I have added up correctly which is not always the case..):

1) The cheapest option would be to spend all 3 nights in Antwerp and travel to the other cities from there: IC Amsterdam-Antwerp-Amsterdam (€31); daytrip Antwerp-Brugge-Antwerp (€28.20); daytrip Antwerp-Brussels-Antwerp (€13.80): total €73. If you add a daytrip Antwerp-Ghent-Antwerp (€18), it would be worth buying a Belgian Railways 10-trip Rail Pass for €76 to cover these 6 journeys, see www.b-rail.be/nat/E/tarifs/passes/rail/ (NB You could replace IC between Amsterdam and Antwerp by Thalys, but then it is impossible to say which price you would get, €29/€39/€49/€53/€70; cheaper prices would require booking asap and are no-flex so you could not change your plans).

All other options without prejudice to how many nights you choose to stay where EXCEPT for the fact that if interrupting IC journey in Antwerp you cannot stay overnight because your ticket is valid for any train(s) on the date given on the ticket, so you couldn't use it the next day; while Thalys ABS conditions require you to continue your journey no later than the following day (journey to be continued within +/-24 hrs of arrival in Bxl).

2) IC Amsterdam-Brugge (€48: requires change in Antwerp so you could spend the day there before continuing to Brugge), standard single Brugge-Brussels (€13.50), IC Brussels-Amsterdam (€40.40): total €101.90

3) IC Amsterdam-Brussels (€40.40), standard return ticket Brussels-Brugge-Brussels (€27), IC Brussels-Amsterdam (€40.40): total €107.80

4) IC Amsterdam-Brugge (€48), standard return Brugge-Brussels-Brugge (€27), IC Brugge-Amsterdam (€48): total €123

5) Thalys ABS Amsterdam-Bxl-Brugge (€36/€66/€76/€86..); IC Brugge-Amsterdam - to enable you to stop off in Antwerp as you can't with single Thalys ticket (€48): total €84-€124

6) Thalys ABS Amsterdam-Bxl-Brugge (€36/€66/€76/€86..) + Brugge-Bxl-Amsterdam (€36-€76) total €72-€152 plus sidetrip Brugge-Antwerp-Brugge €28.20 (total: €100.20 - €180.20).

Of course a number of these could be reversed. For further research here are some useful websites:

- for train times only: http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

- for international prices (NL-BE) from http://www.b-europe.com/Travel

- for domestic prices (journeys within Belgum) from sefora.b-rail.be/sefora/Sefora/berekenen.do… - but you have to use French/Dutch names of stations e.g. Antwerpen-Centraal, Brugge, Bruxelles-Midi (Thalys), Bruxelles-Central (IC), Gent St. Pieters.

Edited: 10:57 am, August 19, 2012
2. Re: Bruges, Train Help, and choice of Antwerp/Brussels

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