How to travel cheap between Brussels and Amsterdam?

sep 26, 2018 | Belgium, Netherlands

Gare du Midi (foto: Jochem Oomen)

With a lot of cross border connections and possibilities, travelling cheap between Belgium and The Netherlands seems somewhat challenging. But what is the most cheap and the most easy way to get from the one to the other country? Let’s talk about trains and buses!

In order to give a good comparison, I write mostly about the connection from Brussels Midi station to Amsterdam Central station. The mentioned prices are single fares.

The quickest connection: high-speed train Eurostar

People use the yellow Eurostar train mostly for crossing the Channel to the UK, but since a couple of months this train is running between the Belgian and the Dutch capital as well. In only 1 hour and 49 minutes. At this moment, it’s still possible to find single fares just for 39 euros for the next days on the traject Amsterdam – Brussels. The other direction is more expensive a few days before departure. For 10 euros more, a true first class experience is offered by Eurostar. This includes very comfortable seats, unlimited drinks and some snacks. Beware at his connection does not stop at Antwerp, nor Schiphol Airport. Personally I never used Eurostar between the Dutch and Belgian capital.

The most expensive: high-speed train Thalys

Since the nineties, the silver-red Thalys trains are connecting Brussels with Amsterdam 15 times per day. In just 1 hour and 50 minutes. Single fares are available from 29 euros on, but are often sold out. If you book just a few days in advance, your fare will be at least 68 euros or 82 euros. I just use Thalys while having a jetlag after a transatlantic flight. And yes, it’s a pleasant experience.

A slow high speed train: IC Brussels

The IC Brussels or Beneluxtrein connects both capitals since decades. Since this year, this yellow and blue train uses the high-speed tracks between Amsterdam and Antwerp. But it is not that fast as Thalys or Eurostar. Finding cheap tickets is possible until one week before travelling. An early bird ticket is 33 euros. I noticed that travelling with this train during the week is less expensive than during a weekend. And if you buy this ticket online at the Belgian B-Europe website, you pay one euro more than at the Dutch NS International website. The traject Brussels-Amsterdam is 2 hours and 52 minutes. But, the fact that this train calls in the Dutch border town Breda as well, is for a lot of persons an advantage.

A very slow, but creative option: the stopper service

If you’re a real traveller and have the time, you can take several trains and cheap ticket deals between the two capitals. For example: travel by intercity service from Brussels to Antwerp Central station, take the all station service to Roosendaal, The Netherlands. In Roosendaal you can find a national train to Amsterdam. This option is really slow, but can be interesting if you’re really creative in finding good deals. If not, I don’t recommend to try this.

International buses use other stations. The majority of international coaches between the capitals, depart at Brussels North railway station. In Amsterdam it depends per company and connection: there are bus stations at the stations Sloterdijk, Duivendrecht, Bijlmer and Amstel.

A green bus: Flixbus

The fast growing Flixbus runs almost every hour (even at night) between the two capitals. This buses run between Brussels North railway station and Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station. The fast and direct fares are available from 10 euros on, the journey time is at least 2 hours and 45 minutes, depending on traffic circumstances. But, be careful by choosing a  bus: some buses do not depart at Brussels North or Amsterdam Sloterdijk, but from Brussels Airport or Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. And some other buses do call at Antwerp, Breda, Utrecht or even Rotterdam. Sometimes I use Flixbus. Experiences vary per driver and traffic circumstances.

A slow bus: Ouibus (to be rebranded in the near future to BlabBlaBus)

The French railway company SNCF has its own buses as well. Ouibus, for example, runs between Brussels Midi station and Amsterdam Sloterdijk station in 3 hours and 35 minutes, because they call several times in between. Tickets are available from 9 euros. I just use Ouibus for traveling to France and that was a good experience (good WiFi connection on board).

A white bus: Eurolines

Eurolines runs for years between this cities. A single fare from Brussels North station to the Duivendrecht station in Amsterdam is at least 13 euros. Travel time depends per connection and part of the day. Night buses, for example, can do it in just two hours. I used Eurolines several times for this journey. I prefer traveling at night or on Sunday, when there is not that many traffic.

Line 19: an unknown cheap countryside bus

An other possibility is using bus 19 from company Connexxion. In one hour, this bus will bring you from the Noorderplaats in Antwerp to the railway station in Breda. This bus is 12 euro. Before Antwerp and after Breda, you can use Belgian and Dutch national trains. When I lived in Antwerp, I used this bus quiet often.

So, now in September 2018, there are 9 different bus and railway companies running between the two small metropols. Personally, I prefer IC Brussel / Beneluxtrein or Flixbus for its prices, because they’re more flexible: I don’t need a seat reservation (I just need a ticket) for this train and I can cancel my Flixbus for just 1 euro and I get a refund of the rest. The same for early bird tickets at the IC Brussel / Beneluxtrein, although they charge 5 euro refund fee.

And… What is your favorite public transport between Brussels and Amsterdam?

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