Getting from Amsterdam to Bruges

The perfectly preserved medieval Belgian city of Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch/Flemish) is a major highlight in this region, and it’s a common next stop or prior stop for travelers who are touring Northern Europe. But as you may already know, finding the details on how to get from one to the other can be challenging. If you are standing in one of the train stations it’s all right there, but online the details seem to be hidden, so for your convenience, even if you are just going to use your Eurail pass, here is how it works.

By plane

There is a small airport called Ostend-Brugge Airport that serves Brugge, but it’s 30 kilometers outside the city and is mostly used for freight. There is limited passenger service, but there is no scheduled service between Ostend and Amsterdam, and even if there were it wouldn’t save any time and would be way more expensive anyway.

By train

Not surprisingly, the best way to go for most people is by train. You have to change trains at least once in Belgium, but otherwise it’s quick and easy. You can buy a train ticket in advance from the USA on raileurope, but there really isn’t a good reason to do this since buying tickets when you walk up is always easy, and that site adds a commission to the price, and never alerts you to special deals.

There are 3 options in getting from Amsterdam to Bruges:

  • Change trains in Antwerp and again in Gent: 3 hours 31 minutes
    (The first leg of this is sometimes on the high-speed Thalys train, and you have to get a seat reserved for it, which you can usually do the day before or even as you walk up)
  • Change trains only in Antwerp: 3 hours 44 minutes to 4 hours
    (This is a bit slower because the connection between is longer)
  • Change trains only in Brussels: 4 hours
    (This is also slower due to a longer wait for the second train)

Price for the train

One-way adult 2nd class: €42.20
One-way adult 1st class: €63.30

Note: Prices for international trains change more often than for domestic lines, so use these prices as a guideline.

Schedule of trains

On this route the trains leave Amsterdam every half hour from 7am to 10pm, and hourly at night. If you are going during the day you might as well just head to the station and hop aboard the next one. The differences in times of the journeys are small, and in most cases you actually choose which route you’ll take when you get to Antwerp anyway.

How to buy your train ticket

As mentioned above, you can buy a ticket online through a Eurail pass or point to point. Or just go to Amsterdam Centraal Station and buy your ticket once you are sure you’ll be going. In most cases you can buy your ticket just before the train leaves, but some journeys include a leg on the Thalys, in which case you’ll need to reserve a seat in advance.

You can buy tickets to Brugge from the self-service machines (although not to all international destinations) so you can use your credit or debit card or cash and coins to pay. The machines all have an option for English-language menus, and they are easy to use.

You can buy tickets from the normal or international train windows, but the lines are longer and there is a small surcharge (€0.50) for doing this now.

The absolute cheapest way to get from Amsterdam to Bruges

This is by taking the Eurolines bus most of the way. This can be confusing, and it will take around 6 hours even if you time it right. The bus will only get you as far as Gent, and then a train from there will take you to Bruges for the cheapest combination. The bus part will cost around €16, or as low as €10 if you get a promotional fare. The train from Gent to Bruges will cost a bit over €5, and takes under an hour. So for under €22 you can take a 4-hour+ bus ride and then a short train journey. It takes a couple hours longer, and the bus isn’t nearly as comfortable or as scenic as the train, and it only goes once a day, but if you are short on cash it can be done. You can book your bus ticket from Amsterdam to Gent on the official Eurolines site.