As the second-most populous city in Belgium, Antwerp competes with the capital city of Brussels for tourists' affection. Its rich history and reputation for fine art, food, and fashion lure travelers from all corners of the world—not to mention from over the Dutch border. Amsterdam, one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe, is a quick ride away from Antwerp. They are actually so close that you could easily travel to Antwerp for the day if you're short on time, although this charming city is worth at least a night to truly get to know it.
Antwerp can easily be added to a Netherlands itinerary, and the train is the fastest and most convenient way to travel from Amsterdam. However, last-minute tickets can get pricey, in which case the bus may be a more affordable option and only takes about 75 minutes longer. Driving yourself isn't the fastest way to get to Antwerp, but it does give you the freedom to explore what else the Netherlands and Belgium have to offer.
How to Get from Amsterdam to Antwerp
|Train||1 hour, 15 minutes||from $32||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||2 hours, 40 minutes||from $10||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||2 hours||100 miles (162 kilometers)||Exploring the area|
Trains are one of the best ways for moving around Europe, and the route options from Amsterdam to Antwerp are fast and affordable—if you're reserving your tickets in advance. Two different trains make several daily trips between the two cities: the high-speed Thalys train and the regional Belgian train. The former makes the trip in just an hour and 15 minutes and prices start at 29 euros, or about $32. The regional train takes nearly two hours but prices start at 21 euros, roughly $24. Both trains use dynamic pricing, meaning prices go up with demand and as your travel date gets closer, so book tickets as early as possible for the best deals.
You can look at each website individually to compare train schedules and ticket prices, or you can use Omio to see all offerings from both companies, although they charge a small service fee.
Regardless of the train you choose, all trains leave from Amsterdam-Centraal and arrive at Antwerpen-Centraal, both of which are conveniently located within walking distance from their respective city centers.
The most affordable way to travel between Amsterdam and Antwerp is the bus, with tickets selling for as little as $10. Even if you're making last-minute plans you can usually find dirt-cheap tickets, as long as you're a little bit flexible with your departure times. Popular bus company Flixbus travels several times per day between the two cities.
Since Amsterdam and Antwerp are only 100 miles from each other, the bus isn't terribly longer than the train and is a great backup option for when the train gets prohibitively expensive. The one downside, however, is that bus stations aren't as centrally located as the main train stations. Flixbus picks up in Amsterdam from Sloterdijk, Bijlmer, and the airport (Sloterdijk station is the closest to the city center). In Antwerp, choose the drop-off location that is closest to your final destination. The Antwerp and Van Stralenstraat stops are both near the central train station, while the Plantinkaai stop is next to the river.
If you've rented a car, you can drive to Antwerp from Amsterdam in roughly two hours, although that is heavily dependent on traffic conditions. Both cities are major economic hubs in their countries, and trying to move around either one of them during rush hour can add up to an hour to your driving time.
Even though the route is short enough that you can easily make it without stopping, you can take advantage of having your own vehicle by making pitstops along the way to see more of the Netherlands. Depending on the route you take, you'll pass through either Utrecht or Rotterdam, both of which are worth visiting. After exploring Antwerp, continue through Belgium and go on to Brussels or Ghent.
Even though you are technically crossing an international line, both the Netherlands and Belgium are part of the Schengen Zone, which allows for borderless travel between countries. So when you cross from one country to the other, you don't have to worry about long lines, passport control, or border checks. The only indication you'll see that you've changed countries is a blue sign saying, "België."
What to See in Antwerp
Antwerp is off-the-radar for many Euro-trip travelers, and for that reason it feels like an undiscovered gem when you first visit. The city's distinctive architecture is best on display in the central Grote Markt Square, a gorgeous plaza to sit out and enjoy a coffee before heading off to explore. Antwerp has a dizzying number of museums, but one highlight is the Red Star Line Museum, which chronicles Antwerp's history as the departure point for many 19th-century Europeans emigrating to the United States. The MAS is a museum that literally stands out due to its brick-red and asymmetrical architecture. It houses an outstanding collection of art from around the world, but even if paintings aren't your thing, the museum is worth a trip for the panoramic view of Antwerp from the top floor. When in Belgium, you have to indulge in the national food and drink: a crispy plate of hot french fries alongside a local beer.