The picturesque medieval city of Bruges (called Brugge in the local Flemish language) in Belgium is a popular choice for excursions from the Netherlands. Although the canals that zig-zag through the streets will look familiar if you're coming from Amsterdam, Bruges offers a very different—and much less crowded—vibe from the Dutch capital.
An easy train ride gets you from Amsterdam to Bruges in about three hours, although you'll have to make at least one transfer to get there. The bus takes about an hour or two longer, but it's also the cheapest method. Driving the 158 miles between the two cities is a great way to stop and explore in the quaint towns along the way, but be prepared for traffic in this heavily populated area.
|Train||2 hours, 45 minutes||from $32||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||4–6 hours||from $18||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||3 hours||158 miles (254 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Amsterdam to Bruges?
As with most European travel, the bus is the most affordable option for moving between Amsterdam and Bruges with tickets starting at 16 euros, or about $18. FlixBus serves this route and you can book your trip directly with an app on your phone, on the website, with a travel agency, or with the driver. With your ticket, you can bring one item of hand baggage and one piece of luggage to be stowed underneath the bus.
Buses depart from Amsterdam at Sloterdijk station, which is about a 10-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal Station. The trip duration varies based on the bus that you choose and ranges from four hours to over six hours, so pay attention before completing your reservation. You'll be dropped off right next to the Bruges train station and from there you can walk into the town center in about 20 minutes.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Amsterdam to Bruges?
Riding the train is the most comfortable, most environmentally-friendly, and the fastest way to get from Amsterdam to Bruges. As there are no direct train routes between the cities, you'll have to make at least one transfer. You can look at the schedule and book tickets through Belgium's railway service, using the local name "Brugge" as the destination city. Tickets start at 30 euros, or about $32, when you buy them in advance but quickly go up in price as they start to sell out. For the best deals, lock in your dates as early as possible.
In this case, the fastest train isn't necessarily the most comfortable train. The quickest ride takes two hours and 45 minutes but requires two very short transfers, which can be stressful if you have luggage or aren't familiar with where to go in the stations. For an easier trip, look for trains that only require one transfer. It takes about 30 minutes longer, but you'll only have to change trains once in Brussels, and this trip gives you enough of a time cushion that you won't have to run across platforms.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Driving your own vehicle is a great option for families, groups of friends, or travelers who simply want to explore and make pitstops along the way. The drive takes three hours in perfect conditions, but you should expect to encounter traffic in this densely populated area.
The only toll you may encounter on this route is driving through the Liefkenshoek Tunnel into Antwerp, Belgium, which costs 6 euros, or about $7. However, it's easy to avoid without adding extra time to your journey by taking a different highway.
Parking in the city center of Bruges is complicated since it's a small city with lots of visitors. If you're only staying for the day, you can find inexpensive parking near the train station and walk into the city from there. If you're staying longer, consider one of the Park & Ride lots where you leave your car outside of the city and can ride a shuttle into the center. Once you're in Bruges, you won't need a car to get around.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Bruges?
If you go by car, you'll be driving through an area of the Netherlands known as the Randstad, a huge urban area comparable in size and population to the San Francisco Bay Area. Traffic can bring your vehicle to a standstill in this zone—especially around weekday commuting times—and you're sure to encounter some congestion as you are driving out of Amsterdam. Avoid the worst of rush hour by leaving between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. or later in the evening. Even once you get through the densely-populated Randstad region, you're likely to encounter more congestion around Antwerp in Belgium.
If you go by train or bus, weekend and holiday prices are likely to rise faster than traveling during low-demand times in the middle of the week. However, the most important tip to obtaining cheap tickets is buying early and being flexible.
What's the Most Scenic Route to Bruges?
There are two main driving routes that you can take from Amsterdam to Bruges and each one offers its own special scenery. The northern route is best in the spring because it passes through Bollenstreek—literally "the bulb region"—famous for its endless fields of famous Dutch tulips before continuing on through The Hague, Rotterdam, and Antwerp. If you're looking for charming cities to make pitstops in along the way, the southern route drives through Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Ghent, Belgium, each of which is one of the most delightful cities in its respective country.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Bruges?
The Netherlands and Belgium are both members of the Schengen Agreement and American citizens can visit either country visa-free as tourists for up to 90 days. All you need is a valid passport that doesn't expire for at least six months after your travel date.
What Is There to Do in Bruges?
The beautiful medieval center of Bruges is remarkably well preserved and is a UNESCO world heritage site, and you can take a guided walking tour through the historic center. Bruges is also an art city, and renowned Bruges painter Jan van Eyck spent most of his life in Bruges. The Groeninge Museum is an ideal place to visit to get a sense of the art history of Bruges. The museum houses some well-known Flemish art.
Belgium is known for beer and Bruges has an interactive beer museum called The Beer Experience located in the historic center of town. You'll learn about Belgium’s famous beer-making heritage and about the monks who were early brewing innovators. There's also a special non-beer exhibit just for kids and a tasting room with more than a dozen Belgian draught beers for the adults.