Not every Amsterdam visitor lands at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, or even in the Netherlands. Only a few hours away in Belgium are two airports (located in Zaventem and Charleroi), which are two attractive airport options when visiting Amsterdam.
Brussels Airport (also known as Brussels National or Brussels Zaventem Airport), is situated to the northeast of Brussels and is served by more traditional airlines.
The smaller South Charleroi Airport (CRL) is 25 miles south from Brussels in the city of Charleroi and is about 160 miles from Amsterdam. This airport is a favorite with low-cost flyers as a hub for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air.
While Charleroi Airport isn't exactly around the corner from Amsterdam, it takes just three to four hours (by car or train) to commute either way to the Dutch capital. Visitors can take in several amazing cities on the route from Charleroi to Amsterdam, including Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, and more.
Note Brussels South Charleroi Airport is not Brussels Airport; they are located in two different parts of the country.
Taking the Train to Charleroi Airport
Two different train routes serve the route between Amsterdam and (the vicinity of) Charleroi Airport, but the train will only take you to Station Brussel Zuid (Brussels South railway station), in Brussels. You will need to take a city shuttle to get to the airport.
The Intercity Brussels, the more economical of the two routes, is a three hour, 15-minute ride.
The Thalys train, meanwhile, slashes the travel time almost in half—to one hour and 50 minutes—but be prepared to shell out nearly twice as much for the fare. See the NS International web site for the latest schedule and fare information.
To reach the airport from Station Brussel Zuid, transfer to the Brussels City Shuttle. Travel time from station to the airport is about 50 minutes.
Getting There by Bus
For the cheapest option, travelers can complete the journey from Amsterdam to Brussels by bus and then take a shuttle to Charleroi Airport. An international bus is an economical solution for travel between Amsterdam and Brussels. Like the train, you need to go to Station Brussels Zuid, in Brussels to catch the shuttle.
For the lowest fares, plan to book several months in advance, as prices increase as the departure date nears.
Riders have a choice between three bus companies for the Amsterdam-Brussels route: Eurolines, Flixbus, and OUIBUS. Tickets are available online at each company's website or brick-and-mortar offices in various cities. It is important to note that each bus company has different departure and arrival points for the two cities.
For travelers to Charleroi Airport, OUIBUS is the best bet, since it stops directly at Station Brussel Zuid. If you arrive at other points in the city, it's necessary to take the local train to Station Brussel Zuid to continue the onward journey to the airport.
From two of the other points, the travel time is minimal to get to Station Brussel Zuid—10 minutes from Brussel Noord, and three minutes from Brussel Centraal. You may want to check with the Belgian train (SNCB) service for the latest timetables and fare information.
How to Get There by Car
The 160-mile drive from Amsterdam to South Charleroi Airport can be completed in two hours and 45 minutes. Expect to spend around €30 to €35 in fuel costs, and substantially more to park at the airport.
Choose from a variety of routes, find detailed directions, and calculate trip costs at ViaMichelin.com (search for Aéroport Charleroi Bruxelles Sud).