Trains between Belgium and the Netherlands

Making a day trip to Brussels or Antwerp during your holiday in the Netherlands? Visiting Amsterdam while staying in Belgium? Or making a business trip from Belgium to the Netherlands? Either way, Belgium and the Netherlands have excellent connections by rail and in fact it is very easy to take the train between these two countries.

There are two ways to travel between Amsterdam and Brussels or Antwerp:

  • Intercity train - slower, but easier to book and cheaper
  • High-speed Thalys train - quicker, but more expensive and reservations are needed

Intercity train from Brussels to Amsterdam

An easy and inexpensive way to travel from Belgium is the hourly train between Amsterdam and Brussels. This intercity train runs from Brussels South/Midi to Antwerp Central, Rotterdam Central, The Hague HS, Schiphol Airport, and terminates at Amsterdam Central. This train runs every hour, all day long and is just like a regular Dutch or Belgian train: there are no reserved seats (free seating) and your ticket does not bind you to a particular train.

Your international ticket allows you to change trains in Rotterdam Central, so you can take the faster Intercity Direct service which skips The Hague. This may save you approximately 15 minutes when you travel to Schiphol Airport or Amsterdam Centraal.

High-speed Thalys train between Brussels and Amsterdam

If you prefer faster travel time, you might be interested in the high-speed Thalys service between Brussels and Amsterdam. This train travels at high speed between Antwerp and Rotterdam, and between Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport. Tickets are slightly more expensive, but it is worth the saved time.

Thalys runs quite often, but not every hour, and it has reserved seats. It is necessary to book your Thalys trip in advance. Thalys offers free wifi on board (unlike the intercity between Brussels and Amsterdam) and also has an on-board restaurant.

Local trains

There are two local train services running between Belgium and the Netherlands:

  • There is a local train from Antwerp to Roosendaal, which takes approximately 45 minutes (the intercity between Antwerp and Roosendaal takes 27 minutes for this stretch). This train runs once per hour.
  • Another local train service runs between Liège-Guillemins (Luik) and Maastricht. This will take about 30 minutes and also runs once per hour.

These trains stop at all stations, which is why the local train between Antwerp and Roosendaal is 20 minutes slower compared to the intercity. However, it is an useful alternative when you miss the intercity train or when the intercity is delayed or cancelled. You can change to quicker trains in Roosendaal and Antwerp.

Train tickets between Belgium and the Netherlands

The best way to plan your journey and to buy tickets is by booking them online. Both the Dutch and the Belgium railways have excellent websites to buy tickets. The NS International website is a bit easier to use, but the Belgian SNCB Europe is a good alternative. Just enter your departure and destination station, and follow the steps to find a suitable train and to see current ticket prices.

When you purchase ticket, it will be sent to you as an e-ticket. This is a PDF which you must print out, alternatively you can download the ticket in the NS International app and show your phone to the ticket inspector.

You can pay on the NS International website using by credit card (MasterCard, VISA and American Express) or by iDeal. The SNCB Europe website allows you to pay by creditcard, Maestro, PayPal, Bancontact, Giropay, Sofort or iDeal.

Travel multiple days with Eurail or Interrail

When you aim to visit multiple places in the Netherlands and Belgium by train, take a look at Eurail. Eurail is a travel pass which allows you to take all trains in the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg) during a certain period. By travelling this way, you are way more flexible, you don't need to worry about buying train tickets, and you save money compared to buying train tickets.

Read more about the Eurail Benelux pass. Europeans may also consider an Interrail Benelux pass.