Bruges (Brugge) is the historic canal city in the northwest of Belgium which attracts many tourist visitors. Nearby is the larger city of Ghent (Gent), the capital of East Flanders province. Bruges is located around 250km south-west from Amsterdam.
Travel between Amsterdam and Bruges/Ghent is possible by high speed and standard rail and competing coach services. Some people also decide to rent a car and drive.
1. Amsterdam-Bruges, Amsterdam-Ghent by Train
Travelling by train is a comfortable way to get from Amsterdam to Bruges or Ghent and can be easily booked at the NS International site with prices from €29 one-way.
The journey is split into the following components:
(1) Travelling Amsterdam to Brussels or Amsterdam to Antwerp, which can be done either using the high speed Thalys train or by the Intercity Brussels train
Thalys is currently running 7-9x daily (weekdays), 4x daily (Saturdays) and 5-6x daily (Sundays). The Amsterdam-Brussels journey takes 1 hour 50 minutes, Amsterdam-Antwerp takes just 1 hour 13 minutes.
The 13x daily Intercity Brussels can get you to Antwerp in 1 hour 53 minutes or to Brussels in 2 hours 48 minutes.
Note, there are also Intercity Brussels trains operating between Brussels and Den Haag HS up to 4x daily. The Den Haag-bound train does not go to Amsterdam – you need to then change in Rotterdam.
(2) From Antwerp or Brussels you take a frequent Belgian Rail Intercity service to Bruges which goes via Ghent St Pieters. If you are Bruges-bound from Antwerp you may have to change train at Ghent.
Antwerp-Ghent runs hourly taking just under 1 hour, add an extra 30 minutes to get to Bruges. The Brussels Zuid-Ghent-Bruges Intercity runs up to 4x hourly. Travel time is 30 minutes to Ghent and 1 hour to Bruges.
Expect the total journey time from Amsterdam to Bruges to be around 3 hours if taking the Thalys via Brussels and almost 4 hours if using Intercity trains to Belgium. Likewise, Amsterdam-Ghent will take about 2 hours 30 minutes using Thalys and 3 hours 30 minutes with Intercity trains.
If taking the Intercity it’s really up to you whether you change in Brussels or Antwerp.
There are standard fixed prices (2020) for travel using intercity trains although cheaper early bird fares (book online in advance) are also available.
Amsterdam-Bruges one-way costs €57.60 (2nd class) or €91.00 (1st class).
Early bird one-way fares start at €29 (2nd class) and €41 (1st class) Mon-Thu and €39 (2nd class) and €55 (1st class) each way Fri-Sun. Early bird fares are valid on any service on the ticket day.
Amsterdam-Ghent prices are as follows: one-way costs €49.00 (2nd class) or €78.20 (1st class). Early bird one-way fares start at €29 (2nd class) and €41 (1st class) Mon-Thu and €39 (2nd class) and €55 (1st class) each way Fri-Sun.
These fixed fares mean you can turn up on the day and pay the standard ticket prices. Intercity fares do not have seat reservations – you just find a free seat available in your travel class.
Holders of Dutch Railways NS discount cards receive a slight fare reduction off the standard fare for the Netherlands segment of travel.
Tickets on Thalys are sold like airfares with mandatory seat reservations and prices rising closer to the travel date. You can buy an Amsterdam-Bruges or Amsterdam-Ghent rail ticket which includes the Thalys component but expect the price to be higher than the Intercity unless booking well in advance. Thalys can be booked up to 4 months out.
The main railways stations in Bruges and Ghent are about a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre.
As Belgium and the Netherlands are members of the Schengen Zone agreement you do not need to go through a passport control check when travelling between Amsterdam and Bruges.
How to book train tickets online: Amsterdam-Bruges and Amsterdam-Ghent rail tickets can be easily booked at the NS International site
For more info see our International trains to/from Amsterdam page.
2. Flights Amsterdam-Bruges
The nearest airport to Bruges is Ostend-Bruges (OST) about 25km from the city centre. This airport mainly deals with freight and holiday charter flights. There are no flights between Amsterdam and Bruges.
It is only possible to fly between Amsterdam Schiphol and Brussels Zaventem airports.
3. Amsterdam-Bruges, Ghent by Coach
Flixbus runs up to a 4x daily service from Amsterdam Sloterdijk to Ghent taking 3 to 4 hours. One service each day goes on to Brugge. One way fares start from €14 (Ghent) and €17 (Brugge).
Blablabus (formerly Ouibus) has a daily Amsterdam-Brugge premium coach service. The lowest fares start at €17 one-way and the journey takes 5 hours. Blablabus is also based at Amsterdam Sloterdijk.
It is also possible to do a full day coach excursion tour from Amsterdam to Bruges and back.
4. Amsterdam-Bruges, Ghent by Car
Some travellers decide to rent a car and travel between the cities. In our experience the signs on the Belgian roads can sometimes be a little confusing – however, these days the majority of people are using navigation systems!
The 250km Amsterdam-Bruges trip takes about 3 hours 20 minutes in total with just under 200km of motorways. From Amsterdam you would take the A2 south and then change onto the A27 – you then follow the directions to Antwerp and then onto Brugge.
Amsterdam-Gent is 220km distance and takes about 2 hours 50 minutes driving. At the Antwerp ring follow directions to Sint-Niklaas and then towards Gent.
This article was originally published in 2015 and has continuously been updated. Last update 15 September 2020.