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car rental or train? - family of 4 - NL to Belgium

Columbus, OH
Level Contributor
6 posts
2 reviews
car rental or train? - family of 4 - NL to Belgium

We are a family of 4 with two small children, ages 5 and 1. We are from the US and this is our first time traveling to NL and Belgium. We will be spending several days in Amsterdam (Nov 1-5) and the surrounding area. We are taking two days to travel to Belgium for an overnight in Bruges (Nov 6-7). We also want to see Ghent and possibly stop in Antwerp and/or Brussels and maybe even Guoda (in NL) on the way back to Amsterdam. We are also taking one day to visit The Hague and one day to visit Haarlem. We are visiting Haarlem by train. Based on other posts, I am 90% sure that we will visit The Hauge by train, as well. The 10% I am "unsure" about traveling by train to The Hague is that we are planning to take the kids to Madurodam that day, explore The Hague, and then possibly stop in Rotterdam or another town before heading back to Amsterdam for the evening. I'm not sure if the train schedules will permit that. My main concern is flexibility and ease of transporting the kids. I know everyone says the trains are great, but figuring out train schedules and tickets in a foreign country while also managing two small kids could be very difficult. I know there are different train systems in NL (GVB, Connexion, high speed, etc) and I'm not sure if there is one day pass that will cover all we need for a round trip to The Hague. I'm not sure how trains and intercity transit works in Belgium. I'm unsure of which tickets to buy or how frequent the trains will run and don't want to get stuck somewhere because we were running late (which we are always running late).

So my questions:

1) Rent a car or travel by train for our day trip to The Hague considering we'd like to visit Madurodam and Rotterdam or maybe another town

2) Rent a car or travel by train to Bruges/Ghent/Brussels/Antwerp? We only have an two days/one night.

3) If we go by train, which train and other tickets will we need for (a) The Hague and (b) the Brugges/Ghent/Brussels/Antwerp trip.

4) If we rent a car, what factors should we consider? Car companies (I've heard to stay away from Interrent)? Drivers Licenses issues (will a US drivers license suffice)? Crossing the border from NL to Belgium in a rental? Etc

Thank you so much in advance!

2 replies to this topic
Bruges, Belgium
Level Contributor
220 posts
116 reviews
1. Re: car rental or train? - family of 4 - NL to Belgium

Reading you post I think you try to cram to much in your two days in Belgium. If you want to do so many things, it might be better to rent a car. If you are going to Brugge from Amsterdam you can make a stopover in Antwerp and/or Gent on the way to or from Brugge, but Brussels is really out of the way for you. So I would drive to Brugge from Amsterdam and either make a stop in Gent or in Antwerp. Now if you take the train from Amsterdam to Brugge, it stops in Antwerpen and in Gent, and you are allowed to get of and back on with the same ticket. In Belgium children travel free of charge on the train if they are under 12 and accompanied by paying adults. So it might also be an idea to take the train and make stopovers in one or both cities. Now in Brugge the train station is quite close to the centre, in Gent and Antwerp the centre is a bit further away from the train station, and it might involve a bus or tram ride. If you come by car to Brugge, best leave you car in parking lot at the train station. I wrote a blogpost on coming by train to Brugge: https:/…

Crossing the border between in the Netherlands and Belgium is easy, you won't even notice it, there is no border patrol or checkpoint.

Columbus, OH
Level Contributor
6 posts
2 reviews
2. Re: car rental or train? - family of 4 - NL to Belgium

Thank you so much! Great information. Rethinking the itinerary and maybe just doing stopovers on the train. I'll check out your blog post.

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