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Travel advice Trains in the Netherlands

 

Take the train to Amsterdam and enjoy some of the very best festivals, exhibitions, events and nightlife to be found anywhere in Europe. With world-class museums, pubs, bars, restaurants and parks, Amsterdam is a great place to visit at any time of year. Regular services operated by NS connect Eindhoven to Amsterdam in 1h 15m, and Rotterdam to Amsterdam in 38m. You can also easily get to Amsterdam from France and the UK - the journey from Paris to Amsterdam can last a little over 3h on a Thalys train, while the journey from London to Amsterdam lasts less than 4h on a fast Eurostar train.

Popular train routes to Amsterdam

You can easily get to Amsterdam from major Dutch and European cities thanks to the high-speed rail infrastructure in central and Western Europe. Check out our table below with some of the most popular routes to Amsterdam, including journey times and train companies.

Route Fastest journey Train operator
London to Amsterdam 3h 55m Eurostar
Paris to Amsterdam 3h 12m Thalys
Brussels to Amsterdam 1h 45m Eurostar, Thalys
Eindhoven to Amsterdam 1h 15m NS
Rotterdam to Amsterdam 38m NS, Thalys
Bruges to Amsterdam 2h 29m Eurostar, Thalys
Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam 14m NS

 

Find out more about train travel in the Netherlands on our Trains in the Netherlands page, or if you want to learn more about international train travel, check out our dedicated Trains in Europe page.


Taking the Eurostar from London to Amsterdam

Eurostar trains to Amsterdam usually depart from London St Pancras International station. You can also get to Amsterdam from Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International stations, but you'll have to change in Brussels. If you're travelling from another city in the UK, use our Journey Planner at the top of the page – we'll show you the best journey to take, as well as the cheapest tickets to Amsterdam.

The journey

The fastest trains can take you from London to Amsterdam in 3h 55m. Departing from London, you’ll speed towards Kent (briefly going under the Thames), travel 20 minutes under the Channel Tunnel, emerging near the coastal town of Calais in France. You’ll cross into Belgium and then into the Netherlands, calling at Rotterdam and, finally, Amsterdam Centraal.

We’d recommend leaving 45-60 minutes check-in time at St. Pancras as you’ll have to go through passport control, a security check and a ticket check. However, unlike air travel, you won’t be restricted to a tiny volume of liquids allowed on board – nor will there be luggage weight restrictions. This is especially useful if you’re backpacking or embarking on a long European break with lots of luggage in tow.

What's on board Eurostar?

There are three classes on Eurostar – Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier – each offering an increasing number of creature comforts as you move up the classes. If money isn't an object, opt for Business Premier. You'll be served a three-course meal designed by Raymond Blanc and gain access to Business Premier lounges at stations, among other perks.

For most of us, though, money is an object. Standard Class is perfectly adequate for travellers who are sticking to a budget. In Standard, you’ll have access to UK and Continental Power sockets at seats, free onboard WiFi and entertainment portal. The WiFi even works while you’re travelling deep underground in the Channel Tunnel – it’s not every day you can message a friend from 115m below sea level!

Food and drink on board

There are no restrictions on the volume of non-alcoholic liquids you can bring on board, so take plenty of water with you for the journey. With regards to alcohol, Eurostar is happy for you to bring a sensible amount on board – four cans/bottles of beer or one bottle of wine. As per the Onboard Alcohol Policy, spirits are not allowed.

Feel free to bring your own food on to the train. Taking a packed lunch on board is a definite money-saver. If you don’t bring any of your own food, the onboard Café Métropole buffet serves proper meals, snacks and drinks.

If you need to know more, we’ve got you covered. Check out our Eurostar information page.

Amsterdam to London return journey

At present, you cannot take the Eurostar back to London from Amsterdam. The Dutch government has to formally approve passport controls at Amsterdam Centraal and Rotterdam Centraal stations before Eurostar can operate in the return direction.

You’ll need to catch a Thalys train from Amsterdam to Brussels and then hop on the Eurostar at Brussels Midi. Don't worry – Thalys trains are modern and comfortable. Check out our information page to find out more about Thalys services.


What to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an immensely popular destination for travellers, not least young people. There is a lot more to the city than the Red Light District and coffeeshops – here are some of the top things to do while visiting Amsterdam. Just make sure you brush up on the difference between coffeeshops and ordinary cafés! You’ll thank us later.

Why not check out the largest flea market in Europe, IJ-Hallen? Adult entry is €5 and you’re guaranteed to find some trendy vintage clothes, vinyl records or artwork. Continue on a vintage trail by visiting one of the city’s two TonTon Clubs – these arcades are filled with old-school button-basher game machines.

As night-time rolls around, there's no shortage of nightclubs to head out to. The Dutch capital is at the centre of the international EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scene, housing three clubs with 24-hour licenses (De School, Shelter and RADION). The city even has an elected ‘Night Mayor’ to preserve its nightlife culture and electronic music scene.

We’ve only scratched the surface of things to do in Amsterdam. Rent bikes for the day, watch an Ajax football game, visit the city’s many museums and chill out in the Vondelpark. Or why not take a day to explore the city’s surrounding environs? As it happens, we’ve got a handy guide for just that.


Visiting from the US?

Whether you’re just visiting Amsterdam or embarking on a more extensive tour of Europe, Amsterdam is a great place for American visitors. For starters, English is widely spoken in the Netherlands, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble conversing with locals. That said, learning a bit of Dutch can never hurt!

There are plenty of interesting museums to get a fill of Dutch culture. Anne Frank House is perhaps the most famous museum in Amsterdam – but also one of the busiest. Book tickets online well ahead of time if you’re intent on this poignant experience of Europe’s dark past. A good alternative to Anne Frank House is the Veretzmuseum, which covers the Dutch experience of World War II. Whichever museums you choose, just promise us you wear a comfortable pair of shoes – you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet!

One thing American visitors should bear in mind in Amsterdam is the Dutch tipping culture, as it differs from accepted norms in the USA. On smaller purchases, it’s custom to round up to a whole number as a tip. If your breakfast came to €18.50, just ask to pay €20. You can leave a tip on larger purchases (for instance, a family dinner at a restaurant), usually 5-10% depending on how much you rated the service.

Now go forth and experience Amsterdam. And if you’re still struggling for inspiration, why not read our guide to a family trip to Amsterdam, written for us by Insta-famous travel blogger Dina Tokio.


Frequently asked questions

Do I need a passport?

If you’re taking the Eurostar, you’ll need a passport or national identity card. For journeys from within the Schengen Area into Amsterdam, there won’t be passport checks as such – and you won’t need your passport to purchase tickets – but you’d be mad not to carry some form of valid ID with you!

Is there a direct train from London?

There are two direct services from London to Amsterdam per day, calling at Brussels Midi, Rotterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Centraal. There are also direct services from various other European cities, including Brussels, Paris and Berlin.

Does the train from London to Amsterdam go underwater?

Yes! Trains go underwater while travelling through the Channel Tunnel. At 50.45 km in length, the ‘Chunnel’ gets to a maximum depth of 115m below sea level and has the longest underwater tunnel segment in the world (39.7 km).

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