Travelling between Belgium- Netherlands

I was working since beginning of year 2017 in one of the Multinational companies in Belgium, city Antwerp. The beautiful and one of the popular cities of the country. Antwerp is capital city of Antwerpen province in Flanders. It’s most populous city in Belgium and located around 40km from capital Brussels and 20km from Dutch border. I was living in studio apartment back then in Antwerp.

I got married to my prince charming in October 2017. He is an IT guy, by then living and working in Netherlands in city called Amstelveen. Amstelveen is city in North Holland bordered less than 10km by capital city Amsterdam.

My husband had just started his career in multinational company, so we decided to continue our stay in Antwerp and Amstelveen and continue seeing each other in weekends.

We travelled after work on Friday evening and return back to our cities on Sunday night, so as to start our professional schedules smoothly from Monday morning.

Initially we started our travelling by trains between Belgium-Netherlands. This is the Intercity train (back then; now it’s Intercity direct train) connecting 2 capital cities Amsterdam, Netherlands and Brussels, Belgium with intermediate halts in second largest cities of these countries Rotterdam and Antwerp respectively.

This train service is running in collaboration between Dutch railways- NS and National company of Belgian railways NMBS. This train runs every one hour.

I used to catch this train from Antwerp central station and dropping off at Schiphol airport. You can do the bookings using website https://www.nsinternational.nl/.It takes around 2 hour and costed me 33 euros (then), so 66 euros for each weekend. This seemed to be extremely expensive option.

Then I opted for next cheaper option which was flixbus. Bookings can be done via https://www.flixbus.nl .It costed me from 12,99 euros to 19,99 euros depending on how in advance you book your tickets or based on rush hour period. The flixbus pickup point is Carnotstraat 30 A in Antwerp and drop off at Hatostraat 1043 in Amsterdam sloterdijk. But there are other stops as well in between. Price was cheaper, but it took 3 hours or more to reach Amsterdam due to onroad traffic. There are quiet few delays with flixbus since the bus starts from Paris, halts in Brussels, Antwerp and then Amsterdam. What can you expect on road on typical European Friday evening? Everyone wants to end their week early and roads are busiest.

This didn’t definitely worked for me; but it’s a good option is good if you are flexible with time!

3rd option we explored was BlaBla car, the car pulling service. People who usually are travelling to different cities and have place in their car, often put the rides on website https://www.blablacar.nl .You can find various options throughout the day at different timeslots to travel to different cities. I had fun using this carpool service; I met different people and was fun travelling with them.Journey cost is different based on locations and the rider; usually ranging 10-17 euros per seat. It was cheaper, fast and convenient way of travelling. The most important thing to check on blabla car website before you book a seat is, rating of the rider. Confirm with rider the exact pickup and drop location.Some riders are flexible with time, pickup drop location, but don’t forget to confirm it in advance! Me and my husband loved this option!

This was a temporary travel modes if you are travelling less frequently.

We both moved to a beautiful Dutch town Dordrecht. It’s a town in South Holland province of Netherlands. I still continued working in Antwerp.

Now the travelling between Netherlands-Belgium was part of my daily routine.

I explored a lot on easiest, quickest and cheapest ways to travel daily, but unfortunately I found only 1 way which was most reliable and independent way of travelling if you don’t have a car!

This is NS international train services.

What’s most important is, you don’t need to take your ticket at ticket counters daily; you can have a train pass monthly or annually.

I carried 2 train passes- NS international train pass from Dordrecht to Breda including border from website www.ns.nl and pass from Breda Hazeldonk border till Antwerp on from ticket counter station in Antwerp.

Let’s have a look on these passes one by one.

To take pass within dutch border, first thing is to apply for Card, called “OV chipkaart”. This can be done on website https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/purchase-an-ov-chipkaart/apply-for-personal-ov-chipkaart.htm

Card costs approximately 7,5 Euros and then you can recharge the card as you want with different subscriptions or amount.

OV chipkaart front side
OV chipkaart backside

Next step is to take subscription. It can be viewed/ordered at https://www.ns.nl/nsflex/webshop#/bestelling/producten

For travelling between Dordrecht to Breda (excluding border), subscription called Traject vrij is applicable. But since in our case border is included, go for Grens abonnement (Border subscription) https://www.ns.nl/abonnementen/grensabonnement.htmlHere you can enter start station (from wherever you start) and end station as Hazeldonk grens.

You can enter your OV chipkaart number and order this subscription on your card.

Do not forget: go to the NS ticket counter (see below) pickup this subscription on your card.

You are now ready with part 1 of the process.

Let’s move to next part of subscription which is from Hazeldonk border to Antwerp.

I ordered the card “MOBIB card” at ticket counter in Antwerp train station and also the first subscription. Later I added the subscription myself by login at https://www.belgianrail.be/en/timetable-and-buy-tickets/Validate-season-ticket.aspx

Mobib card

Now since you are ready with your 2 rail cards, next step is to travel.

When travelling from Netherlands to Belgium, check-IN the NS station using the OV chipkaart as below and checkout at 1st station before the border, which is Breda in this case. You don’t need to check-IN OUT in Belgium network.

Tips:

-There are 2 trains going to Antwerp from Netherlands. 1st is Intercity direct that goes via Breda, Hazeldonk border. We learned in this article on how to order the train pass for it

-2nd train is Belgian train from Roosendaal border.

-Like Hazeldonk border, if you want to travel using this route, you can take Grens subscription as “Roosendaal grens” instead of Hazeldonk grens.

-It’s a pity that you can only travel through the one route for which you take the subscription!

-You can take monthly or yearly subscription, it’s cheaper.

-If you take monthly subscription on your card, you can change subscription only after 1 month.

-For more questions you can contact customer service on NS or SNCB international.

I wish you Good luck and pleasant travel!

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