National rail operator
Facts about Netherlands
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Timezone: 1+ UTC
- Language: Dutch, Frisian
The Netherlands is tailor-made for rail travel. The country benefits from a very efficient rail network with punctual trains running at regular intervals on all routes. All major Dutch cities can be reached in a train ride of three hours or less from either Amsterdam or Rotterdam. There is just one domestic high-speed service, namely the 117-km stretch from Amsterdam to Breda which makes just two stops along the way (at Schiphol Airport and Rotterdam). There is a useful night train network linking principal cities in the Netherlands.
Eurostar is gearing up to launch a new direct service to the Netherlands in late 2017. Trains will run from London to Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam. But there’s no need to wait till then to visit a country renowned for its tulips, windmills and laid-back lifestyle. London to Amsterdam takes less than five hours by train, with just one easy change along the way at Brussels Midi station.
Dutch cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Maastricht all pull the crowds. They are all worth a visit, but make time too for smaller communities. Gouda, Delft, ’s-Hertogenbosch and Haarlem are all great spots for day excursions or a weekend break.
The Netherlands enjoys excellent rail links to other cities in western Europe. High-speed Thalys trains link Amsterdam and Rotterdam with Paris. Thalys also runs seasonal services to the French Alps. German ICE trains run regularly from Amsterdam and Utrecht to Cologne and beyond. There is a daily direct ICE train to Basel in Switzerland. And Intercity (IC) trains run every two hours from Amsterdam and Amersfoort to Hannover and Berlin. Apart from the fast Thalys trains crossing the Dutch-Belgian border there are also local and regional services, including an hourly IC train from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to Antwerp and Brussels.
For overnight journeys to cities such as Vienna, Linz, Munich or Innsbruck it is best to travel first to Düsseldorf in Germany, from where Austrian operator ÖBB provides a range of direct overnight services.
Image credits: Zaanse Schans, Netherlands © AleksandarGeorgiev