Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is Holland's only real international airport. It is 13km (8 miles) southwest of the center city, and has quick, direct rail links to Amsterdam's center city; to Rotterdam, the Hague, Utrecht, and other Dutch cities; and to Antwerp and Brussels. Schiphol is the hub of the Netherlands flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which has merged with Air France. Holland has other airports at Rotterdam (RTM), Maastricht (MST), Eindhoven (EIN), Groningen (GRQ), and Enschede (ENS), all of which handle a few regional flights and charters.
Stena Line (tel. 08705/707070 in Britain, 0900/8123 in Holland; www.stenaline.co.uk) has twice-daily car-ferry service between Harwich in southeast England and Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland) near Rotterdam. The travel time during the day is 6 1/4 hours, and 7 hours overnight. Frequent trains depart from Hoek van Holland to Amsterdam.
P&O Ferries (tel. 0871/664-5645 in Britain, 020/210-3333 in Holland; www.poferries.com) has daily car-ferry service between Hull in northeast England and Rotterdam (into Europoort harbor). The overnight travel time is 10 hours. Ferry company buses shuttle between the Rotterdam Europoort terminal and Rotterdam Centraal Station, from where there are frequent trains to Amsterdam.
DFDS Seaways (tel. 0871/522-0955 in Britain, 0255/546-688 in Holland; www.dfdsseaways.co.uk) has daily car-ferry service between Newcastle in northeast England and IJmuiden on the North Sea coast, 24km (15 miles) west of Amsterdam. The overnight travel time is 15 hours. From IJmuiden, you can go by special bus to Amsterdam Central Station.
Rail service to the Benelux countries from major European cities is frequent, fast, and generally inexpensive compared to air travel.
On the Thalys high-speed train, travel times from Paris-Nord station to Amsterdam Centraal Station (via Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, the Hague, and Schiphol Airport) are 4 hours and 10 minutes, and from Brussels Midi station they are 2 hours and 15 minutes. Departures are approximately every hour. For Thalys reservations in Holland, call tel. 0900/9296. Or book online at www.thalys.com. Tickets also are available from main rail stations and travel agents. An improved Thalys service operating on a new high-speed rail line in Belgium and Holland is expected to be operational some time in 2010, and will reduce the travel time from Brussels by an hour.
Eurolines has the most comprehensive bus network in Europe. For reservations, call tel. 08717/818-081 in Britain, tel. 02/274-13-50 in Belgium, or tel. 020/560-8788 in the Netherlands. Or book online at www.eurolines.com.
Eurolines has bus service between London and Amsterdam, with four departures daily. Travel time is 12 hours.
The Benelux countries are crisscrossed by a dense network of major highways connecting them with other European countries. Distances are relatively short. Road conditions are excellent throughout all three Benelux countries, service stations are plentiful, and highways have good signs. Traffic congestion in both Brussels and Amsterdam, however, can cause monumental tie-ups -- in these two cities, it's best to park your car at your hotel garage and use local transportation or walk (the best way, incidentally, to see either city).
Via the Channel Tunnel from Britain -- The fast and efficient Eurotunnel (tel. 08705/353535 in Britain; www.eurotunnel.com) auto-transporter trains transport your car through the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone, England, to Calais, France (a 35-min. trip). Departures are every 15 minutes at peak times, every 30 minutes at times of average demand, and every hour at night.
To drive in the Benelux lands, drivers need only produce a valid driver's license from their home country. The countries are crisscrossed by a network of major international highways coming from Germany and France. Traffic is often heavy -- but distances between destinations are relatively short, road conditions are generally excellent, service stations are plentiful, and highways are plainly signposted.
The best way to experience most European cities is to drive to the city, park your car, and never touch it again until you leave. In virtually all Benelux cities, and in particular in congested places like Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp, it's smart not to even bring a car.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.