10 Days in Northern Europe by Train: From Paris to Amsterdam

Advisor - Holly Huff
Curated By

Holly Huff

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  • Paris

  • Amsterdam

  • Brussels

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Europe

  • Multi-City

  • Sightseeing

A lit-up Amsterdam on the river at night.
Curator’s statement

Traveling by train is an excellent way to explore Europe on a budget or in luxury. Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam are three cities that can be easily reached by train and offer an opportunity to quickly discover different regions of Northern Europe. You can take direct, high-speed trains that can transport you between each city in less than two hours. Each of these cities has a unique charm of its own and offers a glimpse of Europe's diverse cultures and traditions, even if you have limited time.

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Where to stay

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Grand Hotel du Palais Royal

Where Parisian elegance and luxurious sophistication reign supreme, creating an enchanting haven in the heart of the city.

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Hotel Esprit Saint Germain

Revamped Left Bank boutique with just 28 rooms and a prized home-away-from-home vibe.

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Hilton Brussels Grand Place

Experience timeless elegance at Hilton Brussels Grand Place, where luxury and convenience converge in the heart of the historic city center.

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Days 1-4: Paris

The sight of the Eiffel Tower at night.

Upon your arrival in Paris, it is recommended that you spend the first day getting familiar with the city. This will not only help you overcome the jet lag but will also allow you to adjust to the new time zone. After checking into your hotel, take some time to relish the delectable French cuisine for lunch. In the evening, you can opt for a dinner cruise on the Seine to witness Paris from a unique perspective.

As you begin your day, consider visiting the Catacombs of Paris, which are located in the 14th arrondissement. Started in the late 1800s due to a public health crisis in Paris, the Catacombs take you through a maze of underground tunnels that display the bones and skulls of Parisians who died hundreds of years ago. It's a great way to explore a different side of Paris and learn about its history.

No trip to Paris is complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower, but try going at night instead of during the day. In the evening, the Eiffel Tower is lit up, and every hour, on the hour, the Eiffel Tower "twinkles" for five minutes. This is one of my favorite views of the Eiffel Tower. You can also opt to go up and see Paris by night, but make sure you purchase your tickets ahead of time so that you don't have to wait in line.

Paris is renowned for its gastronomy, particularly its sweets. A unique and exciting experience to try is attending a chocolate-making class. During the class, you will be taught by a chef how to make delicious chocolate and also get to take home some of the chocolate treats that you help make. If you are not into sweets, plenty of options are available for learning how to cook some incredible French cuisine by taking a cooking class.

If you travel alone and want to meet like-minded travelers, you can join tours. One of my favorite tours last time I was in Paris was a speakeasy tour of the République area. During this tour, I got the chance to meet other travelers and visit some really cool bars that I wouldn't have been able to find on my own. Think of it like a pub crawl, but instead of regular bars, they're speakeasies, each with its own unique vibe.

Another excellent way to socialize with fellow travelers is attending a group meal. In Paris, some locals open their homes to provide a group with a home-cooked Parisian meal. These meals can be arranged exclusively for you and the people you are traveling with or as a solo traveler to meet other travelers. Besides socializing, you get to savor a delicious home-cooked meal prepared by a Parisian.

Travel to Brussels

The next destination is Brussels. To get there, you need to go to Gare du Nord in Paris and catch a train, which takes around 1.5 hours and is a comfortable and relaxing journey. The train will take you to Gare du Midi, and from there, you can easily reach the city center by subway. The ticket prices may vary based on the booking time and the class you are traveling in.

Day 4-7: Brussels

A cobblestone pedestrian street with shops on one side, trees on the other and lots of people.

Rue Marché au Charbon is a charming cobblestone street in Brussels.

Once you arrive in Brussels and make it to the city center, you will want to visit the Grand Place. Two of the things I love when traveling are architecture and food, and the Grand Place offers both. The Gothic architecture of the Grand Place is incredible and different from the Art Nouveau architecture you see in other parts of the city. Additionally, there are multiple shops where you can try some of the chocolate Belgium is known for or enjoy a meal.

Close to the Grand Place is Rue Marché au Charbon, with many restaurants and bars to explore. Rue Marché au Charbon has the largest concentration of LGBTQ+ places you can explore in the city, but it is also great for all travelers with its cobblestone pedestrian streets.

Belgium is well-known for its beer, and what better way to get to try Belgian beer than on a beer tour? A guide will take you through the city to try some of the best beer Belgium has to offer. For those who don't like beer, try a chocolate tour and be guided from one chocolate shop to another to try different Belgian chocolates.

Visit The Manneken Pis, which is a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain. The statue is much smaller than I expected, and there are always crowds around taking pictures. This may seem like a very touristy thing to do, but it is still something you will want to see.

If you want to see some incredible views of Brussels, visit the Atomium and get a view of the city from a high vantage point. Built in 1958 for the World's Fair and later renovated in 2006, this unique monument is worth visiting.

Travel to Amsterdam

The next destination on your itinerary is Amsterdam. To reach there, you need to first head to Gare du Midi in Brussels and board a train. The journey takes approximately two to three hours, depending on the type of train you choose – whether it is a regular train or a high-speed train. The cost of the journey varies and is more expensive for the high-speed train. Additionally, the price also changes based on the class you select. Your journey will end at Amsterdam Centraal, which is situated in the heart of the city.

Days 7-10: Amsterdam

A view from underneath a bridge of a canal and other bridges in Amsterdam

See some incredible views of Amsterdam on a canal tour.

Once you arrive in Amsterdam, you will find yourself in the heart of the city and can easily reach your hotel on foot or by tram. Kick off your day by discovering Amsterdam's beautiful sights and indulging in some delicious food. One of my personal favorite eating spots in Amsterdam is the Chicken Bar. The restaurant is located centrally and serves some of the most delectable rotisserie chicken you will ever taste.

When you first arrive in Amsterdam, you will notice that the number of bicycles on the roads exceeds the number of cars. This is because Amsterdam is a bike-friendly city, and cycling is a great way to explore it. You can opt for guided tours to experience the city's beauty or rent a bike and explore the city on your own.

Another great way to see Amsterdam is on a canal cruise. We were able to take one and see some incredible views of Amsterdam. This was also a fun and enjoyable way to relax after a long bike ride through the city.

Some alternative things that come to mind when thinking of Amsterdam are the "coffeeshops" around the city and the Red Light District. Amsterdam is well known for being a tolerant city of both these things. However, if you're like me and just looking for a cup of coffee in the morning, visit a coffee house instead of a coffeeshop.

When we visited Amsterdam, we were curious about the Red Light District. Instead of trying to explore it on our own, we took a guided tour and learned some of the history of how it started and why it is still tolerated today.

The Anne Frank House is a significant historical place in Amsterdam where you can learn about Anne Frank's life and see where she lived. You'll get to see the hiding place she and her family used and understand how they managed to stay hidden for so long.

If you're an art enthusiast, the Van Gogh Museum is a must-visit attraction where you can witness some of the finest pieces of art made by Van Gogh himself. You can also learn about his life history. The Van Gogh Museum is located in Museum Square, also home to the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and the Concertgebouw. You can spend an entire day exploring these museums and concert halls.

Additional days

A close-up of red tulips in a field

If you're visiting Brussels, there are a couple of day trips you can take to explore nearby areas like Bruges and Ghent. You can easily get to both of these places from Brussels by train or by booking a tour. Additionally, if you're visiting Amsterdam during the spring season, you can take a day trip to witness the beautiful and incredible sight of the tulip fields in bloom.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my itinerary, 3 Fun-Filled Days in Santorini. This itinerary is part of our ongoing series on travel to Europe.

Advisor - Holly Huff

Travel Advisor

Holly Huff

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