All you need to know about using public transport during your vacation in Amsterdam and the Netherlands
Are you planning on visiting Amsterdam and have decided not to rent a car? Clever decision! Not only it is not necessary to have a car in Amsterdam city center, but with so many pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, trams, trucks and other vehicles, driving is not easy, and on top of that parking is very expensive. The solution is obvious: walk, because you really only get to know a place on two feet. Having said that, if you get tired, if you would rather not walk in the rain, or if you want to go outside Amsterdam, public transport can be helpful.
I’m sure you know the feeling of not knowing how the public transport works, where you should buy tickets or how you should plan your trip. That's why I have written this article to give you all the information you need about public transport in the Netherlands, so you can use it (almost) like a local.
The Netherlands is a small place, tourist attractions are spread across the country, and you can reach everywhere on public transport. It is safe to use public transport in the Netherlands, and it is comfortable but not always a short ride. Sometimes you will need to change trains and take a bus in order to get to your destination, which makes the journey longer and less comfortable. You can always book a day tour to places that are less accessible with public transport, for example, Giethoorn.
NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) is the company that operates trains in the Netherlands.
GVB (Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf) is the company that operates public transport within the Amsterdam municipal area.
Remember - No matter which ticket or what sort of public transport you are using, you have to check in at the start of your journey and check out at the end. You can do this by simply scanning your ticket over the special card readers (not always with e-tickets).
The Netherlands has two sorts of trains: Intercity - faster trains that run between the larger cities; and Sprinter - slower trains that connect smaller stations.
You can buy a cardboard disposable card that will state the date and the route, and can be purchased on the day or up to a week ahead of travel. This ticket can be bought at any train station at the yellow ticket machines, and you can pay with Mastercard/Visa credit cards (will include extra charge of €0.50) and your pin code, with a Dutch debit card, a Maestro card or V-Pay. Some machines also take Euro coins and the machine will give you change. Most of the machines do not take notes.
Other options are to buy your ticket at the ticket office in the bigger stations or to buy them online here.
You cannot buy your train ticket on the train.
You can buy a 1st class ticket or a 2nd class ticket, and if you sit in the wrong coach, the conductor will ask you kindly to move to the correct one.
There are “silent coaches”, which means that you are not allowed to talk on the phone while sitting there.The check-in and check-out are the special card readers at station halls, normally by the gates. By checking in, you will open the gates to access the station. You need to do it with your disposable card (as well as with your e-ticket by
scanning the barcode on the ticket) at one of the gates equipped with a barcode reader (it has a “Scan ticket” symbol on its display). As an indication that you have checked in, you will hear a beep tone and the machine will show 'goede reis' (good journey). The machines will also beep as you check out.
You cannot check in and out inside the train!
The name of the next train station will be announced, the train will stop at all stations and you will need to open the doors. There are buttons on both sides of the doors, on the inside as well as the outside.
To plan your train journey, click here.
To download the app for Android, click here.
To download the app for iOS, click here.
There are five metro lines in Amsterdam (route 50, route 51, route 52, route 53 and route 54) and most stations are located outside of the city center. The exceptions are the new Noord/Zuidlijn (North/South line), which is route 52, connecting the north and south of the city with a stop at Central Station, and Route 53 that begins at the Central Station and goes south.
You need to buy your ticket at one of the ticket machines, and don't forget to check in and out at the metro gates when you travel.
Most metro and train stations in Amsterdam have an elevator and check-in gates wide enough for a wheelchair or a stroller.
For the Amsterdam metro line map please click here.
Most little towns and villages in the Netherlands are linked by either city buses or regional buses. City buses operate within towns and cities. Regional buses operate between towns.
You can buy your bus ticket at one of the ticket machines and also on the bus but you can only pay with a card.
The name of the next stop will be shown on the screens inside the bus and it will also be announced. You will need to press the red square button to let the driver know that you’d like to get off the bus at the next stop and wait for the driver to open the doors for you.
Don't forget to check in and out at the machines located next to the bus doors.
You are only allowed to get onto the tram via the front door, where the driver sits, or via the 4th door, where the conductor sits. The other doors are for exit only!
The exceptions are line 5 and line 24. You will see that the shape of the tram is different and that there is no conductor. In this case, you will need to get to the driver in order to purchase your ticket.
Most trams in Amsterdam begin/end at Central Station, but not all of them! There are two tram terminals in front of Central Station.
You can buy your ticket from the driver or preferably the conductor, and you can only pay by card. On the tram you can buy tickets which are valid for 1 hour, or up to 48 hours. If you want a ticket for a longer period, you will need to buy it at the ticket office in the bigger stations.
Don't forget to check in and out at the machines located next to the tram doors.
The name of the next stop will be shown on the screens inside the tram and it also will be announced.
You will need to press the green button to let the driver know that you’d like to get off the tram at the next stop, and you will need to open the doors for yourself by pressing the green buttons located on the yellow railing next to the exit doors. Please don’t let go of the little gates quickly when you get off the tram, as it might hurt the person behind you in a very sensitive part of the body…
On some tram lines, the conductor has a little ramp for wheelchairs.
The trams usually run from 6 in the morning until after midnight.
For the Amsterdam tram line map please click here.
Day ticket and multi-day ticket in Amsterdam
A 1-hour ticket is valid for one hour from the minute you check in, and you can get on and off any GVB public transport vehicles as many times as you like within that hour. You need to remember to check in and out; otherwise your ticket will be blocked. After the one-hour period has expired, the ticket is no longer valid. The GVB 1-hour ticket is not valid on the GVB night buses.
Amsterdam GVB public transport 1-hour ticket price is €3.20 (2019)
You can also purchase a card for 1 to 7 days and it is valid for the number of hours purchased from the minute you checked in.
GVB day or multi-day tickets provides you with unlimited travel throughout Amsterdam, day and night, on the bus, tram, and metro. Just bear in mind that these tickets are not valid on the regional buses run by Connexxion and EBS, or on the train.
Amsterdam GVB public transport ticket prices for 2019
Ticket for 1 day (24 hours): €8.00, and for children 4 to 11 years €4.00
Ticket for 2 days (48 hours): €13.50
Ticket for 3 days (72 hours): €19.00
Ticket for 4 days (96 hours): €24.50
Ticket for 5 days (120 hours): €29.50
Ticket for 6 days (144 hours): € 33.50
Ticket for 7 days (168 hours): €36.50
You can buy your ticket on the bus, tram or at the ticket office in the bigger stations.
* If you buy your Amsterdam public transport tickets via the link, I will receive a small commission that will not affect your cost.
Amsterdam Travel Ticket
If you are visiting Amsterdam, you are arriving via Schiphol Airport and you plan to use public transport within the city, the Amsterdam Travel Ticket might be a good option for you. You can purchase a 1-day, 2-day or 3-day ticket, and it provides unlimited travel between Amsterdam city and Schiphol airport on the train, the Amsterdam Airport Express (bus 397) and night bus N97 (from Connexxion) as well as unlimited travel on all GVB trams, day buses, night buses and metros.
This ticket is valid from when you first check in until 4.00 a.m. after the last valid day of your ticket. The day starts at midnight and therefore, for example: If you check in with the 2-day ticket from midnight onward on Thursday, your ticket will be valid until 4.00 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Amsterdam Travel Ticket prices for 2019
Ticket for 1 day: €17.00
Ticket for 2 days: €22.50
Ticket for 3 days: €28.00
Prices for public transport from/to Schiphol Airport (2019)
A train ticket from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Central Station, single, 2nd class, is €4.50
An e-ticket is 1 euro cheaper than a ticket from a ticket machine!
A bus ticket from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to the city center of Amsterdam, single, is €6.50.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT APPS
The apps that will make your life easier
When you need to plan a logical and efficient route from one place to another you can always use the Google navigate app. I wrote about this in my article 'Finding your way in Amsterdam - Life-changing tips'
There are some taxi companies available in the bigger cities in the Netherlands and you can recognize them easily by the ‘Taxi’ sign on the roof of the car and the blue license plates.
Normally you don’t hail a taxi, because in many places in the inner city they are not allowed to stop, even in bus/tram lanes or at bus/tram stops. Therefore, you need to find the permanent taxi stops, mostly located near popular squares, attractions and stations. In Amsterdam, for example, you can find them behind the Royal Palace next to Albert Heijn supermarket, behind the Rijksmuseum, and behind the Westerkerk (Western Church), among other places.
The tariff is a combination of the start rate plus the distance and duration of the trip and the calculation will show on the meter inside the taxi. You can ask the driver for a printed fare slip at the end of the ride, which should specify data about the ride and the taxi company.
Taxi drivers are allowed to offer you a fixed fare. They can also ask a surcharge for additional services, which may include carrying your suitcases. You must agree on the fixed fare or surcharge before the taxi ride starts.
Uber works in the Netherlands as well, but pay attention to how many people you are and which car you order, as the price varies accordingly.
You might want to read about how to cope with the European winter weather.
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