One of the most often asked questions to hotels and locals is how the public transport system in Amsterdam works.
As most other major destinations, Amsterdam has an extensive public transport network within the city. People can travel by train, tram, metro, bus and even ferry! In addition, the bicycle is of course a very popular means of travelling in and around Amsterdam.
Get your hands on the OV-chipcard!
If you’re planning to spend a few days in Amsterdam the easiest way to make use of the Public Transport System is to acquire an OV-chipcard. This card works like a pre-paid system, so you have to charge it with credit that will be consumed as you make use of the public transport.
Purchasing of the card can be done at the larger train stations at the counter and special vending machines on several locations around the city. The credit can be topped up at special machines at the stations but also at the entry of various shops like supermarkets and bookshops, and in some busses.
The use of the Dutch OV-chipcard is very simple. You check in and check out when you start and finish your journey, and when you change lines. In all forms of public transport in Amsterdam where you can use your OV-chipcard a reader is installed. Hold your card up to this reader until a little green light appears. The reader will bleep when your card is read. Please remember to check-out! You’ll hear this phrase many times when using Amsterdam’s Public Transport System because if you forget to check out, your card will be charged with a (higher) set amount -this will drain your prepaid OV-chipcard and you risk a fine by not checking out from the same transport you entered. So please remember to check out!
Because most tourists visiting Amsterdam only spend a few days in the city, you also have the option to buy an ‘hour’ OV-chipcard that gives you unlimited travel time day and night for the duration of the card. There are 24, 48, 72, 86, 120, 144 and 168 hour OV-chipcards.
2015 prices are:
Children’s 24 hour ticket (age 4-11) 2.50€
24 hours (1 day) 7.50€
48 hours (2 days) 12€
72 hours (3 days) 16.50€
96 hours (4 days) 21€
120 hours (5 days) 26€
144 hours (6 days) 29.50€
168 hours (7 days) 32€
Keep in mind that you can use you card for the duration it mentions starting from the moment of your first check in.
If you need to cross the river IJ you can hop on one of the ferries behind the Centraal Station. They will bring you across Amsterdam North quickly and you can enjoy amazing views of the city. The best thing about these ferries? They’re free!
In opposite to other countries it’s very difficult to hail a taxi in Amsterdam, especially in the weekends, and compared to other European cities they’re quite expensive. Taxis can be found in various taxi hubs throughout the city like Centraal Station, Dam Square, Rembrandtplein, Amstel Station, Museumplein, etc. You can also find a few taxis waiting outside major hotels.
Amsterdam Bike Taxi
Another sort of taxi that can be seen on the Amsterdam streets is the bike taxi. This eco-friendly taxi is human powered and it’s an unusual and very Dutch way to move around the city. There are more than a 100 bike taxis in Amsterdam, so it will be easy for you to jump into one.
The cost for the bike taxi is about €10 for a 15 minutes ride. This might sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that the bikes ride very fast so you can cover a big distance in a short amount of time.
Traveling in Amsterdam by bike is probably the best way to discover the city, as the city center is small enough to reach all the major sites easily. Plus, this is a great way to experience a big part of the Dutch culture: biking!
Amsterdam has dedicated bike lanes throughout the city, so safety shouldn’t be a concern for you. Another advantage of biking in Amsterdam is that, except for some steep bridges, the city is very flat so the ride won’t be exhausting.
There are many bicycle rental companies all over Amsterdam where you can rent a bike for around €10 per day with discounts for longer day rentals.
The Canal Bus
The canal bus is a hop-on hop-off canal cruise which has 20 stops along Amsterdam’s major tourist attractions like the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House. On board of the Canal Bus there is a multilingual guide who provides you with all kinds of information about Amsterdam. Next to the bike this is one of the best ways to experience Amsterdam. Prices start at €20.50 for a one day pass. More information can be found here.
Special transport offers for tourists
The Amsterdam Travel Ticket is a card that gives you unlimited use of the public transportation and a two way train ticket to travel between Schiphol Airport and any station in Amsterdam (a one way journey to/from Schiphol Airport is 5€).
This ticket is available for one day (15€), two days (20€) and three days (25€). Keep in mind that the validity is on a day basis rather than 24 hours, so the card will expire at 04:00 am after the last valid day.
I Amsterdam City Card is another card that gives you unlimited use of the public transport plus free entrance to some popular attractions like a Canal Cruise, Van Gogh Museum, Zoo, etc. You can choose between a 48 hours (59€), 72 hours (69€) and 96 hours (79€) card.