One of the main questions we get asked by our international clients from day one of their arrival to the Netherlands is about the Dutch public transport system, which is why we have compiled all the relevant information regarding public transport travel, tickets, and discounts, as well as the top practical tips for you in this complete guide. Read up on the most important things to keep in mind when traveling by public transport in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has an excellent and reliable public transport system that can take you from point A to point B with no hassle. Train, bus, tram, metro, ferry, and, of course, public bikes are all at your disposal.
Are you looking for a comfortable and fast way to get around in the Netherlands? The Dutch railway will not disappoint you. You can visit beautiful landscapes and explore hidden gems throughout the country by taking the train. Have you found the perfect accommodation in Amsterdam, but your work is in Rotterdam? Don’t you worry! The train can take you from Amsterdam Central to Rotterdam in no more than 40 minutes. The locals are also used to travel to neighboring cities for work.
There are 3 types of trains to look out for while traveling in the Netherlands: Sprinter, Intercity and intercity direct. Intercity trains, which are all operated by NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen), are faster than sprinters because they make fewer stops.
There are two main ways to pay while traveling by train in the Netherlands. You can either buy tickets online or from a ticket machine, or you can use your OV-chipkaart, or smartphone using OVPay. You can look up the NS Journey Planner to check timetables and plan your route.
2. Bus, tram, and metro
Wherever you are in the Netherlands, the bus services with their great connections will take you easily and affordably to your destination. The tram is the best way not only to reach your destination fast but also to enjoy some sightseeing along the way. In Amsterdam and Rotterdam, 2 of the biggest Dutch cities, in addition to bus and tram, you can also take the metro. The metro is the fastest way to commute in the city centre and nearby areas. Additionally, you can also take your bicycle with you on the train as well as the metro, usually outside peak hours, and you will need a bicycle day ticket for this. Be aware that you cannot place your bike anywhere, but there are indicated areas on the train and metro with the relevant label.
The bus, tram, and metro services usually start around 6 a.m. and run until midnight, departing every 10-15 minutes. For later hours, you can use night buses, which depart every hour. You can pay for bus, metro, and tram rides by purchasing a ticket from a ticket machine, drivers, or conductors, or you can use an OV-chipkaart or smartphone via OVpay.
If you are traveling by tram or bus, don’t forget to use the stop buttons, or else the driver may pass through your stop.
3. Ferry and water taxi
It stands to reason that the Netherlands offers ferry services in a country full of canals. In Amsterdam, you can take the ferry from Central Station to Noord (North), sailing over the IJ River completely free of charge, and you can take your bike or motorcycle with you! Have you ever heard of water taxis? If you find yourself in Rotterdam and you want a very fast and fun way to get around, then try the water taxi! This is a paid option, and fares may vary.
4. Public bikes
You cannot be in the Netherlands and not have public bikes at your disposal. The OV-fiets with almost 300 locations in the Netherlands at stations and bus metro stops, allow you to rent a bike and go wherever you want like a local. You can rent an OV-fiets only if you own a personal OV-chipkaart (read below), and it will cost you only €4.45 per day. If you don’t have an OV-chipkaart, you can find many bike rental shops all over the big cities, and it may cost you around €10 per day.
When using Dutch public transport, it’s crucial to own an OV-chipkaart. There are three types of OV-chipkaarten you can opt for single-use, anonymous, and personal.
The single-use card is mainly for tourists and those who do not travel frequently, and it has limited validity. You can use it on the bus, tram, metro, and train. For those of you who commute daily to work or travel within the country regularly, an anonymous OV card is a must. It allows you to use all means of public transport, and it is a more affordable option. In order to use it, you need to charge credit to your card, which you can do either at a service desk or a ticket vending machine found at most stations. If you want to buy single-use or anonymous OV-chipkaart you can do so at the service desk or look for ticket vending machines with the pink OV-chipkaart logo.
Finally, you can also apply for a personal OV-chipkaart which costs €7.50 and is valid for 5 years. The personal card has your personal details and a photo, and you do not need to charge it with credit. One benefit of the personal card is that you can block it in case of loss or theft, which is not possible with the other 2 types. With your personal OV card, you can also benefit from various different discounts you can choose from! You can always ask our consultants which option is best for you.
Important tip Don’t forget to check in and out, or you will be charged a penalty or your card will be blocked! If such a thing happens, you can request a refund here.
A newer option for travellers in the Netherlands is OVpay, an app that allows anyone who travels by public transport without a discount subscription to check in and out at stations using contactless payment through a secure method. The payment on OVPay is done through credit cards, debit cards, or smartphones while checking in and out. You can use OVpay on buses, trams, metros, and trains. The non-Dutch cards that can be used through the OVPay system are Maestro, V Pay, Mastercard, and Visa, and standard fees will apply the same as for the OV-chipkaart, although you may want to check the foreign transaction fees before travelling if you have a non-euro card.
7. Public Transportation Apps
Do you need a personal planner for public transportation? The 9292 app allows you to plan all of your trips, select your destination, and the app will display up-to-date travel information for all public transportation in the Netherlands, as well as alternative travel advice and many other features.
The NS app is your go-to app for everything train-related. You can plan your journey, look up train schedules, delays, and disruptions, and purchase train tickets in advance, all in one place.
Google Maps is a popular app for all public transport users, as it offers journey planning, duration, and different route options for all transportation options. Although not as reliable as 9292 or the NS app, Google Maps is preferred by many citizens for daily travel.
Do you need personal assistance in your relocation process? Jimble’s experienced relocation specialists can support you and your family from A to Z in a completely stress-free manner. Head over to our contact page and schedule an appointment with one of our experts to discuss all your questions extensively.