Public transport in the Netherlands

Public transport in the Netherlands

Amsterdam Central Station has one of the greatest train and bus networks in our country. With 15 train platforms and more than 20 lines for the bus, it is the country’s 2nd largest station. Daily 186.000 people pass trough. For tourists it can sometimes be very difficult to distinguish between the different transport tickets and travel options. Although there are tickets that are reasonably tailored to the travel needs of a tourist, the offer can sometimes be very confusing.


travel ticket in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands we use a chipcard to check-in and out for public transport. By having an OV-chip card (public transport chip card) scanned at the entrance gates, you gain acces to platforms and stations. At the exit gates your journey will be registered and the price or travel product on the card will be determined. The credit or travel product on the chipcard will be deducted from the trip. 

No special chipcard for tourists

There is no special public transport chip card for tourists. There is freedom of choice in the type of OV chip card that you can purchase. It begins with choosing between an anonymous OV-chipkaart or disposable ones and getting to know the travel products from wich you can choose.

Entrance gates

OV-chipcard specifications

travel on product or credit

Anonymous OV-chipcard              

  • Re-usable plastic chipcard
  • Use for longer period of traveling, or re-visits, in the Netherlands
  • Useable for all type of transportation
  • Rechargeable with travel products and credit, at card machines
  • Card costs € 7.50 (card only) and is valid for 5 years
  • The credit stays valid.
  • possibility of restitution of the remaining credit at the counter.

Where to buy

At the ticket vending machines at the train or metro stations   

Vending machines

Disposable OV-chipcards/individual tickets

  • Non re-usable paper chipcard
  • Single use or short traveling period in the Netherlands
  • Not usable for all type of transportation
  • Charged with a travel product, valid for a limited period of time.
  • Card costs depending on the travel product you choose
  • No possibility of restitution of the remaining travel product or credit
  • can also be purchased in the tram or bus

Where to buy

At the ticket vending machines at the train or metro stations   

Travel products

1 hour travel ticket

Amsterdam, only for disposable chipcards 

  • Valid for 1 hour 
  • Use in bus, tram and metro at carrier GVB in Amsterdam
  • Unlimited travel for day and night
  • Non refundable

1 hour € 3,20
Children under 4 for free 

Where to buy
  • GVB Vending and charging machine
  • GVB Service & Tickets desk
  • GVB Service Desk
  • At the tram or bus
Amsterdam travel ticket

From Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam and in the city center. Only for disposable chipcard

  • Unlimited travel in the train, bus 397 and Niteliner N97 between Schiphol and Amsterdam
  • Unimited travel in Amsterdam with GVB company
  • Valid 1 calanderday
  • included city map

1 day € 17,00
2 days € 22,50
3 days € 28,00

Where to buy
  • Vending and charging machine
  • GVB Service & Tickets counter
  • AKO’s Schiphol Airport
  • NS Tickets & Service Schiphol
Amsterdam region and travel ticket

Amsterdam region, only for disposable chipcard

  • Valid for 1, 2 or 3 calander days
  • Unlimited travel  within the Amsterdam region 
  • all valid with these transport companies GVB, Connexxion, EBS, NS (metro, bus, tram and train)
  • included map of the surroundings

1 day € 19,50
2 days € 28,00
3 days € 36,50

Where to buy
  • GVB Vending and charging machine
  • GVB Service & Tickets desk
  • GVB Service Desk
Holland travel ticket

two variants, only for disposable chipcards

  • Valid for 1 calander day
  • Unlimited travel in the Netherlands
  • Travel with all type of public transport
  • Only valid for 2nd class on the train
  • Non refundable
Holland Travel Ticket off peak € 42.00

Off peak variant. Travel possible from Monday to Friday before 6.30 a.m. and from 9 a.m. Also valid all day on weekends. 

Holland Travel Ticket € 62.00

Any day of the week at any time.

Where to buy
  • Online, via Note: Online available only as a voucher, which can only be exchanged for a valid ticket at AKO (bookshop) at Schiphol or Amsterdam CS.
  • At any station at an NS ticket machine or the NS Tickets & Service Desk.
  • NS Tickets & Service Schiphol
How to use the anonymous OV-chipcard 

When you have purchased this card, you first need to charge it by putting money on it. Uploading/charging is possible in many places, but the best to do this is in a train station at the (yellow) ticket machines, because you can also charge with a credit card there.

After uploading, you can check in and out for every trip you make. With checking out you pay for the ride. Tap the card on the sensor for checking in and out. (see picture)  

Do realise that you cannot travel with a negative amount. For the train you’ll have to charge it with at least 20 euro and for the busses with at least 4 euro. There is no direct refund for the unused amount on the card after finishing travelling, for that you need to go to a service desk at the very end of your travel.

Depending on you’re travelling schedule, this might be the cheapest way to travel. It takes a moment to figure out how it works, once you know how it works, it’s easy. For more details,  click here.

Tapping sensor

How to use the disposable card

After purchasing a disposable card with a travel product or credit, its ready to use. You can check in and out for every trip you make, depending on the travel product you bought. Tap the card on the sensor for checking in and out. Note: With the first check in the validation of your product or credit starts. 

Tapping sensor

Tapping sensor

The surroundings of Amsterdam by train

All of the great cities located within a 1 hour reach from Amsterdam Central station can be reached with a direct train. Trains depart between every 10 to 30 minutes, so you don’t need to wait that long.

Also there are night trains that run every night towards some larger destinations like; Den Haag, Leiden, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam Centraal and Utrecht. They depart once per hour, till de morning trains start again.

For the exact time schedules of the trains, use the English version of the NS railway planner.

You can purchase a single or return ticket in the railway station (also with creditcard!) at the yellow ticket vending machines, service desks or even online. Avoiding a queue at the ticket vending machines is easily done by purchased online train tickets. Maybe an OV chip card (like locals have) or even a Amsterdam and region ticket could be interesting, depending on your travelling schedule. Notice that on short tracks a simple return ticket by train might be the cheapest.

With a bicycle in the train

It is possible to bring your bicycle aboard the trains, there are compartments where you can put your bike (locked) during the ride. Meanwhile you can have a seat nearby, to keep an eye onto your bike, this makes it a little more comfortable. Do notice that at certain times on a day it is not allowed to bring your bike aboard, so for that, you must know these regulations in English, first before you go. You also need to purchase a day ticket for the bicycle. This way of travelling is not very easy, please keep that in mind. Some experience or knowing how to handle a bike in the train is sometimes necessary. If you want to keep it easy, you’d better rent a bike at your destination.

By bus

Smaller cities or villages are mainly connected by bus. Almost all villages that lie within a 1 hour reach from Amsterdam central station, have good connections by bus. Mostly every 15 to 40  minutes a bus departs.

There are a few bus companies and although it’s easy to separate one from the other, to get the right ticket, is slightly different.

For the outgoing bus services you’d better buy a ticket on the bus. Keep in mind that you can only pay with (credit)cards. No cash in the bus. Prices vary between 3 to 6 euro for a single ticket. Connexion and Rnet (regio net) are companies witch do the outgoing bus lines from Amsterdam. The GVB company is only in Amsterdam.

Depending on the schedule and budget you have, it might also be worth to look for the “Amsterdam and region travel ticket”. It gives you freedom in every type of transport for a day, in the region and as well in Amsterdam for a fixed price.

The outgoing bus lines from Amsterdam do not have a night schedule and bikes are not able to go in the bus.  

For actual departure times for busses and other type of public transport use this: 9292 OV.  It is in English also. Or check at the cabin of a bus stop for the scheduled departure times.

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