Moving To Amsterdam: Transportation Tips

Traveling within Amsterdam is straightforward and convenient, but pricey. The easiest way to get around is by bicycle, which is also preferred by locals and is an integral part of Amsterdam culture what I absolutely love!  There is an extensive transport network connecting city districts, and commuters can choose a variety of methods to reach their destination as efficiently as possible. This includes the train, tram, metro, bus and ferry, of course.

Bikes in Amsterdam

OV-Chipcard

The OV-chipcard is an electronic card with a built-in chip for use on all public transport in Amsterdam, including buses, trams and metros. You can purchase a card at kiosks, newsagents, supermarkets and ticket bureaus in Amsterdam and Amstelveen.

Please note: the cards are not valid on some regional buses or trains (including to/from Schiphol Airport).

Bike in Amsterdam

Choosing the right card for you

The OV-Chipkaart can be topped up with credit in euros, or you can buy a single or season ticket. There are three different cards to choose from:

  • Personalised card – you can buy it online at ov-chipkaart.nl (website available in English). It costs 7.50 euros and is valid for 5 years.
  • Anonymous card – you can buy it at the ticket office or station vending machines. It also costs 7.50 euros and is valid for 5 years.
  • Disposable card – you can purchase it at station vending machines or on the tram. It can be used for one hour after validation. It costs 2.80 euros.
Man biking in Amsterdam

Checking in and checking out 

It’s extremely important to check in and check out when traveling with your OV-Chipkaart. When you start your journey, hold your card up to the reader until a green light appears. A bleep sound will indicate that your card has been read. If you change to another bus/metro/train, you have to check out (by scanning your card at the machine) and check in again at your next stop. If you forget to check out, the card will no longer be valid and you may risk a fine. For a comprehensive list of OV-chipcards and prices, visit gvb.nl.

Amsterdam Den Haag ticket

Getting around

Bicycle

In addition to maintaining good health, the flexibility of keeping to your own timetable, and the convenience of parking compared to that of a car, bicycling is the best way to navigate Amsterdam.

Red bike in Amsterdam

Train

Trains in the Netherlands are typical used for longer journeys, either to another town or city, or to travel across Amsterdam. Trains are very reliable unlike trams. The ticket prices vary from 8 euros to even 40 euros depending on the place you are heading to. It takes approximately 25 minutes to reach Utrecht and Leiden, less than 1h 20 min to get to Hague.

Tram

Trams are very common in Amsterdam, which routes heading out from the center in all directions. Trams are ideal for short journeys around the city, but they are often either late or cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

Traim in Hague

Metro

Amsterdam’s metro runs underneath the centre, from Central Station to he outer districts. This can be a fast and efficient way to travel.

Bus

Amsterdam operates a full bus network, which will take you anywhere you have to go.

Train in Amsterdam

Ferry

Behind Central Station, ferries hustle their way across the River IJ, transporting passengers to various locations in the north of Amsterdam. Some specialist ferries also travel along the river to other districts of the city.

Taxi

Taxi Amsterdam is definitely the most expensive mean of transport in Amsterdam. They can be handy when traveling to and from the airport though, and the cost may be comparable to the other modes of transport. Otherwise, it will be much cheaper and quicker to catch a tram.

Useful travel info

You can easily plan your route by using 9292.nl website. It will tell you what train/tram/metro you should take, what time you leave and arrive at your destination and how long the journey lasts. If you want to check out your train connections, visit ns.nl. If you bike a lot, you may find routecraft.com useful.

Bike in sunny Amsterdam

My experience

A day after I arrived in Amsterdam, I bought my own bike. It costed me 60 euros and since then I’ve been cycling daily (mainly to reach my school and work).

A girl on a bike Amsterdam

It takes me approximately 20 minutes to get to my uni and 35 minutes to get to work in the morning. The road are surprisingly empty between 7 am and 9 am, but passing through Dam Square after 5 pm is a real nightmare (way too overcrowded). Sometimes I use metro or tram (less than once a week) which costs me 5.60 euros for return ticket. Trams are unreliable, but metro and trains work great. If you are looking for a nice bike in Amsterdam, you may want to join one of Facebook groups called Marketplace – Amsterdam where people post things to sell/buy on a regular basis.

Is riding a bike across Amsterdam on your bucket list?

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"


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35 Comments

  • Girl, you make me want to move to Amsterdam. The transportation reminds me of Melbourne. I’ve actually never ridden a bike as an adult through a city but I think I want to do it.

  • Although the OV-Chipcard for most will work great, there have been many problems with it. In fact there’s even talk within the government to see if they can get rid of it and go back to a better system.

    If you’re going to make use the card extensively I really suggest to get the Personalised card and not the anonymous card. If there’s any problems or if you forget to check out you can get your money back online (https://www.ns.nl/) or through their customer service ( +31 (0)30-7515155).

    Cheers,
    Jan
    http://www.netherlands-tourism.com

  • Hi Agness! I just moved in to Tokyo last Friday and I already spent around $40 for subways!! It’s so expensive! I also plan on buying my own bike although I only live here for the next 4 months.. It seems that riding bikes is also an integral part in Tokyo :D

  • Agness, I definitely agree with you on the prices! I just had a job interview in Amsterdam and the cost of living was really high – almost the same as in Denmark. Northern Europe is soooo pricey!

  • Transportation is one of the most important things in travel and it’s actually fascinating – it tells so much about the city! Love your idea of a bicycle – a budget friendly option for sure! :)

  • It’s great that there’s so many forms of transportation in Amsterdam although having a bike is definitely the best! My boyfriend lived there for a semester on an exchange and he made sure to get a bike right away as well!

  • I don’t actually ride bikes so I know I will be missing out on a major part of the Amsterdam experience if I ever go there nut I’m relieved to see all these other modes of transport for getting around and secretly I quite like going on trams during my travels as this is something I never do at home ☺

  • One small thing: if you forget to check out it’s not that the card won’t be valid. On the train you’ll be charged 20 euros and on the tram/bus 5 euros. It always takes this amount from your card as a deposit to assure you check out.

  • Very good info! I needed to see some numbers, because planning my move abroad to Amsterdam I realized I had so much info, but no particular prices of things! Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • This is a really useful information! I’m planning to move to Amsterdam for a year as my sister is living there with her lovely family. I’m planning this for a while as my business in London (www.battersearemovals.co.uk) is going great and I can manage it from a distance for a while. I love the fact that in Amsterdam everybody is moving around on a bike. I don’t like driving a car as much I like driving a bike so I’m sure that I’ll love it! Thank you for the information about the ways of transportation in Amsterdam!

  • Moving to a city like Amsterdam is one of my dreams. It’s not that hard to accomplish actually. Your article sums up the best tips for moving and I’ll make sure I save it to favourites. I hope I need it someday for its purpose and I’m thankful on behalf of all the people you helped having a stress-free move. Keep being awesome and writing so well. Thank you!

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