Getting here and getting around
Tips for international students
On this page:
Amsterdam has an extensive transport system, including trams, buses, trains,metros and ferries. If you plan to travel regularly by public transport, it is best to buy a monthly season ticket.
The city is divided into travel zones, so you need to make sure your ticket covers the correct zones for the journey you usually take - probably between your home and your main place of study.
Otherwise, we recommend that you buy a multiple-use OV-Chipkaart.
Most public transport in Amsterdam is operated by the GVB.
Its website provides full details of ticket types, prices and points of sale, as well as maps, timetables and other information. Students are not entitled to any discount on public transport tickets.
A night bus network operates after the regular trams and buses stop running at about midnight. Services are less frequent and more expensive, however. They also take different routes - so take care to get off at the right stop.
With a long maritime tradition and some of the best ports-of-call in the world, the Netherlands remains easily and immediately accessible by ferry. Travelling by ferry carries with it the advantage of being able to bring your own car and can often be a fun experience in itself. To learn more about ferry travel to the Netherlands and to compare prices amongst various service providers, you may use the link below.
The Netherlands has an extensive rail network, with fast and frequent connections to all major cities and many smaller towns. Amsterdam also has direct rail links with Belgium, France and Germany. The suburban network around the city is a good alternative to the tram and metro for some commuters. Timetables are posted on yellow notice boards in station halls and on platforms.
Domestic tickets can be bought online or at stations - the fares are the same. But at the station it is better to use a ticket machine (payment by debit or credit card only), as you pay a surcharge (€0.50 per ticket) if you buy at the counter.
International tickets are usually cheaper if you buy well in advance.
Taxis are expensive in the Netherlands, but you can keep down the cost by sharing with others. This is a good option at night, when there is little public transport. Although you may be able to flag one down in the street, it is better to order a cab in advance (in Amsterdam call 020 777 7777) or to go to a taxi stand. Insist that the driver use the meter. Dutch taxis are legally required to have number plates with black lettering on a blue background.
Vehicles without those plates are not licensed to carry passengers.
You will very soon discover that the Dutch love their bicycles. Most people own at least one, and they use it for everyday travel as well as recreation.
In Amsterdam, cycling is usually faster than public transport. On a bike you can reach places where no cars are allowed and the buses and trams cannot take you.
Most streets have special cycle lanes or paths. For parking, there are countless cycle racks, and even special garages, and when things go wrong you are never far from a repair shop. Any bike will do in Amsterdam. Many people prefer an old model, as newer ones are more likely to be stolen. However, the brakes, bell and lights should work, otherwise you risk a fine. Wearing a helmet is not compulsory, and few people do.
Thousands of bicycles are stolen every year, so good locks are essential.
Always use at least two: the best combination is a thick chain with a strong padlock plus a ring lock fitted to the back wheel. When you park, try to chain your bike to something fixed like a rack or railing so that it cannot easily be carried away. And make sure the front wheel is secure, as well as the frame, since it is easily detached and stolen separately. While it may seem as if people leave their bikes anywhere, there are restrictions and those parked incorrectly may be removed.
Look out for signs containing the words hier geen fietsen plaatsen svp (no bicycles please).
Getting a bike
You can buy second-hand bicycles at most repair shops. At the beginning of each semester, a number of UvA student organisations organise bicycle lotteries. And the ASVA student union holds a bike sale every Thursday.
Never buy a bike from a stranger in the street: it has almost certainly been stolen and you risk being arrested for receiving stolen goods.