Public transport in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has an extensive transport system, including trams, buses, trains, metros and ferries. Most public transport in Amsterdam is operated by the GVB. 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.
The GVB 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.
Night buses in Amsterdam
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 beware to get off at the right stop, or near your usual stop. All night bus line numbers start with an "N".
The Netherlands has an extensive rail network, with fast and frequent connections to all major cities and many smaller towns. 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.
Amsterdam also has direct rail links with Belgium, France and Germany. 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 hail one in the street, it is better to order a cab in advance (in Amsterdam, call +31 (0)20 777 7777), or go to an official taxi stand. Insist that the driver use the meter. Dutch taxis are legally required to have license plates with black lettering on a blue background.
Vehicles without those plates are not licensed to carry passengers.
Cycling: the best way to get around in Amsterdam
The Dutch love their bicycles as you will very soon discover. Most people own at least one, and they use it for everyday travel as well as recreation.
The benefits of cycling in Amsterdam
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.
What kind of bike do you need?
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.
Protecting your bike against theft
- 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.
Parking your bike
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.
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.
By far, most international flights arrive at the largest airport of the Netherlands, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which is about 15km from the Amsterdam city center. It is well-connected by train (NS) or bus (Connexxion bus 397) to central Amsterdam.
Please note that some flights within Europe may arrive at the smaller Rotterdam Airport, or Eindhoven Airport, but these two locations are much further away from Amsterdam (resp. 70km and 130km).