Whether it’s a personal holiday or a business trip, everyone needs to be able to get around—especially if they’ve never been to Amsterdam. It’s a city filled with cheap and efficient public transport, much like any other national capital in Europe. Being a tourist destination, Amsterdam is packed with accommodation—from hostels to five-star hotels.
In order to travel around, you have to first know where you are going to stay. If you want something close to the action, but still relatively cheap, go for the Park Hotel . If you don’t mind spending some cash and want something a bit classier, try the Eden Hotel. And if you’re on a business trip, you shouldn’t have to worry about where you’re staying—all of that should be set.
Nevertheless, when you figure out where you’ll be sleeping after an exciting day in Amsterdam, you’ll have to commute. If you’re staying at the Eden or Park Hotel, then most places should be reachable by foot. You’ll see a lot of bikes on busy streets in the evening. Locals prefer cycles to get through the rush hour. But there’s a lot more to commuting than that—cruises, tramps, buses…and it doesn’t end there. Here’s a guide to help you get around the historical city!
Fares and Tickets
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t try and travel without a ticket. Inspectors make regular checks on buses and trams—if your ticket is invalid, you’ll be fined 35 euros on the spot. Oh, and don’t try and act like a clueless tourist because that won’t work.
There are generally four types of tickets you can get to use on public transport in Amsterdam: a strippenkaarten (strip ticket), a dagkaarten (day ticket), a sterabonnement (season ticket), or an OV-chipkaart (OV-chipcard)
- Strippenkaarten: a system used on trams, buses, and the Metro. It is probably the best value for money deal you can get. The ticket is stamped either automatically or by a conductor when you enter your bus or tram. Stamps are only valid for one hour, but you can change buses and trams without re-stamping your ticket. Travelling in a single zone will require two stamps, two zones will require three stamps, and so on. The whole city is divided into five zones: north, west, central, east, and south.
- Dagkaarten: similar to a ‘day pass’ in London, a dagkaarten only costs 6.50 euros and will take you anywhere in Amsterdam. There is also a student/child ticket costing only 4.50 euros.
- Sterabonnement: these can be bought at any GVB or post office. They can be valid for a week, a month, or a year. I’m sure you won’t need a yearly season ticket if you’re on holiday, but a weekly pass for the central zone costs 10.80 euros. Of course, children get cheaper season tickets at only 7.15 euros per week.
- OV-Chipkaart: similar to London’s Oyster Card, an OV-chipkaart can be topped-up with different tickets. Again, this one isn’t too tourist-friendly, but you can also buy disposable OV cards—visit the GVB website for more information.
Buses and Trams
Buses and trams are a quick and convenient way to get around. Trams service run from 6 in the morning on weekdays, 6:30 on Saturdays, and 7:30 on Sundays. There are night buses that run on stops marked with a black square that take you to Centraal Station. Just like any other major tourist city, there are maps all around, both inside trams and at stops, so it’s easy to get around once you get the hang of it.
Road travellers should be aware that trams only stop if necessary. If you’re on a bike, then you should listen for tram warning bells. Cars can only go onto tram lanes if you’re turning right.
You can use your bus and tram tickets on the Metro. It starts to run the same time as trams but trains terminate at 12:15am daily. The Metro goes into south and east suburbs as well.
Almost all roads have bike lanes marked out for cyclists. Cycling is by far the most efficient way to get from one place to another—assuming you’re not going into the suburbs. There are certain laws you have to be weary of; use bike lights at night and have reflectors on your wheels.
You can also order a hail or order a ‘bicycle cab’. These are a type of rickshaw costing one euro per minute for each person—children under 2 and pets do not get charged.
You can easily order a cab by calling 677 7777. The line is usually busy on weekend nights, so expect to be on hold. The meters start at 3.40 euros and go up from there. You should ask the driver the cost of the journey before getting in. Of course, this is a very expensive form of travel.
It is difficult to hail a cab in the street, but there are some locations set out with dotted lines. You’ll find loads of cabs around Centraal Station and other major locations.
Amsterdam is not the city for cars—parking is expensive and hard to find. The city is not designed for cars, but if you must then make sure you have the following:
- A national driving licence
- Proof that the vehicle passed a road safety test from where you live
- Insurance and registration documents
- An international ID disk
Besides this hassle, driving in Amsterdam can be nice—the roads are well maintained and signs are posted up throughout the city.
Car hire agencies in Amsterdam usually expect one year of driving experience. They will want to see a national driving license and a passport. You also need to be over 21 and put in a deposit before the car is lent out.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city when seen from the water. Try canal cruises or tour boats to show you a different side of Amsterdam.
Author: Sohaib is an avid fan of travel and writes for Hotel Club, a world leading global accommodation website providing resources for over 141 countries including Amsterdam hotels.