Rottardam public transport

Getting Around Rotterdam | A Local & Tourist Guide to Rotterdam Public Transport in 2024

public transport rotterdam

Rotterdam, the vibrant Dutch city known for its modern architecture and bustling harbor, offers a well-connected and efficient public transport system. Whether you’re a local or a tourist exploring the city, navigating Rotterdam is a breeze with its extensive network of buses, trams, trains, and metros. This comprehensive guide will describe the various modes of public transport, ticketing options, and essential tips to make your journey smooth and enjoyable.

1. Metro: The Fast and Reliable Way to Travel

The Metro is your best bet when it comes to getting around Rotterdam quickly. With five lines (A-E) operated by the Rotterdamse Elektrische Tram (RET), the Metro provides smooth connections within the city and extends to neighboring areas such as The Hague. The Metro runs frequently, with trains departing every 4 minutes from most stations.

To explore Rotterdam’s city center, the Metro provides easy access to key locations such as Beurs, Blaak, and Rotterdam Centraal. These central stations make it easy to transfer to other modes of transport, such as buses, trams, or trains.

With its efficient service, Metro allows you to reach your destination faster. However, remember that the metro schedule may vary during weekends and public holidays. It is always advisable to plan your trip using Trip Planner or the 9292ov app.

2. Trams: Exploring Rotterdam at Street Level

If you prefer to experience the city comfortably, Rotterdam’s extensive tram network is perfect. Like a street-level train, trams offer a convenient way to travel around the city, stopping at popular attractions and neighborhoods.

Rotterdam Central Station serves as the central hub for all tram lines, making transfers between trams and other modes of transport seamless. Tramlines like 4, 7, 8, 20, 21, 23, 24, and 25 traverse the city center, providing easy access to renowned landmarks such as the Markthal, Cubic Houses, and Laurens Church.

A unique way to explore the highlights of Rotterdam is to hop on Tram Line 2. This tram tour takes you through the city, offering glimpses of its vibrant culture, architecture, and scenery.

Trams In Rotterdam

Trams run daily from early morning until late at night, making them convenient for getting around Rotterdam. The regularity of the tram service ensures minimal waiting time, allowing you to explore the city at your own pace.

3. Buses: Extensive Coverage for City and Beyond

Rotterdam’s comprehensive bus network provides easy access to various parts of the city, its neighboring towns, and even the larger cities of the Netherlands. With three bus operators in Rotterdam, namely RET, Arriva, and Connexxion, you can easily navigate to different areas based on your destination.

RET buses are ideal for exploring different areas within Rotterdam. They operate regularly, cover multiple routes, and ensure you can easily reach your desired destination. Additionally, a night bus, also known as the BOB bus, runs on Thursday nights, offering transport from Rotterdam Central to various regional municipalities.

If you plan to travel to or from the surrounding cities, Arriva and Connexxion buses are the best option. These bus services not only connect Rotterdam to places like Barendrecht, Capelle aan den IJssel, Hoogvliet, Spijkenisse, Papendrecht, and Schiedam but also to other major cities in the Netherlands such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Eindhoven. Most of these buses depart from Rotterdam Centraal, Zuidplein, and Alexandrium.

busses in Rotterdam

4. Public Transport Payment: OV-chipkaart and Tickets

You’ll need an OV-chipkaart or a single ticket to use public transport in Rotterdam. The OV-chipkaart is a rechargeable card that can be used across all modes of public transport in the Netherlands, including buses, trams, metros, and trains.

You can purchase an anonymous OV-chipkaart, which can be bought at stations from vending machines, or a personal OV-chipkaart, which requires an application and personal details. The personal OV-chipkaart offers additional benefits, such as an annual discount on train travel during off-peak hours.

If you’re in Rotterdam for a short stay, you can opt for various ticket options. The RET Tourist Day Ticket allows unlimited travel for a day throughout South Holland, including buses, trams, and metros. However, it has no longer been valid for water buses since January 2021. The RET 1-day ticket and 2-hour ticket are also available for shorter durations. These tickets can be purchased from RET service shops, service centers, metro station vending machines, and bus and tram drivers.


If you prefer a digital ticketing option, you can use the Tranzer app. This app lets you purchase tickets for all train companies, Connexxion buses, and the RET. Your ticket will be available on your phone, eliminating the need for a physical card or paper ticket. 

The Tranzer app is not the only digital ticketing option available. You can also use the RET Barcode app, which allows you to buy tickets for the RET buses, trams, and metros. Your ticket will be displayed as a barcode on your phone, which you can scan at the gates or validators.

5. Train: Interconnectivity Beyond Rotterdam

Rotterdam’s six train stations offer excellent connectivity to various cities within the Netherlands and beyond. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, the train is a convenient and efficient mode of transport.

Intercity trains operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) serve Rotterdam Central Station, providing connections to Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport, Breda, and other major Dutch cities. The high-speed train, Intercity Direct, offers a swift connection between Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Breda. However, please note that a surcharge is applicable when traveling on the Intercity Direct between Schiphol and Rotterdam.

For international travel, Thalys operates frequent services between Rotterdam and cities like Antwerp and Brussels. Eurostar connects Rotterdam with London, offering a direct link for travelers from the United Kingdom. To plan your train journey, visit the NS and 9292ov websites for detailed schedules, routes, and ticketing information.

6. Car: Flexibility and Accessibility

If you prefer the flexibility of driving, Rotterdam is easily accessible by car. Major motorways like A4, A13, A15, A16, and A20 connect the city, making it convenient to reach by road. Clear signposting indicates exits to Rotterdam Centrum, ensuring a smooth journey.

However, staying informed about traffic, congestion, and roadworks is essential. The ANWB National Motor Association and VanAnaarBeter provide up-to-date information on traffic conditions and any ongoing roadworks in the region.

Car rental services in Rotterdam offer flexibility and convenience during your stay. Companies like Sixt provide a range of options at various locations in the city, including Rotterdam, The Hague Airport, and Rotterdam Central Station.

7. Boat: Arriving by Water

boats in Rotterdam

As a bustling port city, Rotterdam can also be reached by boat. Ferry services connect Rotterdam with the United Kingdom, providing an alternative mode of transport for travelers.

P&O Ferries and Stena Line operate regular ferry services from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands. Stena Line runs between Harwich, England, and Hook of Holland, just a short distance from Rotterdam. P&O Ferries operates the Hull-Rotterdam Europoort route. Shuttle services are available from Rotterdam Europoort to the city center, ensuring a smooth transition from the ferry to your final destination.

8. Rotterdam The Hague Airport: Air Travel Convenience

Rotterdam The Hague Airport is a convenient air travel option for reaching Rotterdam. With an increasing number of direct flights from various European cities, the airport offers accessibility and convenience for travelers.

Airlines like Transavia, British Airways, TUIfly Belgium, TUIfly Nederland, and Corendon operate regular flights to Rotterdam and The Hague Airport. Visit the respective airline websites for detailed information on flight schedules and destinations.

You can easily reach the heart of Rotterdam by car or taxi from the airport in approximately 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, the RandstadRail, operated by RET, directly connects the airport and the city center. Bus 33, also used by RET, offers an alternative for reaching the city center.


Rotterdam’s efficient and well-connected public transport system is the perfect companion for exploring the city. You’ll easily access Rotterdam’s remarkable attractions, from trams and buses to the Metro. With various ticketing options, including the OV-chipkaart and single tickets, planning your journey is simple and convenient. So, hop on board and discover all Rotterdam offers easily and efficiently.


  1. TechyList Avatar

    I’m planning a trip to Rotterdam soon and stumbled upon this blog post. It’s so helpful in providing information on public transportation options for both locals and tourists. The map and list of transport companies are particularly useful. Can’t wait to try out the bus and tram services during my visit! Thanks for sharing this valuable resource.

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