There are so many different ways to travel from one place to the next in the Netherlands, and thankfully it’s all pretty easy! In this article, we’ve outlined all the different forms of transportation in the Netherlands along with some pretty helpful tools to get you started.
Bicycles can get you anywhere! (Well, almost)
The Netherlands is one of the most bike-friendly places in the world. Biking is arguably the main form of transportation. You’ve probably heard the statistic, there are more bikes in the capital of the Netherlands than people. It’s definitely true. if you really want to feel like a local it’s recommended to get a bike. But if you’re traveling long distances or facing abhorrent weather, the public transportation system is really great.
Helpful tools for public transportation
In the Netherlands, Google Maps is your friend. It shows you the exact routes you need to take and how long it will take you to get there. Other great apps that can help you plan your journeys are 9292 and NS. 9292 is particularly great because it shows you all the possibilities when it comes to transportation – meaning, all the public transport options as well as travel by foot or bike. If you’re staying in the Netherlands for a longer time I would recommend getting an OV-Chipcard. These can be used to check in and out of almost all forms of public transportation and will save you money in the long run as you don’t need to buy a separate ticket for each instance.
You can get a Personalized OV-Chipcard or an Anonymous one. The benefits here greatly depend on how you’re going to be traveling. A personal card can be linked to your bank account so that it tops up automatically, whereas an anonymous card will need to be topped up manually from machines and ticket offices. Public transport in the Netherlands is an environmentally friendly way to travel around the country, and it’s also very accessible to the disabled. If you’d like to find out more information about traveling through the Netherlands as a disabled person, NS Travel Assistance may be able to help you.
Trams, buses, metros Shorter distances
Ah, I remember my first tram ride alone like it was yesterday. I was seventeen, fresh off the boat from Aruba and late to meet my parents in the Amsterdam city center. It wasn’t my first time in the Netherlands nor was it my first time taking public transportation, but it was my first time riding a tram by myself.
I was terrified. I had no idea how Google Maps worked and didn’t realize that trams actually run in two directions. I haphazardly jumped into the first tram in a frenzied hurry but freaked out when it started going the wrong way. I was about to burst into tears when the kind lady behind the counter told me to get out at the next stop and take the tram going in the opposite direction.
I made it to meet my parents, albeit late and with a bruised ego, but I made it all the same.
I honestly felt embarrassed about my freakout for a while until I learned that this was a common experience for many kids coming to the Netherlands from the Caribbean. These days I can laugh about it, but I completely understand when people have trouble understanding the public transportation system when they first arrive. But the public transportation system in the Netherlands is actually amazing.
For shorter distances, there are trams, metros, and buses. All three can be found in most cities and villages and can take you to your destination in no-time. Metros are my personal favorite – I find that they’re faster, well-kept, and (usually) on time. Buses are great for both short- and long distances. If you were unlucky and missed your last bus while out drinking with your friends, don’t panic! Between 12:30 am and 7:30 am there’s a night bus that can take you home. It’s a bit pricier than taking the usual bus but it will get you to your destination all the same.
Trains- longer journeys
There are two types of trains in the Netherlands, the Intercity and the Sprinter. The Intercity is generally much faster and goes over longer distances (and it’s also more comfortable in my opinion). If you’d like to travel shorter distances or between villages, Sprinter trains are what you’re looking for. They tend to stop more frequently, making them slower than the Intercity train.
Taxis are always an option, although those can get pricey pretty quickly. I’d recommend going with Bolt instead – it’s cheaper and arguably more reliable (plus you can use our referral link: https://invite.bolt.eu/2HW83X to get €15 discount on your first ride!)
Ferries- Honorable mention
You can also find some ferries in the Netherlands! If you’d like to travel to the northern islands or go from Amsterdam central station to Amsterdam Noord, you can take a ferry. NDSM is a great up-and-coming spot in Amsterdam and is reachable by ferry. Highly recommended! Whether you’re looking to check all 10 most beautiful places in the Netherlands off your list or you simply just want to travel from Schiphol to your hotel, traveling through the Netherlands is fast, easy, and reliable!