Full of cultural attractions and great architecture, Amsterdam is an exciting city to explore. And, since it’s so compact, it’s fairly quick to travel around, too – especially given there are so many transport options. Before you set off, read this quick guide to getting around Amsterdam.
Getting to and From the City
The capital of the Netherlands has a brilliant transport system, which is great news for us travellers. Before you even arrive, you’ll have heaps of choice in terms of how you get there, since it’s easy to reach by train, plane, car and boat.
So, what’s the best option? Well, the truth is that they’re all good, which means you can base your choice purely on preference and price. The train is generally considered to be one of the most cost-effective and convenient options, while flying to Schiphol Airport is usually the more luxurious.
If you do choose the latter, the airport is around 20 km outside the city, but there are frequent buses into the centre (around six to eight an hour), taxis and a train station sat directly beneath the airport. There are also regularly shuttle services to a number of the biggest hotels, so it’s worth checking if there’s a bus to your budget hostel in Amsterdam.
Should you fancy driving, you’ll find the city simple to navigate – but it’s worth remembering parking is very limited, so you may well end up on public transport in the form of the Park and Ride services anyway!
Personally, I reckon there’s no better way to get around the city than by taking your cue from the locals and hopping on a bike. You don’t need to worry about bringing your own, either, since there are loads of cycle hire places dotted around the city (Bike City in the Jordaan area, for example, or Amsterbike, which is near Central Station).
A cheap and fun way to get around, cycling gives you the chance to see the city at its best. Remember to stick to the bike lanes, though (there’s an extensive network, so this shouldn’t be difficult), and keep a very close eye on the traffic. It’s also worth looking out for tram lines – cross these at an angle to avoid getting a tyre stuck.
If you don’t fancy cycling everywhere (I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea), you can make use of the ample public transport network instead. You should remember that, while the trains here are great, you don’t really need to use them if you’re staying central. Instead, these are generally used for excursions further afield.
The tram, metro and bus, meanwhile, are really handy. Part of the GVB public transport system, they can all be ridden using at PT Smart Card (locally called the OV-chipkaart). Bear in mind these replaced paper tickets back in 2011, so you absolutely need to have one to travel on any of the above.
If you’re familiar with the Oyster system in London, you’ll find these very simple to use, since they’re virtually the same. You can top them up with credit, or load a single or season ticket on to them. To use, simply check into your chosen mode of transport by holding the card up to the receiver until you hear a bleeping noise. You also need to remember to check out when you leave and, if you switch metro lines, trams or buses during your journey, you need to check out and check in again at your next stop.