Amsterdam is not too strange to those who have been to Europe for a long time, public transport here is very developed. Due to the many canals, Amsterdam’s train system is quite simple, not too complicated as in Paris or some other large European cities. How to travel in Amsterdam effectively and economically, let’s discuss here! So, are you planning a trip to Amsterdam and don’t know how to get around Amsterdam cheap (how to get around in Amsterdam and how to travel around Amsterdam) and how to travel cheap in Amsterdam? Let’s check out our suggested 5 best way to get around Amsterdam (best way to travel around Amsterdam) and cheapest way to travel around Amsterdam (cheapest way to travel in Amsterdam) by public transport and from Amsterdam to other cities in Netherlands or European cities to find out the answer! Let us discover the best tips for an effortless Amsterdam journey!
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How to get around Amsterdam cheap? Getting to Amsterdam
Flying to Amsterdam via Schiphol airport
If you fly to Amsterdam from other cities in Europe you can find cheap air tickets from Transavia or EasyJet, these both airlines have quite a lot of routes to Amsterdam and arriving at Schiphol airport. Transavia seems to be less popular than EasyJet but I flew with it once and found it seemed quite simple, the all attendants are male, that sounds special! Schiphol Airport is about 15km from the city center and is the nearest and largest airport in Amsterdam. Here, is the base of KLM which is the largest airline and has worldwide flights and routes. There are also many other cheap airlines flying to Schiphol such as Transavia, Tuifly or EasyJet.
Getting from Schiphol Airport to city center
By train: To getting from Amsterdam Airport – Schiphol (AMS) to the city, the fastest and most convenient way is to take the Direct Link train, running every 10 minutes/trip from Platform 1, 2 to Central Station, the ticket price is € 5/way. You buy tickets at the yellow ticket vending machines at the airport, it seems that until now the machine still only accepts coins, remember to validate the ticket, otherwise you’ll be fined € 35. You should look at the map to take the right route to Central Station.
By bus: You take the bus number 197 of Connexxion (also known as Amsterdam Airport Express) that running to the Amsterdam Museumplein/Leidseplein area. This bus does not run through the Central Station but is convenient for those who stay near Museum Quater or Leidseplein area. Ticket price € 5/one-way, take the bus right at Schiphol Plaza near the arrival hall of the airport. However, Bus 197 does not have many options if you have too much luggage, the alternative solution is to take the Airport Shuttle but the price is quite expensive, € 17/way and € 27/round trip. If you taking a taxi, it costs about € 40-50.
In addition, you can hire a private car transfer service from the airport to central here: Private Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) Transfers for Amsterdam.
Note that there is also has temporarily luggage store service at Schiphol airport, for those who want to go to Amsterdam during the day but do not want to carry a lot of luggage with them. Price range 6-11.5 Euro/day and allow store up to 7 days, details you see here: Schiphol Luggage Locker.
Schiphol Airport is the largest but may be limited in terms of finding cheap tickets for backpackers, in some cases you should have other options for yourself when choose airports when traveling to Amsterdam:
- Rotterdam The Hague Airport: 57 km from Amsterdam, you take the RET airport shuttle bus 33 to Rotterdam Centraal train station takes about 25 – 30 minutes, runs continuously every 10-20/trip, ticket price is € 2.50 or if you have OV-chipkaart card, the price is € 1.39. From Rotterdam station you take the train to Amsterdam which takes about 1 hour riding with every 10 – 20 minutes/trip, ticket price is € 13.40. Or you can take the Express bus directly from Rotterdam airport to Amsterdam central station takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes, but this bus only runs 3-4 trips a day, ticket price is € 25.50/way and € 42.50/round trip. Be sure to check the bus schedule via : www.airexpressbus.com.
- Eindhoven Airport: 107 km from Amsterdam and you can take the Hermes bus 401 to the train station (takes about 25 minutes and with 4 trips in every hour), ticket price of € 3.20 if you directly buy on the bus or € 1.71 if you have OV-chipkaart card (will mention below). From here you take the train to Amsterdam, the train takes 1 hour and 20 minutes with a frequency of 4 trips/hour, the ticket price is € 17.20.
Getting to Amsterdam by train
Usually if you take the train to Amsterdam then the last station is the Amsterdam Centraal Station. From here you can easily catch Metro to the hotel. If you want to travel from Amsterdam to other cities by train, you can go to the Netherlands railway website to book tickets.
Another train booking website that you can refer to when you want to travel from Amsterdam to other European cities and vice versa is Trainline.com. This website is extremely convenient, you can be found most train routes in Europe, even local trains and offers you a lot of train options with different prices and times.
Getting to Amsterdam by bus
If you getting to Amsterdam by Eurolines, the last stop is not at the central station but at Amstel Station, you can take the train to the city center because the train station is close to the Eurolines stop.
How to travel around Amsterdam? Commuting in Amsterdam
By public transport
Like many other cities in Europe, public transport in Amsterdam consists of three main types: Metro (subway), Tram and Bus are under GVB public transport company. Besides, there are two other smaller firms are ESB and Connexxion. Tram has 16 lines running around major points in the city center, while Metro has 4 lines including a short line running underground.
Types of Amsterdam public transport tickets you should know about
- Single Journey: The price of € 2.9 is valid for 1 hour and can be bought on bus, tram and ticket counters, using for all GVB’s vehicles. If you take a short way, you should not buy this ticket.
- OV-chipkaart card: The GVB company offers a card for all three vehicles, OV-chipkaart, but it seems that this card is more suitable for local people or people who stay in Amsterdam for a long time. There are two types of OV-chipkaart cards, one for local people and another for tourists (no need to return), the type for tourists with a price of € 7.5, with a duration of 4-5 years, after buying, you must top up to use (minimum of € 4). How to calculate fee: Basic fee + Fee per Km (basic fee: € 0.89, fee in km: € 0.154/km).
- Unlimited GVB Travel Tickets: These are the types of day tickets that when purchased you can travel unlimited. For 24 hour tickets (1-day ticket) you can buy on the bus from the driver, tram, ticket vending machines and at GVB office. For 48 hours tickets (2-day ticket) can not be purchased on the bus. For 72 hours ticket and 96 hours ticket you can only be purchased at the stations and at the office of GVB, the other tickets can only be purchased at GVB office.
Ticket prices are as follows
+ 24 hours (1 day): € 7.50
+ 48 hours (2 days): € 12.50
+ 72 hours (3 days): € 17
+ 96 hours (4 days): € 21.50
+ 120 hours (5 days): € 26.50
+ 144 hours (6 days): € 30
+ 168 hours (7 days): € 33
- Amsterdam Travel Ticket: This type of all-in-one ticket is sold as an unlimited travel ticket within 1, 2, 3 days corresponding to the ticket price of € 16, € 21, € 26. This ticket can be used for travel to and from the airport and all kinds of GVB’s vehicles, so it seems most suitable for all type of travelers. Note that this ticket is not expire after 24 hours but it will expire at 4am the next day from the date you swipe the card. This ticket is similar to OV-chipkaart card you must check-in and check-out when using.
- Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket: This ticket is valid for all carriers, trains, buses in Amsterdam and surrounding areas. This ticket has 3 types for 1, 2, 3 days corresponding to the ticket price of € 18.50, € 26, € 33.50. You should buy this ticket if you want to travel to some places that can go on a day from Amsterdam such as Zaanse Schans (windmill village), Volendam, Keukenhof garden (beautiful flower garden). Ticket also apply for bus 197 of Connexxion to get to the airport.
- Other discount tickets: Traveling in Amsterdam will also be more economical if you have a train discount card like 40% Korting Kaart card, promotional train tickets of the day.
+ Korting Kaart is type of OV-chipkaart card, you will get 40% off ticket price and applied on weekends or off peak hours. Ticket details you can see here, register online or at the ticket counter, remember to bring your photos and passport. However you will not receive it immediately, they will send to the address in the Netherlands that you give them.
+ Discount train ticket of the day: This is a one-day discount ticket and has a limited time, vary depending on the type of promotion. You can join the group of the Hand in Hand in Amsterdam because here they share information about this ticket.
How to buy and use train tickets?
- All kinds of GVB tickets you can be purchased directly at the GVB Service & Tickets Counter just outside Amsterdam Central Station.
- Buy tickets at the vending ticket machines located at the stations, these machines usually only accept cards issued by Dutch banks, only at Amsterdam Centraal and Schiphol Airport the Visa and Master cards are accepted (up to now it is not clear whether it has been accepted at all ticket counters or not).
Use train tickets
When traveling in Amsterdam, you should avoid buying 1 hour tickets but should buy day tickets depending on the time you stay. Using travel tickets, you have to check-in and check-out when taking the train, which means that every time you get on or off the train you have to swipe the card onto the machine to charge, otherwise there will be a penalty of € 4.
You should go to page 9292.nl to see and find out the train schedule of destinations that you want to go, the train routes in the city helping you know what train you will take and how much time it takes. In addition, the website ns.nl/en will give you the train schedule and the amount you have to pay for the train route you will take.
In a nutshell, when traveling in Amsterdam, to travel in the city most convenient you should clearly outline your travel schedule for the day, if a day you have to travel a lot by train, you should buy 24 hours tickets, traveling a lot that include getting to the airport, you should buy Amsterdam Travel Ticket, if you go to the outskirts of Amsterdam during the day, you should buy Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket, the rest who do not like to go by train can ride a bicycle, leisurely, peaceful and convenient in this city.
If you go out late at night (such as go to the Red light district), you may have to buy GVB Night bus tickets, which is valid for 90 minutes for € 4.50, tickets can be bought directly from the driver.
Cycling around the city
Renting a bike to cycling around the city like a true Dutch is a very elegant and interesting thing. Bicycles today are not only a favorite means of the people of Amsterdam but they are also a typical cultural feature, improving health and reducing harm to the environment. Roads in the city are also designed to support the maximum use of bicycles, including cycling to the hills.
There are many bike rental shop for you to choose from such as MacBike, Starbikes Rental, WorkCycles, … The normal price is about € 8/day and discount if you rent for many days. For example, for MacBike, the first 3 hours cost € 7.5, the full day rent is € 9.75 and the following days the price drops to € 6.
You can go directly to each shop to view and book online. The pick-up and drop-off points you see at each shop’s website, mostly located in the city center, so it should be quite convenient. Note that always lock the bike and keep the bike in the right place where they specified in public places, to prevent the bike being stolen!
Take a free ferry in Amsterdam
It sounds strange, but really it’s true, these are ferries connecting downtown Amsterdam (especially at the central station) with points in northeast of the city. There are many routes that run back and forth between the two areas, if you choose a hotel on the other side of the city, you can easily take a free ferry to the central station (line 901), and then use Metro to getting around the city. Ferries actually run on the sea, so you can take a ferry to see the sea, quite interesting or there also is a route to the beach, so feel free to explore! Ferries run all day with every 10-15 minutes/trip.
How to get around Amsterdam cheap? Getting from Amsterdam to other places
From Amsterdam to other places in the Netherlands
Amsterdam connects with most cities and towns in the Netherlands, the density of day trips is arranged a lot and you almost no need to worry about running out of tickets, simply go to the station and buy train tickets and go. Due to fixed fares, so you buy tickets sooner or later is the same (for example, Amsterdam – Rotterdam ticket is EUR 15), you can book in advance via the Dutch train website ns.nl/en, but you need a bank account of the Netherlands. With every 15-30 minutes/ trip. Buying tickets is very simple, you just go to the ticket vending machines at the station or information counter, you can use Visa or Master credit card here (for an additional fee of EUR 0.5).
If you want to take day trips from Amsterdam to the villages/neighborhoods you can refer to:
- Zaanse Schans – Windmill Village: You can travel by bicycle or rent a car, if you take a bus, take bus No. 391 in front of Centraal Station and take about 30 minutes.
- Kinderdijk: Take the train from the central station to Rotterdam Centraal or Utrecht Centraal. In Rotterdam, you take Metro to Rotterdam-Zuid to take the bus number 154 to Kinderdijk. If traveling from Utrecht, take the bus 154 to Kinderdijk.
- Waterland: The Waterland bus stops behind Centraal Station from 6am to midnight, or you can take the bus 311 or 315 directly to Broek in Waterland.
- Delft: The train runs all day from Amsterdam central station with each trip every half hour and takes about 1 hour to reach Delft.
Getting from Amsterdam to cities in Europe
The fastest way to travel from Amsterdam to other cities you can go to Trainline.com to book tickets. Alternatively, you can use the following websites to book tickets:
To England/UK: There is a direct train traveling between Amsterdam – London takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes, stop in some cities like Brussels or Rotterdam. You can book tickets through NS International. Trains run 2 trip/day on weekdays and 1 trip on weekends.
- Traveling to Paris from Amsterdam takes about 3 hours and 17 minutes and fares from € 35, allowing bookings up to 4 months in advance. Book at Thalys the sooner the cheaper, frequency 1-2 hours/trip from Amsterdam Centraal to Paris Gare du Nord station.
- Traveling to Brussels from Amsterdam by Thalys express train takes about 1 hour and 49 minutes, fares from € 29-87, with InterCity slow train takes 3 hours and 30 minutes with a fixed price of € 44.60 without reservation, from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Brussels Midi Station.
To Germany: Visit www.bahn.de specializing for trips to Germany and night trains to Munich or Zurich, selling tickets for about 3 months in advance with fares from € 19, € 29 or € 39.
To Switzerland (Basel, Zurich, Geneva)
- Night train: The train usually leaves Amsterdam at 8:20 am and arrive at Basel 6:20am or Zurich at 8am in the next morning, you visit www.bahn.de to book tickets with a ticket price of € 43/seat.
- Day train: The fastest way, you can go to www.loco2.com but it will cost a little bit, go anywhere in Switzerland, or go to www.nsinternational.nl to book tickets but sometimes this site often has problems with payment, you can go to Loco2 or Bahn.de instead.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in and from Amsterdam you can refer to
- Private Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) Transfers for Amsterdam
- Keukenhof Skip-the-Line Ticket and Direct Transport from Amsterdam
- Keukenhof Gardens Fast Track Entry Ticket with Round Trip Bus Transfers from Amsterdam
- Brussels Day Tour from Amsterdam
- Amsterdam Guided Half Day Tour
- Small Group Full Day Tour to Giethoorn from Amsterdam
- Bruges Day Trip From Amsterdam
- Volendam, Edam & Zaanse Schans Windmill Village Day Tour from Amsterdam
- Giethoorn and Enclosing Dike Day Tour
- Amsterdam City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Boat Pass
- The Rijksmuseum Skip-the-Line Ticket and Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass in Amsterdam
- Red Light Secrets Museum and Hop-on Hop-off Bus Pass in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam Public Transport 1-7 Day Ticket
Are you looking for more Amsterdam travel guide and top things to do in Amsterdam? Read more: Amsterdam travel blog — The fullest Amsterdam city guide for a great trip to Amsterdam on a budget for the first-timers.