Explore like a local
An Insider’s Guide to Moving in Amsterdam
This Amsterdam relocation guide has been designed with the explicit intention to provide expats and travellers with all they need to know about moving to Amsterdam.
This exciting chapter covers Travel & Transport.
Within this chapter, we will be covering the many forms of transport in Amsterdam, along with the best ways of how you can travel like a local. Travelling can often be a daunting and sometimes stressful experience, especially in a new country. This guide and chapter will help to alleviate any anxieties
Travelling like a Local
Getting around Amsterdam is easy, convenient and straightforward. The GVB keeps the city connected via various modes of transport like train, tram, metro, bus and ferry. With all these modes of transport you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to commuting or travelling around the city.
But let’s just imagine that you’ve just arrived and you want go sightseeing or want to know the area a little better. How then do you do that? Simple. This chapter will help you to know how you can traverse the city with little to no problems.
2.1 By Rail
The railway serves as an ideal form of transport from the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, providing substantial links to the centre of the city as well as direct connections to Germany, France and Belgium.
Not only one of the best ways to get to the centre when you arrive, but an ideal mode of transport to visit the rest of the Netherlands and other European nations. We all have a slight distaste of trains and children sitting behind us kicking the seat as we read the paper, but there’s no denying that this the superior mode of travel in most nations and their cities.
Rail stations in the city of Amsterdam include:
- Amsterdam Central
- Amsterdam Sloterdijk
- Amsterdam Lelylaan
- Amsterdam Zuid
- Amsterdam RAI
- Amsterdam Muiderpoort
- Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA
- Amsterdam Science Park
- Amsterdam Holendrecht
Many of the train stations are equipped with lifts and ramps to facilitate accessibility for wheelchair users and all other passengers.
You can buy standard tickets or a travel pass. Most residents in Amsterdam use the OV-chipkaart (Public Transport Chip Card). SImilar to an Oyster Card, you must always remember to check in and out.
2.2: By Bus
The bus network in the city is extensive, connecting all neighbourhoods together. Some of the bus networks are only available for certain parts of the travel or living experience, e.g. the Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle is only available for getting you to and from the airport.
The bus networks in Amsterdam include:
- Day ticket
- Oostenrijk Touringcars BV
- Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle
- Amsterdam Airport Express
- Arriva Nederland
- Bus transport Waterland
As with all forms of transport in the city, it is best to travel using an OV-chipkaart (Public Transport Chip Card).
You’ll be able to get to the office and to the comforts of home easily.
The Hop-On and Hop-Off bus tours are the perfect way to travel and sightsee at the same time. With tour packages that come with optional and excitable extras like a canal cruise or a visit to the Heineken Brewery Expedition, you’ll find the exploration packages that suits you for an exceptional price.
To explore the vibrant city in style, this is the best way to do it before you settle in to the professional way of life.
2.3 By Tram
Decorated in blue and white, the trams are an ever popular way of getting around the city. Considered to be one of the fastest modes of transport, the trams will get you to your new home, job and day out attraction very easily.
Operated by the GVB, there are roughly 213 trams on 15 tram lines with 500 stops over a total track length of 80km. Some of these tram lines include:
- Osdorp De Aker
- Nieuw Sloten
- Amstelveen Binnenhof
- Osdorp Dijkgraafplein
- Station RAI
- Diemen (Sniep)
- VU Medisch Centrum
All in all, you’ll be able to get from the boardroom to home or museum to restaurant with ease.
2.4 By Metro
Ideal if you’re trying to reach outlying districts like Bijlmer, Amstelveen and Diemen, the metro offers great links throughout the centre and the outskirts. It is recommended that you take the tram, bus or cycle if you’re getting around the centre as it can be quicker, sometimes less expensive and (in the case of cycling) better for your health.
The metro lines include:
- Ring Line, East Line (Gein Branch)
- Amstelveen Line, East Line
- East Line (Gaasperplas Branch)
- East Line (Gein Branch)
With another line under construction, getting from the centre to exploring the delightful sites of the outlying districts will be easier than you expect.
Given that Amsterdam is a city where not many people own a car, taxis are a popular mode of transport. You can expect taxis to be very convenient when you’re travelling to and from the airport or when you’re going home late at night when some of the public transport systems are closed.
You’ll be hard pushed to hail a taxi, largely due to the limitations of space. Therefore, you’ll have to find one of the many taxi ranks.
Be aware also of unlicensed taxis; you’ll find them mainly at airports. Licensed taxis can be recognised by their roof lights that display the name of their operator.
2.6: Car Hire
If you’re only going to be using a car sparingly, then it is best to just hire out for the length of time you need it or from time to time. You’ll be able to find many car hire dealers that can provide you with a car that is suitable for your needs; whether it is something basic or something stylish for your travels away from the city.
Some of the companies that can help you with a spectacular hire include:
- Sixt rent a car Amsterdam
- Van Delden Limousine Service
- Avis Autoverhuur
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car Nederland
- Avis Schiphol
- Booij Dethleffs Centre
Converting your Driving Licence
Be aware that you can use your current driving license in Amsterdam for a certain period of time, after which you will have to register and obtain a Dutch one. If you possess a EU/EFTA license then it will be valid for 15 years from the date of issue, whereas if you are from outside the EU your license will only be valid for six months from the date you register at your local municipality. Applications for a standard Dutch driving license costs around €40 (prices may change in the future).
You need third party insurance if you own a car throughout your stay in Amsterdam. This is to protect you from legal liability and any unfortunate accidents. You’ll be insured against any damage you may cause with your vehicle but no from damage to your vehicle.
We recommend that you check out price comparison sites to get the right deal from the right insurer.
2.7: Bicycle Hire
To get around like a local, you really need to take up cycling. It’s fast, efficient, healthy and extremely cost effective. Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle friendly capitals in the world and therefore must be experienced if you want to immerse yourself into the culture of the city and the Netherlands as a whole.
There are many bicycle companies in the capital, but the one that stands out most is of course the Yellow Bike Tours Central Station, that has been offering visitors to explore the city by bike since 1990.
2.8 OV-chipkaart (Public Transport Chip Card)
Throughout Amsterdam and the Netherlands, the OV-chipkaart (Public Transport Chip Card) is used for travel on trams, buses, metros and trains.
You can choose between a personalised card or a non-personalised rechargeable card. Most residents opt for a personalised card but the decision is ultimately yours.
Similar to an oyster card you can put credit on the card or you can choose from a selection of travel passes. The non-personalised cards are available at GVB ticket office vending machines while the personalised ones are available online.