Public Transport in The Netherlands

Information correct as of May 2023

Even though cycling is one of the most popular means of transport in The Netherlands, there are certainly alternatives for those of you who do not enjoy cycling all day! Public transportation in The Netherlands is easy to use and simple to understand!The main six means of public transport in The Netherlands are trains, metros, trams, busses and bicycles. Smaller towns, such as Haarlem or Leiden do not have metros and trams but rest assured that all towns have at least a bus nearby to bring you to the nearest train station.

  • Trains: The trains in The Netherlands are definitely a very popular means of transportation because they are so easy to use, and they bring you to any city in The Netherlands in a very short period of time. Plenty of people who live in smaller towns will use trains in the morning to commute to their jobs in bigger cities around The Netherlands or simply commute to another small town.
  • Metros: As previously mentioned, metros do not run in every city in The Netherlands, as some towns are too small to have metros running underground. The only cities that have metros are Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. The metros are a great means of transport in big cities as they are very fast and will take you across the city in a very short period of time and are relatively affordable.
  • Trams: Trams are also a great means of transport as they go through the cities in no time. They're very easy to use and an affordable means of transportation. However, trams do not run in every city, as some towns are simply too small for trams. For more information on which cities in The Netherlands have trams as a means of public transportation, check out this list of town tramway systems in The Netherlands!
  • Buses: Buses are a pretty popular means of transport in The Netherlands as they can go longer distances and are readily avalible, just like the trains. Buses can also take you to more specific smaller towns and stops that do not have big train stations. Often a train will stop in a certain town, and then you have to hop into a bus to get to your actual destination. For example, if you are trying to get to Bloemendaal beach from Amsterdam Central, the best route would be to take the train to Haarlem station then the bus to Bloemendaal beach! See? As simple as that!
  • Bikes: Even if you do not own your own bike in The Netherlands, you can rent a city bike, also known as OV-fiets! These are very simple to use as all you have to do it rent it from the specific spots where OV-fiets is offered. If you would like to rent an OV-fiet near you, use the NS website to help you locate these city bikes!

Public Transport in The Netherlands

What Are OV Chipkaarts?

OV Chipkaarts are the cards that you use in order to use all of these public transportation methods. This card is a contactless plastic smart card system used for all public transport around The Netherlands. It is the same size as a bank card and fits perfectly into your wallet. How does the OV Chipkaart work? To use any public transport in The Netherlands, you need to either buy a ticket or add money onto your OV Chipkaart. Once you add money to your OV Chipkaart, you can use it on any public transport in The Netherlands. There are two main types of OV Chipkaarts. There is the yellow one, which is the personal use card and the blue one, the anonymous card.

The blue OV card is an anonymous OV card. It is not linked to your name and can be shared between people. This card is very easy and quick to purchase. The blue OV card does not have any extra services or discounts, and it is a pre-paid card and the balance has to be topped up as you use it. This card is good for people who do not use public transportation very often. If you lose the blue OV Chipkaart, then you simply have to buy a new one at a machine.

The yellow OV card, also known as the personal OV Chipkaart, comes with your name and your photo on it. It is ordered through the OV Chipkaart website, and it allows you to add discounts, additional services, season passes and more! There is also an option for an automatic reload system or a monthly invoicing. With the personal OV card you are able to rent bikes and if it is lost or stolen, the card can be blocked, and you can be given a new one!

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How to Use Public Transport in The Netherlands

Using the transport itself if very easy. For buses and trams, it is the same. Once you enter the tram or bus all you have to do is scan your OV Chipkaart and if you have sufficient balance all you have to do is get on and get to your next destination. If you do not have sufficient balance then on trams you can simply get a ticket with the register at the entrance of the tram and on buses you can get a ticket with the bus driver. As for metros and trains, before entering the station there is a machine with doors and all you have to do is scan your card there and can enter to whichever metro line or train platform you need to get to. For all public transports, do not forget to check out by scanning your card again on the way out! If you do not have an OV Chipkaart then you can simply get a ticket at various machines at train stations, metro stations and some tram stops.

You can now use your bank card (debit or credit) just like an OV-chipkaart, just check in and check out with your bank card. Accepted debit cards in the Netherlands are, ABN AMRO, ASN Bank, Bunq, ING, Rabobank, Regiobank, SNS. You can also use your credit card, with contactless credit cards from Mastercard or Visa. You can also use a foreign contactless debit or credit card from Maestro, V PAY, Mastercard or Visa. You can also, of course use your smartphone or smartwatch if you have linked your debit or credit card.

Public Transport in The Netherlands

How Much Does Public Transport Cost in The Netherlands?

Public transport in The Netherlands is not necessarily cheap, but it is also not too expensive either. I know, that sounds confusing, but it is safe to say that you get an amazing quality service for the price. There is not a specific set price as everything has different costs, especially depending on the distance. There are various apps and websites, such as 9292 and Moovit that not only help you find your way from point A to point B, but it will also tell you how much it would cost you from one city to the next, depending on how large the distance is between each city. For example, from Amsterdam to Groningen, a ticket costs 25 euros there and back. A day ticket that can be used on a tram or a bus costs around 8 euros, 2 days is around 22 euros , and a 3-day ticket is 28 euros. If you have a family member that is older than 4 but younger than 12, or 65 years old and above, they have a 34% discount on metros, trams and buses.

If you have an OV Chipkaart it all depends on the balance on your card. It would be helpful to have a yellow student OV Chipkaart that does give a slight percentage off when travelling by tram, metro, bus or train, and this card costs 7.50 euros. Or you can get the standard blue card that costs the same but does not have a discount when travelling. Either way, you have to top up your OV cards; it does not matter how much money you have on your OV when you go by tram, metro or bus. However, if you go by train, you need at least 20 euros in your OV card, card or else you cannot use the train. Remember that you need to check in, and check out in all public transport in The Netherlands!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is public transport free in The Netherlands?

  • Public transport is not free in The Netherlands. However, certain people can get discounts like students and working students who get major discounts.

  • How good is public transport in The Netherlands?

  • In general, the Dutch public transport system is efficient and clean. The local train network operates throughout most of the country, and it is easy to move between towns and cities.

  • Do trams in Amsterdam run 24 hours a day?

  • No, trams in Amsterdam run from six in the morning to midnight.

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Living in The Netherlands