Amsterdam Transportation: Getting around town
I love exploring a city on foot which is what we’ve done for the most part. Sometimes, though, it’s very useful to use the public transit system.
From the airport to town
Getting from the airport to our apartment was a breeze. Once you arrive at Schiphol and get your luggage, you walk out into the main airport area, if you head straight, you cannot miss the entry to the train station. There are yellow machines everywhere to purchase a train ticket, if you have any trouble there is also a ticket window.
The first thing you’ll see on the ticket machines is one-way ticket to Amsterdam Centraal station. Payment is accepted with Euro or by credit card. Check the monitor to see what Spor (track) the train will arrive on and head to the escalators. You must scan your ticket before heading downstairs. Hang on to that ticket because you’ll need to scan it again to get out of the station.
Metro/Bus/Tram in the city
I found that the metro (separate from the trains) is pretty limited in the city, there are lines that head out in each direction from the center, but no real cross town lines, that’s what the busses and trams are for. I have found the tram system to be the best. The trams run often and they run everywhere.
You can download the 9292 app, to access the maps and schedules. If you are staying for an extended period of time I definitely recommend that you get an anonymous OP chip card, which can be purchased in the metro stations, or at the central train station. You pay a non-refundable 7.5 Euro for the card, that’s the only drawback.
But for the convenience, it’s worth it. You can add more money to the card at any metro station or at the central station, but not on the trams, so make sure you have enough on your card. You scan the card when you enter the transit and when you leave just like at the train station, it will show your balance when you check out. The card works for the trains, metro, trams and busses.
Note about Intercity Regional rail
One piece of information that we were unaware of is that you may need to have your card activated to use the intercity regional rail. If you are going to use that line, to visit another city or country, you need to have a balance of 20 Euro on your card to gain access to the station, no matter how much the fare costs. On the trains there are ticket collectors, that will scan your card, to make sure you have the appropriate balance, and that you checked in properly.
And of course Bicycles. Bikes are king in Amsterdam. Pedestrians and cars must yield to bicycles. They have their own lanes and traffic signals. There are thousands and thousands of people riding bikes around the city, it’s a never-ending stream of wheels. I heard somewhere that there are actually more bikes than people.
There are even bicycle parking garages. It’s really quite amazing, it’s a huge part of the culture. It’s complicated for someone who needs training wheels still. We thought about renting or buying bikes but decided against it. I don’t think I could navigate the complex maze of traffic in the city. Perhaps when we come back, I can start out easy in the suburbs.
Happy travels friends.