Transportation in the Netherlands
Created | Updated Sep 2, 2012
The Netherlands: Introduction | Topography | Facts and Figures | Polders and Dykes | The Dutch National Anthem | Dutch - the Language | Dutch Pronunciation | Dutch Grammar | Handy Dutch Phrases | The Dutch | Transportation in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is, and always has been, a country that relies heavily on its infrastructure. Transportation is the major industry, with getting to and from the Netherlands easy.
Travelling by Air
When travelling by air you'll most likely end up at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands' primary airport and one of Europe's largest. Schiphol is located close to the nation's capital, Amsterdam, and has all the facilities any traveller might need: shops, restaurants, tourist information (called VVV), hotels, taxis, and a train station from where you can get to any major city in the Netherlands.
Travelling by Train
For travelling between cities, the Dutch train system is to be recommended. The national railway connects to every city or major town in the country. Like any railway system, it does experience delays, but these are usually for no more than five to ten minutes.
On the whole, travelling by train is easy and comfortable, especially when you travel outside of the rush hours of 8am - 10am and 4pm - 6pm. The tickets are reasonably priced and available on every station, either from a ticket desk or a machine. The staff at the ticket desks are friendly and will provide you with any information you need to get around. You can get one-way (Enkeltje) and return tickets (Retourtje) to and from any train destination. These tickets are available as valid for one day, or the whole weekend. There are also special tickets to tourist destinations which combine the fare and entry fee in one ticket.
The larger stations in the cities usually have a bank, tourist information booth, restaurant or snack counter, and some small shops. Almost all train stations in The Netherlands are the central point for local public transport, like buses, trams and metros.
In the Netherlands there are two kinds of trains. One is called an Intercity. This train only stops in the 50 biggest cities in The Netherlands, and is the fastest way to travel as the train doesn't stop every 5 to 10 minutes. The other train is a Stoptrein. This train stops at every single station it goes through. If possible, these trains should be avoided as they are invariably slower. A train ticket is valid on all trains and is not limited to one kind or the other.
Travelling by Bus or Tram
The Dutch local public transport system is basically the same throughout the country: local and inter-local buses are everywhere, and some major cities also have trams, which are usually the best way to get around the city centres. In addition to that, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht have a metro/subway system.
Tickets for local public transport are very easy to deal with: they all use the same ticket system, called strippenkaart. The strippenkaart is a long ticket with between two and 45 strips, which represent zones you wish to travel through. The entire country is divided into zones, and the conductor onboard a bus or tram will put a stamp on the strip for the number of zones you wish to travel through. There are also machines where you can do the stamping yourself. If you're not sure how to use it, just ask someone. They will gladly help you.
The strippenkaart can be bought at every train station, local public transport company outlets, ticket machines, and in the buses and trams themselves, but not on metros. Buying the tickets in the bus is not advisable as they are extremely expensive. The tickets are not limited to any one area, so the same strippenkaart can be used throughout the country.
Travelling by Taxi
Taxis are everywhere, but mostly in the cities. They're all regulated through a permit system, so the quality is good, but they're quite expensive. All taxis have light blue number plates so they are easily identified. Taxis in the major cities are great for quick and easy inner-city door-to-door transport, and the taxi drivers are usually quite friendly and know a lot about the city and its sights. Don't use them for longer distances if you can avoid it, because the meters run continually, and you could be faced with quite a bill.
Taxis mostly have fixed pick-up points, at train stations and major sights or areas of interest, but you can hail them if they're available, although this is not usually done in the Netherlands.