How does the public transport work in Netherlands?

When you travel through Europe, you’ll notice small but important differences in the public transport. While in Scotland you’re allowed to pay the bus with cash, you can’t do it in England. So, I decided to write this article, so you can prepare in case you decide to visit the beautiful Netherlands.

In Netherlands, there are several types of public transport: bus, train, metro and tram. Of course, you can find taxis and Uber as well, but the prices are so high that I won’t even cover them in here. The price of the public transport can be different also according to the way you use to pay.

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Amsterdam Central Station - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Even though it’s not one of the attractions in Amsterdam, the Central Station is still a beautiful building – Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you invest enough time in Netherlands, the best options are to rent a bike or buy an OV card. You can use the OV card in any of the 4 types of transport I’ll cover in this article (bus, metro, tram and train), and reduces significantly the costs (on occasions, up to 50%). The cost of the card is 7 euros at the moment of writing this article (April, 2017).

To use it, you must check-in and check-out in the origin and destination stations. If you take several trains, for example, you have to check-in in your initial and end stations. If you change to a bus, for example, you should check-out in your final train station, and then check-in in the bus. Don’t forget to check-out, or you could get fined and you could end up spending all your remaining balance.

You’ll find machines to buy train tickets or add balance to the OV card in multiple places (including any train station, but not in every bus or tram stop). In my case, my credit card didn’t work in some of the machines (in others it did, it would depend on the machine model), and I found myself in trouble since the machines only accept coins, NOT BILLS. If your card is accepted, you’ll be able to add balance to your OV card or buy train tickets.

One of the many beautiful views in the capital - Amsterdam, Netherlands
One of the many beautiful views in the capital – Amsterdam, Netherlands

But, a few days later, I tried my Visa debit card (yes, in Costa Rica Visa offers debit cards as well), and tried using it as a debit card and it worked. So, that’s another way you could try in the ticket machines.

The ticket machines for tram and bus are less common. However, in the case of the bus you can pay with credit card directly in the bus (it worked for me there), and the tram even has a person onboard who sells tickets, so you can pay with cash.

In the biggest train stations, you will be able to find service centers where you can buy tickets, reload your OV card, paying with credit or debit card or cash.

The cheapest ways to pay are in order: OV card (the tickets will be cheaper), cash or debit card (tickets with regular price, plus one euro charged by the machine service), and the credit card (it has a fee, for both reloading or buying a ticket).

Museo Van Gogh - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Museo Van Gogh – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Finally, consider that if you’re using the OV card, you’ll need a minimum amount in it, according to the transportation you want to use. For example, if you want to take a train, you must have at least 20 euros in it. The reason is, when you check in, an amount will be temporarily deducted from your balance. This amount covers the maximum travel you could do. In the case of the trains, you could get a 20 euros Intercity. If the trip cost was 4 euros, the rest of the balance will be loaded back.

Same as in many other countries, you’ll be able to find in each train station, bus stop, etc., all the information about times and destination of each way of transport.

I hope you find this information useful, and if you have questions or anything to add, feel free to do it in the comments. Perhaps you have already decided to buy a ticket to Netherlands? Thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed it, click on Like, leave a comment or share it!

Some links in this page are affiliate links. This means I’ll earn a small commission from your purchase, at no additional cost to you. If you liked the article, please buy through these links and support Just One More Place.

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