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How to Use Public Transport in Amsterdam

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This post covers how to use public transport in Amsterdam, including ticket options as well as a guide on how to use the GVB service and an explanation of the zone system.

 

 

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OVERVIEW

No matter where you're planning to go in Amsterdam, there are several forms of public transportation you can use at a low cost.

The most basic option is to use their metro service, which can get you around the city quickly and easily with stations at or around major locations.

Alternatively, if you want to visit some of the less notable areas of Amsterdam, they also have buses, trams, and ferries you can use.

 

Amsterdam Trams

 

In this post, we'll go into detail about each of these services and provide information about how to get and use tickets for public transportation in the city centre.

We will also include information about how to use the train, which is a separate service in Amsterdam.

Finally, we'll cover how to save money on public transportation in this city by using a tourist pass, which is an excellent option if you're planning to visit more than one cultural landmark, museum, or attraction.


TICKET INFORMATION

There are several different ways to purchase tickets for GVB’s public transport services, and each ticket or pass is valid across just about the entire network with just a few exceptions.

 

Amsterdam Public Transport Ticket

 

While you can purchase individual tickets whenever you need them, the easiest option and the best way to eliminate any guesswork is to get a public transport day pass, which can be purchased for between 1-7 days.


TICKET PRICES

These are the standard tickets you can purchase if you only need to use public transportation for 1-2 rides. Anyone who needs 2 or more rides should consider another option.

  • 1 Hour Ticket: €3.20
  • 1 ½ Hour Ticket: €6.50
  • Free for kids under 4

If it seems like you're paying almost twice as much for a 1 ½ hour ticket as you are for the 1-hour option, the reason is that the 90-minute service includes access to Connexxion and EBS buses.

Connexxion offers transportation between the airport and city centre, while EBS focuses more on getting you outside the city.


PASSES

Day passes allow you to use pretty much all GVB services including buses, trams, ferries, and metro for 24, 48, 72, 96, 120, 144, or 168 hours.

  • 1 Day Pass: €8.00 
  • 2 Day Pass: €13.50
  • 3 Day Pass: €19.00
  • 4 Day Pass: €24.50
  • 5 Day Pass: €29.50
  • 6 Day Pass: €33.50
  • 7 Day Pass: €36.50

You can also buy a 1 Day Pass for kids at a rate of €4 per day. 

Buy a public transport day pass in advance, which you can pick up at the airport, train station, or several other locations.


AMSTERDAM & REGION TRAVEL TICKET

This is the only ticket option that includes admission to Dutch National Rail (Nederlandse Spoorwegen), and it's also valid for Connexxion and EBS buses.

  • 1 Day Ticket: €19.50
  • 2 Day Ticket: €28.00
  • 3 Day Ticket: €36.50

Which Ticket/Pass to Choose?

If you're in need of a transport ticket which includes access to the Dutch National Rail, the best option available is an Amsterdam & Regional Travel Ticket.

However, visitors who only plan on exploring Amsterdam and its surrounding areas should be well served with either individual tickets or day passes.

While you can purchase individual tickets whenever you need them, the easiest option and the best way to eliminate any guesswork is to get a public transport day pass, which you can pick up at the airport, train station, or several other locations.

A day pass is a no brainer if you plan to take 3 rides or more each day. If you plan to be in Amsterdam 3 or more days, then the passes are a great option if you plan to take 2 or more rides.


Use a Tourist Attraction Discount Card

If you are considering purchasing one of the available tourist attraction discount cards available to you in Amsterdam, do note that 2 already include travel passes for free.

In addition to providing discounts on a variety of different attractions and tours, these services also include access to 1-5 day GVB public transit passes.

  • I Amsterdam Card | 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5-day GVB pass included.
  • Holland Pass | Choose either a 1 or 2-day GVB pass.

 

 

Depending on how you use each discount pass, you could easily save up to 50% off general admission prices at various museums and on additional activities before you even factor in the free public transport!

Here are just a few of the most popular services included with these tourist passes:

In addition to providing admission for activities such as these, you’ll also receive extra discounts of 10% - 25% off at several attractions, restaurants, theaters, and other notable locations.

For more details about these services, please read our full post covering Amsterdam tourist passes.


Where to Buy Tickets

Tickets for the bus and tram can be purchased on-board from the driver. 

You can also use tickets obtained at metro stations to hop onto either a bus or tram as long as it is still valid.

Metro tickets can be purchased either on-site at a metro station or online with a day pass. 

 

Amsterdam Metro Car

 

If you choose to get them at the station, look for a GVB ticket machine and buy the right ticket for your needs.

While 1 – 1 ½ hour tickets can only be purchased on-site, you can buy a public transport day pass in advance, which you can pick up at the airport, train station or several other locations.

 


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PUBLIC TRANSPORT OPTIONS

There are several different ways to get around Amsterdam using public transportation. 

No matter where you need to go, chances are you’ll be able to use either a metro, tram, bus, ferry or train to get there!

The Amsterdam public transit system is operated by a company named GVB, and they currently offer the same ticket pricing across all of their services. 

Buses and trams don’t accept cash, so it’ll be very useful to get a ticket you can use across each form of public transport. 

You’ll find more information ticket prices and how to get them in our section about how to buy tickets.

The following section will cover additional details about each individual service provided by GVB. Use these links to skip ahead to the public transit of your choice:


Metro

The Amsterdam metro network is approximately 43 km long with 5 lines and a total of 39 stations.

 

Amsterdam Metro Station

 

If you’re looking to get across town as quickly as possible, this is likely your best option. 

These are the 5 lines available:

  • M50 – Runs from Isolatorweg to Gein.
  • M51 – Runs from Central Station to Isolatorweg.
  • M52 – Runs from Noord to Zuld.
  • M53 – Runs from Central Station to Gaasperplas.
  • M54 – Runs from Central Station to Gein.

If you need help figuring out which line to take, use the following metro map to see where each station is located.

 

(Click here to enlarge.)Amsterdam Transport Map

 

You can pay for your fare at one of the GVB ticket machines you’ll find at each metro station. 

Alternatively, you can also get a 1-5 day transport ticket by using a tourist pass, allowing you to save up to 50% or more off standard ticket prices,

For more details, check out our how to buy tickets section.


Ferry

There is a lot of water in Amsterdam, so it shouldn’t shock anyone that GVB has a ferry system that you can use to get around.

Currently, there are 3 regular crossings that will take you from Amsterdam Central Station Terminal Wharf to Amsterdam North.

  • Line 901/907 – Central Station to Buiksloterweg
  • Line 902 – Central Station to IJplein
  • Line 906 – Central Station to NDSM-wharf

There are also 2 additional ferries that operate out of the Western Islands area, as well as a ferry from Azartplein to Zamenhofstraat.

To learn more about these routes, check the following map for additional details.

 

(Click here to enlarge.)Amsterdam Ferry Map

 

Each of these ferries is entirely free to use and there is no ticket required. Ferry services are available for foot passengers, cyclists, and moped users.


Tram

Amsterdam’s tram system is fairly extensive, as they offer 15 different lines which cover a wide range in the city, stretching from Central Station to Matterhorn, Van Hallstraat, Azartplein, Ijburg, Diemen Sniep, and more.

Amsterdam Tram InteriorThink of trams as a slightly smaller version of the Metro. These lines are shorter, but there are more of them all over the city.

The advantage of using trams is that they serve some of the less notable areas in the city, while the Metro is more focused on specific sites in Amsterdam.

GVB’s trams connect with the Metro system at several stations, making it easy to transfer from one to the other if necessary. 

Use the following map to get your bearings and find the right tram line for your needs.

 

(Click here to enlarge.)Amsterdam Tram Map

 

Cash payments have been abolished on all Amsterdam trams, so you’ll need to purchase either disposable tickets on-board or use a public transport card to pay your fare.

Luckily, transport cards are included with two different tourist passes which you can use to save up to 50% off public transportation, various popular attractions, tours, and more.

For additional information, please read our tickets section.


Train

If you’re considering a day trip to a location well outside of the city centre, you may want to consider using the Dutch National Rail Company (Nederlandse Spoorwegen).

The main train station is Amsterdam Central, which is located just North of the city centre and serviced by GVB’s trams, buses, ferries and the metro.

The Dutch National Rail is a great way to get from Schiphol Airport to the city or other locations just outside of Amsterdam. These trains also service sites such as the Bijlmer-ArenA!

 

(Click here to enlarge.)Amsterdam Train System Map

 

Unfortunately, since this service is not owned by GVB, you cannot use a GVB ticket for admission to the rail network. You will need to purchase a separate ticket.


Buses

As with most metropolitan areas, Amsterdam’s public bus system is probably the most extensive service offered by GVB with a total of 35 bus lines taking passengers from the city centre to the suburbs.

Among their more notable lines is the 397, which runs from Schiphol airport to the center of Amsterdam and departs every 15 minutes.

In addition to daily service throughout the city, there are also 10-night buses which run after dark from Central Station to a variety of locations such as Sloterdijk, IJburg, Nieuwendam, Bijlmer-ArenA and more.

For more information about how to navigate the bus network, please check the GVB bus routes and schedules map.

There are also Connexxion buses that offer transportation to and from the airport. Connexxion buses require a 1 ½ hour ticket or better.

Alternatively, if you want to visit locations such as Volendam, Marken and Monnickendam, you should take an EBS bus. A 1 ½ hour or a regional travel ticket is required for this service.

Fare can be purchased either via disposable tickets from the driver or public transport card. Please read our tickets section for additional information.

 


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HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS + BOAT

If you’re looking for an alternative to public transportation, you may want to consider a hop on hop off bus or boat service – and maybe even both!

These tours typically only serve the city centre, so they’ll be most useful for travelers who don’t intend to leave Amsterdam.

That said, the great thing about these tours is that they make frequent stops at popular destinations throughout the city, so you won’t have to worry about navigating any public transport maps!

 

 

Additionally, you can also get tickets which are valid for multiple days, allowing you to use the service not only for the included tour, but also simply as transportation.

Best of all, if you’re considering getting a tourist pass, most of them include a Hop on Hop off bus tour, boat tour or both.

The Holland Pass includes a combo ticket with both services in addition to a GVB ticket!

As if that weren’t a good enough reason to consider this option, Hop on Hop off bus + boat tours are often provided in combo packages which include admission to additional attractions such as the Rijksmuseum, the Heineken Experience, Madame Tussauds, the Van Gogh Museum and more!

You can also find combo packages which include a hop on hop off bus or boat tour as well as day trips to popular destinations such as Keukenhof Gardens.

For more information, please read our post covering all of the major Hop on Hop off Bus + Boat tours in Amsterdam.

 


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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: October 12th, 2021
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