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Getting around Amsterdam sans bike can be pricey if you’re not hoofing it. One-way tram and bus fares are up to €2.80, and trains easily exceed the €10 mark on a round trip outside the capital.
While the usual choices are 24-hour city transport cards and Euro rail passes, new to the scene is the Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket. At €13.50 a day, it offers unlimited city transport PLUS regional buses that stop at prime destinations like Zaandam and Edam to name a few.
It’s not for the elite traveler, but perfect for Cheapos wanting a sight-seeing deal. Here are some pros and cons to help decide:
Pro: Cheapest “combo ticket”
After doing the math, one round-trip out of town and two tram rides means you’re already saving with Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket. So to get the most with this ticket, travel in and out of the Amsterdam center—spend a morning in Zandvoort aan Zee, and then hit the big city. Don’t venture from one far region to the other in one day, it’s too much traveling.
Con: Only for day trippers
The weekend-long smash and grab job when seeing Amsterdam doesn’t include day trips outside the city. This ticket works best for visitors spending at least a long weekend in Holland, and those interested in seeing the outskirts of Amsterdam. Places like Delft, Den Haag and Rotterdam are not included regions in this ticket.
Pro: Night buses included
A night out on the town in Amsterdam leads to a €4.50 night bus ticket home when returning after midnight. It’s great to always get a travel ticket that includes these after-hours buses.
Con: Only buses included
Besides the city trams, this ticket means bus travel only. It’s not the best pick when strapped for time, but a great “sceonic route” option (travel time can be twice as long compared to the train). Rides can be bumpy and jerky—anyone prone to carsickness is better off with sticking to trains.
Pro: Marken, Zaanse Scahns and Haarlem
These are the easy top three places to reach on the regional bus routes. Haarlem has its historic and quaint charm, Marken’s isolated fishing community still lives in traditional wooden houses, and Zaanse Schans has its scenic windmills and wetlands. While Haarlem is accessible by train, the other two are accessible by bike or road only.
Con: Almere, Ijmuiden and Amstelveen
While Ijmuiden shows the industrial side of Amsterdam, Amstelveen is a typical Dutch suburbia, and Almere offers insight about “planned city” structures in Holland. Are they worth the visit? Outside of niche interests and modern European history buffs, most travelers will get their money’s worth in other traditional hotspots.
Pro: Perfect for cool or rainy seasons
Dutch transport resilience is at its best in rainy weather, and buses are no exception. When the weather is windy, wet and cold, hitch a ride inside (leave the biking to the weatherproof locals). Buses have great heating—a soothing plus after walking on cold cobblestone.
Con: Sticky and sweaty in summer
Buses might have heating better than your hotel, but they lack air conditioning. Summertime can turn buses into saunas. They get crowded, cramped and borderline claustrophobic. It’s not uncommon to see locals just shout in desperation to be bucked off at the next stoplight. During sweltering summer days, either bike it or plan a tour via private coaches.