Public transportation in and around Amsterdam can be confusing for outsiders. And now a recent makeover in the city transit system has altered the cost and protocol of inner-city travel. Here’s some useful info to keep trams, buses and metros convenient and affordable for sightseers. Remember, there are low-cost and efficient ways to get around this city. You just have to know how to use them.
The basics: Standard fare
Hopping on a tram or bus will cost €2.60 for a one-hour ticket—meaning the ticket sold to you by the driver or ticket agent is valid for the following hour. Exact change is not required, though breaking large bills is frowned upon. Also new this year, each bus now has gray electronic pads at each doorway which keep track of entry and exit. Look for these circular pads when you enter and exit the tram/bus. And, be sure to press your ticket against them when both getting on and off. Otherwise, your tickets won’t remain valid.
Most common travel option: Strippenkarts
Long thin tickets called “strippenkarts” are available for purchase at Centraal Station, all GVB stations, Albert Heijn supermarkets, post offices and most kiosks. One strippenkart for €7.30 provides 15 boxes. These ‘boxes’ are verified with a stamp from a transport drivers or ticket sellers upon entry onto a bus or tram. One zone, which encompasses the city center, will cost two boxes. A strippenkart can usually provide about seven one-way rides, and once a box is stamped the one-hour-travel rule applies. Also, a strippenkart can be used for more than one person.
Short and sweet: Day tickets
Travelers looking to use public transport for just a day or two might find the most affordable and easiest option day tickets valid for 24, 48, 72 or 96 hours. Prices range from €7 to €18, and they work the same way as basic fare tickets—meaning it is still necessary to use those circular, electronic pads (on trams and buses) to keep a day ticket valid. These tickets are available from drivers and ticket sellers (only the 24-hour ticket), GVB outlets, tourist offices and kiosks as well.
Late line: Night buses
Amsterdam has a reliable and timely night bus system which is easy to use and much more affordable than a taxi, especially if you’re staying outside of the city center. Buses pick up hourly from locations like Rembrandtplein, Centraal Station and other main train stations throughout the night. Night bus tickets are purchased from the driver only, for €3.50 (one-way) and are valid for one and a half hours. Strippenkarts are available for €25 and provide about six trips (12 boxes).
One more option: Try the metro
Amsterdam’s underground metro system is basic and ideal for escaping outside the city or attending an Ajax football match at the Amstel Arena. Most metros leave from below Centraal Station, and valid tickets include strippenkarts, basic fare tickets and day tickets. This website offers online directions, in English, to easily guide travelers on getting from Point A to Point B. For more information and maps of Amsterdam public transportation, visit www.gvb.nl (English is available).