9292ov.nl - Journey planner for all Dutch public transport
(http://journeyplanner.9292.nl/) - All public transport companies participate in the OV Reisplanner, which can plan a door-to-door trip for you using all public transportation types. The site mostly relies on scheduled detours, but delays are incorporated to a limited degree. 9292 OV-informations is also available by telephone: 0900-9292 € 0,70 per minute/max. € 14,-.
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways)
(http://www.ns.nl/en/) - Information about the trains can be found at the Nederlandse Spoorwegen NS website , which includes a trip planner which uses the latest information about train delays and detours. For the information of the other transport types they use 9292ov information.
Google Maps (Transit)
(http://maps.google.nl/?hl=en) - Some public transport is also in Google Maps, the planner is however not reliable. Beside is has no current information it makes lot of mistakes. This year more transport companies will participate, and Google will enhance the planner.
During the journey
At large train stations are yellow information desks, at most smaller stations there is an information/SOS kiosk. If you push the blue information button you are connected to an operator from 9292ov. If you ask train-staff, they often look for you in their smart-phone journey-planner. Almost all vehicles have digital displays with current travel information. Most train platforms and some bus stops have electronic information. Both 9292ov (http://m.9292ov.nl/) and NS (http://m.ns.nl/planner.ac...) also have mobile sites.
Public Transport Tickets
NOTE: The old strippenkaart and the paper train tickets have been phased out in the Netherlands and are no longer valid. If you still own one from a previous visit, you can throw it away or keep it as a collector's item.
The contactless smart card OV-Chipkaart OV-Chipcard (https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/?taal=en) can be used on all forms of public transport OV stands for Openbaar Vervoer meaning Public Transport.
|Train, bus, tram, metro|
|OV-chipkaart only||Throughout the Netherlands you generally use an OV-chipkaart to travel in public transport.||This includes all trains operated throughout the Netherlands: NS, Veolia, Arriva, Syntus, Connexxion.If you travel domestic with the high-speed Intercity Direct or ICE you have to 'load' a supplement fee onto your card if traveling between Rotterdam - Schiphol Airport vice versa|
|Paper ticket only||4 out of 5 West Frisian Islands Waddeneilanden:Vlieland tickets in busTerschelling tickets in busAmeland tickets in busSchiermonnikoog tickets in bus||Cross-border journeys such as the Thalys|
The OV-chipkaart comes in three versions:
Disposable OV-chipkaart sold with a travel product that cannot be recharged or reloaded with another product. For example a single or return train journey. It does not contain an electronic purse and is meant for people who rarely use public transport in the Netherlands. They are available for a range of fares, such as a three-day pass to all public transport in one city. The single-trip variants are sold on the bus by the driver, and sometimes on the tram.
Anonymous OV-chipkaart available for €7.50 at ticket offices and vending machines valid up till 5 years. This card is reusable and has an electronic purse. It is transferable, and therefore cannot be used for discounted travel, or for monthly or annual season tickets. However, the anonymous card can contain multiple products simultaneously, as long as those are 'simple' travel products, like those available for the disposable card.NOTE: Because of the way the OV-chipkaart works see below, it must always hold a minimum of €20 in order to cover the cost of the checking-in fee. Each time you check out, the screen on the card reader will show you your balance. If you dip below the €20 minimum, don't forget to top up at any kiosk debit cards or credit cards with PIN only; some accept coins or OV service desk. Don't worry: at the end of your time in the Netherlands, the balance on your card can be refunded to you by turning in your OV-chipkaart at the service desk.
Personal OV-chipkaart is useful for anyone entitled to travel with a discount. It is also the only type that can hold a monthly or annual season ticket. Because of these characteristics, the personal card is non-transferable and features the holder's photograph and date of birth. The personal OV-chipkaart has an electronic purse. In addition, it can be set to automatically top its balance up when it drops below a certain level. The personal card is the only one that can be blocked if it is lost or stolen.
Choosing a card to fit your needs, you best consider how often and for what period you visit the Netherlands and how often you use public transport. If you are likely to use the bus/tram/metro three times or more per year, it's usually cheaper to get an anonymous card, rather than buy a disposable one for every trip. If you are likely to do a lot of travelling in a relatively short time, you could opt for a disposable one-day or multi-day card.
Travellers can buy a travel product, for example a single ride, a one-day pass for an entire city or a monthly season ticket for a certain route. When they check out after the trip see next section, the system will recognise that a certain product has been used and, if necessary, deactivate it.The other option is to use money from the electronic purse on the OV-chipkaart. On checking in, the system will charge a checking-in fee €20 for NS trains, €4 for metro, tram and bus, which will be refunded as soon as the traveller checks out, minus the fare for the trip actually made. If a user fails to check out, the checking-in fee, which is higher than the fare for most actual journeys, is refunded after filling refund forms from the travel company refund forms can be found [here (https://www.ov-chipkaart....)] and at the counters of the travel company . Loading travel credit can be done at station ticket machines, at ticket offices and some tobacco shops and supermarkets, note that with the only exception being the ticket machines at stations, most other locations charge a small fee around €0,50.During a trip, personnel can check cards with a mobile card reader. You must be travelling away from the point where you checked in.
When travelling by train or metro, the OV-chipkaart is held against a card reader as soon as the traveller enters the platform. The card has now been 'checked in', and the boarding fee will be charged to the card. When the passenger ends the journey at another station, the card is held against the card reader again in order to 'check out'; the boarding fee is refunded minus the fare for the journey actually made if the traveller is using the e-purse.There are two types of card reader systems on train and metro stations: free-standing card readers, and card readers integrated into ticket gates gates open with the reader at your right hand. When travelling by tram or bus, travellers check in and out when entering and leaving the vehicle. Card readers are placed near each door for this purpose. Changing buses or trams of the same company as is likely within cities travel costs will be combined no double entrance fee, as you would pay when you check out and in between trains of the same company, see next.
Checking in and out is always required, except when you transfer from one train to another from the same operator. Changing trains from one operator to a different operator requires checking out at a card reader of the first operator and checking in at a card reader of the second operator these locations are usually marked with big signs with the text Overstappen (Transfer). This is order sensitive so check out first before checking in. If you expect to travel by train only, it's usually easier to buy single-use OV-Chipcards. If you also want to travel by bus, tram, metro or ferry an Anonymous OV-Chipkaart is recommended since it's easier to use and will save you money in the long run. If checking out is impossible i.e. the check-out device is defective, you can claim refunds with the public transport company involved.
Amsterdam: Checking in/out at combined stationsBeware of different gates for train NS and metro in combined train+metro stations. Check in at the correct gate.
It is possible to get a refund of unused credit on Personal and Anonymous cards at a ticket office for a €2.50 fee. The Anonymous and Personal OV-chipkaart have a validity of four to five years. Any credit that's still on an old card can be transferred to a new card; for free if the old card is still valid, or for €2.50 if it isn't.
"Weaker" parties in traffic such as cyclists and pedestrians enjoy extra protection from the law regarding liability when an accident occurs with a "stronger" party e.g. cars. The basic idea is that the stronger participant e.g. a car driver is always liable when an accident occurs between a weaker e.g. a cyclist and the stronger party, unless force majeure can be proven. Force majeure is here defined as 1 the car driver was driving correctly and 2 the faults of the cyclist were so unlikely that the car driver did not have to accommodate his driving for them. When this cannot be proven, the car driver is liable, but this can be limited when the accident can be attributed to the behaviour of the cyclist, up to 50% more if the cyclist was consciously being reckless.
The burden of proof for force majeure, for faults of the cyclist and for recklessness are with the car driver. Such things can be hard to prove, which is why some people take this rule to mean that cyclists/pedestrians always have right of way, but this is incorrect.
The Netherlands has a fine-grained, well-organized public transport system. Virtually any village can be reached by public transport. The Dutch public transport system consists of a train network which serves as backbone, extended with a network of both local and regional buses. Amsterdam and Rotterdam have a metro network, and Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht also have trams.
Whenever you're walking through the bigger cities especially Amsterdam, be aware that cyclists are a serious part of traffic! Be careful when you cross the street and keep clear of the special biking lanes marked by red asphalt or a bike symbol.
The two largest cities, Amsterdam] and Rotterdam, have a metro network which runs mainly on elevated railways outside the city centres, and underground within the center. Furthermore there is a large city tram network in the agglomerations of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague; Utrecht has two sneltram lines fast tram or light-rail.
A car is a good way to explore the countryside, especially places not connected by rail, such as Veluwe, parts of Zeeland and The North Sea islands. The motorway network is extensive, though heavily used. Congestion during peak hour is usual and can better be avoided. Roads are well signposted. Driving is on the Right side.When driving in cities, always give priority to cyclists when turning across a cycle lane. If you are involved in a collision with a cyclist, you will be automatically liable though not guilty unless you can prove that the cyclist was in error, in which case you will be deemed half liable. If you can definitively prove that they were both in error and trying to hit you, and the person hit was 14 or older, they will 100% liable. If you wish to see only cities, a car is not the best option. Due to limited road capacity and parking, cars are actively discouraged from entering most bigger cities.
P+R park and ride facilities are available at the outskirts of bigger cities; you can park your car cheaply there, and continue your journey via public transport often free or with a discount when you have parked at the P+R.
Road signs with directions are plenty, but having a map is useful, especially in cities where there are many one way streets, and getting from one part of the city to another is not always so straightforward. Be careful not to drive on bus lanes, often indicated with markings such as Lijnbus or Bus, nor on cycling paths, marked by the picture of a bicycle, or by a reddish colour of asphalt.
Public transport buses have the priority when leaving a bus stop, so be careful as they may pull in front of you expecting that you will give way. Furthermore, in cities where there are streetcars Amsterdam especially, remember that Streetcars always have priority under every circumstance. Note that some tram stops are in the middle of the road, so passengers exiting the streetcars will cross the street in order to get to the sidewalks. Exiting streetcar passengers always have priority so be careful when driving past a streetcar that stopped.
The speed limit in built up areas is 50 km/h with some zones limited to maximum of 30 km/h. Note that 30 km/h zones are home of unmarked intersections so all traffic from the right has right of way!. Outside of towns speed is limited to 80 km/h this includes most N-roads, though some are restricted to 70 or 100. On some local roads the speed limit is 60 km/h. The maximum speed limit on the interstate is 130 km/h, however this is mostly based on the time you are driving, as well on the opening of the spitsstroken rush hour lanes, indicated by long interrupted lines, when open, the speed limit is 100 or 80 km/h. This is indicated by a green arrow (open or red cross closed). This is always designated next to the interstate, but this is confusing even for locals, so remember this when driving on an interstate:
If there are no signs whatsoever, you may drive 130 km/h.
If there are signs saying 120, 100, 80, the top speed at all times is respectively 120, 100, 80 km/h.
If there is a sign saying 120 6-19 the top speed is 120 km/h between 6 AM and 7 PM, and 130 at all other times.
If there is a sign next to or in proximity of the 120 6-19 sign saying 100, the top speed is 100 until you see a sign stating 120, not 120 6-19!
Speed indicated on the dot matrix signs above the lanes always take precedence over anything else you see, both when the speed is in a red circle the regular speed limit or without an incidental speed limit, indicating traffic or construction. A white circle with a diagonal bar in it indicates 'end of all speed limits from dot matrix signs' from which moment on you obey the ordinary signs.
These limits are strictly enforced and the fines are very heavy see below!
Your speed will be checked nationwide by the police and fines are heavy. Exceeding the maximum speed with more than 50km/h will result in seizure of your driving licence. After that driving is considered a criminal act. Pay extra attention to Trajectcontrole signs: that means that in the road you're driving there is an automatic system that checks your average speed on a long section. Radar detectors are illegal devices to have in your car. They will be impounded and you will be fined €250. Keep in mind that the police use so-called radar detector detectors to track down radar detector users, so it is best to turn them off. Drinking and driving is not allowed and this is enforced strongly. Breathalyzer tests occur frequently, both on an individual basis i.e. you get pulled over and the police see it necessary for you to undergo a breathalyzer test as on a bigger scale i.e. the police has set up a designated control checkpoint on a highway. An unbroken yellow line next to the sidewalk means no stopping, a broken yellow next to the sidewalk means no parking. Some crossings have "shark teeth" painted on the road, this means you have to give way to the other traffic.
Note that police also use unmarked traffic surveillance cars, especially on the highways. They have a video surveillance system and often they don't stop you right after doing a violation but they keep on following you. That means if you do more violations, you'll be fined for everything you did. Note that the policemen in unmarked cars are obliged to identify themselves after pulling you over, which means you shouldn't have to ask. Policemen in marked cars have to show their ID only when you ask them for it, but they too are obliged to show it when asked.
Parking fees within cities can be pretty steep. When considering going to bigger cities, such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam, consider use of public transportation to avoid traffic jams and the great difficulties involved in finding a parking spot. Note that a blue line on the road or on the sidewalk next to the road indicates that you need to have a parking disc indicating the time of arrival. You may stay up to half an hour usually without paying. Not having a parking disc or staying too long results in a fine.
If your car breaks down on the highway you might go to the nearest roadside emergency telephone; these "praatpalen" can be recognized as they are about 1.5m high, yellow and have a rounded bunny-eared cap on top. This is the direct connection to the emergency and assistance services.
Alternatively, you might use a mobile phone to reach the ANWB (http://www.anwb.nl/) autoclub via toll-free number 0800-0888; your membership of a foreign autoclub might entitle you to discount rates on their services. Leased business cars and rental cars are usually serviced by the ANWB services included in the lease/rental price; but you may want to check any provided booklets.
If you are involved in an accident, both drivers need to complete and counter-sign a statement for their respective insurance companies damage form/"schadeformulier". You are required to have this form on hand. The police need to be notified if you have damaged public property especially along the highways, if you have caused any sort of injury, or if the other driver does not agree to sign the insurance statement. It is illegal to hit and run. If the other driver does this, call the police and stay at the scene. The emergency telephone number is 112 tollfree, will even work from disconnected mobile phones; the telephone number for non-emergency police presence is 0900-8844.
Fuel is easy to come by, but extremely expensive! The Netherlands have the doubtful title for having the most expensive fuel prices in the world for 20 years. It is better to refuel your car for 100% before going in the Netherlands, since the Belgian and German fuel prices can be €0,30 lower. If it's truly desperately needed, only try to tank at unmanned gas stations, such as TanGo or Firezone. They save up to 10 cents, but are still far more expensive than their Belgian counterparts. Prices of fuel are, as of 2012, €1,84 $2.20 a litre in manned stations. Along highways many gas stations are open 24/7. More and more unmanned gas stations can be found, even along highways, selling petrol cheaper. These unattended stations accept all common debit and credit cards. All gas stations sell both petrol and diesel; the "premium" brands have the same octane level they allegedly contain compounds that improve fuel efficiency to offset the higher price. Liquid Petroleum Gas is sold at relatively many gas stations along the high ways, but it is never sold in built-up areas. The symbol for LPG gas is a green-collared petrol pump icon, set beside the general case black-collared petrol pump icon. LPG fuelled cars need regular petrol to start the motor, and can also be operated using strictly petrol, though it is more expensive.
If you come in the Netherlands with your LPG fuelled car, probably you will need an adaptor. If you buy in your country, ask for the specific Dutch adaptor. The plug sold as "european" screw style, is used in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany but won't fit Dutch pumps.
Getting a public charging point for electric cars is quite hard to come by, and are only located in city centres generally. Public charging points can be found at (http://www.oplaadpalen.nl/).
There are currently 2 hydrogen gas stations in the Netherlands, Arnhem and Amsterdam, although more are planned in e.g. Rotterdam.
Cycling in the Netherlands is much safer and more convenient than in other countries, because of the infrastructure - cycle paths, cycle lanes, and signposted cycle routes. However, the proliferation of bicycles also means that you're seen as a serious part of traffic - motorists and other cyclists will hate you if you don't keep by the rules or if your cycling skills are not up to scratch. Some things to know:
Cycle lanes and cycle paths are indicated by a round blue sign with a white bike icon, an icon on the asphalt, or by red asphalt. Using them is mandatory.
Cyclists must obey the same traffic signs as motorists, unless exempted. For example, a cycle icon under a no-entry sign, usually with the text 'uitgezonderd' except, means cyclists may use the street in both directions.
Where there is no cycle lane or path, use the regular road. This is unlike the rule in Germany and Belgium, where you are supposed to use the footpath in many places.
On some narrow streets that do have a cycle path parallel to them, mopeds may be required to use the cycle path, rather than the main street as is usual.
Bicycles must have working front white and rear red lights. Reflectors are not sufficient. You may be fined € 40 for cycling in the dark without a light, and you seriously endanger yourself and other traffic by doing so. Small, battery-operated LED lights attached to your person are allowed.
There are different ways to use a bicycle:
if you are staying in a city, you can use the bike as a means of transport, to get from A to B. This is the way local people use it, for short journeys it is faster than car, bus or tram. You can use the bike to get to places near the city, which may not be accessible by public transport. If you choose to do this, make sure you are trained and you have a 'working knowledge' of riding a bike. You can seriously endanger yourself and/or other cyclists if you don't know how to handle a bike.
you can cycle around on the bike, in a city, or in the surrounding area. The bike is then a means to see places and landscapes. The many signposted cycle routes are designed for this, most of them are octagonal and take you back to the starting point. Some rural routes go through areas inaccessible by car. Signs for bicycle routes are usually white, with a red border and lettering. In most of the Netherlands it's possible to create your own routes by connecting marked and numbered points called "knooppunten".
you can take the bike on a train, for a day trip to another city or region. It costs € 6, and you may not travel with a bike in the rush hour. You must carry a supplementary ticket called "dagkaart fiets", which is easily obtained from the automated kiosks. As an alternative, you can easily rent bikes at or near stations. Folding bikes can be taken on board for free when folded.
you can load your tent on the bike, and set off across the country. For this you do need to be fit, and not afraid of rain. The national long-distance cycle routes are designed for this type of holiday, see Cycling in the Netherlands Long-distance routes (http://holland.cyclingaro...).
The best online routeplanner for cyclists can be found at (http://www.fietsersbond.n...) a wikiplanner made by volunteers of the Dutch cyclist union "Fietsersbond".
Bike theft is a serious problem in the Netherlands, especially around train stations, and in larger cities. If possible, use the guarded bike parking 'stalling' at train stations and in some city centres. They will cost up to €1.25 per day. In general, use 2 locks of different kinds for example, one chain lock and one tube lock. This is because most bike thieves specialize in a particular kind of lock, or carry equipment best suited to one kind of lock. Ideally, you should lock the bike to a lamppost or similar. Bike thieves have been known to simply pickup unattached bikes and load them into a pickup truck, so they can crack open the locks at leisure.
In cities, most bikes are stolen by drug addicts, and they sell most stolen bikes too. They often simply offer them for sale to passers-by, if they think no police are watching. Buying a stolen bike is itself illegal, and police do arrest buyers. If you buy for a suspiciously low price e.g. € 10 to 20, or in a suspicious place in general, on the street, the law presumes you "know or should have known" the bike was stolen. In other words, actual ignorance of the bike's origins is no excuse.
Bike shops are the best place to buy a second-hand bike legally, but prices are high. Some places where you can rent bikes will also sell their written off stock, which is usually well maintained. Most legal and often cheap second-hand bike sales now go through online auction sites like marktplaats.nl - the Dutch subsidiary of Ebay.
The Dutch bicycle-share system "OV-fiets" is only accessible for residents of the Netherlands or those who have a Dutch bank account. The member fee of 9 Euros a year and 3 Euros per trip is written of automatically.
Taxi service was traditionally a tightly guarded monopoly. In recent years, the market was deregulated, but prices are still high. Taxi drivers are licensed, but they do not, as of yet, have to pass a proficiency exam, providing they know the streets. This is planned in the future, since the taxi market is being re-regulated. In the bigger cities taxi drivers can be un-friendly to very rude. One will find that especially in the western part of the country the cost of a taxi are very high for very little politeness and service. The public transport system often proves to be cheaper and a lot faster.If you have to rely on a taxi, there is a free smartphone app (http://www.tomtomtaxi.com...) for ordering taxis in most of the major cities in the Netherlands that gets you a responsible driver, and helps you keep track of the route and price.
Some taxi drivers refuse short rides e.g. under €10. This is illegal, but it's hard to enforce this prohibition. There is a maximum tariff, and it's built into the taxi meters. If you negotiate a price before you get in, the price you have to pay is the negotiated price, or the metered price, whichever is lower. Getting in a cab without enough money to pay for the ride is illegal, so it's wise to negotiate a price. Note that most taxi's only accept payment in cash, debit or credit cards cannot be used. Around Amsterdam and to some extent Utrecht, Uber taxi's are available and can be paid for online.
All legal taxis have blue license plates. So do some other vehicles for group transport, such as minibus services for the handicapped.
The country is densely populated and urbanised, and train services are frequent. There are two main types of trains: Intercity trains and Sprinter or sometimes 'Stoptrein' trains which stop at all stations. An intermediate type 'Sneltrein' is found in a few places. All these types of train have the same prices you pay about € 0,25 per kilometer (http://www.ns.nl/reizigers/klantenservice/klantenservice/tarieven#index). There are also a few high-speed trains such as the 'Intercity Direct' between Amsterdam Central station, this includes Schiphol Airport, and Breda which are more expensive and sometimes require an extra 'product' to be put on your OV-Chipkaart see above. Travelling all the way from the north of the country Groningen to the south Maastricht takes about 4.5 hours.
Most lines offer one train every 15 minutes every 10 minutes during the rush hours, but some rural lines run only every 60 minutes. Where more lines run together, the frequency is, of course, even higher. In the west of the Netherlands, the rail network is more like a large urban network, with up to 12 trains per hour on main routes.
The Nederlandse Spoorwegen NS operates most routes. Some local lines are operated by Syntus, Arriva, Veolia and Connexxion.
Because of the high service frequency, delays are quite common. However, the delay is usually limited to 5 to 10 minutes. Note though that NS boasts a punctuality of 85% meaning that this percentage of trains departs/arrives within 3 minutes of the scheduled time, which could be higher than you're used to. Trains can be crowded during the rush hour, especially in the morning, but most of the time you'll find a seat. Reserving seats on domestic trains is not possible.
Many tourists experience that they're in the wrong part of a train: many trains are split up somewhere along the way, for different destinations. So watch the signs over the platforms for parts and destinations: achterste deel/achter means back and voorste deel/voor means front, referring to the direction of departure. Sometimes trains leave in the direction they came from. Probably a more secure way to know would be the part of the platform: a or b, also mentioned at time tables etc. Most trains have displays inside front and back wall of each train section showing stations and destination, and even information about times and platforms for changing trains. Announcements are made in Dutch when trains are separated. Feel free to ask other passengers most people will be able to explain in English or an employee.When you find yourself in the wrong part of a train, don't worry: you'll have time enough to change at the station where the train is split.
Schiphol to Amsterdam cityAnother frequent surprise involves tourists travelling from Schiphol to Amsterdam. From Schiphol you can travel by train to either Amsterdam Centraal or Amsterdam Zuid South or: WTC, Duivendrecht. Tourists heading for Amsterdam City/old town need to go to Centraal but many of them wind up at South. As these railway stations are not connected directly it can take a while to get to the city centre from there. So watch the signs on the platforms. But once you are at Amsterdam Zuid best you can do is take a metro to Centraal takes about 15 min., a train back to Schiphol, or to Duivendrecht direction Amersfoort/Enschede or Almere, change there to Centraal 2nd floor. If you discover it too late you might wind up in another part of the country, especially if you're in an intercity train. If you passed the destination on your ticket and you get 'caught' by the conductor: stay polite and play the ignorant tourist which is quite adequate. You're not the first.Be aware that NS trains have little room for luggage. Big suitcases blocking the paths are a pain for other passengers, so try to keep them between the seats. In some trains you can put them between the back of seats.
There is a convenient night train service for party-goers and airport traffic between Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, Leiden, Schiphol, Amsterdam, and Utrecht, all night long, once an hour in each direction. In the nights Friday onto Saturday and Saturday onto Sunday, North-Brabant is also served. You can get to Dordrecht, Breda, Tilburg and 's-Hertogenbosch / Eindhoven.
Many intercity trains, almost all single-deck trains and a few double-deck trains have free WiFi internet access Named Wifi in de trein. Some intercity trains have electrical outlets in the First Class, but it can't be guaranteed.
Most trains have two comfort classes First Class and Second Class, identified by big '1s and '2s on the side of the train. Some regional lines don't have first class. First class can easily be recognized since the seats are usually red most 'Sprinters' and intercities or black. Second class have blue or green seats. Some sections in trains are silent zones which is indicated with a white stripe on the glass with the text Stilte - Silence. In this zone you aren't allowed to talk or make phone calls (the fine for calling in a silent zone is € 85,-.
There is one national tariff system for train travel. You don't need separate tickets for other operators except in some international trains. Tickets are valid on both sprinter and intercity services; there is no difference in price. The most used tickets are the one way enkele reis and return tickets retour. The latter is valid one day, so you should return on the same day. The price is equal to two 'one way' tickets, so a return ticket offers no price advantage. Single tickets 2nd class can cost up to €30 and up to €60 for return on very long distances. This is the same as the price as of day passes.
Tickets are valid in any train on the route as opposed to being valid in only one fixed train. You're free to take a break at any station on your route, even if this isn't a station where you need to transfer, and resume your journey later on. As in many countries, there is a difference between first and second class. A second class ticket is 60% of the price of a first class ticket. The main advantage of first class is that it is less crowded, and seats and aisles are generally wider. For children 4-11 y.o. a Railrunner ticket is available for €2,50. The Railrunner ticket allows for free travel for the duration of one day; children need to be with a parent/guardian if they travel first class.
There is no discount for tickets that are bought in advance, unlike in some countries. The ticket price is uniform and depends on distance between start and destination sometimes different routes are possible and allowed. Always make sure your OV-Chipkaart is checked in before boarding the train.
Tickets can be purchased from machines in stations. Some of the ticket machines, at least one at each station, also accept coins but no notes. Since August / September 2014, all machines at all train stations accept Mastercard / VISA creditcards with PIN. There is a €0.50 supplement for paying by creditcard and a €1 supplement for buying a disposable, single-use, chipcard. Only larger stations have ticket counters. All ticket machines have English-language menus available. A common mistake made by foreigners is accidentally getting a 40% discount 'korting' ticket from the machine. A special discount-card is required for these tickets, although you can travel on other people's discount cards too Tip; you can ask a student to travel along with you, his so-called Studentenreisproduct allows for three people to ride with a 40% discount. See Discount rail pass. If you have trouble using the ticket machine, ask someone else for help; almost everyone speaks English and will help you out. It is also possible to buy e-tickets online, although a Dutch bank account for payment iDEAL is necessary. Unfortunately, some tickets can only be bought online. For example group tickets, these tickets are low-priced from €7,00 till €13.75 only depending on group size, price for all distances for a day retour ticket.
You must buy a ticket before travelling—since 2005, you can no longer simply buy a ticket from the conductor, as in some other countries. If the conductor asks you for your ticket but you can't show any, you'll have to pay the ticket without any discount plus a € 35,- fine. If the ticket machines are defective, go to the conductor immediately when boarding. The conductor is not allowed any discretion on this policy, though being polite and pretending to be an ignorant tourist might help you get away with having an invalid ticket. In worst case though, if you do not have either enough cash, or a passport, you could be arrested by railway police. The only exception to this rule is the Grensland Express that connects Hengelo to Bad Bentheim Germany, where you have to get the ticket from the conductor and the OV Chipkaart is not valid.
While many villages have small stations with only one or two platforms and no railway staff, cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht have large central stations with up to 18 platforms. It can take 5-10 minutes to move from one platform to another, especially for people not familiar with the station.
The platforms are all numbered. When platforms are so long that two or more trains can halt at the same platform, the different parts of the platform are indicated with the lowercase letters a/b/c, these signs are blue and have the platform number, followed by the letter e.g. 14b printed on them and are usually located next to the monitors containing train information. On some stations, capital letters are used to indicate which part of the train stops at which part of the station usually seen at stations where international trains arrive, these signs are white, significantly smaller than the blue platform signs, and have only the capital letter on them.
Time tables can be found in the station hall and on the platforms. All train tables are normally yellow, with exceptions for the different schedules during planned maintenance works blue and queen's day orange. Departing trains are printed in blue on yellow tables, arriving train tables in red. Unlike in other countries, the tables themselves are not ordered by time of departure, but by direction. In some cases, more than one table is necessary to cover a single day for a certain direction. Additionally, all stations have blue electronic screens, indicating the trains departing during the next hour which include delays and/or cancellations.
NOTE: Dutch trains tend to be VERY punctual. This means that the train leaves the station the moment the clock strikes the appointed time. Thus, the doors tend to close a little earlier, around 1 minute before. Be sure to be on the platform, ready to board, at least 3-5 minutes before the published departure time—especially during peak hours and/or on a crowded route.
Visitors planning to travel by train in the Netherlands should consider the Eurail pass with the Benelux package. This allows for unlimited train travel within Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg over multiple days. Europeans, not being eligible for Eurail passes, should look into Inter Rail Passes for their discount train travel.
If two or three people want to travel around the Netherlands together for a few days during the summer, the Zomertoer may be used. This pass gives them two, not necessarily consecutive, days of unlimited travel. An add-on also allows you to travel on all other public transportation in the country. In autumn weekends, the Herfsttoer also gives some discounts. These packages may or may not be available since they're bound to seasons.
If you're thinking of staying a longer time in the Netherlands it can be a good deal to get the Dal Voordeel Abonnement Off-peak discount (http://www.ns.nl/reiziger...), which gives the cardholder and up to three additional persons travelling with him or her 40% off for one year on NS trains, except when travelling during peak hours working days 6.30-9.00h and 16.00-18.30h, except holidays. The subscription costs € 50,- for one year 2014. The subscription includes a personal OV-chipkaart which takes 2 weeks to process. If you already have one, the subscription can be loaded onto your own personal OV-chipkaart. Remember that you always have to check in and out, the discount will be automatically applied, depending on the time of check in. Depending on your travel pattern, NS also have monthly and yearly subscriptions for free travel in weekends, off-peak hours or the entire subscription period including peak hours, and also a subscription that offers a 40% discount for the entire period including peak hours.
The accompanied traveller discount can be loaded easily at any kiosk.
If you are in the Netherlands for only one day and want to see much of the country by train, you may want to get a "Dagkaart" day pass, for € 50,80 2014), valid in 2nd class on all non-surcharge trains in the Netherlands thus excluding the Fyra and international trains, but including local companies. These trains are marked by a white bar on the displays stating Een extra toeslag is mogelijk van toepassing op deze trein. Sometimes different stores sell "Dagkaart" at a cheaper rate € 13 or € 16, however those are just tokens only valid in a certain time period possibly weeks AFTER the day you purchased these tokens you use on the NS website in order to change them to tickets see instructions on the token or receipt itself. These tickets are bound to a name and date and the procedure is all in Dutch but pretty self explanatory. You also need to print these cards out, tickets displayed on an electronic screen smartphone, tablet etc will not be accepted. The cheaper € 13 ticket is only valid on weekends Saturday, Sunday and holidays while the € 16 ticket is valid every weekday after 9 AM and all day in the weekends and holiday. Stores that sell these reduced day tickets are Kruidvat, Blokker, Intertoys, HEMA and Albert Heijn as long as supplies last.
For an additional 5,50 you get the OV-Dagkaart, which adds free transport on bus, tram and metro.
The NS train service also has a special website with which you can buy combined tickets to various tourist attractions e.g. 20% discount + free train connection. However, the website is exclusively in Dutch and a Dutch bank account is needed in order to buy the tickets payments are processed by iDeal.
Making your way on thumb is accepted, works quite well and locals that take you typically expect no payment in return. It's also suited for short rides from small towns or minor streets, there might be less traffic, but in general drivers will be more likely to stop. Hitch-hiking on the highways/motorways is not allowed but generally tolerated on the on-ramps and other access points, provided you do not create a dangerous traffic situation. Try to stay before the traffic sign "highway/motorway" on a spot where cars have slow speed and where it is possible for drivers to stop and let you get in. The same safety rule applies to highway gas stations and rest places, and to traffic lights on non-motorway roads.
For longer distances, the large amount of highway crossings make it difficult to find a driver going to your exact destination, while the limited number of gas stations make it hard to change cars half way. A simple cardboard plate with your destination written on it is a common way to increase chances of finding the right driver, and may also convince suited drivers that they will not be stopping in vain.
There are official hitch-hiking spots liftershalte lift-stops and recommended unofficial spots at the centre or edge of a few major cities:
Prins Bernhardplein , before NS Station Amsterdam Amstel on east side of the river Amstel past the bus stop. Leads to the ramp of the S112 of the A10, direction E231-A1/E35-A2. It is recommended for the directions Middle-/East-Netherlands. For other directions/routes try also alternative spots.
Alternative spots / other directionsrecommended for the directions West-/South-Netherlands:
Amstel on the west side of the river Amstel near traffic-lights/Utrechtsebrug and near beginning-/end-stop of Tram-line 25. Leads to the ramp of the S111 of the A10, directions E35-A2-E25/E231-A1.
Junction S109 of the A10, close to NS Station RAI RAI Congress Centre; specially when there are large events or congresses. Leads to the ramp of the S109 of the A10, directions E35-A2-E25/E19-A4/E231-A1.
At bus stop Amstelveenseweg / Ringweg Zuid just northeast from metro station Amstelveensweg. There is an on-ramp which leads to the A10 North, A4 South and A9 both directions. What makes this location convenient is that cars can easily stop in the bus lane in order to pick you up.
Utrechtsebaan next to the northside of the Malieveld, at the beginning of the E30-A12 towards Utrecht. Also possibilities towards E19-A4 Delft-Rotterdam or E19-A44 Leiden-Amsterdam
Alternative spots / other directions:
edge northwest-side of Malieveld/crossing Zuid-Holland-laan/Utrechtse baan/Benoordenhoutseweg, towards Leidsestraatweg N44 and Leiden E19-A44 and Amsterdam E19-A4.
Graafseweg Venlo and Den Bosch, at the major city-centre roundabout verkeersplein Keizer Karelplein hitch-hiking on the roundabout itself is not recommended
near the Waalbrug/before the bridge in direction Arnhem,
at the Annastraat, close to the Radboud University RU/University Medical Centre UMC
at the Triavium, across shopping centre Dukenburg
The network of regional and local buses in the Netherlands is fine-grained and frequent and usually connects well with the train network; you can reach most small villages easily. However, for long-distance travel, these regional buses are not convenient at all, and are much slower than the train.
Fast long-distance buses are only available on a small number of routes that aren't covered by the rail network; these buses have special names that differ by region, such as Q-liner, Brabantliner and Interliner, and special tariffs.
There are four main bus companies in the Netherlands, Connexxion, Veolia, Arriva and Qbuzz. A few large cities have their own bus company.
A cheap way to get across the Netherlands is to buy a "buzzer" ticket. It costs €10 a day, and is valid after 9AM on every single Connexxion bus for two grownups and up to three children. On weekends and holidays it is also valid before 9AM. Because Connexxion has a near monopoly on the bus market, you can get from Groningen to Zeeland this way in a day, and it undercuts the train. A big downside though is that bus lines are very indirect. For example, if you want to travel from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, you have to change three or more times to get all the way there. In short: bus journeys will almost always take longer than train travel. For example, trip to Rotterdam from Utrecht will take 40 minutes, but in the Bus it will take 1 hour and 30 minutes. However, if you want to enjoy the countryside and villages you can prefer the bus trips.
Many companies and regions have their own bus discount tickets, which are often cheaper than using credit on the OV-chipkaart.
Park-and-ride-travel-tickets: some towns and cities have special cheaper bus tickets from car parks near the city limits to the city centre, for outside rush hours, usually a return ticket.
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht offer public transport at night. Only Amsterdam has a service all night and every night; in the other cities it is more limited to the beginning of the night or only during the weekend. Several other cities and regions also have night buses, usually even more limited.
You might need special night-bus tickets so be sure to check the city pages.