Here are some tips for the best way to see and experience Amsterdam whether you get around using bicycle, public transportation or on foot.
Getting Around in Amsterdam by Car
Avoid bringing your car to Amsterdam if at all possible. Amsterdam is a city born for biking and walking, where parking space is particularly scarce and the narrow streets and bridges make it a challenge to get around by car. Not only is traveling by car usually slower than by public transportation or by bike, it’s also much more expensive. Parking fees are as high as € 5 per hour in the center, and motorists who don’t pay the parking fee may find their vehicle immobilized by a bright yellow wheel clamp or even towed away.
If you do decide to come to this popular cycling city by car, the smartest way to park your car is at a Park & Ride facility. These parking lots are located on the outskirts of the city center, but have an excellent public transport connection to all parts of Amsterdam. The fee for the P&R car parks is € 8 per 24 hours, and includes free public transportation to the city center for up to five people.
More information about Park & Ride facilities is available at: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/touristinformation/gettingaround/parking/park-and-ride
Getting Around in Amsterdam by Public Transportation
Amsterdam has a solid network of bus, tram, metro, train and boat connections. In an otherwise expensive city, traveling by public transport in Amsterdam is a fairly affordable and effective way to get around.
Since 2011, the “OV chip card” is the only way to travel on all means of public transport in the city; the “strippenkaart” is no longer in use in Amsterdam. Disposable OV chip cards are available in a range of fares, from a single journey that costs € 2,60 to a seven day pass that is € 30. Single journey and 24 hour OV passes can be purchased onboard most trams and buses, as well as at the train stations.
You can also purchase a GVB transport pass here that you can fill with as much fare as you like.
Visitors who plan to stay longer and regularly use the trains and trams might also consider purchasing a regular OV chip card. This card is € 7,50 and must have a starting balance of € 10. The cards can be purchased and topped off at ticket machines or service counters at the train stations, and can also be topped off at yellow OV machines around the city using a PIN card.
Heed the singsong announcer on the tram and remember to check in and out with the OV chip card by holding it up to the sensor until you see a green light and hear a pleasant beep.
The tram may provide one of the best ways to travel around town, and they run regularly until midnight. The metro is very fast, but really only useful if you need to reach destinations outside the city center like the Amsterdam Arena. Check the GVB website for useful information about the trams, metro and buses.
We love Noord so we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the GVB ferries that cross the IJ. Ferry boats leave every few minutes from the docks behind central station and head to various destinations in Amsterdam Noord. Go directly across to Buiksloterweg for a visit to the EYE Museum or take the NDSM ferry for a visit to Pllek, Noorderlicht or IJ-Hallen. The best part? These ferries are all is FREE!
Here is some information about how to take the ferries in Amsterdam.
Getting Around in Amsterdam By Bicycle
Did you know that there are more bicycles than residents in Amsterdam? To get an idea, just check out the bicycle parking area at Amsterdam Central Station to see the thousands of bicycles parked there.
Of course bicycling is the preferred Dutch way to travel and some would say the only way to truly experience the soul of the city. As Amsterdam is relatively small, most major sights are easy to reach by bike.
The city tries to stimulate the use of bikes in various ways. Park your bicycle only in the designated areas though, not where you see signs that say “geen fietsen” or a drawing of a bicycle with a red line thorough it. The authorities remove incorrectly parked bikes regularly, around 175 bikes a day! And do be sure to lock your bicycle very securely. There is a reason you see heavy chain locks on every bike in the city, bicycle theft is quite a big problem.
There are many places in Amsterdam to rent a bike if you don’t own one. Check out our guide to Bicycling in Amsterdam for lots of information about where to rent or buy a bicycle in Amsterdam.
Getting Around in Amsterdam On Foot
The best way to get to know the secrets of Amsterdam is by walking its streets. Amsterdam is surprisingly compact and very flat. Charming churches, quiet canals, elaborate city towers, and tiny alleys are interesting places you may easily miss if you’re too busy driving or flying past on your bike. A lot of hidden shops and small cafes can be found by strolling Amsterdam’s streets. We’d advise leaving your spike heels at home, the brick and stone streets unfortunately do not lend themselves to stilettos. Put on some cool comfy sneakers and start wandering!
Walking is a fun, free and eco-friendly way to get around the city. Leisurely explore Amsterdam by foot and catch every detail.
Getting Around in Amsterdam by Taxi
Taxis are ubiquitous, but can also be an expensive way to get around on a regular basis.
The prices for taxi rides are fixed. As of 2011, the cost for the first 2 km is € 7,86. After that a charge of € 2,30 per km applies. For larger taxis holding more than 4 people there is a fixed fee of € 12,78 for the first 2 km, then a charge of € 2,64 per km. Taxi drivers are required to use the meter. Look for TCA taxis, they are the biggest and most reliable. Call for a taxi on your phone by dialing (020) 7777777.
Taxis are most useful at night after the trams stop running. Even locals use them then! You can typically find them around busier nightclub areas like Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. Taxis can be identified by their small plastic signs on top, but are not typically yellow or colorful like those in other countries. If you are visiting from the United States you might be impressed that the taxis are often big shiny Mercedes sedans (I was, haha!).
Uber has also taken off in Amsterdam.
Average taxi prices, calculated from Amsterdam Central Station:
- Anne Frank House: € 8
- Amsterdam ArenA: € 25Dam: € 8
- Leidseplein: € 10
- Museumplein, Rijksmuseum: € 12
- Olympic stadium: € 20
- Rembrandtplein: € 10
- Schiphol: € 50
- Vondelpark: € 12
Getting Around in Amsterdam by Boat
One thing I have been asked by a few tourists is whether one of Amsterdam’s main transport options is commuting by boat. Sadly, for most people this is not the case, other than the ferry boats across the IJ which are discussed above. But it certainly sounds romantic!
Speed limits on the canals are quite low, making trips of any length very slow. Most locals get around by bike, as it is much faster. The small boats you see around Amsterdam are mainly used for leisure. On a sunny day half of Amsterdam will be out in their little boats with friends and family, enjoying a few snacks and drinks while cruising the canals. And you can too. Here are our favorite places to rent a boat in Amsterdam.
Want to cruise the canals but have someone else drive? Here is a list of some of the top canal tour boats in Amsterdam.
If all this transport information has overwhelmed you, here is our summary: WALK! It’s the easiest, cheapest and best way to enjoy Amsterdam. Enjoy your visit to this wonderful city!
You might also like these posts:
- Top 10 museums in Amsterdam
- Keukenhof gardens
- 15 specialty beer bars in Amsterdam
- Things to do on a rainy day in Amsterdam
- Haarlem: day trip from Amsterdam
- 25 top coffee spots in Amsterdam
- Vintage clothing shops in Amsterdam
- Best garden cafes in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam street art
- 40+ breakfast and brunch spots in Amsterdam
- Vegetarian restaurants in Amsterdam
- 10 fun facts about Amsterdam