One of the perks of living in this small, densely populated country is its bike-friendly infrastructure and the comprehensive public transportation system.
It is said that in the Netherlands there are more biles than people. In this bike-friendly capital of the world each city is equipped with an intricate network of bike lanes and paths that create a protected environment for cyclists to indulge in their favorite mode of transportation. The Dutch almost treat bikes as if they’re cars. I remember when I was first struck at the sight of an infant in a seat affixed to the handlebars and a small child seated in the rear while Mom cycled without a care in the world. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I admit I’ve been intimated but I finally decided that I needed to get with it and join the club. Yes, I’ve finally purchased a bike! It’s a used older model but I love it. For the expats out there living in the Netherlands, stop procrastinating and just do it. Once you get out there it’s not nearly as scary as it seems in your head. Since I’ve been cycling around the city I feel like I have wings and oddly enough I feel more connected to the Dutch natives.
If you want to practice before you buy, bike rentals are available at Mac Bike, Yellow Bike, and Bike City. When you are ready to take the leap and purchase you can find affordable used bikes at Albert Cuyp Markt, Waterlooplein Markt, or on Facebook Marketplace.
Bus, Metro, and Tram
The bus, tram, and metro system is a suitable option for those who are traveling long distances or for those who aren’t prepared to cycle. Each city in the Netherlands has extensive, reliable service that runs frequently and is readily accessible. In Amsterdam, there are fifteen tram lines that operate in the inner portion of the city, four metro systems, and forty-seven several bus lines that branch further out to the outskirts of the city.
Be advised that as of 26 March 2018 Maestro pin cards are the only acceptable form of payment on the bus or tram as cash is no longer accepted. Compared to other cities in Europe the transit fare in the Netherlands is rather expensive. Three euros will get you a single ticket for one-hour with unlimited transfers included in that timeframe. In major cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, an unlimited seven-day pass geared towards tourist is available for €7.50. However, for residents, it is more cost effective to purchase an anonymous or personal OV-Chipkaart, valid for five years, for use on the bus, tram and or metro system. The initial cost is €7.50, and you can top up your balance at any Metro Station, NS Desk, most Albert Heijn Supermarkets or some select Tabak shops. Automatic minimum balance top up registration is also possible with personal OV-Chipkaarts.
In a country littered with waterways, ferries are a necessity. Service in Amsterdam is free of charge. You can find connections to Amsterdam-Noord located behind Amsterdam Centraal Station.
NS International is the official rail operator in the Netherlands that facilitates high-speed international intercity travel throughout the Netherlands as well as France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Demark, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Frequent travelers can purchase the RailPlus card for €15 for a 15% discount on cross-border travel.
If you are on a budget Flix is a great alternative for international intercity travel. Get a one-way ticket from Amsterdam to Paris for as low as €29. Yes, it does take much longer than if you take the rail. However, the upside is that there’s free wifi and the seats are comfortable. Make sure to bring your passport as you are not allowed entry on the bus without it.
'Til next time!