Travelling within Amsterdam is straight-forward and convenient. The extensive public transport network connects the city's many districts by train, tram, metro, bus and ferry.
Public transport smart card (OV-chipkaart)
In Amsterdam and beyond, the public transport smart card (OV-chipkaart) is used for travel on trams, buses and metros. The most convenient options for visitors are one-hour cards, (multi) day cards, or an anonymous card which you can add more credit to at any time.
Purchasing your OV-chipkaart
- One-hour cards: Available from the conductor on buses and trams, at GVB ticket vending machines or GVB Tickets & Info locations
- (Multi) day cards: Available at GVB ticket vending machines or GVB Tickets & Info locations
- Anonymous (refillable) cards: Available at GVB ticket vending machines, GVB Tickets & Info locations, and select newsstands and supermarkets
A detailed overview of ticket types and sales locations is available on the GVB website.
Using your OV-chipkaart
The most important tip for using your OV-chipkaart is always remember to check in and check out! At the start of your journey, hold your card up to the card reader until you see a green light and hear a beep. Do the same every time you leave the tram/bus/metro or change over to another line. In buses and trams, card readers are located inside the vehicle next to each door. If travelling by metro, the card readers are on free-standing poles throughout each station. If you forget to check out, your card may no longer be valid and/or you may risk a fine.
Discount & day passes for visitors
Depending on your travel plans and the duration of your stay, there are a number of different public transport passes that are especially valuable for visitors:
- I amsterdam City Card: Free entrance to the city's top attractions, plus unlimited use of the GVB public transport system for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
- GVB day passes: Available from 1 to 7 days, with prices starting from €7.50. Valid on trams, buses and metros operated by GVB in Amsterdam.
- Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket: 24-hour public transport pass valid on all public transport operated by GVB, Connexxion and EBS in Amsterdam and the greater metropolitan area, including night buses. Price: €13.50
- Amsterdam Tourist Ticket: Offers unlimited travel on Connexxion buses operating in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area for one day (€ 10) or three days (€ 20).
For inspiration on what to visit outside Amsterdam, view the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area map of all the attractions and sights within an hour of the city by public transport.
Types of public transport in Amsterdam
Trains are typically used for travel between different towns, but sometimes they are also the most efficient way to get from one side of Amsterdam to the other (ex: Central Station to Amsterdam Zuid). It's possible to use an OV-chipkaart on the train, but you must first request activation of this service and then add sufficient credit. Most visitors will find it more convenient to purchase tickets at the station from one of the ticket machines or ticket counters. You can also buy tickets on the NS website.
Trams are ideal for short journeys around the city centre, as well as for travelling to other districts. Only one-hour disposable tickets can be purchased from the conductor. Other types of tickets can be purchased at GVB Tickets & Info offices or GVB ticket vending machines.
Amsterdam's metro system radiates from Central Station to the city's outer districts. While not very useful for the city centre, it's the fastest way to reach districts like the Bijlmer, Amstelveen and Diemen. An OV-chipkaart cannot be purchased inside the metro. You must buy them in advance at a GVB Tickets & Info counter or GVB ticket vending machines. Please note: The metro lines are undergoing a number of repairs in the summer and autumn of 2013. Read about the temporary changes to metro routes before travelling by metro in the coming months.
Amsterdam's extensive bus network will take you nearly anywhere you want to go. Just like the tram, only one-hour tickets can be purchased on board. Other types of tickets can be purchased at GVB Tickets & Info offices or GVB ticket vending machines.
Behind Central Station, ferries hustle their way across the IJ River, transporting passengers to various locations Amsterdam Noord --completely free of charge! Some specialist ferries also travel along the river to other districts of the city.
Planning your journey
Before seeing the sights, you may wish to consult the 9292 route planner or GVB website to help you find the quickest and most convenient way to get from A to B. In addition, there are a number of excellent apps available to help you find your way around the city.