Travelling within Amsterdam is straight-forward and convenient. There is an extensive transport network connecting the city's many districts, and commuters can choose a variety of methods to reach their destination as efficiently as possible. This includes the train, tram, metro, bus and ferry. The I amsterdam City Card gives you unlimited use of the GVB public transport system for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
Public transport smart card
Throughout Amsterdam and beyond, the (disposable) PT Smart Card (OV-chipkaart) can be used on trams, buses and metros. PT Smart Cards were introduced a couple years ago to replace the paper ticket (strippenkaart) system.
What is the PT Smart Card (OV-chipkaart)?
It is an electronic card with a built-in chip for use on all public transport in Amsterdam including buses, trams and metros. The PT Smart Card (OV-chipkaart) can be topped up with credit in euros, or with a single journey or season ticket. There are three different cards to choose from: anonymous (anonieme), personalised (persoonlijke) and disposable.
The public transport company (GVB) also offers 24 to168 hour tickets (1 - 7 days) that entitle you to unlimited travel through Amsterdam - day and night - by tram, bus and metro, for the number of hours that best suit your plans. These tickets start from just 7 euros.
Most importantly: check in and check out! When you start your journey, hold your card up to the reader until a green light appears. A bleep sound will indicate that your card has been read. If you change to another bus/tram/metro, you have to check out (by scanning your card at the machine again), and check in again at your next stop. If you forget to check out, the card will no longer be valid and you may risk a fine.
For a comprehensive list of PT Smart Cards (OV-chipkaart) and prices, visit the GVB website.
Trains in the Netherlands are typically used for longer journeys, either to another town or city, or to travel across Amsterdam. For example, a journey from Central Station to Amsterdam Zuid will prove more efficient than travelling through the heart of the city.
Note: It is possible to use the PT Smart Card 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 online via the NS website.
Trams are common in Amsterdam, with routes heading out from the centre in all directions. Trams are ideal for short journeys around the city centre, as well as for travelling to other districts. You'll need a PT Smart Card (OV-chipkaart) to ride the tram. Only single-use disposable tickets can be purchased from the conductor. Tickets valid for multiple journeys can be purchased at the GVB Tickets & Info office or GVB Ticket Vending Machines.
Amsterdam's metro runs underneath the centre, from Central Station to the outer districts. This can be a fast and efficient way to travel, though the trains only run above ground away from the centre, so you lose out on the picturesque view. You'll need a PT Smart Card (OV-chipkaart) to ride the metro. All tickets must be purchased in advance at the GVB Tickets & Info office or GVB Ticket Vending Machines.
Amsterdam operates a full bus network, which will take you anywhere you have to go. Just like the tram, only single-journey tickets can be purchased on board. Tickets valid for multiple journeys can be purchased at the GVB Tickets & Info office or GVB Ticket Vending Machines.
Behind Central Station, ferries hustle their way across the River IJ, transporting passengers to various locations in the north of Amsterdam - completely free of charge! Some specialist ferries also travel along the river to other districts of the city.
Public transport in the region
Travelling with Connexxion buses is quick and comfortable, and they offer a special value-for-money ticket for the whole region. The Amsterdam Tourist Ticket gives unlimited travel for one (€ 10) or three (€ 20) days with all Connexxion bus lines. Travel with the Amsterdam Tourist Ticket to Schiphol, Zaanse Schans, Haarlem an the beach. View the bus map of all tourist hot spots in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area for a better idea of where you can go. Buy the Amsterdam Tourist Ticket at the Tourist Information Center at Schiphol Airport or Central Station.
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.