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Amsterdam is one of Europe’s top destinations and can be reached easily by air, land or even sea.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the Netherlands' main international airport, located 20 minutes (9.1km/5.6mi) southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. The airport is the primary hub for KLM, Martinair, Transavia, Amsterdam Airlines and Arkefly. The airport also serves as a European hub for Delta Air Lines. Schiphol is a large busy airport but very well designed with lots to do and see including some genuine Rembrandts, Vermeers and other old Dutch masters from the Rijksmuseum. If you did not get the chance to see any of Amsterdam's world class museums then check it out for free between piers E & F.
Amsterdam is served by 10 stations of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways). Five are intercity stops: Sloterdijk, Zuid, Amstel, Bijlmer ArenA and Amsterdam Centraal. The stations for local services are: Lelylaan, RAI, Holendrecht, Muiderpoort and Science Park. Amsterdam Centraal is also an international train station. From the station there are regular services to destinations such as Austria, Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. Among these trains are international trains of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen and the Thalys (Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris-Cologne)
Most international bus services are affiliated to Eurolines, which has a terminal at Amstel Station (train station, metro station 51, 53, 54, tram 12). One bus per day is usually the maximum frequency on these routes. There are other international bus services, but they are often aimed at very specific markets, e.g. Polish migrant workers. There are almost no long-distance bus services in the Netherlands, and none to Amsterdam.
The western part of the Netherlands has a dense (and congested) road network. Coming from the east (Germany), the A1 motorway leads directly to Amsterdam. On the A12 from Arnhem, change at Utrecht to the A2 northbound. From the south (Belgium), the A2 goes directly to Amsterdam: the A16 /A27 from Antwerp via Breda connects to the A2 south of Utrecht. From The Hague, the A4 leads to Amsterdam. All motorways to Amsterdam connect to the ring motorway, the A10. From this motorway, main roads lead radially into Amsterdam (the roads S101 through S118). If possible, avoid going to the city center by car: traffic is dense and parking spaces are expensive and nearly impossible to find.
The maritime Passenger Terminal Amsterdam is close to the city center but is only for cruise ships. The nearest ferry port is IJmuiden (ferry from Newcastle upon Tyne) with DFDS Seaways (www.dfdsseaways.com), which offers daily overnight ferry service from Newcastle-upon-Tyne (North Shields) in the United Kingdom. There also is a ferry terminal 125 km away by car at Rotterdam Europoort (ferry from Kingston Upon Hull), and Hook of Holland (ferry from Harwich) is about 80 km by the road to Amsterdam by the most direct route. Hook of Holland has a train station. Take the train to Schiedam Centrum or Rotterdam Centraal and from there a train to Amsterdam.
This is the best and most efficient way to get downtown from the airport. From Schipol, trains depart from platform 1, 2 and 3 toward Amsterdam as NS Intercity or NS Sneltrein between 5 am and 12 pm. The journey takes less than 20 minutes. The Sneltrein train stops are Schiphol - Amsterdam Lelylaan - Amsterdam Sloterdijk - Amsterdam Central. The Intercity train stops are Schiphol and Amsterdam Central only. The cost for a one-way journey is currently €3.80 for second class. At central station take tram 2 to Zeilstraat - Amstelveenseweg.
You can get a taxi from the airport to anywhere in the city. Expect to pay around €50 each way from the airport to most places in the city center, and if there is traffic (and there often is) it can be closer to €60. You can have up to 4 people riding for the same price, so it’s not a terrible deal for a group of 3 or 4, especially if you have a lot of luggage and aren’t staying near Centraal Station. A taxi from the airport will usually take between 30 and 50 minutes to most hotels, depending on traffic.
An alternative for those arriving at the airport with a lot of
luggage is the Connexxion hotel shuttle.
This costs €15 single, €24.50 return and drops off/picks up at most of the
city´s hotels. Please note: The return journey service is not very reliable.
Give yourself at least 45 minutes’ extra time to return to the airport.
From Schiphol Boulevard take the ramp onto A4 direction Amsterdam. Take the exit A10-E22 direction Leeuwarden-Zaanstad-Ring Amsterdam. Take exit s106-Osdorp. Turn right for Cornelis Lelylaan. After 800 meters keep right for Amstelveenseweg. Third street Eerste Schinkelstraat turn right.
GVB (www.gvb.nl) is the public transport company of Amsterdam providing integrated metro, tram and bus service throughout Amsterdam and its surrounding areas. The OV-chipcard ticketing system allows you to travel on trams, metro, buses and trains using one card. The OV-chipcard can be purchased by the hour (€2.60) or the day (€ 7) or you can purchase disposable cards, that cannot be reloaded. It’s recommended you purchase a 24-hour GVB pass as the one-hour pass is only valid on GVB lines, changing to Connexxion or Arriva buses is not possible. For just €28, you can purchase a GVB one-day ticket plus a one-day ticket for the Canalbus that offers discounts at cultural attractions throughout the city. Tickets are available at GVB Tickets & Info counters and from the ticket vending machines in the metro stations.
There are four lines in the metro system. Three lines start at Amsterdam Centraal. Line 53 and 54 connect the city centre to Diemen, Duivendrecht, and Amsterdam Zuidoost in the southeast, and line 51 connects the city centre to Amstelveen in the south. The Ring Line, line 50, connects Amsterdam Zuidoost to the west without crossing the center of the city. The North/South line is currently under construction and will connect the north with Amstelveen and crosses the historical city center. The OV-chipkaart smart card is the only accepted ticket in the Amsterdam Metro.
Buses are primarily used to reach outlying suburbs and after the trams have stopped running. Night buses run from midnight until 7 am with routes connecting to Central Station, Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein. Single tickets are €3.50 or 12-journey tickets €25.
Tramlijn 5 is a tram route between the center of Amsterdam and the town of Amstelveen. The line has 77 stops with an average journey time of 40 minutes end-to-end. Tramlijn 5—one of two rapid transit routes to serve Amstelveen; the other being the Amsterdam Metro—also connects several important areas of the city, including the Zuidas financial district, Leidseplein and Dam Square. Trams run from 6am until 12:30am, and night buses are available 24 hours a day.
The Canal Bus
The Canal Bus (www.canal.nl) runs every 40 minutes from 9:50am until 7:25pm with 14 stops along three different routes throughout the city. Day passes cost €22 and are valid 24 hours from the moment of purchase. All of Amsterdam’s major attractions are on the route and historical multilingual commentary is provided along the way.
Bicycle rentals are available throughout the city. Central Station, Leidseplein and Dam Square are all major rental hubs. Day rates average €8 with some multi-day rates as low as €4. Bikes are sturdy and locks are included. Equipment for children and other add-ons are also available. Most companies offer guided tours as well as recommended route maps for trips in and outside of Amsterdam.
There are two kinds of passenger trains: A 'stoptrein' (literally: "train that stops," a local train) stops at all stations, and is mainly used for local traffic, 'Intercities' only stop at larger stations, and were introduced in the 1970s to provide fast train connections throughout the country. Visit http://www.ns.nl/ to purchase tickets and for travel information. The Five intercity train stops are: Sloterdijk, Zuid, Amstel, Bijlmer ArenA and Amsterdam Centraal. The stations for local services are: Lelylaan, RAI, Holendrecht, Muiderpoort and Science Park.
Three free ferries carry pedestrians and cyclists across the IJ to Amsterdam-Noord; The Houthavenveer, NDSM-werfveer, Buiksloterwegveer, IJpleinveer and the Distelwegveer (veer means ferry in Dutch). The two fare-charging ferries run east and west along the harbor, The Houthavenveer and the Distelwegveer. The space on these ferries is limited. Visit www.gvb.nl for timetables and FAQs.
Taxi stands are available at most tourist hubs including Leidseplein, Dam Square and Central Station. Hailing a taxi is quite difficult and virtually impossible on weekends, but cab service is generally prompt if you call ahead (city cab: 0900.677.7777). Rides cost €1.80 per km regardless of the time of day and a 5-10 percent tip is expected.
The luggage locker at Amsterdam Central Station is a good location to store your luggage. The machines only accept credit cards. Insert your card, select your preferred locker size, and how long you intend to keep your bags in the locker. The machine will then dispense a ticket. Take the ticket and look for an empty locker, indicated by a green square beside it. Lockers with a red square are already occupied.