For travel options to and from the airport please refer to the article Arriving and Departing .This article specifically covers public transport within Amsterdam. Travel on the domestic train network (NS) is not covered here, see for that. 

 Public transportation in Amsterdam (as in many European capital cities) is first class. Please do note however that central Amsterdam itself is very compact and walkable. Many visitors never feel the need to use public transport other than the train to and from Schiphol. 


The company GVB operates the metro, tram and most of the bus network in Amsterdam. They have offices at the following locations where you can get information about public transportation, a map of the network or buy tickets.

-Stationsplein, opposite Central Station

-Metro station, Central Station

-Bijlmer NS Station

-Lelylaan NS station

-Amsterdam Zuid/WTC


The tram, metro and bus run from approximately 6AM until 12.30AM. During the night, you can use the limited service night buses. This service starts at approximately 1am.


You can buy tickets as you board any bus, most trams or from the machines at any metro station. These are however rather expensive, a single journey (actually you can travel for an hour with this ticket) in Amsterdam will cost €2.80 compared to around €1.50 if you pay by OV Chipkaart. Thus, if you plan to make five or more journeys during your visit, or to return again, the OV Chipkaart is your best option.  The 24 hour ticket can be bought direct ftom the driver/conductor for €7,50

A - OV Chipkaart

The OV Chipkaart has now completely replaced the old strippenkaart system in Amsterdam. Those who have used cards such as the Oyster in London or Octopus in Hong Kong will be familiar with a system such as this. Unlike the old system two people cannot travel on the same card, each person must have their own.

Fortunately, for most people, be they visitors or tourists, the system is straight forward.

There are basically two types of card:

1. The anonymous card. This costs € 7.50. You can pick these up at GVB offices and both GVB and NS ticket machines. They can also be bought at some places with an add value machine which basically means most of the places you previously could buy strippenkaarts such as tobacconist shops (Tabacs), newsagents, supermarkets, etc; not from the machine (which can only top-up and even that only with a Dutch debit card).

2. The Personalised OV card. This card is not really designed for visitors as you have to fill in an application form (in Dutch) and send it off or apply on the internet (also in Dutch). The biggest differences between these and the anonymous cards are that they can store season tickets and discounts such as those for seniors.

Once you have a card you must load it with cash or a travel product like a GVB 48 hour pass, again this can be done at any of the purchase points or GVB and NS ticket machines although GVB products must be loaded by GVB machines. It is then simply a matter of scanning the card in one of the readers as you enter or leave. N.B. It is vital that you check in and out for each journey. Failure to check in means you are deemed not to have bought a ticket and are liable to a steep fine. If you don't check out you will be charged the maximum €4 for the journey. If you have purchased a one hour ticket and need to change trams it's vital you check out of the first tram or your ticket will be blocked and you will have to buy another one.

The OV Chipkaart system can get very complicated, there is a more detailed guide here.

This article describes also the maths to decide whether an Anonymous card is worth it for your situation. As it might save cost for Amsterdam city travel and regional bus travel and for sure saves cost on train tickets, it's a comparison useful for some tourists.


B - Unlimited Travel Options

-For unlimited travel on the GVB network (including on night buses) during 24 hours, in addition to using the OV Chipkaart, you can buy the 24 hour Ticket from the driver/conductor. There are also tickets valid for 48 and up  to 168 hours. These tickets are in the form of a disposable chip card and are valid from the moment you check into a tram/bus/metro for the first time, so if you first use it at 10am, it's valid until 10am the next day (or for however many hours you have bought). You can also load these onto a anonymous OV card.

Prices in 2014
24 hours (1 day)       €  7.50
48 hours (2 days)     € 12.00
72 hours (3 days)     € 16.50
96 hours (4 days)     € 21.00
120 hours (5 days)   € 26.00
144 hours (6 days)   € 29.50
168 hours (7 days)   € 32.00

24 hours (kids 4-11 accompanied by an adult) € 2.50 

-Night bus: Single tickets are €4.50 or 12-journey tickets €34. You can also use the OV-Chipkaart or the 24 hour ticket. 

 Alternatives for tourists:

  • You can buy a so-called Amsterdam Travel Ticket, which includes a train return ticket to and from Schiphol to any of Amsterdam's stations, plus unlimited travel on all GVB trams, metros and (night)busses for 1, 2 or 3 days. 

  • One tourist option is the IAmsterdam card. With this you get unlimited travel on metro, tram and bus + discounts to canal cruises, museums and other touristic attractions. This will only be worthwhile if you intend to cram in a lot of museum visits in a short time. 

  • Another option, sometimes more convenient than the GVB pass as it also covers the adjoining regional bus areas, is the Amsterdam & Region day ticket. See for details.


To view a map of the network, check the nearest stop to a museum or attraction or find more info about the public transportation system in Amsterdam, visit the website of the GVB at

A journey planner for public transport in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands can be found here

The IAmsterdam map is available at the Airport Info desks for €2.50 (in 2014) .  It shows all the tram stops as well as places of interest and fits in a coat pocket.  If you  use the trams most of the time, this particular map is incredibly useful.