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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 the article "Amsterdam: Trains - Domestic and International" 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.
Please note that prices quoted on the 9292.nl site are for when using an OV card to check in and out. If you don't have an OV card (see below) and are buying single ride tickets from the driver or conductor on trams and buses then there is normally a surcharge which can vary from company to company. For trains there is always a €1 surcharge when buying paper single use tickets from a machine so hence a one way from the airport on the train will be €5.10 and not the €4.10 amount listed on 9292.nl
Please also remember that there are a number of different companies operating transport in the greater Amsterdam Area. Mainly NS who run the train system in the Netherlands, GVB who run the Amsterdam network i.e. tram, Metro and Bus as well as the free ferries which run from Amsterdam Centraal and other locations. Their buses are distinguished by blue and white livery. No one else runs trams so all are GVB.
Connexxion, Arriva and EBS also run bus lines around Amsterdam but GVB tickets and products are not valid on these buses or on trains.
Hours of Operation
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 €2.90 compared to around €1.20 if you pay by OV Chipkaart. Thus, if you plan to make five or more journeys during your visit, or to return again, the anonymous OV Chipkaart is your best option. The 24 hour ticket can be bought direct ftom the driver/conductor for €7,50. There are also a number of cards on offer which include public transport. A useful summary of what these offer and how much they cost these can be found here.
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 seem very complicated (although it really isn't), 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) you can buy a handy day or multiday ticket. 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 2015
single ride (1 hour) € 2.90 *
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 *
* Can also be bought onboard of buses and trams.
- Night bus: Single tickets are €4.50 or 12-journey tickets €34. You can also use the OV-Chipkaart or the 24 hour ticket.
There are several other unlimited travel options available for tourists - e.g. including a return train ticket to and from Schiphol or including adjoining regional bus areas. See this page for a complete overview of different travel passes: http://goo.gl/NgdLFh
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 http://www.gvb.nl/
A journey planner for public transport in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands can be found here www.9292.nl/en
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.
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
Now there is also a growing number of service points where you can get advice, buy travel products and top up OV cards with cash. See this site:-