101 Amsterdam Netherlands

Amsterdam 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Amsterdam 101: Arriving & Getting Around
Amsterdam is the capital and cultural center of the Netherlands. Its name comes from Amstelredamme, since it developed around a dam in the river Amstel. The characteristic canals are a result of city planning in the 17th century. Today, more than 100km of canals, 90 islands, and 1,500 bridges are so intrinsically representative of Amsterdam that it’s also known as Venice of the North.

ARRIVING in Amsterdam

One of the most important and populous European capitals, Amsterdam is extremely well connected: arriving by flight, international train, bus or car are all possible options.


Amsterdam Shiphol Airport

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) serves not just the Dutch capital, but it is also a major European hub.

Getting to and from AMS is wonderfully easy and practical. Just 9km away from the city, it is in itself an important railway hub, connecting the airport to cities all over the country and international destinations, not just Amsterdam.

You have several options to reach Amsterdam Centraal. My strategy with Schiphol is having the NS app (Android/iOS) and upon reaching the train terminal, purchasing a ticket for the next available train. With a journey time of 14-17min, you have two options:

  • 2nd class: €4.30*
  • 1st class: €7.20*

However, the prices above are valid for e-tickets only. If you need a single-use card, they cost an extra €1. Bear in mind that sometimes the €2.90 will be the difference between traveling standing or sitting. But since it’s a short journey, it comes down very much to personal priorities.

Lastly, there is the Amsterdam Airport Express (line 397) and the Schiphol Hotel Shuttle, linking the airport directly to most hotels in the city.


Amsterdam Centraal

International trains will arrive at Amsterdam Centraal (en: Amsterdam Central Station).

Unlike most capital central stations, this one is pretty much already in the center: just 750m from Dam Square or Nieuwmarkt and 600m from Oude Kerk, all in the same overall direction.


You would likely arrive at Amsterdam Sloterdijk, but Duivendrecht and Centraal are also hubs for major coach operators.

Centraal and the city center are easily reachable from both:

  • Sloterdijk: a 5-7min journey on a direct train, check NS for times/platform.
  • Duivendrech: 8 stops on the M54 line.


The public transport in Amsterdam is extensive but can be a little confusing. It’s operated (mainly) by GVB and there are several tariff zones that could easily be crossed if you are not paying attention or if your accommodation is a little out of the center.

The network is served by metro (underground), trams, buses, and ferries. Due to the complexity of the system, a time-based ticket covering all zones is your best bet. The tickets suggested below will cover all modes of transportation, with the exception of trains, operated by NS and requiring separate tickets. It’s worth noting that provided you stay in or near the center, you’ll be using mostly the trams.

For flexibility, purchase time-based tickets…

and use any transports as you wish (unless you decide and are able to walk everywhere):

  • Day Tickets: covers all GVB network from the time of validation, available from 24h up to 168h (7 days). Costs range from €7.50 to €34.50. You cannot buy it at Schiphol, but you can find the vending machines easily in Centraal and all metro stations and tram 2 stops.
  • Amsterdam Travel Ticket: valid for 1, 2 or 3 days, until 4am in the morning following the last valid day. They cost €16, €21 and €26, respectively. It includes unlimited travel on all transport network operated by GVB, 2nd class travel between Schiphol and several rail stations (incl. Centraal), Connexxion’s Amsterdam Airport Express (bus 397) and Niteliner (N97). Purchasable at Schiphol.

TIP: All trams are cashless, so buy your ticket beforehand or have a PIN card for payment.

Amsterdam Tram

If you believe this is still too much for your needs, you can always buy the €3.00* 1 hour (single) ticket.

*Prices as of October 2018.

Amsterdam Tram & Metro

Read also:

Mini-Review: Ibis Styles Amsterdam Amstel

Brussels 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Berlin 101: Arriving & Getting Around

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