By Public Transport -- Public transportation in Amsterdam uses an electronic card called the OV-chipkaart. There are two main types of OV-chipkaart that are useful for visitors: “personal” cards can be used only by their pictured owner, while “anonymous” cards can be used by anyone, but not at the same time. The personal and anonymous cards, both valid for 5 years, cost 7.50€ and can be loaded and reloaded with up to 50€. Reduced-rate cards are available for seniors and children. Electronic readers on Metro and train station platforms and onboard trams and buses deduct the correct fare—just hold your card up against the reader at both the start and the end of the ride. These cards are valid throughout The Netherlands.
Another option for short-term visitors who plan to use public transportation a lot is a 1-day or a multiday card from GVB: 24 hours (7.50€), 48 hours (12€), 72 hours (17€), 96 hours (21€), 120 hours (26€), 144 hours (30€), and 68 hours (32€).
The central information and ticket sales point for GVB Amsterdam, the city’s public transportation company, is GVB Tickets & Info, Stationsplein (tel 0900/8011 for timetable and fare information and other customer services; www.gvb.nl), in front of Centraal Station, open Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. In addition, cards are available from GVB and Netherlands Railways ticket booths in Metro and train stations, ticket machines (automats) at Metro and train stations, and ticket machines onboard some trams.
Bag a Bike Taxi
If you’re keen on your green credentials, use a bike taxi or rickshaw to get around the city. They’re clean, relatively comfortable, and can nip along the cobbled streets giving Amsterdam’s lethal cyclists a run for their money. Luckily they’re all fully insured. The rickshaws are easy to spot all over the city, but especially around Centraal Station, Leidseplein, Museumplein, and Waterlooplein, or you can order your eco-taxi in advance. Contact Amsterdam Bike Taxi (tel 645/412-725; www.amsterdambiketaxi.info). Charges are 30€ per half hour per rickshaw.
By Tram -- Half the fun of Amsterdam is walking along the canals. The other half is riding the blue-and-gray trams that roll through most major streets. There are 16 tram routes, 10 of which (lines 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 16, 17, 24, and 26) begin and end at Centraal Station, so you know you can always get back to that central point if you get lost and have to start over. The city’s other tramlines are 3, 7, 10, 12, and 14. Lines 3, 5, 12, and 24 are useful for visiting the sights south of the city around Museumplein, while 4, 9, 14, 16, and 24 serve the city center.
Trams have one access door that opens automatically, normally toward the rear; arrowed indicators point the way to the door. To board a tram that has no arrowed indicators, push the button beside the door on the outside of any car. To get off, you may need to push a button with an “open-door” graphic or the words deur open. Tram doors close automatically, and they do so quite quickly, so don’t hang around. Always remember to hold your card against the reader as you get on and off the tram. Note: If you don’t “check out” as you get off, your card will carry on being charged and will run out of credit.
By Bus -- An extensive bus network complements the trams, with many bus routes beginning and ending at Centraal Station, but it’s generally much faster to go by tram. Some areas of the city are served only by bus.
By Metro -- Although it can’t compare to the labyrinthine systems of Paris, London, and New York, Amsterdam does have its own Metro, with four lines—50, 51, 53, and 54—that run partly over ground and transport commuters in and out from the suburbs, running between 6am and midnight daily. From Centraal Station, you can use Metro trains to reach both Nieuwmarkt and Waterlooplein in the old city center.
The new Noord-Zuidlijn Metro line 52 is currently under construction to link Amsterdam-Noord (North), under the IJ waterway with the city center and Amsterdam Zuid station. It’s due to be completed in 2017.
By Ferry -- Free GVB ferries (www.gvb.nl) for passengers and two-wheel transportation connect the center city with Amsterdam-Noord (North), across the IJ waterway . The short crossings are free, which makes them ideal micro-cruises as they afford fine views of the harbor. Ferries depart from Waterplein West behind Centraal Station. One route goes to Buiksloterweg on the north shore, with ferries every 6 to 12 minutes around-the-clock. A second route goes to IJplein, a more easterly point on the north shore, with ferries every 8 to 15 minutes from 6:30am to around midnight. A third ferry goes west to NDSM-Werf, a 14-minute trip. A fourth ferry runs between the Azartplein on Java/KNSM Island to the east of Centraal Station and Zamenhofstraat on Noord; and three others from Houthavenveer, west of the city, across to Noord.
By Taxi -- It used to be that you couldn’t simply hail a cab from the street in Amsterdam but nowadays they often stop if you do. Otherwise, find one of the taxi stands sprinkled around the city, generally near the luxury hotels, at major squares such as the Dam, Spui, Rembrandtplein, Westermarkt, and Leidseplein, and of course at Centraal Station. Taxis have rooftop signs and blue license plates, and are metered. Hotel reception staff can easily order a cab for you, too.
Fares are regulated citywide and all cabs are metered; the meter starts at 2.89€ and there is a charge of 2.12€ per kilometer. A generally reliable service is Taxi Centrale Amsterdam (TCA; tel 020/650-6506; www.tcataxi.nl). The fare includes a tip, but you may round up or give something for an extra service, like help with your luggage or for a helpful chat. In fact most Amsterdam cab drivers like to talk and are pretty knowledgeable about their city, so take full advantage of them.
By Car -- If you’re staying in Amsterdam, either leave your car at home or park up and save it for day trips into the Dutch countryside. There are limited parking facilities in the city itself but plenty of Park + Ride options in the suburbs, with rates of 8€ per 24 hours. Useful P+R parking lots include Olympisch Stadion and RAi in the southern city, and Sloterdyk and Zeeburg in the north; all are near public transport facilities. If you insist on parking in town, there are 14 designated car parks centrally, the most useful for tourists being at Waterlooplein 8 or Beursplein 15 and charging 2.50€ to 5€ per hour.
Don’t risk leaving your car on the street as the limited public parking in the city is managed with a gauntlet-grip by Cition (www.cition.nl), who will tow your car away at the drop of a hat for the slightest parking violation and then whack you with a 420€ fine; cash payments not accepted. If you do have the misfortune to get towed, the collection depot is at Daniël Goedkoopstraat 9 and it’s open daily 7am until 11pm.
There’s no point whatsoever in hiring a car if you are intending to stay in Amsterdam and not venture out of the city, as the public transport system works efficiently and most attractions are within walking distance of each other. In addition, the streets are narrow, many are one-way, some are pedestrianized, and all are crowded with bonkers cyclists; in short, driving in the city is a nightmare. However, if you are travelling outside Amsterdam, it’s usually cheapest to book a rental car online before you leave home. Try Hertz (www.hertz.com), Avis (www.avis.com), Budget (www.budget.com), or Enterprise (www.enterprise.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.