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Getting around Amsterdam

All you need to know from public transport to bikes to trams to student discount cards.

 Amsterdam has an extensive public transport system including trams, buses, trains, metros and (free) ferries.

Public transport in Amsterdam

Watch the video about public transport in Amsterdam

On this page

Travelling from Schiphol Airport

If you're arriving to Schiphol Airport, by far the easiest and cheapest way is to travel by train to Amsterdam Central Station. The journey takes about 15-20 minutes and a single ticket is € 4.90.

Other transportation options from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Taxis are expensive: the cost of a taxi ride from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam varies between €50 and €80 (June 2024).  Uber(opens in new window) or Bolt(opens in new window) are cheaper, but do not accept cash and only work with an app, linked to a bank account or credit card.

Not travelling through Schiphol Airport?

All major train stations and metro stations have ticket machines as well.

Green travel options

AUAS promotes a more sustainable way of travelling to both students and staff. We encourage people who have a travel time of less than 8 hours to choose a train or bus.
If you want to calculate the direct CO₂ impact of your trip, check ecopassenger.org(opens in new window) .


This long distance bus company operates in a great part of Europe and offers a cheap alternative. https://global.flixbus.com/(opens in new window)

Plan your journey

Most public transport in Amsterdam is operated by the GVB(opens in new window). The national railways are operated by NS(opens in new window).

https://9292.nl/en(opens in new window) is a useful website and app which incorporates all public transport operators in the Netherlands. This app shows timetables, a map of the journey, costs of the journey and season tickets advice. Google Maps is also a handy option to check out routes.

Buy an OV chipcard or activate OVpay

It is best to buy a public transport card - called an OV chip card - at the train station at Schiphol Airport, at the yellow ticket machines at train stations or at a public transportation service desk. One card covers all means of public transport and saves you money compared with buying a ticket for each journey. The initial cost of the card is € 7.50 plus the costs of each journey. You can top up your card before travelling. Passengers must check-in and check-out of every journey using card readers.

Anonymous OV chip card or personal OV chip card?

You can  buy an anonymous OV chip card at the train ticket desk at Schiphol Airport or at the yellow ticket machines at train stations or metro stations. The ticket machines accept payment by debit and credit cards (V-Pay, Maestro, Mastercard, Visa and American Express). The machines do not accept cash. The anonymous OV chip card is not linked to your personal details, but you have to go to a machine every time you want to load credit on it. These machines can also be found at supermarkets and shops like Primera, AKO and Bruna. Subscriptions or travel discounts are not possible on this card. The minimum card balance should always be €4. If you want to travel by train, the minimum credit on your card must be €20. 

With a personal OV chip card you can benefit from various subscriptions which you can load on to your card, such as travelling at a 20% to 40% discount outside peak hours on trains. You can set it to automatically top itself up with credit via your Dutch bank account or PayPal. Another service you can use if you have a personal OV chip card is renting an OV-bike ( € 4.55 per 24 hours). Very nice if you are visiting a different Dutch city! You have to apply for a personal card via this form(opens in new window) . You will need a Dutch address and a Dutch bank account or PayPal. If you want to apply for a personal card without Dutch bank account but you do have an IBAN, please check this contact form(opens in new window).

As of 2023, the public transport companies of the Netherlands have introduced a new way for commuters to check in and out while travelling. You can now check in and check out of public transport the way you prefer with your contactless debit card, credit card or mobile phone (including Apple Pay or Google Wallet). This way, you will not need an anonymous or personal OV chip card.

Please note: OVpay is only possible if you do not have any discounts or subscriptions and it can only be linked to a Dutch bank account or a debit or credit card form Maestro, V Pay, Mastercard or Visa. You can find out how this works on the OVpay website(opens in new window).

Discounts for international students


The Dutch government offers a free student travel card in combination with study allowance for specific nationalities and under certain conditions. Please note that this is a complicated process and it will take a fair amount of time to arrange it. See the official government website(opens in new window) (DUO) for more information. Contact DUO(opens in new window) if you have any questions.

Exchange students
Unfortunately, exchange students cannot apply for the free student travel card or study allowance from the government mentioned above.

Other discounts
You could consider a seasonal ticket or subscription, which could be cheaper depending on how many times you travel per week/month to a university building. These options can only be loaded on a personal OV chip card, not an anonymous chip card and not on OVpay.

In the Netherlands, buses and trains are operated by different companies. If you want to get a discount subscription, you have to apply for that on official websites of different public transport companies. You can find more information about seasonal tickets for national trains on the NS website(opens in new window) or for local transport on the Amsterdam public transport(opens in new window) website. Combination subscriptions for train & public transport within Amsterdam are possible.

You could also opt for the Student Mobility card(opens in new window), which gives you a discounted rate on national trains (not on local transport in Amsterdam), as explained below.

Student Mobility: public transport discount card

Student Mobility offers a customised public transport card for international students. You do not need a Dutch bank account. You can connect your credit card or debit card, so you don’t have to top-up the card every time you travel. On top of the mobility card you also receive an ISIC student-ID, a worldwide accepted student-ID that provides access to the biggest student discount network.

You can use this card for all forms of public transport in the Netherlands: train, tram, metro and bus. The card provides 15% discount on national trains, but no discount on tram, metro or bus in Amsterdam. However, the Health campus and Business campus can easily be reached from several train stations in Amsterdam. Next to the card you can also arrange a bike and get your train ticket at a reduced rate from the airport.

Student Mobility is an independent organisation and not related to the AUAS. For questions, please see their website.

Find out more about Student Mobility
(opens in new window)



Cycling is the most common way to get around and nearly everyone has a bike. Want to feel like a local, save money on public transport and exercise at the same time? Buy a bike!

  • Second hand bikes are often offered (by other students) through social media
  • Most bike shops also sell second hand bikes for reasonable prices
  • ASVA (the Amsterdam Student Union) organizes bike sales(opens in new window) every semester
  • Companies like Swapfiets(opens in new window) offer a rental bike with full service for a fixed monthly fee
  • You can easily sell your bike again at the end of the semester
  • Invest in two good locks! Always lock your bike at two points, preferably attached to a fence or bicycle stand.
  • Cycling with your mobile phone in your hand can lead to a € 150 fine. Check the rules & regulations for cyclists(opens in new window)


Driving a car in Amsterdam is not recommended. Parking spaces are rare and expensive, even in the suburbs. Many streets in the city centre are not accessible by car. Biking or using public transport is faster and cheaper.