Amsterdam has an extensive public transport system including trams, buses, trains, metros and (free) ferries.
Travelling from Schiphol Airport
If you're arriving at Schiphol Airport, there are direct trains 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 (July 2023). Uber(opens in new window) or Bolt(opens in new window) are cheaper, but they 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.
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
It is wise to buy a public transport card - called an OV chip card - at the train station at Schiphol Airport. One card covers all means of public transport and this saves you money compared with individual ticket purchases. The card costs € 7,50. Next to that, you can load and top-up credit on the card for travel. 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 Plaza or at the yellow ticket machines. The ticket machines accept payment by debit and credit cards (V-Pay, Maestro, Mastercard, Visa and American Express) using pin and/or contactless. The machines do not accept bank notes. 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 ( € 4,45 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).
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.
Unfortunately, exchange students cannot apply for the free student travel card or study allowance from the government mentioned above.
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.
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, which gives you a discounted rate on national trains (not on local transport in Amsterdam), as explained below.
Or, you can buy a Student Mobility card, which is a personal OV chip card & general student discount card at the same time. See the information below.
Student Mobility: public transport discount card
Unfortunately, exchange students do not receive any discount on public transport from the Dutch government. Choosing a suitable subscription is a complicated process, especially for international students. Therefore, Student Mobility created a custom-made mobility 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.
The card provides 15% discount on national trains. Currently there is 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 first train ticket from the airport once you arrive in the Netherlands.
Reserve the Mobility card prior to your arrival in Amsterdam on the Student Mobility website(opens in new window) and have it sent to your new Dutch address. If your plans change because of the current situation you can easily cancel your order and get a full refund.
Student Mobility is an independent organisation and not related to the AUAS. For questions, please see their website.
Do as the locals do
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
- Invest in 2 good locks! Always lock your bike at two points, preferably attached to a fence or bicycle stand.
Going back home at the end of the semester? Easily sell your bike again!