Amsterdam Transportation Tips by breughel
Amsterdam Transportation: 847 reviews and 989 photos
GVB Tickets and Info at CS stationsquare.
If you want to travel by tram or bus in Amsterdam the first thing to do is to read the information in Dutch and English on the website of the www.gvb.nl
GVB is the public transportation company for Amsterdam. You will also find maps of all transports.
On the home page you will find a TOURIST GUIDE with valuable info. I show here what is most important:
"Gvb tickets & info
For information in person about the public transport options in Amsterdam, we invite you to visit gvb tickets & info. Here you can also buy tickets, obtain route maps and timetables for all of the gvb routes in Amsterdam."
"Where are public transport chip cards sold?
Public transport chip cards, as well as GVB day or multi-day tickets (valid for 24-168 hours), are sold at GVB Tickets & Info. The day ticket is also sold in trams and buses. You can buy a 1 to 4-day ticket (valid for 24-96 hours) at the ticket vending machines at all metro stations."
Best for tourists is to buy the day tickets 1(24 h), 2 (48 h), 3 (72 h) or 4 day (96h) ticket and more till 7 days.
But here start the difficulty for the foreign visitor.
There are only 4 GVB Tickets & Info offices in Amsterdam at these four stations:
GVB Tickets & Info, Stationsplein Central Station:
Monday to Friday: 07:00 - 21:00 and
Saturday and Sunday: 08:00 - 21:00.
GVB Tickets & Info, Station Bijlmer ArenA:
GVB Tickets & Info, Station Lelylaan
GVB Tickets & Info, Station Zuid
Most foreign visitors arrive at Central Station so that tourists are queuing at this office outside the station on the square.
The other possibilities are the vending machines at all metro stations but only for 1 - 4 day tickets.
As the Metro lines do not cross the city centre the only metro station located in the tourist area is the one at the Central Station with 4 vending machines accepting cash (eventually the one at the Waterlooplein).
Only the 1 day ticket is sold in trams and buses.
From my experience there are no other places where one can buy multi-day tickets than the 4 GVB offices and the metro stations (only 1 in the tourist area).
So that when you arrive in Amsterdam CS the first thing to do is to buy a multi-day ticket at the GVB office or in the underground Metro station.
Vending machines in CS Metro station.
First thing to do if you want to travel inside Amsterdam by tram or bus is to buy a multi-day travel ticket when arriving, like most tourists, at the Central Station (see my previous tip).
There are two possibilities:
Start queuing at the GVB ticket & Info office on the Stationplein or go downstairs at the exit of the station to the Metro. In the hall (see the map) you will find 4 vending machines. Explanations on the touch screen machine are in Dutch and in English.
For tourists best are GVB "dagkaarten" day or multiple day cards entitling unlimited travel around Amsterdam - day and night - on bus, tram and metro, for the number of 24 hours that best suits you.
The number of hours starts at first check in on the public transport mean.
Here are the fares for 2014:
1 day - 24 hours € 7.50 can be bought directly on tram or bus.
2 days - 48 hours € 12.00 can be bought directly on tram.
3 days - 72 hours € 16.50
4 days - 96 hours € 21.00 these can be bought at the vending machines in the Metro stations.
For more days up to 7 one has to go in one of the 4 GVB offices at Amsterdam main stations.
On the vending machine choose your language, type of ticket, number of hours/days and do not forget to enter "betaling contant" cash payment before entering your Euro notes or coins.
These machines are also used for the OV chipcards mostly used by the inhabitants.
My photo shows a 96 hour/4 days ticket at 21 €.
Alternating trams on one railtrack.
With a one-day or multi-day ticket (dagkaart) a tourist would think that after the first check in on the tram, metro or bus he would be all right as this card entitles to unlimited travel in Amsterdam for the number of hours paid for.
That is not the case as you will read on the GVB website about the day or multiple day cards:
"With this OV-chipkaart, you must check-in and check-out when boarding or disembarking from a tram, bus, or metro.
It is important that you always check in and check out of each vehicle. This includes when transferring.
To check in, just hold your card in front of the card reader (you will hear a beep and see a green light flash). These are located at all the entrance and exit doors of trams and buses. When exiting the tram or bus, you should check out by holding your card in front of the card reader once again. In the metro hold your card in front of the metro gate to open the metro gate. When transferring by metro you do not have to check out, and check in again in between your journey. You should only check out at the end of your metro journey."
The check out is important, on some type of trams it opens the door; a recorded voice remembers in Dutch and English to check out.
There are also stop buttons on the trams and busses to ask for the stop.
On the GVB website one can find various maps also available in PDF and easy to print. Inside the trams or busses the destination and next stop are shown on a display and announced by voice.
What is special with trams 1, 2 and 5 is that in the very commercial and narrow Leidsestraat they alternate because there is only one railtrack. They wait their turn on the bridges over the Prinsengracht and Keizergracht as you can see from my photo.
Cyclists in the Vondel park
In Amsterdam I consider cyclists as a deadly threat!
No problem with cars, there are very few in the centre, the trams are somewhat dangerous but you hear them coming, they have a strong bell and the ground vibrates.
But the cyclists are the silent tourist killers of Amsterdam especially when they don't respect the pedestrian paths. Normally the paths reserved for cyclists are made of red asphalt or marked with a painted bicycle on the ground. When that paint has faded the tourist doesn't know anymore if he walks on the right path.
The cyclists of Amsterdam are busy with many other things than cycling: talking to each other, flirting, phoning or consulting their IPhone. I must say they are very skilful drivers, I saw no incident at all.
They don't wear protection helmets, fluorescent jackets or even anti rain clothes.
They don't mind about the rain for themselves or for their bikes which are parked outside day and night.
A good point of all that biking is that there are no fat Amsterdammers, they are all slim and have muscled legs.
Thalys platform in Amsterdam CS.
I started travelling with the very fast train Thalys in the mid 1990s first to Paris, later to Amsterdam and I was always satisfied about speed, comfort and price when booking well in time.
For Brussels - Amsterdam it costs 45 € in class 2 and 65 € in 1st class; the difference of 20 € is well worth the large (solo) seat and something to eat and drink.
These prices are indicative and can be higher or sometimes lower.
The wagons of the Thalys have been renovated last year but I wonder if the engines should not undergo the same.
On my return trip from Amsterdam to Brussels the train stopped in a tunnel before reaching Rotterdam. The lights diminished and air conditioning stopped. We got an announcement of a technical defect and after a quarter of an hour the train started again and reached Rotterdam at a speed not exceeding 50 Km/hour. Between Rotterdam and the Belgian border the train stopped again, this time in open country. After another waiting he moved on again and finally reached Brussels with a delay of two hours (4 hours instead of the normal two).
In winter time it happens that the fast trains Thalys, TGV, Eurostar suffer from incidents due to ice, snow, floods but it was May.
Anyway there has been worse with the new fast train Fyra between Brussels, Antwerpen, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The Fyra is a project of the Dutch NS Hispeed and Belgian SNCB. The V250 high-speed train of the Italian train builder … went last year in December for the first run between Amsterdam and Brussels, but was put aside temporarily after persistent technical problems and losing bottom plates in January.
As the train builder could not bring his train up to the wanted quality level the SNCB broke up the contract.
Consequently the Thalys frequencies between Brussels and Amsterdam will be increased.
I hope that the Thalys engines will also be up to the wanted quality level.
Map of the station and square.
I added here a map of the station and square. You can see in front of the station exits the locations of the trams. The metro is to be reached by stairs (no escalator, annoying if you have heavy luggage) but there is one elevator near the GVB tickets and info offices.
The bus stops are somewhat further.
Pieter Jan made here a detailed review of all public transport coming together at what is the central transportation point of Amsterdam.
Taxis are standing on the right of the exit.
The busiest station of the Netherlands has still no waiting room for the Thalys train travelers, at least I did not find one. So that if you are early to catch your train to Brussels you have to wait standing. Brussels has a special waiting room for the Thalys trains but Paris has also not.
According to a recent Gallup the Dutch feel very positive about cars (86%) and bicycles (84%). They are only 26% to feel positive about public transport.
Cycling is cheap, reliable (arriving on time). The problems are the bad weather (rain and wind) and the parking difficulties (look around the stations!) and bad driving cyclists.
In 2005 all Dutch drove 14 milliard (billion) Km. The Netherlands produced 967 thousand bicycles in 2006.
From my recent 5 day stay in Amsterdam it seems to me that their positive look at bicycles is forced by the politics imposing a ban on car traffic in this city. Walking in the residential area around the Museum Kwartier, which is not in the centre, I saw that parking on the street costs about 3 €/hour, about 25 € for 24 hours, even at night you have to pay for the parking! The residents pay a quarterly fee of 80 € I was told.
With such anti car tolls it is understandable that the Amsterdammers favour cycling.
What surprised me is that they don't wear protection helmets, fluorescent jackets or even anti rain clothes. I must say they are very skilful drivers, I saw no incident at all.
They don't mind about the rain for themselves or for their bikes which are parked outside day and night. Most bikes are somewhat rusty and you won't see expensive sport models. Interesting are the "bakfietsen = cargo bikes" with a large wooden box at the front wheel. This box is loaded with children and shopping.
A good point of all that biking is that there are no fat Amsterdammers, they are all slim and have muscled legs.
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