As already mentioned, Amsterdam is quite unique when it comes to transportation. The main reason is that Amsterdam does not have large freeways and spacious roads or avenues. Streets seem to squeeze themselves through the densely populated neighborhoods. Large freeways can be found only outside the city.
This bizarre, for a European metropolis, feature has an impact on all means of transportation in Amsterdam and limits your options during your short city break.
Amsterdam is the ultimate bicycle paradise. Bicycle has long been the favorite and most preferable means of transportation inside the city not just by short visitors, but locals to. A recent study found that locals use their bicycles when they move around the city more than any other means of transportation and have estimated that a staggering 1 million bicycles move around the city each week.
Bicycling in Amsterdam is not only handy, but also rather enjoyable: drivers respect bicyclers and almost all main streets have special bike paths. So, we clearly recommend bicycling as your main transportation choice while in Amsterdam – it will also help you get an idea of the city’s everyday life more quickly. You will easily find shops and agencies that rent bicycles and several hotels offer their customers such services.
Be aware though! First, remember that bicycle filchers are shrewd and experienced in Amsterdam: tenths of thousands of bicycles are stolen each year.
Second, don’t forget the canals! They are everywhere and sadly enough tourists and inexperienced bicyclers often find themselves driving carelessly into one of them!
Amsterdam’s canals served, for centuries, as the city’s main avenues, being also another reason for the narrow streets that never grew bigger. Nowadays, canals are used for courier deliveries, small barges, recreation vessels and tour boats.
It is a wonderful way to see some excellent spots of the city that seem all the more impressive from the canals. Boat agencies offer reasonable fees so using at least once a boat to roam through Amsterdam is something you shouldn’t neglect to do during your short break visit to the city.
Getting around in Amsterdam by car can also be described as a living nightmare. Actually, the State has tried everything to discourage car use inside the city, especially in the centre, where many streets are simply closed to cars. Car will be an option during your short city break to Amsterdam only if you want to visit the suburbs and some flower festivals and exhibitions held outside the city.
The Netherlands have organized an impeccable public transportation system, and Amsterdam is not an exception. The Public Transportation Company in Amsterdam is known by the acronym GVB.
Your Public Transportation options include:
- Bus; economic, usually on time.
- Subway; fast, clean, warm, it will take to any major sight in the city’s centre.
- Train; fast and reliable, a good option for the suburbs. There 10 train stations in Amsterdam.
- Tram; a bit more crowded but adequately clean and fast for getting around Amsterdam.
- Ferries; free connections across the IJ “river” for pedestrians, cyclists and mopeds.
Ticket Options & Tips
You can have unlimited access to trams, buses and subway with the Public Transport Chip Card (OV-chipkaart). Most short city break visitors prefer either the 1 – hour card or the 1 – day card, which can be used within 7 days. You won’t have trouble purchasing the 1 – hour card; you may get inside the tram or the bus. 1 – Day cards are also provided aboard the tram (not on bus however), but you should better buy them beforehand.
Short city break visitors could also find appealing some other options, depending on how many days they plan to stay and where they want to go:
- I amsterdam City Card: free access to Amsterdam’s most popular sights along with unlimited use of the GVB trams, buses and subway. The card can be valid for
- 72 hours.
- 1 – Day Tram pass: valid from 1 to 7 days and rather cheap. You can use it for any means of GVB public transportation system. Tickets can be purchased directly from the official GVB website.
- Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket: that is a 1 – Day Public Transport Pass valid on any kind of GVB, Connexxion and EBS transportation both in the city’s central districts and in the so called Metropolitan Area – the regions surrounding central Amsterdam. This pass can be used along with the I amsterdam City Card in a special discount called “Get of Town”.
Amsterdam Travel Ticket: an all inclusive public transport pass usable for 1, 2 or even 3 days, including 2nd class return train routes between Schiphol Airport and every station in the city. It grants you unlimited access to GVB trams, buses, the subway as well as ferries.