The European Travel Companion to Vermeer: Amsterdam
last updated January 9, 2024
last updated January 9, 2024
Traveling within the Netherlands is generally straightforward. Trains from Amsterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport depart frequently to major Dutch cities, typically on a half-hourly basis. The train schedules are consistent throughout the year, unaffected by seasonal changes. Passengers can choose between the faster Intercity trains (sneltrein), which make fewer stops, and the regular stoptrein, stopping at smaller cities and suburbs as well.
While train conductors often make announcements in Dutch, assistance in English is readily available, as station officials are typically proficient in English.
Eurail Passes are designed for non-European residents and citizens. They offer extensive rail travel across many countries in Europe. The pass allows unlimited train travel within and between participating countries for a certain number of travel days. Passes often includes additional benefits like discounts on ferries, buses, and hotels.
The Global Pass is the most comprehensive pass, allowing travel in up to thirty-three countries. One Country Pass is for unlimited travel within a single country. Select Pass allows travel between two, three, or four neighboring countries.
Flexibility passes offer flexibility, with options for consecutive day travel or a set number of travel days within a longer period.
While the pass covers the cost of train travel, some high-speed and overnight trains require reservations and may have additional fees. There are discounts for youth (usually under twenty-seven), seniors (over sixty), and sometimes for groups or families. Eurail Passes can be purchased online and planning ahead is essential to maximize their value. It is also important to understand the train systems in the countries you plan to visit and to make reservations where necessary. The pass must be activated before use and is typically valid for eleven months from the date of purchase. Activation can be done at a train station in Europe or online.
Allocating at least one full day to explore Amsterdam's two or three of the major museums—the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House Museum, or the Van Gogh Museum—is advisable. Pre-booking is mandatory in all three cases. Wandering through Amsterdam is an experience in itself. Essential sights include the Dam Square, home to the Royal Palace (originally the Town Hall) and the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), famous from seventeenth-century cityscapes. Another popular activity is taking a boat tour along the city's iconic ring of canals (grachtengordel), earning Amsterdam its nickname "Venice of the North." However, like its Italian counterpart, Amsterdam's layout can be confusing for visitors. It's wise to always carry a detailed city map to avoid disorientation.
Navigating Amsterdam is quite a pleasant experience, thanks to the city's comprehensive and efficient transportation system, along with its compact and accessible layout. One of the most novel ways to explore Amsterdam is by bicycle. The city is world-renowned for its cycling culture, with extensive bike lanes and friendly infrastructure. You can easily rent a bike from numerous locations around the city, offering an authentic and cost-effective way to see Amsterdam.
For those preferring public transportation, the tram network in Amsterdam is excellent. It provides convenient access to most parts of the city, including key tourist destinations. You can buy tickets on the trams themselves, from vending machines at stops, or use an OV-chipkaart, which is the public transport card for the city. The metro in Amsterdam is another efficient option, particularly useful for covering longer distances quickly. It connects the city center with more outlying areas, and you can use the same OV-chipkaart for the metro as you would for trams and buses.Another great option for tourists is the Amsterdam City Card, which not only provides free or discounted entry to many attractions but also unlimited use of GVB public transport.
Lastly, to make the most of your time and navigate the city efficiently, using GVB navigation apps is highly recommended, especially when combining different modes of transport. With its reliable and diverse transportation options, Amsterdam offers a delightful experience for any visitor looking to explore this vibrant and picturesque city.
Traveling from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to the city center is a breeze with the airport shuttle and special bus services available. One of the most popular and convenient options is the Connexxion Amsterdam Airport Express, Bus 397. This direct bus service connects the airport to several major stops in the city, including the Museumplein, Rijksmuseum, and Leidseplein, with its final stop at the Elandsgracht bus station. The buses run every seven to fifteen minutes from early in the morning until late at night, making it a reliable choice regardless of your arrival time. The journey typically takes about thirty to forty minutes, depending on traffic, and you can purchase tickets at the airport at public transport ticket machines, the Connexxion desk or online. It is not possible to purchase tickets directly from the bus driver.
Additionally, the Schiphol Hotel Shuttle, also operated by Connexxion, provides door-to-door service from the airport to over one hundred hotels in Amsterdam. Tickets for this service can be purchased at the Connexxion desk located at Schiphol Plaza. This option is especially advantageous if your accommodation is not directly served by public transport, offering a seamless transfer right to your hotel's doorstep.
Remember, for public buses, cash payments are not accepted onboard, so it is essential to have an OV-chipkaart, a contactless credit card, or a pre-purchased ticket. All buses, including the Airport Express and hotel shuttles, conveniently depart from Schiphol Plaza, located right in front of the airport terminal. Just follow the clear signage for "Buses" upon exiting the arrivals area, and you'll be on your way to the heart of Amsterdam in no time. With these efficient transport options, starting your Amsterdam adventure is both stress-free and comfortable.
Useful information to the Dutch system of telephone numbers:
The leading "0" of the area code is dropped when calling from abroad, but has to be added when calling from within the Netherlands (then without the international country code 0031).
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