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Public Transit in Amsterdam

Is it annoying to buy one-hour tickets each time we board the bus or tram in Amsterdam?

We have looked at the price of 24 hour GVB passes and 3 day Travel Ticket passes, and we aren't sure we'll use the public transit enough to warrant buying the passes.

If we decide to just buy one-hour tickets as needed, is there anything we should know so we aren't "those annoying tourists" holding everyone up?

Posted by
2214 posts

Great question as I am wondering the same thing! We have 3 days in Amsterdam in July and we love to walk, but we are staying in the museum area, and so will probably need to take some local transportation. Just not sure how much.

Posted by
263 posts

Whether or not you need public transport a lot depends on where you’re staying and what you plan to see and do. If your visit centers around central Amsterdam you can get around on foot easily, perhaps with the occasional tram ride. Some tram stops have a vending machine where you can buy tickets before you board the tram. You can also buy tickets on board of the tram. If you do that, it’s good to know that you don’t buy tickets from the driver, but from someone sitting in a small cubicle in the middle of the tram. So that’s where you should board the tram, in the middle. No matter where you bought your tickets you must always validate them by holding them against the machine near the entrance/exit of the tram. It will be self-explanatory when you see other people doing that as well. Trams and busses are cashless, so on board you can only buy tickets using a debit or credit card. The vending machines at the tram stops do accept cash.

Posted by
58 posts

@dutch traveler — Thank you! That’s helpful and exactly what I needed to know for our first time boarding if we don’t have a ticket machine at our stop. I hate being the annoying tourist, holding everyone else up, especially local residents!

Posted by
16941 posts

Last time I was in Amsterdam, (OK 5 years ago) I needed to have a genuine Chip & PIN credit card to buy tickets from the GVB. Fortunately, I have one. Still true?

Posted by
263 posts

@ Karina; Please don’t worry about holding up the locals. It’s very unlikely they will need to buy a ticket. They will board, tap their transport card at the machine and take a seat. The only ones needing to buy tickets are tourists just like you.

@Sam; what do you mean by a “genuine Chip & PIN credit card”? Like I said, public transport is cashless so if you want to buy tickets on board of a tram or bus you need to pay by debit or credit card. The vending machines may still accept cash as well as cards.

Posted by
16941 posts

Do you have to enter a PIN to complete the transaction with a credit card?

Posted by
263 posts

Whether or not you need to enter a PIN depends on your card. When I “tap” my card I don’t have to enter a PIN if the transaction is below a certain amount. The settings of your card may be different.

Posted by
3457 posts

We spent 5 nights in Amsterdam in 2019. We stayed in the Museumplein. The only public transportation we used was the “Red Bus” from the airport to our BnB. We love to walk and so we walked everywhere! We did do a canal tour and hopped on the Stromma boat at the Rijks Museum. It was a wonderful way to enjoy Amsterdam from the water at the beginning of our trip!

Posted by
1678 posts

I am in Amsterdam now. We got the iAmsterdam pass that includes transit and museums (I'll post more about the pass when I get home, things have changed). I haven't noticed many people buying tickets as they board but I'm sure people do. You can also buy one hour tickets in advance at main metro stops, and they work just like everyone else's ticket (scan on entry, scan on exit). The ticket clock starts when you use it so you can have it on hand for when you feel like riding. For other comments re payment I have a contactless debit card and have only been asked for a PIN once in 5 days for everything I've done here (train tickets, food, museums, etc)

I think it depends on where you are staying and what you want to do. Our hotel is near the Mint Tower and on a tram line. We have taken the tram a lot to sites near and far, and some days to avoid the big crowds in the tourist areas. We have also walked a ton but the weather has been beautiful.

Posted by
104 posts

How long will you be in the Netherlands? We were there for 12 days, 5 of which we stayed in Amsterdam, but we did day trips out to other places even while in Amsterdam. We got OV Chipkaarts and we’re very glad we did. You just pre-load it with an amount you think you will use. Then you just scan it when getting on and off any public transport. What is nice is that all trams, trains and buses use it. It is easy to reload from a machine at any train station if you run out of funds (which we did). The card does cost 7.50 euros, but it was worth it for the sheer convenience. We probably used it at least twice every day except one. When you leave, you can get a refund on any remaining balance.

Posted by
58 posts

We have about 48 hours in Amsterdam, and we’re staying in Jordaan. We will visit Anne Frank house, take a boat tour, walk Jordaan, have dinner at Martine’s, visit the Skylounge, and try to see the Dutch Resistance museum and Vondelpark. We will take a Thalys train to Belgium, so we only use the Amsterdam trains once on our way from Schipol airport. Trams, maybe twice each day, only once on day 3, back to Centraal station.

Posted by
58 posts

Janis, thank you! I hadn’t even thought to check! You’re correct! That would’ve been a big bummer to go and find it closed. Much obliged!

Posted by
24 posts

What you need to know about public transport is already mentioned. You’ll probably end up just using public transport to Vondelpark as the rest is within walking distance and might as well take up the same time walking as using public transport. Have a great time !

By the way: you do know that you can only buy tickets for the Anne Frank house on-line with a time slot ?

Posted by
263 posts

The fact that the Resistance museum is closed from May 23 until December 1 was announced in advance and features prominently on their website. So it’s a shame that RS missed this info and still recommends a visit. I hope that not too many disappointed visitors will turn up at the museum.
I don’t think he or anyone from his team have been to the Netherlands recently, because his latest Guidebook of the Netherlands dates back to 2018.
When I checked the Guidebook updates for the Netherlands, I see that a lot of important updates are missing. Without looking into it too deeply I noticed he doesn’t mention that the Amsterdam Museum is also closed for renovations, that the Hermitage museum is closed due to the war in Ukraine and that the Anne Frank house has a different way of selling tickets. There are probably many more things that have changed since 2018, so I would advice anyone to check the website of the place/museum/sight/restaurant you plan to visit, to verify opening hours and how to get tickets or simply to check if they’re still in business.

Posted by
58 posts

@dutch traveler - I actually wondered about the Hermitage museum, given the current state of the Russian/Ukrainian invasion. Thanks for the help. I imagine two years of COVID has limited Steves & company’s travels. Rick does mention to double-check when museums that have been closed on his team’s prior visits, and it’s something I normally would’ve done in my early stages of planning, but the resistance Museum was added recently as an afterthought, if we had time or rainy weather.

@ajlmv - yes, I did research when Anne Frank tickets were released and purchased them already! Thank you! And I agree about likely only using the tram to Vondelpark. We may also go visit the Frank’s actual home in the eastern side of the city, and may take a ferry over the IJ.

Another question, somewhat related: We are staying two blocks from the Anne Frank House. Will it be suitable to take the tram to and from Centraal Station if we each have one small rolling suitcase? Just checking that we won’t look silly for not calling a taxi/Uber?

Posted by
263 posts

“ Will it be suitable to take the tram to and from Centraal Station if we each have one small rolling suitcase? Just checking that we won’t look silly for not calling a taxi/Uber?”
I’m trying to answer this, but I’m having trouble understanding why you feel it might not be suitable to take the tram to and from the train station with a small rolling suitcase. Are you afraid they won’t let you on the tram with luggage? Or is it something else that’s concerning you?

Posted by
104 posts

Karina, we went by the Hermitage museum and it was no longer the Hermitage. Now called the Dutch Heritage museum - they have broken ties with the Hermitage because of The Ukraine invasion.

Posted by
24 posts

Of course you can use public transport carrying your suitcase. No problem! You can use this website for your public transport itinerary : https://9292.nl/en. It might be that it is just as easy to walk to your accommodation.

Posted by
58 posts

@dutch_traveler, I am not sure, honestly! I just wanted to make sure I wasn't making incorrect assumptions in some way. I suppose I was mostly picturing us looking foolish wandering down difficult-to-navigate sidewalks, or something! I've only ever taken taxis or another personal vehicle with luggage when I've traveled before. This is my first international trip, and I know Europe is set up so much better for public transit than most places in the US, so I think I still have my notions of US travel interfering in my thoughts :)

Posted by
3347 posts

Thank you for telling us that it's your first trip to Europe. In that case you don't have to worry about your luggage, people travel with luggage on trains, buses, trams and metros every day. In fact, you are more likely to look foolish if you take a taxi just because you have one small rolling suitcase.

And it is not just about public transportation, while north American cities are built for cars, European cities, and especially Dutch cities, are built for people.

If you want to know more, I can recommend the youtube channel Not just bikes, about city planning and the difference between North American and European, especially Dutch, cities. It is made by a Canadian that lives in Amsterdam. A good introduction if you have 17 minutes to spare is this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxykI30fS54