Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands is a destination known for idyllic canals, gingerbread houses and vibrant culture. Amsterdam is an incredible place to visit and getting there is easier than you may think! Discover all the best ways to travel to Amsterdam in this complete guide. I’ve even included tips for traveling around Amsterdam’s canal belt once you arrive!
Travel to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Flights to Amsterdam can be relatively cheap but it all depends on your departure destination. Since the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is an international airport and the main hub for that region in the Netherlands, it is quite easy to get to Amsterdam.
Most visitors flying to Amsterdam will arrive at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The Amsterdam airport code is AMS. This airport is the largest in the Netherlands and is located in Haarlemmermeer.
The Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is quite large and inside you’ll find many shops, two airport hotels and quite a few options for car rentals. The two hotels which are located inside the Amsterdam international airport terminals are Mercure Hotel Schiphol Terminal and YOTELAIR Schiphol Amsterdam. To stay at either of these hotels you will need a valid passport and onward flight ticket. There are many other hotels located a few minutes walk outside of the airport as well.
Travel Tip: The two main airlines are KLM and Transavia. KLM is the Netherlands main international airline and Transavia is their low cost carrier. If you are traveling to Amsterdam from within Europe check for flights with Transavia!
How to Travel from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to City Centre
Traveling from the Amsterdam airport to the city centre is very easy by train and is my first recommendation for your visit to the capital of the Netherlands. You can also take the Amsterdam Airport Express bus #397 which runs 24 hours and makes stops at several locations in central Amsterdam.
Travel to Amsterdam City Center from Schiphol Airport by Train
The easiest and most convenient way to travel from the Amsterdam airport to the city centre is to take the train. The Amsterdam regional train runs 24 hours and has departures multiple times an hour. Typically there will be fewer trains from midnight to 6am so keep that in mind. Tickets cost €6,30 for a one-way and can be purchased at one of the many kiosks in the Amsterdam Schiphol airport.
Once you go through baggage claim and exit the terminals you will see the train station without having to exit the airport. There are multiple clearly marked kiosks where you can purchase your ticket making it very easy.
If you are going directly to the city center there is a well identified button that you can push with just one click. This takes you to the purchasing options and you can pay with credit card. Take your printed ticket and head to the platform where your train is. It will say Amsterdam Centraal on the sign. If you are unsure just ask someone.
To get back to the airport you will do the same in reverse departing from the Amsterdam Centraal Train Station in the city. It is one of the easiest airport to city transfers in Europe.
The total travel time from the Schiphol airport to the Amsterdam’s city center by train will take around 25 minutes. The stops are announced on the train and also displayed on a sign.
How to Travel to Amsterdam Center from Schiphol Airport by Bus
The other option for traveling from the Amsterdam airport to the city center inexpensively is to take the bus. The bus that you will need to take is #397 and is the Amsterdam Airport Express bus. You can find the departure point for the bus directly outside the Schiphol airport.
Bus #397 is available 24 hours a day and has frequent departures providing a non-stop service to Amsterdam’s city center. The cost is €6 per one-way ticket or €10 for a return ticket. They do not accept cash on the bus for payment, so you will need to pre-purchase your ticket.
The journey takes about 30 minutes and the bus makes multiple stops throughout the city. Therefore you can get off at whichever stop is closest to your hotel or guesthouse! The stops are Museumplein, Rijkesmuseum and Leidseplein within the city center.
Travel to Amsterdam by Train
Another option besides flying is to travel to Amsterdam by train. Europe is very well connected by trains throughout the continent, making train travel easier than you might expect.
Travel Tip: Consider getting a Eurail Pass if you plan on traveling by train a lot within Europe. There are multiple passes to choose from based on your needs.
Take the Paris to Amsterdam Train
Paris and Amsterdam are two popular European destinations and can easily be combined during a trip to western Europe. Getting from one city to the other is relatively easy especially if you are taking the train. The Paris to Amsterdam train journey takes just over 3 hours with one stop in Brussels, Belgium.
Thalys is a high speed train company that connects France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. This is the high speed train that travels from Paris to Amsterdam and will get you to your destination the fastest.
There are 8 daily departures that run every hour or two starting at 7:25 with the last train at 19:25. The high speed trains are equipped with wifi, electrical sockets for charting, comfortable seats and air conditioning.
The cost for the high speed Paris to Amsterdam train can vary depending on a few things. The train class you choose, the time of year, how early you buy your ticket and a few other factors can affect the cost of the ticket. I would recommend purchasing your ticket online to get the best possible price. The Paris to Amsterdam train tickets typically range from €50 to €300 for a one-way.
You will depart out of the Paris Nord Station and arrive at the Amsterdam Central Station. Once you arrive in Amsterdam you can easily take a tram, taxi or walk to your hotel or guesthouse.
Must Read: Where to Go Shopping in Amsterdam
Take the Brussels to Amsterdam Train
Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and the neighboring country to the Netherlands. With only 229 km (142 miles) distance between the two cities, traveling to either destination is easy and convenient by train.
There are two main Brussels to Amsterdam trains: the high speed train and the regional train. The high speed train is run by Thalys, the same company that connects Paris to Amsterdam. Alternatively the regional train is managed by NS Dutch Railways.
Brussels to Amsterdam High Speed Train
A less than 2 hour journey on the Thalys high speed train will bring you directly from Brussels to Amsterdam without making any stops along the way. The station you will depart from is Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid with about 9 departure times daily. The first train departs at 6:52 and last train departs at 20:52.
The price varies from €29 to €108 depending on the class, time and date.
Brussels to Amsterdam Regional Train
The cheaper option to travel from Brussels to Amsterdam is to take the NS Dutch Railways regional train. The journey will take around 2 hours 45 minutes with a stop in Rotterdam Centraal. There are frequent daily departures and the cost is €48,40 for a second class ticket or €77,20 for a first class ticket. You do not need to reserve a ticket online however I strongly recommend you do.
There are departures on the Brussels to Amsterdam train from the following stations in Brussels:
- Brussel Centraal
- Brussel Zuid-Midi (south)
- Brussel Noord (north)
- Bruxelles Ouest (west)
Alternatively you can take the Amsterdam to Brussels train if you are already in Amsterdam and want to take a quick trip to Belgium’s capital city.
Keep in mind that traveling to Amsterdam by train from other cities within Europe is not necessarily cheaper but may be faster. There are numerous low cost airlines that offer inexpensive flights to Amsterdam so be sure to check your options..
How to Get Around Amsterdam
Once you arrive in Amsterdam you will find that there are a few modes of transportation to help you get around the city quickly and efficiently.
Biking in Amsterdam
One of the most popular options is to rent your own bike and cycle around the canal ring. Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world and most locals commute daily by bike. However, there is a certain art to cycling in Amsterdam and if you aren’t comfortable then I wouldn’t recommend it.
There are lots of bike rentals in Amsterdam and you can rent a bicycle based on daily, weekly or monthly rates. Riding a bike in Amsterdam is a fun and unique way to explore the city plus you’ll get around a whole lot quicker! While you’re walking around you’ll definitely see a ton of Amsterdam bikes all over the city. In fact, there are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are people!
The best bike rentals in Amsterdam are:
- Frederick’s Bike Rental
- Black Bike
- Mac Bike
- Yellow Bike
Just make sure you follow the bike rules in Amsterdam. Only cycle in the specified bike lanes and watch out for pedestrians and cars. Also, be sure to always use a bike lock and remember where you parked your bike!
Alternatively you can also take a bike tour in Amsterdam with a small group and guide. This is a fun way to see all the top spots in Amsterdam and learn a bit about the history. Plus you can build up some biking confidence if you want to then go on a bike ride through Amsterdam on your own.
Amsterdam is a large city situated amongst 165 canals connected by bridges and cobblestone streets. Luckily, Amsterdam has a convenient, easy to use tram system that runs through parts of the city. In fact, the Amsterdam tram is the largest tram network in the Netherlands.
The iconic blue and white trolleys provide a connections within central Amsterdam and also to the nearby neighborhoods. The Amsterdam tram can connect you from point A to B quickly and is an efficient way to get around the city.
Once you exit the Amsterdam Centraal Station you will see two tram departure points: one that goes east and one that goes west. Both of these trams travel through the center of Amsterdam’s canal belt and then head out towards the outlying neighborhoods.
If you are staying in Amsterdam for a longer period of time and plan to use the tram often you should consider purchasing the OV-Chipkaart. This is a public transport chip card that you can use on the train, bus, tram or metro and top off as you go. You can purchase these chip cards at the GVB ticket vending machines, newsstands and supermarkets throughout the Netherlands. Just remember to check in and out when using the chip card so that you are charged the correct amount.
You can also purchase single tram tickets in either 1 hour, 24 hour or 48 hour increments. These tickets can be purchased at a GVB vending machine or on the tram itself.
While I typically prefer to walk or bike around Amsterdam, the tram has been a lifesaver a few times and is much cheaper than a taxi.
Other Amsterdam Travel Guides:
- Complete Amsterdam City Guide: 22 Things to Do in Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Where to Go Shopping in Amsterdam: The Best Amsterdam Shops to Visit
- Staying on a Houseboat Along Amsterdam’s Amstel River Canal
- A 7 Day Road Trip Through the Netherlands
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