Getting Around Amsterdam

The best way to get around Amsterdam is by bike. Once you’ve flown into the nearby Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) and settled into your hotel, we suggest you inquire about getting one. Numerous canals, impatient drivers and narrow roads (ringing the canal belt) make maneuvering the city via car interesting, to say the least. Plus Amsterdam is known for its biking, and you'll find that rental shops canvas the city. Pedaling through an unfamiliar place might not be everyone's schtick; for those travelers, there's also a perfectly respectable public transport system — the GVB — which offers metro, bus and tram service.


Getting around Amsterdam by car probably isn't the best method. If you do decide to drive, frustration and expense will no doubt be your companions. Along with narrow, one-way roads, scarce parking — that's expensive to boot — and multitudes of pedestrians and cyclers on all sides, you also have a disorienting tangle of canals to grapple with. However, if you're planning on seeing other Netherlands destinations, renting a car does make a bit more sense. You can find rental places at the airport as well as a throughout downtown.


Amsterdam's public bus service is operated by GVB. Many of the buses begin their routes at Centraal Station, which is also one of the places where you can buy your OV-chipkaart or GVB ticket. Prices for all GVB public transportation are allotted by time (1 hour, 24 hours, 48 hours etc.), as well as by time of day. The GVB also operates night buses, but ticket prices for these are more expensive than their daytime counterparts.


Amsterdam also operates a small Metro system, with four numbered lines: 50, 51, 52 and 53. Metro trains are mostly used by residents coming in from the suburbs. If you do decide to take the metro train, be sure to validate your ticket on the platform before hopping on.


After walking or biking, the Amsterdam tram is the most scenic way to travel through the city. Sixteen tram routes crisscross the city and 10 of them, lines 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 16, 17 and 26, begin and end service at Centraal Station. Board the tram toward the rear, and to hop out, hit the button that reads "Deur Open."


To get across the IJ channel, you can take one of five ferry routes operated by the GVB. Although you might enjoy a scenic view of the harbor, there's not a ton to do once you reach Amsterdam-Noord (North).

Taxi and Water Taxi

Metered taxis can be hailed on the street, called or picked up at taxi stands. However, in recent years, taxi service has become a little iffy with directionally challenged cabbies, who may or may not speak English. Taxi Centrale Amsterdam tends to offer trustworthy service. Water taxis in Amsterdam are very expensive, but they're also very ambient. If you can afford upward of $100 for a 30-minute ride, you can hail one outside of Centraal Station.


Biking is the way to travel around Amsterdam. And you'll find that bike shops — renting thousands upon thousands of bikes — fill the city. This is also an affordable way to get around — though you will have to make a hefty deposit on your rental (around $100). Rentals cost somewhere around $15 a week to about $50 per week. Plus, you're getting exercise and burning off all those pancake calories. And if you're nervous about traffic, pedal around on Sunday when the city is sleepy.

Entry & Exit Requirements

A valid travel document is required for United States citizens entering the Netherlands by air or sea, as well as for U.S. citizens trying to re-enter the country. A passport is the preferred form of documentation, and children must have them, too. U.S. citizens do not need a visa unless they plan on staying longer than 90 days. Visit the U.S. State Department's website for the latest information on foreign exit and entry requirements.

Next Steps: Amsterdam

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