Transport in Netherlands

Getting There
There is only one main international airport in the Netherlands and this is Schipol Airport located about 8 miles outside Amsterdam. Served by airlines from all over the world, this is also the base of KLM the national airline, and has been voted the best airport in the world over the past number of years thanks to its fast and efficient service. It is currently one of the busiest and most important international hubs in Western Europe. Despite this fact air fares to Amsterdam are considerably higher than they are to many of its European neighbours so many choose to fly to other destinations and make their way to the Netherlands by train.

If you do fly directly into Schipol you will have no problems making your way to the city centre as there are frequent trains leaving the terminal which will have you in the heart of Amsterdam in just 20 minutes. There are also numerous services to Rotterdam which will take you about 45 minutes and to The Hague which should take about 40 minutes.

As well as arriving in the Netherlands by air, many also make their entry to the country on board any of the number of rail services which serve the major Dutch cities. The Netherlands Railways (NS) offers a service which departs from Paris or Luxembourg travelling through Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam and The Hague before reaching Amsterdam. Both journeys take about six hours and you can use your Eurail, Inter-Rail or Europass tickets on this service. The second major service offered by NS also travels to and from Luxembourg via Utrecht and Maastricht. This service also travels through France, Germany and Switzerland.

There is also a relatively new train, the Thalys, which travels to and from Paris via Antwerp and Brussels taking just four and a half hours. All travel passes can be used on this service too and those aged under 26 get a 45% discount.

To travel to Amsterdam by bus you can avail of either the Eurolines or the Hoverspeed Citysprint services. Again those under 26 are entitled to a discount. Eurolines serves a vast selection of destinations throughout Europe and North Africa (see the link on the homepage for more information) and Hoverspeed Citysprint travels between the Netherlands and London ad Belgium.

Finally, you can also travel to the Netherlands by ferry. P&O Ferries operate a daily car ferry service between Hull and Rotterdam and this journey will take about fourteen hours. Scandinavian Seaways operate a daily car service which travels between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Ijmuiden and again the duration is fourteen hours. Finally, Stena Line sail four times daily between Harwich and Hoek van Holland and this sailing takes just three hours forty minutes.

Getting Around
Once you get there making your way around the country couldn’t be easier. Every single village in the Netherlands regardless of size is served by one form of public transport or another.

The most popular mode of transport is rail and with almost two thousand miles of track you really need to be travelling to somewhere quite rural if you find that it isn’t served by the NS. Trains are extremely efficient and reliable and most of the staff speak English too which is a huge help when you’re trying to get around.

The main services are between the major cities with one InterCity train leaving every fifteen minutes but even on smaller services trains leave as often as every thirty minutes. And, as if all of the above wasn’t enough to encourage you, Eurail, Inter-Rail and Europass tickets can be used on all NS services.

The public bus service in the Netherlands is used more frequently for regional travel rather than long distance. Trains are usually used in the latter case but for areas which are not served by rail, particularly in the north and the east, the bus service is an essential way to get around.

When availing of the bus service for nationwide travel, you will have to purchase a strippenkaart or strip card. The Netherlands is divided into different zones so the number of strips required depends on the number of zones in which you are going to travel.

A final option for travel within the country is the trusty bicycle. Favoured by a vast amount of visitors to the Netherlands, this is a cheap and hassle free way to see the countryside at your own pace. Distances between the major cities are short, most routes have separate cycle lanes and the country is completely flat too so you don’t have to be a seasoned cyclist to take it on. Bicycles cost about f8 per day but many railpasses will earn you a discount so there are no excuses.

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