How to Get Aroung Amsterdam

To enjoy Amsterdam to the fullest, you need to know how to get around the city. I tell you all the options you have including the bicycle or the watertaxi.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

7 min read

How to Get Aroung Amsterdam

Bicycles in Amsterdam | ©Gaurav Jain

On foot, by bike, by streetcar, by subway, by bus? There are many ways to get around Amsterdam. But the best way to see Amsterdam from a different perspective is to take a ferry. You will enjoy spectacular views and all for free!

Of course, remember that the public transport system of the city, GVB Amsterdam, is completely free of cash. Below I explain in depth each transport.

How to get around Amsterdam on foot

Walking around Amsterdam| ©Jean Carlo Emer
Walking around Amsterdam| ©Jean Carlo Emer

Unlike other urban areas in Europe, Amsterdam is a wonder to get around on foot thanks to its flat nature and relatively compact layout.

In the Dutch capital you can make several walking tours, this gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy the good air, especially in its parks.

Of course, because pedestrians share sidewalks with bicycles and scooters, you must be aware not only to cars, but also to these means of transport and respect their space, as well as the different signals. If you are not used to this, it can be shocking at first.

Book a guided tour of Amsterdam

By Tram, an interesting alternative

Amsterdam Tramway| ©Gary Todd
Amsterdam Tramway| ©Gary Todd

Most of the blue and grey streetcars run along most of the main streets of the city. There are 14 streetcar routes, 9 of which (lines 2, 4, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 24 and 26) start and end at Central Station, so you can always return to that point of origin if you get lost and have to start again.

Lines 2, 3, 5 and 12 are useful for visiting Amsterdam's most important museums, i.e. the south of the city and Museumplein. If, for example, you want to visit Dam Square, the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals, Leidseplein and the Rijksmuseum, look for line 2.

To get off the streetcar, you may have to press a button with a "doors open" graphic. The streetcar doors close automatically, and close fairly quickly, so don't take too long.

Getting around Amsterdam by bus

Buses in Amsterdam| ©Tim Castricum
Buses in Amsterdam| ©Tim Castricum

Although the Dutch prefer to move around by streetcar, in Amsterdam there is also the option to move around the city by public bus, both day and night. Although during the day I do not recommend it much as a tourist, as it is more interesting to use the streetcar, at night things change. In addition, the price is the same as the streetcar.

Also, I leave you in this link a map of all routes of public transport in Amsterdam so you know their stops.

However, what I do recommend as a tourist is to book the Amsterdam tourist bus that passes through the most emblematic areas of the city and allows you to get off and on wherever and whenever you want.

Book the Amsterdam tourist bus

How to get around Amsterdam by Ferry

Amsterdam Ferry| ©Ed Webster
Amsterdam Ferry| ©Ed Webster

The GVB ferries are free for all passengers and connect the city center with Amsterdam-Noord (North), via the IJ waterway. If you can't book a boat ride in Amsterdam, you have this option. Less comfortable and luxurious, but free.

Most ferries depart from Waterplein West, behind Centraal Station.

  • The main route will take you to Buiksloterweg (for attractions such as the Eye Film Institute and A'dam Tower). Trips take just over 5 minutes and shuttles depart every 4 to 12 minutes throughout the day.
  • The second most famous route will take you to NDSM-Werf, a 14-minute trip with ferries running from 6:45 am to midnight Monday through Friday, and from 7:15 am on weekends.
  • The third route of possible interest will take you to IJplein, a more easterly point and on the north coast, with ferries running between 7 and 15 minutes and in action from 6:30 am to midnight.

Book a boat trip in Amsterdam

By Taxi, perfect if you are looking to get around Amsterdam comfortably

Cab| ©Rodolfo Clix
Cab| ©Rodolfo Clix

In this case, it is best to find one of the cab ranks. These are scattered around the city, usually near the luxury hotels, in the main squares such as Dam, Spui, Rembrandtplein, Westermarkt and Leidseplein and of course at Centraal Station.

Cabs are metered, have signs on the roof and usually run with blue license plates. The hotel reception staff can also order you a cab if you need one.

Fares are regulated equally throughout the city and the meter starts at €3.19 and there is a charge of €2.35 per kilometer. If you don't see a cab stand, you can call Taxi Centrale Amsterdam (tel. 020/777-7777), the fare includes a tip.

Uber, similar to a cab but cheaper

Ordering an Uber| ©
Ordering an Uber| ©

UberBLACK is also available in the city to and from Schiphol Airport.

In general, airport fares are a bit cheaper with an UberBLACK than by cab (around 35 €-40 € versus 45 € -50 €). In any case, I recommend a post for more information about transfers between the airport and Amsterdam.

By car, the best option for excursions

By car in the city| ©Jackson David
By car in the city| ©Jackson David

It makes no sense to rent a car if you intend to stay in Amsterdam for one day or to be in Amsterdam for two days, as the public transport system is very efficient and most of the attractions are within walking distance of each other.

In addition, the streets are narrow, many are one-way, there is limited paid parking and they are all full of cyclists. In short, driving around the city is a nightmare. However, if you're traveling outside Amsterdam, it's usually cheaper to book a rental car.

Try AutoSlash, one of the most recommended options in Amsterdam. If you want to find out about excursions from Amsterdam this post will be useful. And if you insist on parking in the city, I recommend two parking lots: Waterlooplein (Valkenburgerstraat 238) or Beursplein 15 and they charge between 3 € to 8 € per hour.

Important advice

Do not risk leaving your car on the street for a longer period of time, as public parking in the city is tightly controlled. If you commit an infraction it is very likely that your car will be towed, and then you will have to pay a fine of up to 373 € (cash payments are not accepted).

If, unfortunately, your car is towed, the collection area is at Daniël Goedkoopstraat 9 and is open every day all day long.

Cycling like a local

Bicycles are the most used means of transport in the whole of the Netherlands.| ©Anneke Vermeulen
Bicycles are the most used means of transport in the whole of the Netherlands.| ©Anneke Vermeulen

Cycling is a very common activity in Amsterdam, as there are hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of bike paths. The city is a breeding ground for bicycles. Also, you can book a bike tour in Amsterdam, there is a great variety and they are very useful for visiting the top sights.

One of the most common names you will see in Amsterdam when it comes to bike rentals is MacBike. With several reserved spaces around the city, MacBike is a great option to rent a bike if you feel like seeing the city on two wheels.

Normally, you can rent a bike from 9am to 6pm for as little as 5€ per hour; however, bikes must be returned during opening hours. On the other hand, if you have one of Amsterdam's tourist passes, you can enjoy a 25% discount on almost any bike you rent.

Book a bike tour in Amsterdam

Tips when using Amsterdam's public transport system

Amsterdam Pass| ©HappyW
Amsterdam Pass| ©HappyW
  • Locals use the electronic plastic card OV-chipkaart to pay for public transport. It is not the best option for a short stay, as it costs 7,50 €. But if you plan to travel to Amsterdam for 5 days or more, you may find it useful.
  • If you plan to use public transport very frequently, the best option is to buy a 1-day or multi-day card: 24 hours (8 €), 48 hours (13.50 €), 72 hours (19 €), 96 hours (24.50 €), 120 hours (29.50 €), 144 hours (33.50 €) and 168 hours (36.50 €). There are reduced fares for children from 4 to 11 years old and children under 3 years old travel free of charge.
  • Public transport in the city is also free when buying the I Amsterdam City Card. With any of these cards just hold your card against the electronic reader both at the beginning and at the end of the trip.
  • The central information and card sales points of GVB Amsterdam are GVB Tickets & Info, Stationsplein, in front of the Central Station and next to the Amsterdam Tourist Information Office. They are open Monday to Friday from 7am to 9pm, Saturday from 8am to 9pm and Sunday from 9am to 9pm.
  • GVB Amsterdam cards are available at GVB and Netherlands Railways ticket offices at metro and train stations, at ticket vending machines at metro and train stations, and at certain stops along streetcar line 2.
  • The streetcar network, buses and the Metro are in service from 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. There are also night buses between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.
  • If you are concerned about your impact on the environment and don't like to cycle, you can use a rickshaw (taxi-bike) to get around the city. They are clean, relatively comfortable and can easily glide through the busy streets. You can also order your eco-taxi in advance from Amsterdam Fietstaxi (tel. 065/348-1860).

Book the I Amsterdam City Card