Amsterdam's public transport network cover the city and surrounding areas. It consists of metro, trams and buses during the day. Night services are provided by night-buses.
In 2010 a new electronic ticket system with so called "OV chipcards" has been introduced. For tourists the following ticket options seem to be useful: 24, 48, 72 hours cards for 7,50 Euro, 12,00 Euro or 16 Euro (prices of October 2012).
A single 1 hour card costs 2,70 Euro and this one as well as the 24 h card can be purchased onboard from the driver. Aprt from that, all tickets are available from GVB offices; e.g. opposite of the Central Railway Station.
When boarding a vehicle the ticket has to be placed on the electronic sensor near the entrance (chipping in). This also has to be done when leaving the vehicle (chipping-out).
Central Amsterdam is served by 16 TRAM Lines and are the primary means of getting around. Since streets are narrow and parking scarce, taking a tram is highly recommended. Centraal Station is the Terminal point for 11 of the 16 Tram Lines and where we took Tram 16 to get us to the French Embassy - our first stop. My sister-in-law Nel had a card which she used for us. Disposable chipkaart singles cost Euro 2,60 or 2 for Euro 5,00. 24-hour ticket cost Euro 7,00. Don't try and travel on a tram without a valid ticket as agents do regular checks and on-the-spot fines of Euro37,50 apply.
The Tram Line 5 (which our friend Diana/ VT member Dila drives) is the busiest with over 40,000 passengers per day. The line traverses 3 Zones and has 27 stops. An average journey from one end to the other takes about 40 minutes.
Amsterdam has a fabulous tram system... they are fast and regular and easy to use. Trips in 1 Zone are 1.60E. You can buy the tickets as a strippenkaart (10 I think) from the VVV office at the Leidseplein or Centraal Station or buy them individually on the tram.
Trams cost 1.60 EURO and this fare is paid to the driver. You could hop on and hop off without paying if it's crowded, but you can go to jail for doing it! Why take the chance! This is a quick and easy way to get around Amsterdam. There are tram maps everywhere and they run often!
We found the tram system easy to figure out and use. All you need is a tram map (which we got from the infomation desk at the Van Gogh Museum, but possibly your hotel might have one, too) and 1.60 Euro, and you're off. You don't even need the exact change, and you can buy a ticket either from the driver or at a little booth at the back of the tram. Just be sure you're up and at the door when they arrive at your stop so you're ready to get off, or you may find yourself riding longer than you expected.
They're very narrow!
First thing to do if you want to travel inside Amsterdam by tram or bus is to buy a multi-day travel ticket when arriving, like most tourists, at the Central Station (see my previous tip).
There are two possibilities:
Start queuing at the GVB ticket & Info office on the Stationplein or go downstairs at the exit of the station to the Metro. In the hall (see the map) you will find 4 vending machines. Explanations on the touch screen machine are in Dutch and in English.
For tourists best are GVB "dagkaarten" day or multiple day cards entitling unlimited travel around Amsterdam - day and night - on bus, tram and metro, for the number of 24 hours that best suits you.
The number of hours starts at first check in on the public transport mean.
Here are the fares for 2013:
1 day - 24 hours € 7.50 can be bought directly on tram or bus.
2 days - 48 hours € 12.00
3 days - 72 hours € 16.50
4 days - 96 hours € 21.00 these can be bought at the vending machines in the Metro stations.
For more days up to 7 one has to go in one of the 4 GVB offices at Amsterdam main stations.
On the vending machine choose your language, type of ticket, number of hours/days and do not forget to enter "betaling contant" cash payment before entering your Euro notes or coins.
These machines are also used for the OV chipcards mostly used by the inhabitants.
My photo shows a 96 hour/4 days ticket at 21 €.
With a one-day or multi-day ticket (dagkaart) a tourist would think that after the first check in on the tram, metro or bus he would be all right as this card entitles to unlimited travel in Amsterdam for the number of hours paid for.
That is not the case as you will read on the GVB website about the day or multiple day cards:
"With this OV-chipkaart, you must check-in and check-out when boarding or disembarking from a tram, bus, or metro.
It is important that you always check in and check out of each vehicle. This includes when transferring. To check in, just hold your card in front of the card reader (you will hear a beep and see a green light flash). These are located at all the entrance and exit doors of trams and buses. When exiting the tram or bus, you should check out by holding your card in front of the card reader once again. In the metro hold your card in front of the metro gate to open the metro gate. When transferring by metro you do not have to check out, and check in again in between your journey. You should only check out at the end of your metro journey."
The check out is important, on some type of trams it opens the door; a recorded voice remembers in Dutch and English to check out.
There are also stop buttons on the trams and busses to ask for the stop.
On the GVB website one can find various maps also available in PDF and easy to print. Inside the trams or busses the destination and next stop are shown on a display and announced by voice.
What is special with trams 1, 2 and 5 is that in the very commercial and narrow Leidsestraat they alternate because there is only one railtrack. They wait their turn on the bridges over the Prinsengracht and Keizergracht as you can see from my photo.
Although bicycles seem to be the #1 mode of transportation around Amsterdam, they do have a very convenient tram system.
The trams cover most of the city center. There is a loop/tourist line (# 20) that makes it easy for tourists to visit the city. This is a great system.........when you can find the stop to catch it!
We were trying to make our way to the Van Gogh museum on foot..........but after realizing the distance it was from Centraal Station, we thought we would take the tram to save time.
Trams are also great sources to help you catch up on much needed Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz's! ;-)
Why use the 15 strip strippenkaart over a day ticket in Amsterdam? Here are some reasons:
1) Within Central Amsterdam you only need to stamp two strips on your strippenkaart and you can already travel for one hour so long as you keep within the same fare zone.
2) You can use 1 strippenkaart for more than 1 person. You just need to stamp the appropriate number of strips for each person.
3) Strippenkaarts are valid for at least a year from date of purchase and are valid throughout the Netherlands not just Amsterdam. So if you intend on going to other places in Holland, you can still use your strippenkaart so long as it still has unused strips of course.
4) Buying the 15 strip (6.5 Euro) ticket is more cost effective than buying 2 strip tickets (1.60 Euro) from the tram driver everytime you take a ride. Note you can't buy the 15 strip ticket on trams or buses. You must do so at ticket machines in train stations or at GVB ticket outlets such as that in front of Amsterdam Centraal. A number of small kiosks and newsstands also sell the 15 strip ticket.
Fares, maps and schedules are easily accessible on the comprehensive website operated by the GVB which is the Public Transport Company of Amsterdam. The website has an English version.
Trams are the way to travel if walking isn't an option or one is just plain worn out. Tickets are available from the conductor toward the back of most trams or at the large building across from the Central Station. Ticket strips must be punched for each ride... just one zone if traveling around Central Amsterdam.
If you want to travel by tram or bus in Amsterdam the first thing to do is to read the information in Dutch and English on the website of the www.gvb.nl ;GVB is the public transportation company for Amsterdam. You will also find maps of all transports.
On the home page you will find a TOURIST GUIDE with valuable info. I show here what is most important:
"Gvb tickets & info
For information in person about the public transport options in Amsterdam, we invite you to visit gvb tickets & info. Here you can also buy tickets, obtain route maps and timetables for all of the gvb routes in Amsterdam."
"Where are public transport chip cards sold?
Public transport chip cards, as well as GVB day or multi-day tickets (valid for 24-168 hours), are sold at GVB Tickets & Info. The day ticket is also sold in trams and buses. You can buy a 1 to 4-day ticket (valid for 24-96 hours) at the ticket vending machines at all metro stations."
Best for tourists is to buy the day tickets 1(24 h), 2 (48 h), 3 (72 h) or 4 day (96h) ticket and more till 7 days.
But here start the difficulty for the foreign visitor.
There are only 4 GVB Tickets & Info offices in Amsterdam at these four stations:
GVB Tickets & Info, Stationsplein Central Station:
Monday to Friday: 07:00 - 21:00 and
Saturday and Sunday: 08:00 - 21:00.
GVB Tickets & Info, Station Bijlmer ArenA:
GVB Tickets & Info, Station Lelylaan
GVB Tickets & Info, Station Zuid
Most foreign visitors arrive at Central Station so that tourists are queuing at this office outside the station on the square.
The other possibilities are the vending machines at all metro stations but only for 1 - 4 day tickets.
As the Metro lines do not cross the city centre the only metro station located in the tourist area is the one at the Central Station with 4 vending machines accepting cash (eventually the one at the Waterlooplein).
Only the 1 day ticket is sold in trams and buses.
From my experience there are no other places where one can buy multi-day tickets than the 4 GVB offices and the metro stations (only 1 in the tourist area).
So that when you arrive in Amsterdam CS the first thing to do is to buy a multi-day ticket at the GVB office or in the underground Metro station.
Just make sure you enter from the correct door. I didn't and the good-natured ticket attendant scolded me a bit. She knew, however, that I was a harmless, clueless visitor and we had a good laugh about it. You'll pay 1.60 Euro for a single zone fare. It's pretty easy to find the right tram, since they are a bit limited in the directions they can travel due to the canals. When you see one going in the general direction you need, hop on. Just be careful as you're walking along the street. The tracks are barely noticeable and the trams are very quiet so always keep an eye out for them or you might get hit.
Unfortunately for the newer visitors to Amsterdam, "The Cirlcle Tram" is no longer runing, BUT still, on your first day "in town" get to the tourist bureau and buy a multiday pass for the Trams. (These are sold in two to five day "amounts") This will allow you to move around the city without having to pull out money constantly. Be very aware that you are in a large city, there are those who think of tourist as a "crop to be plucked whether they are ripe or not", Guard your money well! I was wearing a small "fanny pack" (actually on my hip) with suntan loition, tissues, etc. in it. I remembered to check it almost evertime I got off the tram, so I could ZIP IT UP AGAIN. Yes there arer those who live by "slight of hand" in Amsterdam! Be careful with your MONEY!
Now you have your ticket for the Tram, buy a map and ride the around, noting the stops that have places you want to visit. Once you become "oriented" to the center city and you will be ready to "see the sights"
As a cyclist I rarely use the trams, but I am highly in favor of them on general principles and was very impressed with the fast and efficient tram system in Amsterdam.
Some of the newer trams even have a live human conductor who sells and checks tickets. By his presence he also serves to keep order and prevent vandalism.
You don't see this any more in Germany, where they go to absurd lengths to avoid hiring human personnel, and then moan about the unemployment rate being too high.
Second photo: Tram number 9 goes from Centraal Station to Diemen via Damrak, Waterlooplein and Linnaeusstraat. You could take this line to go out to the Frankendael House, for example.
Third photo: Tram 25 goes from Centraal Station to President Kennedylaan via Damrak, Muntplein and Weteringcircuit. In my photo it is waiting for the lights to change, meanwhile lots of cyclists are going by.
The tram goes in/out and around the city center. It usually comes every 5-10 minutes, and very convenient way to get to the major locations, i.e, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House.
You can buy one time ticket on a tram, but if you know that you'll use tram several times, buy a day-pass or 15 ticket strip at the convenience shops, which will save you money. If you use a strip, make sure to get a stamp on the ticket everytime you get on a tram. 1 trip usually uses 2 tickets on a strip.