Amsterdam, May 1, 2024. By: Kamar Marouan

Public transportation in the Netherlands has many different options. This ensures that you can easily travel throughout the country. Public transportation is better known as ”het OV” in Dutch.  With different options such as trains, buses, subways and trams, there is always a convenient way to reach your destination. But how does public transportation travel in the Netherlands actually work?


If you want to travel from one city to another, you can easily take the train in the Netherlands. Dutch Railways (NS) is the company that makes sure you can travel quickly and comfortably. There are train stations in almost every city and in many villages, making it easy for you to travel to where you want to go. The NS also has a website and a (free) mobile app. By looking at these, you can see when all the trains are running, how long it will take and how much the trip will cost. However, NS is not the only train provider in the Netherlands. For example, you also have Arriva. Arriva does not run nationwide, but it does run in certain parts of the country: mainly in the east (Gelderland, for example), the south (Limburg) and in the north (Groningen). So you won’t find these trains everywhere if you choose to take the train. Fortunately, all trains work in the same way, so you don’t have to consider adjustments if you need to use an Arriva train, for example. In addition, the NS mobile app also gives other public transportation options, such as buses or Arriva trains.

Tip:It’s good to plan ahead, but also always check the NS website/app right before you go. This is because here they also show if there are any sudden changes for your trip, for example if the train you want to take is delayed or even canceled. In general, trains in the Netherlands run exactly on time and you can count on the train leaving from the platform indicated. So be on time at the station as well.

Train to travel with in the OV


Want to travel quickly within a city or village, or go to a village where there is no train station? If so, the bus is the most convenient option. There are many different bus lines in most cities and towns. Buses run very regularly, are cheap and can get you to just about anywhere. Another advantage is that buses are often well connected to other public transportation. This makes it even easier to transfer to trains, for example.

Metro and tram

In big cities, such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, you can also choose to take the metro (also known as subway) or tram. These are quick ways of public transportation that are somewhat similar to the bus. By using the metro or tram, you can move quickly within a city. They are very convenient for short distances within the city and this way you can often avoid having to walk long distances through a busy city center. They run regularly (sometimes even every 5 minutes) and are also inexpensive to use. The subway runs underground through a city. The tram, on the other hand, travels above ground through city streets.


You have to pay for all types of public transportation in the Netherlands. At some public transport stations you can still buy tickets through a ticket machine, but this is more expensive than an OV-chip card. In addition, you can no longer buy these tickets everywhere. Therefore, it is convenient to buy an OV-chip card. An OV-chip card is a smart card that you can load money onto to check in at trains, buses and subways and pay for your trip at the check-in gates.

You can buy an OV-chipkaart at many different places, for this you have to pay €7.50 for one time. This can be for example at a supermarket like Albert Heijn, but also at tobacco stores like Primera or you can buy it online. You can also recharge your OV-chip card in the tram. You charge your OV-chip card by putting money on it. If you want to use public transportation, you hold your card against the card reader when you get on and also when you get off. By doing this, the system knows exactly what the cost of your ride is, and it is then automatically charged to your OV-chip card. The card readers are often in front of you before you enter a station or platform, and you gain access when you have your card scanned. Another option is for card readers to be located on the platform itself. These card readers are mainly for the surcharge you have to pay if you take the Intercity direct between Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport.

Recharging your OV-chipkaart

If the card reader says that there is not enough balance on your OV-chip card, it means that you have to recharge your pass. Often you cannot check in with your OV-chip card if you have less than €10 balance on your card. You can then choose to recharge your card at the station, for example. But you can also choose to have your OV-chipkaart recharged automatically. If you choose this option then your OV-chipkaart is linked to your bank account, if there is less than €10 on your card, it will be recharged automatically and the money will be transferred directly from your bank account to your OV-chipkaart. Does this seem convenient to you? Then click on this link to apply for automatic reload!

Useful tips

Tip #1

Just as mentioned earlier in the blog, the NS has a handy website and app to plan your train trip. 9292 is another one of those convenient websites and also has an app you can download on your phone. 9292 is a useful website where you can plan your entire public transportation trip. You can easily enter your starting point and destination, whether it’s a street name, station or an address. After entering, 9292 shows you a complete itinerary and also whether you should take the train, bus, on foot, or all three. It also shows how long the trip will take and exactly how much it will cost. Saves another lot of planning!

Tip #2

Don’t be afraid to ask for help sometimes if something isn’t clear. Public transportation can be very confusing at times. Fortunately, public transportation staff, such as bus drivers,conductors (people who check your ticket on the train), or other passengers, are always ready to give you an answer if you have a question about your trip.

Tip #3

In the Netherlands, public transport can be very busy at some times of the day. On weekdays, days are divided into two parts: peak and off-peak hours. Rush hour is between 06:30 – 09:00 and between 16:30 – 18:30. At these times, public transport is often the busiest because everyone is going to work or from work to home. Therefore, it is convenient to travel outside these times. If there is no other way, it is convenient to prepare yourself a little for crowded public transport.

Want to know more about life in the Netherlands? Read one of the other blogs or download the app here!

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