Cheap NS Train Day Tickets from Blokker and other Dutch Stores

blokker ns train day ticket

A number of Dutch retail stores occasionally offer deals on day tickets for unlimited travel on NS trains. In this article we will keep up-to-date on the latest rail offers available over-the-counter from various Dutch stores.

Here is a summary of the NS train day tickets (NS dagkaartjes) regularly on offer. Bear in mind that sales periods are short and the tickets are often unavailable. You will note that each store has slightly different travel validity restrictions for its tickets.

Kruidvat (chemist)

NS Day Ticket (valid on weekends only, OV-chip card). Usual price €13.99. Currently not available. Last sale period: 26 Sep – 9 Oct 2016. Last travel validity: 1 Oct 2016 – 1 Jan 2017. For a full explanation see our article Kruidvat NS day tickets

Blokker (houseware store)

NS Day Ticket (valid off-peak on weekdays, anytime at weekends, OV-chip card). Price €14.50. Sale period: 7 – 18 Jan 2017. Travel validity: 9 Jan – 19 Feb 2017. See below for more info.

Albert Heijn (supermarket)

NS Weekend Ticket (valid from 1830 Friday until 0400 Monday, OV-chip card) gives unlimited train travel over the whole weekend. Price €15. Currently not available. Last sale period: 21 Nov – 4 Dec 2016. Last travel validity: 25 Nov 2016 – 29 Jan 2017.

HEMA (general store)

NS Day Return (valid after 0900 on weekdays with no evening restrictions, anytime at weekends, e-ticket). Usual price €19. Includes HEMA drink and snack. Currently not available. Last sale expired: 25 Sep 2016. Last travel validity: 5 Sep – 20 Nov 2016.

Etos (chemist)

NS Day Return (“super dal” ticket, valid only after 1100, OV-chip card). Usual price €19.90 for 2 tickets (which is €9.95 per ticket). Currently not available. Last sale expired: 27 Mar 2016. Last travel validity: 14 Mar – 22 May 2016.

How To Use the NS Day Tickets

All the tickets above are valid on the entire Dutch rail network including NS and other operators: Arriva, Breng, Connexxion, Syntus and Veolia. Domestic rail travel is also valid on Intercity Direct (Schiphol-Rotterdam) and ICE International trains (Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem) as long as you purchase the appropriate supplements. No travel is permitted on the Thalys trains.

For OV-chip card tickets, you must always check-in and check-out at the card readers for every segment of your trip when you leave the station. The card is simply activated on the day you travel by checking-in for the first time.

E-tickets are personal and need to be printed out with your name and date-of-birth. You need to bring accompanying ID. With e-tickets you do not check-in or out but you can use the special barcode to open gates if required (an increasing number of Dutch stations are using closed barriers).

Blokker NS Day Tickets

Household retail chain Blokker offers a 1 day off-peak ticket (Dal Vrij Dagkaart) a few times per year which costs around €15. These are available over-the-counter and are in the form of an OV-chip smart card. The Kruidvat and Blokker tickets are the most popular offers and can sell out quickly.

The Blokker NS tickets are valid during off-peak hours on weekdays and anytime at weekends – unlike the Kruidvat tickets which are only valid over the weekends. This means you cannot check-in during the peak hours of 0630-0900 and 1600-1830 Monday to Friday. However you can travel during the peak hours if you have checked-in before 0630 or 1600.

There are around 600 Blokker stores in the Netherlands. Locations in Amsterdam include:

Kalverstraat 41 (main shopping street)
Jodenbreestraat 19 (near Waterlooplein)
Stadhouderskade 111 (near Heineken Brewery)
Ceintuurbaan 109A (De Pijp)
Haarlemmerdijk 72 (north-west)
Spaarndammerstraat 99 (north-west)
Maasstraat 37 (Rivierenbuurt)
Rijnstraat 64 (Rivierenbuurt)
Oostelijke Handelskade 1029  (Zeeburg)
1E Oosterparkstraat 197 (east)
Beethovenstraat 76 (Apollo/old south district)
Zeilstraat 2 (old-south)
Kinkerstraat 260 (old-west)
Bilderdijkstraat 169 (old-west)
Jan van Galenstraat 107A (west)
Mercatorplein 88 (west)

Is there a Primark in Amsterdam?

primark store damrak amsterdam

Primark’s new flagship store in Amsterdam opened on 1st December 2016, after about 3 years of building work in the former C&A complex. The location of Primark Amsterdam is at Damrak 77, opposite Beursplein and very close to Dam Square. It is a 5-10 minute walk from Amsterdam Central station.

Primark is a discount clothes store from Ireland which has become very popular in the UK and internationally with around 300 stores worldwide. Primark has been present in the Netherlands for a number of years but previously lacked an Amsterdam store.

At 8,800m² in floor space spread over 8 floors, the Primark Amsterdam is the largest Primark in the Netherlands. Multiple entrances are on Damrak, the parallel Nieuwendijk street and the Beurspassage which connects both streets.

primark-amsterdam-map

Opening times of Primark Amsterdam: 0900-2100 Mon-Sat, 1100-1900 Sun.

Primark shares the building with the C&A store.

Primark stores near Amsterdam

There are 2 Primark stores a short distance from Amsterdam and accessible using public transport.

Primark Zaandam – Zaandam is just a 12 minute train ride north of Amsterdam. The Primark store is at Ankersmidplein 7, Zaandam. It’s just a short walk across from Zaandam station. Open daily: Mon (1100-1900); Tue/Wed/Fri (0900-1900); Thu (0900-2100); Sat (0900-1800); Sun (1000-1700).

From Amsterdam Central station there are up to 8 trains per hour to Zaandam and a day return costs €5.40 (2016 price) + €1 for a disposable ticket. For more on how to buy a Dutch train ticket see here.

Primark Hoofddorp – Hoofdorp town is just 5 minutes by train west of Amsterdam Schiphol airport or just over 20 minutes from Amsterdam Central. From Hoofddorp station you then need to walk about 15 minutes to the main shopping area.

primark store hoofddorp netherlands

The store address is Winkelcentrum Markthof, Marktplein 254, Hoofddorp. Open: Mon (1100-1800); Tue/Wed/Thu/Sat (0900-1800); Fri (0900-2100); Sun (1200-1800).

Other Primark stores in Netherlands

With the Amsterdam store included, there are a total of 16 Primark stores in the Netherlands. Here is a complete listing of all locations of Primark shops in the Netherlands:

Primark Amsterdam – Damrak 77, 1012 LM Amsterdam
Primark Almere – Metropolestraat 11
Primark Alkmaar – Laat 128
Primark Arnhem – Ketelstraat 45
Primark Dordrecht – Modepassage Drievriendenhof 16
Primark Eindhoven – Vestdijk 2
Primark Enschede – H.J Van Heekplein 90
Primark Groningen – Westerhaven 44
Primark The Hague – Spui 50
Primark Hoofddorp – Marktplein 254
Primark Nijmegen – Plein 1944 No. 136
Primark Rotterdam Alexander – Poolsterplein 100
Primark Rotterdam Zuidplein – Zuiderterras 147-151
Primark Venlo – Oude Markt 36
Primark Zaandam – Ankersmidplein 7
Primark Zoetermeer – Burgermeester van Leeuwenpassage 2-8

From what we can see, Primark’s low price fashion model seems to be doing well in the thrifty Dutch market. The stores are busy (especially at weekends) attracting large variety of shoppers from native Dutch to those from immigrant communities as well as visitors and tourists.

See our guide to Dutch chain stores.

Schiphol Behind the Scenes Tour at Amsterdam Airport

behind the scenes tour schiphol amsterdam airport

Amsterdam airport offers a “Schiphol Behind the Scenes” tour for visitors which gives a glimpse into the working life of the airport. This is our independent review of the Schiphol tour…

The Behind The Scenes tour (run by Lovers) is made by a specially customised coach and takes about 1 hour – you are transported around the perimeter of the airport to the eastern side and then come back again.

You stay on the bus for the entire tour – you do not get out at any point. There are 7 on-board 24″ video screens that show the live GPS position of the bus. These play short films (Dutch with English subtitles) about the various passing points of interest and some historical anecdotes.

amsterdam schiphol airport behind the scenes tour bus

The tour takes you past a number of features around Amsterdam Schiphol airport. This includes the private jet terminal, the Fokker hangar, KLM operations centre, KLM engine maintenance and hangars, the engine noise testing facility, the fire station, the snow fleet, bird control, the justice centre and the former air traffic control tower.

schiphol behind the scenes tour klm palne engine test

There are some good panoramic views of the airport and runways and you may see some planes taking off and landing. Obviously photography can be a little compromised by being on the bus – at least try to get a window seat if taking photos.

The Schiphol Behind The Scenes tour costs €15.50 for adults or €7.75 for children aged 4-12. A family ticket is €35 (2 adults + 2 children).

Tickets can be purchased at the Planes@Plaza store at Schiphol Plaza or online. Note that for security reasons, everyone aged 13 or over will need to show ID to take part in the tour. You should “check-in” at the Planes@Plaza store at least 20 minutes before departure. The driver will ask you to confirm your date of birth (in front of the group, which some may find a little awkward).

You then board the bus which leaves from platform 15 just outside the terminal. Please note, there are no toilets on-board the bus.

Tours run all year round Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday). Departure times are 1100, 1300 and 1430.

schiphol amsterdam airport tour view

We found the tour to be enjoyable with well produced video clips and a chance to see some of the working aspects of the airport you don’t normally get to see. It is certainly a must for any aviation enthusiasts.

The tour is aimed at all visitors to Schiphol and is popular with locals, especially during the school holidays. On the tour we took all the passengers were Dutch. For transfer passengers, do note that you must clear immigration to get to the tour departure point.

Marks & Spencer Stores in Amsterdam and Den Haag

marks & spencer store amsterdam

Marks & Spencer has currently 2 stores in the Netherlands. We will overview the Marks & Spencer Amsterdam store, a small outlet on the Kalverstraat shopping street as well as the larger flagship store in Den Haag.

Marks & Spencer Amsterdam Store

The Marks & Spencer Amsterdam store contains the ever popular Food Hall which offers high quality British and international-themed food plus an E-Boutique section.

The British retailer re-entered Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat in 2013 after an absence of 13 years. Plans to open a large flagship 6,000 m² store on Rokin in 2016 have since been shelved – the site has been sold off to Canadian Hudson’s Bay Company.

The Amsterdam food store will remain and sells a good assortment of M&S food. From sandwiches and take-away snacks, ready-meals, alcoholic beverages to groceries and specialty items. The store appeals to Anglo expats, visitors and locals alike looking for a takeaway meal or to stock up on British foods not available in Dutch supermarkets.

marks & spencer food hall amsterdam

Bargain hunters will find M&S marking down the price of its food slightly with yellow stickers if on the sell-by date.

At the front of the store there is a small women’s clothing section with an E-Boutique virtual shopping point.

marks and spencer store amsterdam

Opening hours for Marks & Spencer Amsterdam are 1000-2030 (Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat), 1000-2100 (Thu) and 1100-2030 (Sun).

Marks & Spencer, Kalverstraat 226, 1012 XJ Amsterdam

Marks & Spencer Den Haag Store

Marks & Spencer has a large 3-storey flagship store in Den Haag (The Hague) found on the main Grote Marktstraat shopping street. The ground floor level contains a large Food Hall store with a comprehensive selection of M&S food and a Coffee to go café.

marks & spencer den haag store

The rest of the ground floor and levels 1 and 2 offer an array of clothing for men, women and children. A large and stylish M&S Café is also found on the top floor.

m&s cafe den haag

Opening hours for the Marks & Spencer Food Hall are 0900-2000 (Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri), 0900-2100 (Thu), 1000-2000 (Sat) and 1100-1800 (Sun).

Fashion and M&S Café are open 1100-1900 (Mon), 1000-1900 (Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat), 1000-2100 (Thu) and 1200-1800 (Sun).

Marks & Spencer, Grote Marktstraat 32, 2511 BJ Den Haag