A rail pass is a special ticket which allows unlimited train travel for a certain period in a specific region. There are a number of different rail passes available which cover travel to and around Netherlands.
This article highlights the use of InterRail and Eurail passes in Netherlands as well as some other local options...
This pass is only available for European citizens and residents including Turkey.
The Global InterRail Pass is valid for travel in 30 countries around Europe - Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
You have the choice of buying continuous passes of either 15 days, 22 days or 1 month giving unlimited travel during the duration of the pass; or flexi-passes which offers 5 travel days out of a 10 day period or 10 travel days during a 22 day period.
Current adult prices (2014) for a 1 month Global Pass are €668/£574 (2nd class) and €1,050/£903 (1st class). Youths under 26 pay €442/£380 for a 2nd class pass whilst seniors over 60 pay €602/£517 (2nd class) or €946/£813 (1st class).
The InterRail pass allows free travel on most regional and local trains that do not require reservations. Note, it is not valid for travel in the pass holder's country of residence. Your ticket includes a travel report table which you need to fill out for every journey taken.
InterRail Pass use in Netherlands
The Interrail pass is valid for all standard NS train services in the Netherlands including Intercity and sprinter trains - see Dutch Train Types for more info. It is also valid for travel on other Dutch train providers including Arriva, Connexxion, Keolis, Syntus and Veolia.
First class InterRail pass holders also get access to the NSHispeed lounges at Amsterdam central, Rotterdam and Schiphol.
Some train services require special supplements. The domestic Intercity Direct (formerly FYRA) trains running Amsterdam-Schiphol-Rotterdam-Breda requires a small supplement only between Schiphol and Rotterdam. German ICE international trains (Amsterdam-Frankfurt) can be used without reservation though it is recommended to make one, especially at peak times - the cost is €4 in either class.
Note that reservation fees for the high-speed Thalys train (Amsterdam-Paris) are quite expensive - €39 (2nd class) or €62 (1st class). It can sometimes be cheaper to just buy a separate Thalys ticket, especially if booking in advance. To travel Amsterdam-Paris without the Thalys take a standard train to Antwerp and then onto Lille Flandres. From Lille take the TGV to Paris - it has lower reservation fees (€6-€18).
Night train services out of Amsterdam (and elsewhere) require compulsory reservations - prices (€11.50-€115) will depend whether you book a seat, couchette or sleeper.
For more info see International Train Services to/from Amsterdam
If you want to cross the Dutch border to Belgium or Germany by standard regional trains then see our article International rail borders in Netherlands
Travel on the Eurostar is NOT included with an InterRail pass. A passholder fare can be purchased - for example, London-Brussels costs €89 (2nd class) and €159 (1st class) - again, do check normal ticket prices which can be significantly cheaper if booking in advance.
Interrail passholders get 30% off the Stena Line ferry between Harwich and Hoek van Holland.
InterRail Benelux Pass
Another option is the Benelux Pass for unlimited travel in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. The passes are valid 1 month and allow travel for 3, 4, 6 or 8 days. Prices for over 26s start at €125 (2nd class) or €197 (1st class) for a 3 day pass to €255 (2nd class) or €401 (1st class) for an 8 day pass.
Obviously you should work out beforehand exactly where you plan to travel and whether normal point-to-point tickets would work out cheaper.
This is available for non-European residents and popular with North Americans, Australians etc. The Global Pass is valid in the following 24 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. Note the absence of Great Britain and Poland.
Eurail Global passes come as flexi passes: 10 or 15 days in a 2 month period, or continuous passes of 15 days, 21 days, 1,2 or 3 months. Adult (over 26) prices in 2014 - valid for 1st class travel - start from US$823 (15 days continuous) up to $2,272 (3 months continuous). A 15% discount is available for 2 adults travelling together. Continuous pass fares for under 26s are US$536 (15 days) up to $1,478 (3 months) for 2nd class travel.
Eurail also has cheaper regional flexi-passes - for example Benelux, Benelux + Germany or Benelux + France or you can create your own "select pass" by choosing which countries you want to travel to.
Similar to the InterRail ticket, supplements are required on premium rail services such as the Thalys and night-time trains.
Continuous InterRail and Eurail passes are a great way to get a flavour of many European cities. The trick is to compromise between travel and stopping over. Travel during night-time can save on accommodation costs but can be tiring and you won't see much scenery at night. Remember that southern countries have relatively cheap rail tickets so to get better value from the pass you should also tackle some of the more expensive rail nations in the north of Europe.
Special Dutch Rail Passes
NS Day Travel Card (NS Dagkaart) - This allows 1 day's unlimited travel on any NS train in Netherlands. It must be bought on the day of travel only by anyone with a personal or anonymous OV-chip card. It costs €50.80 (2nd class) or €86.40 (1st class) in 2014. This ticket is only value if you really have to do a significant amount of rail travel requiring multiple stops in a single day.
Rail Runner - Children 4-11 accompanied by an adult with any NS ticket pay €2.50 for a "Rail Runner" ticket which is valid all day. Children under 4 travel free.
Dutch Rail Day Ticket offers - A few times a year Dutch chemist chain Kruidvat offers unlimited travel day cards (valid weekends only, limited dates) in 2nd class on the Dutch rail network for just €14. These are targeted at locals rather than visitors and can be exceptionally good value. They can only be bought in Kruidvat stores (no online sales) and tend to sell out very quickly.
Similar day ticket offers are occasionally available from other Dutch shops such as Blokker (a household store) and Albert Heijn supermarket.
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