Public transport within Amsterdam is run by city transport company GVB - from trams which criss-cross the city to the metro and buses which travel further out.
In addition there are trains operated by NS (Dutch Railways) which connect Amsterdam to Schiphol Airport and the rest of the Netherlands. And regional buses from Connexxion and EBS which can take you to some nearby places of interest.
The OV-chip card (OV-chipkaart) smart card system is in use for all public transport in the Netherlands. All travellers aged 4 or over must have their own ticket. Each traveller is required to check-in (when boarding) and check-out (on exiting) by holding the ticket or chip card against the card readers. In Amsterdam this applies to trips on trams, trains, metro and buses.
The ticket system has become quite confusing for visitors (and even residents) with many different options. We will try to summarise the products available and give a full explanation below on how they work.
Amsterdam public transport ticket summary (2017 prices)
1. GVB 1 hour ticket - €2.90, valid only on GVB trams/metro/buses, NOT on trains.
2. Unlimited GVB Day/Multi-Day tickets - 1 to 7 day ticket (€7.50 to €34), children 4-11 €2.50 per day. Valid on all GVB transport in Amsterdam on a 24 hour basis. Not valid on airport train or 197 airport bus.
3. Amsterdam Travel Ticket - 1/2/3 day card (€16/€21/€26) combines airport train/bus journey with unlimited use of GVB transport in Amsterdam. Valid on a day (not 24 hours) basis.
4. Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket - New for 2017, 1/2/3 day card (€18.50/€26/€33.50) offers unlimited travel in Amsterdam & entire region (including Waterland, beaches, Keukenhof etc). Valid on a day (not 24 hours) basis on NS trains (in region), regional buses and Amsterdam GVB transport.
5. Holland Travel Ticket - 1 day ticket (€59/€39 off-peak) valid on all Dutch public transport. Good for longer journeys around Netherlands and/or using multiple transport companies.
6. Waterland day ticket - 1 day ticket (€10/(€3 children 4-11) valid on EBS regional buses to Waterland (fishing villages). Not valid on GVB transport.
7. OV-chip card e-purse - Plastic OV-chip smart card costs €7.50 (non-refundable, lasts 5 years) to which travel credit can be added. Can be used on any public transport at standard fare tariffs. Minimum balance of €20 (trains) or €4 (other transport) required. Only good for visitors who plan lots of travel.
8. NS Train tickets - One-way and day return tickets available, €1 surcharge for disposable tickets. Or use OV-chip card balance.
9. Airport Express bus 197 ticket - €5 one-way, €1 children 4-11.
Public Transport Tickets in Amsterdam
1. GVB 1 Hour Ticket - In Amsterdam the single can be bought as a disposable OV-chip card and is valid for 1 hour travel on GVB public transport including any transfers. It costs €2.90 and is activated on first check-in. It is not really good value if you are only travelling 1 or 2 stops on a tram but is reasonable for longer trips. It can be bought on board from tram drivers/conductors, bus drivers plus GVB sales desk/ticket machines. Check-in and check-out is required, even when making a transfer. Note, this ticket is NOT valid on the Schiphol airport train, 197 Amsterdam airport express bus nor on any GVB night bus service.
2. Unlimited GVB Day/Multi-Day Tickets - These are valid from 1 day up to 7 days and allow you unlimited travel on the GVB network in Amsterdam day and night (GVB buses, metro and trams). Tickets are activated on first check-in and validity is on a 24 hour basis - so you can use them over 2 consecutive calendar days within each 24 hour period.
hour ticket €2.50
The GVB Children's Day Ticket is valid for 24 hours for those aged 4-11. The child must be accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. Children aged 0-3 travel free.
These tickets come as disposable OV-chip cards with check-in and check-out required for each journey. The 24 hours and 48 hours tickets can be purchased on board a tram (driver or conductor); bus drivers only sell the 24 hour tickets. The rest can be bought from any GVB sales points. At Amsterdam Schiphol airport they are available at Iamsterdam Visitor Centre (Arrivals 2) and AKO Newsagents, subject to availability.
GVB airport 'loophole': It is technically possible to travel from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to the city using a GVB-only card by taking GVB bus 69 from Schiphol to Amsterdam Sloterdijk and connecting onto GVB bus 22 to Central or GVB tram 12 to the Museumplein area - however, we do recommend taking the faster train!
3. Amsterdam Travel Ticket - This is an all-in-one product which includes a 1, 2 or 3 day GVB unlimited travel card plus travel between Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam - valid on NS trains or 197 Amsterdam Airport Express bus.
Costs are €16 (1 day), €21 (2 days) and €26 (3 days). Please note that this product is only good for those on short visits to Amsterdam who arrive earlier in the day - validity is on a "calender day basis" rather than 24 hours, so the card expires at 0400 in the morning after the last valid day.
So for example, if you activate (check-in) a 1 day card anytime on a Wednesday (0000-2359) the card will expire Thursday at 0400. By activating the card in the evening you would not get much potential use - you may be better off buying separate train tickets and sticking to the GVB multi-day tickets.
The train portion is valid in 2nd class for unlimited travel between Schiphol airport and any of the following stations in Amsterdam: Central, Amstel, Bijlmer-ArenA, Duivendrecht, Holendrecht, Lelylaan, Muiderpoort, RAI, Sciencepark, Sloterdijk and Zuid. It is also valid for unlimited travel on the 197 Amsterdam Airport Express bus. You must make your final journey back to the airport before the card expires.
The GVB portion of the ticket can be used on GVB trams, buses, metro and night buses in the Amsterdam metropolitan area.
The Amsterdam Travel Ticket is an OV-chip smart card so you are required to check-in and check-out for each journey. This ticket may also be useful for those staying at Schiphol airport hotels wanting to visit the city each day.
You can purchase this ticket at the following points at Schiphol airport: NS Tickets & Service desk, Iamsterdam visitor centre (Schiphol Arrivals 2), Amsterdam Airport Express Tickets & Info (bus stop B9) or AKO newsagents. There is often a special Amsterdam Travel Ticket booth open selling the ticket in the main station hall.
For more info on Schiphol travel see Getting from Schiphol to Amsterdam.
4. Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket - New for 2017, this is a 1 day (€18.50), 2 day (€26) or 3 day (€33.50) ticket which is valid on all public transport in the greater Amsterdam region. This includes NS trains, all regional buses (Connexxion, EBS and Arriva 858 Schiphol-Keukenhof service) and all GVB Amsterdam buses, metro and trams.
Like the above Amsterdam Travel Ticket, this product is valid on a "calendar day basis" only rather than 24 hours. The card is activated on first check-in and expires at 0400 in the morning after the last valid day. Once again, you must check-in and check-out for each journey taken.
You could consider buying more than 1 ticket if you are staying longer than 3 days/2 nights - or mix and match with GVB multi-day tickets, depending on your itinerary.
This ticket is good for making side trips outside of Amsterdam. The ticket region includes the Waterland fishing villages area, Zaanse Schans/Industrial Heritage area, Amsterdam beaches, Flowers area, Castles/Garden area and the New Land area. This handy map (pdf) from Iamsterdam shows the valid transport options.
The ticket is available at Iamsterdam Visitor Centres plus Connexxion, EBS, GVB and NS ticket offices. Note this ticket has replaced the Amsterdam & Region Day Card which is no longer available.
5. Holland Travel Ticket - This ticket was introduced in late 2016 to make it easier for visitors to navigate the Netherlands on one single ticket. It is valid for 1 day on all Dutch public transport in the country including trains (2nd class), buses, trams and metro. You can buy this disposable OV-chip card ticket at service desks and ticket machines at rail stations.
The ticket is activated on first check-in and you must check-in and check-out for each journey leg.
The standard Holland Travel Ticket costs €59 and can be used anytime during the day. The off-peak Holland Travel Ticket costs €39 and is not valid for check-in during the 0630-0900 rush hour. You can actually check-in before 0630 and then travel in the rush hour (though you cannot then change transport provider until 0900).
If you plan to do a lot of travelling in the Netherlands on a single day (either in terms of distance or using different forms of transport) then this ticket could offer good value as well as not having to buy separate tickets. For example, a standard day return from Amsterdam to Maastricht costs just over €50 - so using the off-peak Holland Travel Ticket can save some money and allow multiple stopovers.
However, it is not a good option if you just plan to remain in the Amsterdam area.
6. Waterland Day Ticket - Head out of Amsterdam and visit historic Dutch fishing villages such as Edam, Volendam, Monnickendam and Marken. A Waterland day ticket costs €10 for adults, €3 for children 4-11 and is valid an entire day (until 0100) on all EBS buses serving the area. It is not valid on night buses or "Bizzliner" express services.
Waterland tickets can be bought either on-board the bus, the EBS booth or at the VVV tourist office. The buses depart from just outside Amsterdam central station - come out of the northern end (waterfront IJ-side) and follow the signs. For more see our Waterland Amsterdam page.
The card is activated on first check-in, with check-in and check-out required for each trip.
This EBS ticket is good if you plan just to visit the Waterland area for the day. However the more expensive Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket does gives you more options.
7. OV-chip card e-purse - This is a re-usable plastic smart card (like London's Oyster Card) where you can add travel credit onto its "e-purse" and use it for journeys on all Dutch public transport. There are 2 types of OV-chip card available: a so-called anonymous OV-chip card (anyone can buy this) or the personal OV-chip card (a personal photo card for Dutch residents).
An anonymous card with zero credit costs €7.50 (non-refundable) and will last 4-5 years. It can be purchased at any NS train station (including Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Central) and at other transport providers such as GVB. It can also be purchased at newsagents and supermarkets - some cards can be bought already pre-loaded with credit.
When purchasing an "empty" card from a transport provider, you should load some credit (at least €10-€20, maximum allowed is €150) onto the e-purse of the card - it can then be used for travel on any form of public transport in Amsterdam or the Netherlands. Note that some cards may need to be pre-activated for use on the rail network at a NS ticket desk or machine.
OV-chip card fares are calculated at fixed rates based on distance travelled. Travelling with the e-purse on buses/metro/trams tends to be a little cheaper than buying single tickets. You will need a minimum of €4 e-purse credit which is taken off as a deposit on check-in; at check-out the €4 is refunded and the standard fare is deducted from the card balance.
For GVB travel in Amsterdam, there is a fixed boarding fee of €0.89 and then a variable distance fee of €0.154 per km which is actually calculated to every 50 metres of travel. This means a 3km journey will cost about €1.33; a 10km trip costs €2.43 - cheaper than the €2.90 disposable 1 hour ticket above.
If you need to make a transfer you must check-out and then check back in - if this is within 35 minutes you do not pay the boarding fee again.
For train travel, the standard one-way fare is charged. You need a minumum of €20 e-purse credit on the card to check-in at a station. As above, the €20 is initially taken off as a deposit and is returned on check-out with the one-way fare taken off the card balance. If you fail to check-out you will lose the €20.
We would probably advise short-term visitors to stick to single, day and multi-day tickets as described above - particularly as the initial €7.50 fee for the OV-chip card is non-refundable.
The anonymous OV-chip card may be suitable for visitors who plan longer stays in the country with lots of public transport trips or those planning multiple visits to the Netherlands.
The OV-chip card can be useful in not having to buy separate tickets each time. The anonymous card can also be used by other people though not at the same time - everyone travelling together must have their own card.
You do need to keep a careful eye on the e-purse balance to ensure that minimum credit is available, especially for train travel.
Want to refund the card balance on an anonymous OV-chip card? It's possible over-the-counter at a ticket office (NS, GVB etc) but the procedure is overly bureaucratic and you will lose the initial €7.50 card fee. As long as the card balance is under €30, you get the credit back (minus a €1 service fee) by filling in a form and showing ID. For balances above €30, you would need a Dutch bank account.
The personal OV-chip card (costs €7.50, lasts 5 years) is for residents who register their details and it contains a photo of the holder with name and date-of-birth. It can be linked to a Dutch bank account for automatic top-ups and can be blocked if lost or stolen. Residents of Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg are also able to purchase a personal card.
8. NS Train Tickets - There are a number of train stations in Amsterdam (see: train network map of Amsterdam) and the railway can sometimes be a fast and useful way to travel around the periphery of the city as well as getting to the airport.
For train travel in the Netherlands you will also need the OV-chip card - either a disposable ticket (with €1 surcharge) or e-purse credit from a personal or anonymous OV-chip card as described above.
Disposable tickets can be either one-ways or day returns - for travel that day or on a future specified date up to 1 month ahead. Children aged 4-11 can buy a Rail Runner ticket which costs €2.50 and is valid the entire day on any train in 2nd class (or in 1st class if accompanied by a 1st class adult ticket holder).
The standard fare between Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Central is €4.20 (+€1 fee for a disposable ticket).
For a detailed overview of rail tickets check our How to Buy a Dutch Train Ticket guide. Curiously, the only way for international visitors to buy Dutch train tickets online is at B-Europe, Belgian Raiways international site.
9. Connexxion Bus Tickets - Amsterdam Airport Express 197 bus operates between Schiphol and Elandsgracht in central Amsterdam. It does not run to/from Amsterdam Central station. A single costs €5, a child (4-11) day ticket costs €1.
Amsterdam Beach Line 80 bus operates between Zandvoort aan Zee and Elandsgracht. A single costs €6, a child (4-11) day ticket costs €1.
Other Amsterdam Public Transport Ticket Types
Night Bus Tickets - A single ride on a GVB night bus costs €4.50. It can be bought from the driver as a disposable OV-chip ticket or added as a product onto an anonymous or personal OV-chip card. The card is valid for 90 minutes and includes transfers to other GVB night buses.
It is also possible to load 12 night bus rides as a product on a anonymous / personal OV-chip card - this costs €34 (effectively €2.83 per ride). The 12 trip product is valid for 1 year.
Night bus tickets on Connexxion and EBS buses cost €5 (disposable ticket) or €4.50 if using an anonymous or personal OV-chip card.
A regional night bus ticket (valid in the greater Amsterdam region) costs €8.
Monthly/Annual GVB Tickets - If you are resident in Amsterdam and need to commute or travel regularly then there is the option of buying a monthly GVB season ticket (€92) or an annual GVB season ticket (€920). These are only valid on GVB transport (day and night) and must be added to a personal OV-chip card.
GVB Bicycle Ticket - Bikes can be taken onto tram 26 or the metro but only outside the rush hour (0700-0900/1600-1830). A bicycle ticket costs €1.70 and is valid for the entire day. It can be added as a supplement to a personal or anonymous OV-chip card. Alternatively there is a disposable 1 hour card + bicycle which costs €4.60.
NS Bicycle Ticket - Bikes can travel on trains outside the weekday rush hours; and at anytime at weekends and during July and August. A bicycle ticket (€6.10) is required which is valid for 1 day. You must store your bike in the special carriages labelled with the bike sign. Folded bikes can be carried for free.
Theatre Tickets - If you are attending a performance at either the Concertgebouw or Stadsschouwburg then your ticket gets you free travel on GVB trams and buses before and after the show.
Where To Buy GVB Tickets
You can purchase any GVB public transport ticket type at the GVB Tickets & Info office outside Amsterdam central station (pictured below), next to the Iamsterdam Visitor Centre. There are similar GVB offices at the following stations: Amsterdam Central metro, Amsterdam Bijlmer-ArenA, Amsterdam Zuid and near Amsterdam Sloterdijk station. GVB automatic ticket machines accept coins, notes and Dutch debit cards and can be found at all metro stations.
For more info on transport in Amsterdam see: