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How to Get Cheap Train Tickets on NS Dutch Railways

A number of stores in the Netherlands including chemist Kruidvat used to offer deals on unlimited day tickets or day return tickets for travel on the Dutch rail network.

However, since the 2020-22 lockdowns and travel restrictions, NS has not offered these tickets via Dutch retail stores. It is likely these will not return for sale as NS pursues other marketing avenues.

The tickets from Kruidvat were priced around €15-€20, making them exceptionally good value. It was also possible to upgrade the tickets to 1st class for around €5.

Below we will instead highlight how to get unlimited travel tickets for the Dutch rail network or how to find cheaper tickets than the standard NS rail fares. All prices are for 2024.

Holland Travel Ticket

The NS sells the Holland Travel Ticket which is always available. It is valid for 1 day on all public transport in the country including trains (2nd class), buses, trams and metro. It comes as a disposable OV-chip card which means you must always check-in and check-out at the card readers for every segment of your trip.

holland travel ticket
Holland Travel Ticket

The standard card costs €70 and can be used anytime during the day. The better value off-peak version costs €48 and is not valid for travel during the morning peak 0630-0900 rush hour Mon-Fri. It can be used anytime at weekends.

It is available for purchase at service desks and ticket machines at stations. Note, there is no 1st class version.

NS Day Ticket (NS dagkaart)

The standard NS Day Ticket costs €58.80 (2nd class) or €99.96 (1st class) and allows unlimited travel on the Dutch rail network for a single day. It is valid from 0400 on the travel day until 0400 the following day.

It can be purchased online in advance as an e-ticket or bought at the station as a disposable ticket. It can also be added as a product to an OV-chip card.

Note that the off-peak Holland Travel Ticket mentioned above is probably better value and more convenient for visitors.

NS Off-Peak Group Ticket (Groepsticket)

If you plan to make a long distance rail journey in the Netherlands with a group then this special off-peak online ticket could potentially offer big savings.

The NS Group Ticket is an online deal which allows 2-7 people to make a single journey between any 2 stations on the Dutch rail network. Passengers must always travel with the main ticket holder.

You can only buy the NS Group Ticket online here. It cannot be bought at the station.

The ticket costs as follows:

  • €34 (2 passengers)
  • €34 (3 passengers)
  • €38 (4 passengers)
  • €42 (5 passengers)
  • €46 (6 passengers)
  • €50 (7 passengers)

This means the ticket ranges between €7.14 and €17 per person, depending on number of passengers. If a return leg is required a second Group Ticket can be purchased.

Note, you can only travel during the designated weekday off-peak hours 0900-1630 and 1830-0630. You can travel anytime at weekends.

Example: We had a reader enquiring about taking a group of 7 adults from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Maastricht, returning a few days later. A standard Schiphol-Maastricht 2nd class ticket costs €29.40 – so for 7 people that would cost €205.80. Double that for the return leg and the total cost would be €411.60. We recommended buying 2 Group tickets at €50 x 2 = €100 – thus saving the group a hefty €311.60!

If you are travelling in a larger group, just purchase in multiples of 7 as required.

ns intercity train at zaandam
NS Intercity train at Zaandam

Up to 20% discount for Off Peak Early Booking

If you book a single or day return ticket online at least 4 days in advance you can get up to 20% discount off the standard fare. Note that you must then travel during the weekday off-peak hours 0900-1630 and 1830-0630. There are no time restrictions at weekends.

Higher discounts are available for travel Monday to Thursday.

You can get up to 20% discount at the NS site here (select the Early Booking Off-Peak option)

NS Deal (NS Voordeel) – up to 60% discount

This ticket scheme offers a variable discount up to 60% off the standard one-way fare on the following routes only:

  • Eindhoven-Tilburg-Bread-Rotterdam-Den Haag
  • Utrecht-Amsterdam-Zaandam-Alkmaar-Den Helder
  • Utrecht-Amersfoort-Zwolle-Assen-Groningen

The discounts apply between any stations along the particular route. They are available for specific time bands during off-peak hours which you must stick to. That means both your departure and arrival time must fall within the band.

Look for the train times marked with the NS Deal discount. It is a single ticket and not available as a day return.

ns deal tickets
NS Deal tickets on NS website

It can only be booked online at least 1 day in advance at the NS site here

NS day tickets glossary

kaartje – ticket
dagkaartje – day ticket
dal – off-peak
daluren – off-peak hours
dagretour daluren – off-peak day return
retour – return
voordeel – deal

Interesting itineraries for Dutch rail day tickets

The best use of day tickets is to take long trips and/or make multiple stopovers during your travel day. An obvious use is to head out to some outlying Dutch cities such as Maastricht, Middelburg or Groningen.

If you have an unlimited day ticket some example trips could be:

Amsterdam-Maastricht-Valkenburg, with possible stopovers in Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven or Roermond.

Amsterdam-Groningen-Leeuwarden and on to the Friesland coastal villages of Hindeloopen and Stavoren.

Amsterdam-Middelberg/Vlissingen with stops in Breda, Dordrecht, Rotterdam etc.

utrecht central station
Utrecht Central station

If you have a child aged 4-11 travelling with you they can purchase a standard Rail Runner ticket online or at the station for €2.50 which is also valid the whole day. Children aged 0-3 travel free.

Do beware that rail maintenance is often planned over weekends so check your route at the NS site before travel.

If you are not able to buy these special day tickets but want more info on rail travel tickets in the Netherlands then see our Dutch train tickets guide

This article was originally published in 2013 and has continuously been updated. Last update 20 December 2023.

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