Amsterdam is by far of the prettiest cities to explore and definitely one of my favourites. On my second trip to the city in almost 5 years, I discovered a handful of things which I didn’t notice the first time for getting around.
OV-Chipkaart for travel – Tourist options
There are a few options for using the public transport system using a pre-paid travel card. The OV-Chipkaart card can be bought at counters for the public transport company’s, devices at the stations, newsagents or supermarkets.
When you have the card, on all the transport systems (Metro, Rail, Tram and Bus) make sure that you tap on and off again.
I found this out the hard way, you need minimum €20 on the card when leaving from Schipol Airport to Central Station in the city. The rule is that you need minimum €20 on the card if you take the rail service (not the metro, tram or buses).
I also found this out now when researching for this article, but when you leave Amsterdam, you can get the left-over credit back from one of the public transport company counters.
1. Anonymous card
The anonymous card is valid for up to 5 years, even if you don’t use it often and only use it when you visit the city, the credit stays on the card until you use it again. It normally works out to be the most affordable if you are taking public transport in Amsterdam. This is a good option if you are planning on visiting Amsterdam frequently.
2. Disposable chip card
As the name suggests this is the more short term option, for example, you can use it while you are in the city and the card can be discarded when you are done with it. It does, unfortunately, work out more expensive for each transport trip you take.
The card is loaded with a travel product valid for a limited period, such as one week of travel. A disposable card usually works out more expensive than the anonymous card.
3. 24 hour-ticket
There is also the 24-hour ticket which can be purchased, which works like the OV-chipkaart and is also valid for all the modes of transport in Amsterdam.
*The above options exclude the permanent OV-chipkaart which is only for residents.
The City of the Bicycle:
When you think of Amsterdam, one of the first pictures you conjure up is bicycles which are synonymous with the city. First time in the city I was shocked to see bicycles everywhere.
If there ever was a city that catered for bicycles and cyclists, it’s Amsterdam. As a cyclist in Dublin who normally feels it is a risky venture getting on my bike and using what cycle lanes there are… I am completely impressed with Amsterdam! I am only appreciating this now that I have started cycling.
There are lots of bicycles available for rental.
Pedestrians, be mindful of the cyclists and the cycle lanes
Now, as I have just appreciated the cycle infrastructure of Amsterdam, I need to call out as a tourist there is an important lesson here. For the love of all that is good, obey the cycle lanes!
Watch for which way the cycle traffic is coming from, and give right of way to the cyclists. Don’t just walk carelessly into a cycle lane. Not only is this irritating for cyclists, but it’s also dangerous for yourself and the cyclists.
Wear the most comfortable shoes you own
If you are planning on doing a lot of walking, you’ll need a pair of good walking shoes.
Normally when I explore a city, I try and walk as much as possible aiming for 20’000 steps in a day. Good walking shoes (for me, my Asics) are a life-saver.
Take a boat trip
Taking a canal tour can be one of the most interesting ways to see the city. It gives you a fresh perspective and a new appreciation for how many canals Amsterdam has!
Besides for canal tours, there are also boat rentals available in the city, including paddle boats.