Getting Around in Holland

Aside from the excellent public transport and roads and railways in Holland, the country is compact that travelling around is fairly easy and convenient.  Visitors and travelers to Holland have a number of ways to get around. First-time travelers to Holland will be glad to note that airport transfers are also easily available – there are shuttle buses that take guests to hotels, buses, trains and taxis abound as well. All public transportation in Holland uses an electronic stored-value card called the OV-chipkaart, instead of the old system of tickets. The cards can be purchased from train stations, ticket booths, automats and even from automats onboard select trams. They can be used throughout the Netherlands regardless of where they were purchased.

By train. By far the most convenient and most reliable way to get around, Netherland’s rail system has points in almost all village and town and in high frequency. The Nederlandae Spoorwegen (Netherlands Railways) is Holland’s national rail system, operating and managing the efficient rail transport all throughout the country. There are high speed trains (Fyra and NS Hispeed) that run every hour on weekdays and travels from one city to the next. There are also local trains that stop at all stations and express trains that skip some stops. As well, there is a night train service connecting major airport cities such as Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht all night long.  Visitors who want more information about traveling by train can go to the website of the Nederlandse Spoorwagen for train schedules and fares.

By plane. This is not especially recommended, only because land transportation is faster and cheaper than hopping on a plane to get to the next city. If you prefer to travel by air though, the domestic airlines KLM Cityhopper and KLM Exel fly to big cities like Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Groningen and Rotterdam.

By bus. There are four main operators for regional and intercity bus services: Connexion, Arriva, Veolia and Qbuzz. Most bus lines have a connection to the rail system making travelling around more convenient. Although a bit cheaper than riding the train, traveling by bus may sometimes take longer than train travel – stops and changing buses especially if traveling from one city to another cause some waiting time and considerable delays. Tour operators also offers packages via coach – an interesting way to explore Holland especially if you’re travelling in large groups.

By car. Traveling by car is also fairly easy, even visitors who do not have an international license may be able to do so – all you need to present is your valid passport, the driver’s license you were issued in your country or place of residence and the registration of the car you are driving. The streets in the cities and towns are well paved and well signposted. Adequate maps are also available from tourist information offices, car rental offices and even in stations around. You can expect traffic conditions in big cities, however, especially during rush hours. For car rentals, there are a number of companies offering the service – the prices may not be that cheap, though. On the average, it costs about Euro 60 (or about $96) a day to rent a car, including insurance and other charges. Parking can also be fairly expensive especially in the major city centres. If you are planning to travel by car, observe speed limits – this is strongly enforced in Holland and penalties for violations can be extremely steep.

By ferry. You can also get across the country using public hop-on-off ferries that ply the North Sea Channel, waterbuses and water taxis within the cities. Major operators include Fast Flying Ferries (Amsterdam from Ijmuiden and Velsen, Dordrecht, Rotterdam), Rederij Doeksen (Harlingen, Vlieland and Terschelling), Wagenborg (Ameland, Schiermonnikoog) and Teso (Texel and Den Helder). As well there are ferry services between Zeeland and Zeeuws-Vlaandaren.

By bike. Bicycling across Holland and as a means of transport is not an altogether unusual sight along the countryside.  There is reportedly about 11 million biciycles for a population of 16 million people in Holland. The environment is perfectly conducive for cycling with over 20,000 kilometers of cycle paths and safety provisions for cyclists on the streets (separate traffic lights and signs), especially in big cities and highways.  If you’re staying in a city, renting a bike can be an easy and cheap way to get around. Dutch Railways has a service where you can pick up a bike at one station and then drop it off another when you’re finished using it. If you’re also travelling to another city or region, you can take the bike with you on the train for a day trip.