Netherlands Travel Guides

International Transport

The Netherlands’ national airline is KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines. KLM flies direct to all major European, North American and Asia-Pacific cities. Most major international airlines and some low-cost airlines fly to Amsterdam.

Schiphol Airport
Most travellers fly into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS), located 15km from the city. A convenient train service links the airport to the Amsterdam Central Station in just 20 minutes. These trains run every 10 to 20 minutes from 06:00-00:00 and every hour through the night. Trains to Zuid Station (Amsterdam South) run every 15 minutes from 05:25-00:15; return is from Zuid Station, Parnassusweg/Minervalaan (via tram no. 5 from the city centre) from 05:45-00:40. There is also a service to the RAI Congress Centre every 15 minutes from 05:25-00:12. Return is from RAI station (via tram no. 4 from the city centre) from 05:45-00:40.

KLM buses also provide daily transport from 06:00-00:00 departing every 15 to 30 minutes, stopping at a selection of major hotels. The Schiphol Hotel Shuttle operates between 06:00-21:00 and travels to almost all hotels in Amsterdam (Phone: +31 (0) 383 394 741). Taxis are also available to/from the city.

There are many public buses available from the airport to major towns outside Amsterdam.

Airport facilities: Restaurants, duty free shops, currency exchange machines, banks, an art gallery, baby rooms, showers, a business centre, conference rooms and car hire.

Zestienhoven Airport
Rotterdam’s Zestienhoven Airport (RTM) is 8km from the city, taking just 15-20 minutes by bus or taxi. Bus no. 33 departs every 10 minutes. Return is from Central Station. Airport facilities: Restaurant, bank, outgoing duty free shop, wireless Internet, meeting facilities and car hire.

Rail
Eurostar operates direct high-speed trains from London (Waterloo International) to Paris (Gare du Nord) and to Brussels (Midi/Zuid). It takes three hours from London to Paris and it takes two hours 40 minutes from London to Brussels. Local trains run between Brussels and Amsterdam in approximately two hours 45 minutes.

Eurostar operates eight daily services to Brussels and Thalys International runs six to seven daily trains to Amsterdam and other destinations in the Netherlands.

The Eurostar trains are equipped with standard-class and first-class seating, buffet, bar and are staffed by multilingual, highly trained personnel. Pricing is competitive with the airlines, and there is a large range of different tickets and prices as well as a variety of rail passes.

Road
The Netherlands is connected to the rest of Europe by a superb network of motorways. All roads are well signposted with green ‘E’ symbols indicating international highways, red ‘A’ symbols indicating national highways, and smaller routes indicated by yellow ‘N’. The national speed limit is 120kph.

The yellow cars of the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB/Wegenwacht) patrol major roads 24 hours a day with qualified mechanics equipped to handle routine repairs. In case of emergencies, assistance is available by phoning: 60888 within the Netherlands.

If you are driving your own vehicle, you will need to carry the vehicle’s registration papers, third-party insurance and an international drivers’ permit in addition to your domestic driver’s license.

Sea
Main ports are at Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland), Rotterdam and Vlissingen. Regular car and passenger ferries are operated from the UK to The Netherlands via the following routes and shipping lines:

Stena Line  Harwich to Hook of Holland; travel time: three hours 40 minutes (day time), six hours 15 minutes (night time); four sailings daily.

P&O Ferries Hull to Rotterdam (Europort); travel time: 12 hours; one sailing daily.

DFDS Seaways Newcastle to Amsterdam; travel time: 16 hours.

Hoverspeed UK and P&O European Ferries run services to the Netherlands via Belgium. French ports also provide some connections. For more information on ferries to Holland see, Ferrycrossings.org.uk

Domestic Transport

Air
Eindhoven (EIN), Groningen (GRQ) and Maastricht (MST) airports are mostly domestic airports connecting with Amsterdam. They are mainly used by business travellers and budget airlines such as Ryanair, which has connections to Hamburg, Istanbul, London, Paris and a few other cities.

Transport to/from Eindhoven’s Welschap airport (EIN) to the city (8km) is by bus which run every 15 minutes and taxi. Express buses run after each Ryanair flight (except those from London Stansted and Corendon Istanbul flights) to Amsterdam Central Station. Airport facilities: ATMs, restaurants, car rental, wireless Internet and outgoing duty free shops.

Transport to/from Groningen’s Eelde airport (GRQ) to the city (9km) is by taxi.

Transport to/from Maastricht’s Aachen airport (MST) to the city (8km) is by bus no. 61 (51 on Sundays) from the Maastricht Aachen Airport bus stop to Sittard Station and Maastrict Station. Airport facilities: Restaurant, bar and outgoing duty free shop.

KLM Cityhopper (WA) operates between seven airports in Holland. Transavia Airlines (HV) also runs scheduled flights. Martinair Holland (MP)  operates passenger and cargo services.

Sea
There are regular ferry services to the Wadden Islands (Ameland, Schiermonnikoog, Terschilling, Texel and Vlieland) across the Ijsselmeer Sea (formerly Zuyder Sea) and Schelde Estuary. There is also a service to the Frisian Islands across the Waddenzee. Boat Tours run excursions from Amsterdam, Arnhem, Delft, Giethoorn, Groningen, Maastricht, Rotterdam and Utrecht. No cars are permitted to Vlieland.

Wadden Ticket
For travellers wanting to visit any of the five Wadden Islands, the Wadden Ticket allows return travel by bus, train and ferry to an island of choice. The pass is valid for one day of the departure journey and one day of the return journey, although the period between the two must not exceed one year. Contact The Netherlands Board of Tourism for further details.

Rail
The highly developed rail network is efficient and inexpensive. It connects all cities and towns. Both Intercity and local trains run at least every half hour on all main routes. Rail and bus timetables are well connected. NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen (www.ns.nl) is the state-owned rail company and operates all lines within the country. Regional railway companies include Syntus (www.syntus.nl) and Noordned (www.arriva.nl). NoordNed runs regional bus and train services throughout the majority of Friesland providing a substantive network of suburban, intercity and rural services. It also operates rail services in the province of Groningen.

A variety of rail passes are available which offer great value if you plan on doing a lot of Dutch train travel. Enquire at any major train station within the Netherlands.

Bicycle
The Netherlands is extremely bicycle-friendly. You can peddle almost anywhere on smooth, flat pathways. The Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) publishes cycling maps for each province.

Major roads have separate bike lanes, and with the exception of highways, bicycles can go everywhere. There can be some strong headwinds along the coast.

Bicycles can be hired from all main train stations, but must be returned to the station from which they are hired. Bikes can be brought on most trains except during rush hour (06:30-09:00 and 16:30-18:00). There are no restrictions on weekends, holidays or during July and August.

You must purchase a separate train ticket for your bike. An inexpensive day pass for bikes is valid in the entire country regardless of the distance involved. There are no fees for collapsible bikes as long as they can be considered hand luggage. Over 100 train stations have bicycle facilities for rental, protected parking, repair and sales. A refundable deposit is required for rental.

Bus
Extensive regional bus networks connect most of the country. Long-distance buses also operate between Dutch cities, but costs are generally about the same as the trains.

Car
Car hire is available from airports and major hotels. All European car hire companies are represented. An International Driving Permit is not required, as long as a driving license from the country of origin is held. EU pink format licenses are accepted.

All roads are well signposted with green ‘E’ symbols indicating international highways, red ‘A’ symbols indicating national highways, and smaller routes indicated by yellow ‘N’. The national speed limit is 120kph. Petrol may be purchased by credit card. There is a chronic shortage of parking space in central Amsterdam, and the rush hours (07:00-09:00 and 17:00-19:00) should be avoided throughout the country. Parking fines are severe. Seat belts must be worn by law.

The yellow cars of the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) patrol major roads 24 hours a day with qualified mechanics equipped to handle routine repairs. In case of emergencies, assistance is available by phoning: 60888 within the Netherlands.

Taxi
Taxis have an illuminated ‘taxi’ sign on the roof. There are taxi ranks at railway stations, hotels at various other points in the cities. Taxis are usually ordered by phone, rather than hailing them in the streets. Taxis should have meters inside to indicate the fare, including the tip.

Taxi Trains (Treintaxis) are taxis shared with others at a reduced price per person. These run between 59 railway stations within a limited area from 7am (8am on Sundays and public holidays) until the last train. There is usually a special call box near the normal taxi rank. Ask the taxi driver or counter operator for a pamphlet listing all participating stations and the relevant phone numbers for bookings. There is also a central information number: 0900 873 4682.