Once your plane or train arrives in the busy city, it's straightforward to get around.
Arriving by Air: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
As one of the world’s most efficient and aesthetically pleasing airports, this airport has more than 40 works of art plus a Rijksmuseum annex on Holland Boulevard, behind Passport Control. Schiphol is 18 km (11 miles) from Amsterdam. Trains to Centraal Station leave 24 hours a day at 10-15 min intervals; the journey takes 20 minutes and tickets cost €3.60. KLM shuttle coaches leave every 20 mins and drop off at 45 hotels in the city centre (€14.50).
Arriving by Train: Centraal Station
The station is an attraction in itself, opened in 1889 and originally built on wooden stilts. It is currently undergoing major reconstructing after 2018 it will be known as a world-class railway station. The station has trains to and from other points in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. It is also a major transport hub in the city with trams, buses and taxis outside, plus the ferry piers behind. Stationsplein 15, T: 0900 9292.
Getting Around Amsterdam
In addition to buses and cabs, Amsterdam has the rare pleasure of getting around the city with canal boats, trams and of course bikes.
There are a number of options to get cycling with the locals at these bicycle hire outlets. For the newcomer, watch out for oncoming trams, and wheel-trapping tram lines!
Bike City: Bloemgracht 70, 020 626 3721.
Macbike: Waterlooplein 199, 020 4287 005.
Amstelfietspoint: Julianaplein 1, 020 6923 584.
Slow but fun, canal bikes are one- to four-person pedalos available for hire from moorings on Singelgracht (Rijksmuseum), Prinsengracht (Westerkerk), Keizersgracht (Leidsestraat) and Leidsekade (near the American Hotel). Rental is from €8/hour, with a €50 deposit. 020 623 9886.
By Boat: Canal Bus & Museumboot
Starting from the jetty opposite Centraal Station, the Canal Bus does three loops around the city: the green and red lines stop off at 16 sights between the Rijksmuseum, Leidseplein and Waterlooplein; the blue line travels east, taking in Artis Zoo, the Scheepvaart Museum, NEMO and the Tropenmuseum. You can hop on or hop off at any point along the route: Tickets, which are valid until noon the following day, are €20 and include discounts on museum entrance.
Taxis are expensive but easy to get hold of: look for them in taxi ranks in the main squares. Taxis cannot be flagged down, but must be entered at taxi stands, with locations around the city. Use TCA cars with sign on roof (Taxi Centrale Amsterdam).
Trams, Buses & Metro
Trams are quick and convenient. Buses and metros are good for getting to the outskirts of town. The Opstapper bus runs round the Prinsengracht and can be hailed anywhere along the route.
For all public transport you’ll need a strippenkaart (strip card). Buy them from drivers or shops, post offices, automatic dispensers, or train stations. On trams, hand the strip card to a conductor or fold it and stamp it in the franking machine: stamp two strips for a journey in the central zone, plus an additional strip for each further zone. On buses, drivers stamp by hand, and on the metro there are franking machines located at all station entrances.