Amsterdam ranks as one of the finest international cities in the world offering world-class transport amenities. There are a number of ways that people can get in and around in the city. Hordes of travellers from around the world fly in to the Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, renowned for its award-winning services. Travelling into the city by train makes for a cost-effective and convenient means of travel as the Netherlands railway network is second to none. Not to forget travelling by means of roadways that provides convenient access to the city for those visitors who are keen on travelling by either coach or cars.
Public transportation in Amsterdam is equally impressive and comprises of trains, ferries, trams, buses and metro services to take you around the capital city of The Netherlands. Operated by the GVB, the transport system is integrated and can be accessed by means of a single card system that was recently introduced by the public transport operators. However, owing to the extensive array of transport options and the contradictory information available from various sources concerning the use of travel cards and tickets, commuters often find themselves in a dilemma about the transportation system in the city.
Let us take a look at the various means of public transportation in Amsterdam and how they can be availed for getting around the city and travelling to its numerous destinations of tourist interest.
Getting around in Amsterdam by foot
Since the city of Amsterdam is quite small compared to some of the other capital cities in Europe and with a concentration of all its major tourist attractions being in and around the city center, Amsterdam can be easily covered on foot. It also makes for a great way to explore the charms of this wonderful city. It is best advisable that you carry a map along with you since the network of canals, streets and bridges can all prove to be a little too confusing at the first instance. Also ensure that you are not walking along one of the bike trails; if you need to cross one of these trails then look for an oncoming bike before proceeding.
The streets and sidewalks are mostly lined with bricks and cobblestones so if you do not have proper, sturdy footwear for walking there is a distinct possibility that you will end up with a stubbed toe or some other form of damage to your feet. Also keep your eyes firmly on the ground instead of gazing up at the high rises around on you. Citizens of Amsterdam are very fond of dogs that are the size of Shetland ponies and you may regret stepping on one!
Tram service in Amsterdam
While walking along the canals of Amsterdam makes for half the fun of living in the city, the other half is fulfilled by riding on the smooth grey-and-blue trams rolling through most of the major streets in the city. Amsterdam has as many as sixteen different tram routes. While ten of them have their point of origin at the Centraal Station, another route passes through the place so if you are lost and need to start all over again on your journey, you can always return to this place.
The access doors on most of the trams open automatically. While boarding is typically done through the rear door, indicated by a blinking signal on the outside, there are some cars which do not have these signal and you can board through any of the gateways. You will be required to press a button to open the door before you get off. Tram doors tend to close quietly and quickly so if you dawdle you may rue your missed opportunity.
Bus network in Amsterdam
GVB operates an extensive bus network in Amsterdam to complement the tram service in the city. Like the tramways, most of the bus routes operate from the Centraal Station. While it is much faster to travel by tram there are a number of places in the city that can be reached only bus. There are also intercity and regional bus services in operation from Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has as many as thirty different bus lines in the city and if you have to travel to the northern areas, then this is the best mode of transport. You need to enter through the front, present your ticket to the driver or buy one from him to travel. It is better and cheaper to buy a ticket in advance for travelling on the public transport system in the city.
While the Metro network in Amsterdam pales in comparison to the labyrinthine structures prevalent in other European cities such as London and Paris, the city can boast of a subway service of its own. It has four lines in operation bringing in people from the suburban districts while there are services from the Central Station that can be used for reaching central Amsterdam districts such as Waterlooplein and Nieuwmarkt. While the Metro service is best used for fulfilling the purpose of sightseeing excursions, there are a number of sights along these lines that are worth going out of your way to visit. The Metro Noord-Zuidlijn, a service that is set to connect the north to the south of Amsterdam is under construction at present. This line, that will travel to the Central station, is slated for completion by the year 2015.
Taxi service in Amsterdam
It is usually expensive to travel by means of cab service in the city. The minimum fare that you pay is applicable for only two kilometers of the journey. The tariffs are ideally displayed both on the inside and outside the cabs. Please note, if you are hailing a cab from one of the taxi ranks around the city, they should not refuse you short trips- this aspect was very common up until a few years back. Hailing a taxi can be very difficult especially on weekends but if you book one in advance, you should not have an issue.
If you are interested in getting a truly Dutch feel of travelling by cab, then consider a bicycle taxi. They are operated by means of pedal power and can carry upto two people at a time. Also, travelling on one of these taxis is much cheaper compared to that on the conventional cab services.
Waterways in Amsterdam
Now that bicycling has gained immense popularity for travel in Amsterdam, the waterways do not find too many takers. The Canal Bus, though, is one of the effective means of getting around the city. While it is relatively cheap compared to some of the other means of public transportation in Amsterdam, it provides for a picturesque and fun means of travel. Ferry services are also available in the city with the free service operating from behind the Central Station to Amsterdam North being the most noteworthy.
Conclusion: Hiring cycles to get around the city of Amsterdam has become one of the most popular means of public transportation since the well-defined cycling routes provide easy means of travel for the cyclists. Hiring cars is also a popular practice although the expensive parking fees often proves to be a hindrance for interested tourists.
There are also some individuals who feel that swimming is the best and healthiest means of travelling around Amsterdam, a notion that may be put down to the fact that they frequent the numerous “coffee shops” too often. Truth be told, such is not the case! While it is true that the canal waters have been cleansed significantly over the last few years and that the water quality is the best that the present generation of Amsterdammers have ever seen, the liquid that fills the water bodies is still seemingly akin to something of a brew from the witch’s cauldron: pour some down your throat and you may soon be required to have a close encounter with a stomach pump at a nearby hospital.
Tramnet map of Amsterdam by