Travelling in the Netherlands
Public transportation and OV-card
If you wish to travel by train, bus, tram or metro (subway/underground rail system), you will need an ‘OV-chipkaart’ (Public Transport Chip Card). This is a smartcard, which allows you to travel and, for example, to enter metro stations. If you are planning to utilise public transport frequently during your stay in Holland, it would be advisable to purchase your own ‘OV-chipkaart’.
Travelling with the “OV-Chipkaart”
The ‘OV-chipkaart’ is a means of payment for the Dutch public transport system. The smartcard is the size of a bankcard and contains an invisible chip. The ‘OV-chipkaart’ can be loaded with credit in Euros, whereby you can then travel anywhere within the Netherlands, or with a travel product, such as a single or a season ticket.
When you arrive in the Netherlands and if you are planning to utilise the public transport system, you will need to visit a public transport Service Desk, a vending machine at a railway station, or a tobacco or convenience store to purchase your ‘OV-chipkaart’.
There are two types of ‘OV-chipkaart’ available, as follows:
- The anonymous ‘OV-chipkaart’
- The disposable ‘OV-chipkaart’
For further information regarding the ‘OV-chipkaart’, please download the brochure or visit the following website: Train tickets
The Netherlands has a modern and extensive railway network. Intercity trains run regularly between all Dutch cities. Local trains also stop at intermediate stations. On most trains, you can choose to travel by first class or second class. Reservations cannot be made for seats on standard train services. Tickets may be purchased from ticket vending machines at railway stations or via the Internet. It is advisable to check if any special offers may apply.
Railway stations are generally located centrally. For further and detailed information regarding departure times and fares, please visit the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) website, or contact the Public Transport Travellers’ Information Line via the telephone number, 0900 9292 (EUR 0.70 per minute), which can only be called from within the Netherlands. Or visit the 9292 website.
Outlying villages in the Netherlands are all linked by bus services. All larger towns and cities also have their own extensive bus and/or tram networks and provide regular services. For travel between cities, travelling by an express bus service or an Interliner bus offers a comfortable alternative to rail travel. Bus and tram services do not offer separate classes of travel. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the only Dutch cities with (moderate) underground railway systems. Local and regional buses depart from the Central Bus Stations, which are generally located at or near the Central Railway Stations.
It is a fact that the Netherlands is a perfect country for cycling, where you will find more bicycles than people. Throughout the country, more than 100,000 kilometres of trails and road networks are available, including many cycle paths that are ready for you to explore. The Netherlands has a nationwide network of cycle paths totalling approximately 30,000 kilometres in length, which will offer you excellent opportunities for discovering the beautiful landscape.
Wherever using cycle paths is mandatory, this is indicated by a blue sign with a white bicycle symbol. Furthermore, cycle paths can be recognised by a red surface on which a white bicycle is printed. In any isolated locations without marked cycle paths, you may rest assured that drivers are generally very aware of cyclists.
Please note that riding a bicycle without operational lights at night is illegal in the Netherlands.
The mild climate, short distances and excellent cycling infrastructure make cycling in the Netherlands not only practical, but great fun indeed!
Cycling is a good way to discover the Netherlands. You can hire a bicycle and if you are travelling by rail, you can take your bicycle with you. Just do not forget to purchase a special ticket for your bicycle for the train journey.
In the southern part of the Netherlands, there is a multitude of challenging routes through hilly terrain, whereas in the western part of the Netherlands, you can cycle through the dunes. If you like mountain biking, there are also plenty of MTB routes in the Netherlands.
Cycling to the city, work or university
One of the most common ways of moving around in the Netherlands is by bicycle. Many people use a bicycle and then a train to travel to work or to university, as you will see from the large numbers of bicycles parked at smaller railway stations. Larger railway stations have special bicycle parking garages.
In the city centre, you will find places where you can park your bicycle. In some cases, such bicycle parking areas are guarded and in some locations, you will be obliged to pay a fee for parking your bicycle. In the centre of Tilburg, all of the guarded parking areas for bicycles are free of charge. It is important to ensure that you park your bicycle in an appropriate location, or you may return from a nice evening out and discover that your bicycle has been removed by the municipal services.
Buying a bicycle
Buying a new bicycle will cost between EUR 150 and EUR 500, whereas second-hand bicycles are readily available at much lower prices (e.g. as from approximately EUR 60). It is worth asking someone at the university to suggest a shop, to make enquiries at the ‘fietsenstalling’ (bicycle parking area) at the railway station and/or to regularly check the Notice Board at your university. As there are more bicycles than people in Holland, you should be able to purchase a bicycle for a fair price. It is also important to purchase a good lock and/or chain for your bicycle. Some people secure their bicycles to immovable objects with steel chains to prevent theft.