In the Netherlands, public transport consists of trains, buses, trams and metros. Only Amsterdam and Rotterdam have (moderate) underground railway systems.
If you wish to travel by public transport, using an ‘OV-chipkaart’ (public transport chip card) is strongly advised.
Travelling with the 'OV-chipkaart'
The ‘OV-chipkaart’ is a means of payment for the Dutch public transport system. This smart card is the size of a bank card and contains an invisible chip. The ‘OV-chipkaart’ can be loaded with credit in Euros, with which you can travel anywhere within the Netherlands, or with a travel product (subscription).
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’.
- The anonymous ‘OV-chipkaart’ (blue card),
- The personalised ‘OV-chipkaart’ (yellow card).
If you plan to utilise public transport frequently during your stay in the Netherlands, purchasing your own ‘OV-chipkaart’ is advised.
The Netherlands has an 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 or second class. Reservations for seats cannot be made on standard train services. If you do not like to use an 'OV-chipkaart', you may purchase one-use tickets from ticket vending machines at railway stations or online. However, check whether 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, +31900 9292 (EUR 0.70 per minute), which can only be called from within the Netherlands. Or visit the 9292 website.
Cheap train tickets
This website (in Dutch) sometimes offers cheaper traintickets, but mostly traintickets for a day out. For example to a theme park or a museum.
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. Bus and tram services do not offer separate classes of travel. Buses depart from busstops and close to the central railway stations.
The Netherlands is a perfect country for cycling, as more than 100,000 kilometres of trails and road networks are available (including many cycle paths). The Netherlands has a nationwide network of cycle paths totalling approximately 30,000 kilometres in length. It has more bikes than people. A bicycle is the most common way to get around here in the Netherlands.
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' (sometimes pink-ish or no colour) 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.
Cycling to get around
One of the most common ways of moving around in the Netherlands is by bicycle. The Netherlands has more bicycles than people. Many people ride a bicycle and then take a train to travel to work or 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, 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.
The mild climate, short distances and excellent cycling infrastructure make cycling in the Netherlands not only practical, but also fun! 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. When you go to another city for a day, you can also opt to rent a NS OV-fiets on a train station.
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 mountain biking routes in the Netherlands.
Getting 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. For second-hand bicycles, you can also check Facebook Marketplace or Marktplaats. 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. Please note that riding a bicycle without operational lights at night is illegal in the Netherlands, so make sure your bicycle has operational lights.
Instead of buying a bicycle, you can also opt for a subscription with Swapfiets, which includes repairs for a set rate a month.
Riding electric shared scooters has become a more popular mode of transportation in the Netherlands. There are two main companies that offer this service of shared scooters in different cities (also Fontys cities) throughout the Netherlands.
Public transport card with discount for international students
Fontys UAS collaborates with Student Mobility to provide international students easy access to all forms of transport in the Netherlands. With Student Mobility you are able to receive a customized public transport card with special discounts for international students! You can use this card for train, tram, metro and bus.
Besides traveling by public transport you probably also want a bike. Student Mobility helps you to get the most suitable bike, leasing or buying.
In the Netherlands you need an OV-chipkaart to travel around with the train, tram, metro and bus. There are two possibilities offered by the NS (National Railway):
▪ An anonymous card without any discount
▪ A personal card, where you need a Dutch debit card and the buying process is written in Dutch
Both options are not ideal for international students. That is why Student Mobility created the “Student Mobility Card”, a custom-made OV-chipkaart for international students. You get the card for €15, - and can sign-up (optional) for services and discounts created for international students for a small monthly fee:
- 15% discount during off-peak hours on national railway (NS)
- A digital ISIC card, with the best discounts in the Netherlands and the rest of the world
- A customised application process for international students
- Automatic top-up option (no more topping op of balance)
- Travel data and customer service in the app
- Public transport bike (OV-fiets) and storage
You can reserve a card here, which includes the public transport card + the digital ISIC card. After confirmation, the card will be sent to a (EU) postal address and in case there is a physical intro-event you can pick it up there.
Enjoy your stay in the Netherlands!