Transport and Driving in the Netherlands
Public transport in the Netherlands is advanced by international standards. An extensive road network, trains and buses connect different areas, while larger cities often have tram and metro services.
Public transport in the Netherlands
The country has an extensive public transport system, and expats will find that getting around the Netherlands is easy, safe and relatively inexpensive.
A contactless smart card system, OV-Chipkaart (Openbaar Vervoer or public transport chip card), is used to pay for the metro, buses, trams and trains. Depending on how long one will be in the Netherlands and how often they intend commuting, there are different options for the OV-Chipkaart.
The Dutch rail network is one of the busiest in the world, with trains running between all major cities.
There are two different types of trains: intercity (express) trains which connect main cities directly and local trains which stop at all stations along the way. High-speed Fyra trains operate from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, Breda, Antwerp and Brussels. The Fyra shares lines with Thalys, a high-speed train service between Amsterdam and Paris.
Long-distance trains often consist of two parts, the achterste deel (back part) and voorste deel (front part). These sometimes separate at some point along the journey and continue to different destinations, so expats should make sure they're in the right section. Signs over the platforms will show two destinations and which part of the train goes where.
The Netherlands has a comprehensive network of buses for both intercity and intra-city travel, and there are four types: city buses serve large towns, regional buses cover main cities and nearby towns, express services run in and around main cities, and Interliner buses run long-distance routes between selected towns.
Both Amsterdam and Rotterdam have well-developed metro systems that mainly run on elevated railways outside the city and underground within the city centre.
There's an efficient network of tram lines in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Although the tram system can be difficult to navigate, it’s one of the best ways for expats to explore their surroundings.
Taxis aren't a common form of transport in the Netherlands. They're pricy and can't be hailed off the street, with commuters instead booking by telephone beforehand or getting one at a taxi stand. All official taxis have blue licence plates and an illuminated “taxi” sign on the roof.
Driving in the Netherlands
Driving in the Netherlands is relatively easy thanks to its good roads and clear signage. However, traffic congestion can be a problem and it’s not unusual for cars to use the road shoulder of a highway (autosnelweg) during peak-hour traffic when congestion is at its worst. Electronic signs normally indicate whether motorists can use the shoulder or not.
Traffic drives on the right in the Netherlands. The speed limit in built-up urban areas is 32mph (50kph), with some zones limited to 19mph (30kph). Outside of urban areas, speed limits are 50mph (80kph) and 75mph (120kph) on highways.
Fuel is notoriously expensive in the Netherlands. Parking in cities is also often difficult and can be expensive. It’s generally easier to use public transport when getting around larger cities.
Cycling in the Netherlands
Cycling is a popular form of recreation and transport in the Netherlands. Cyclists are well catered for with dedicated cycle paths, which are regulated with their own set of rules and systems, including traffic signals and lanes. When driving, expats should give priority to cyclists if they turn across a cycle lane.
Air travel in the Netherlands
Schipol Airport, near Amsterdam, is the main airport in the Netherlands. Regional airports include Eindhoven, Maastricht Aachen and Rotterdam. Due to the country’s small size and abundance of other transport options, domestic flights in the Netherlands are limited, and there's no real need to fly between destinations within the country.