The Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf or GBV runs Amsterdam's public transport system, which includes a metro (subway) system, buses, trams, and ferries.
Four GVB ferry lines leave from Centraal Station, including one running all night, but not all are of interest to tourists. The Buiksloterwegveer leaves from the pier behind Centraal Station every 8–15 minutes day and night. The ferry transports pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists across the IJ channel to North Amsterdam. There is no fee for the service and the trip takes about five minutes.
Amsterdam has a subway system, called the metro, but travelers generally find trams and buses more convenient for getting around, as most metro stops are geared for city residents traveling to the outer suburbs. There are four metro lines, including the express tram (sneltram), that serve Amsterdam and the surrounding suburbs. A fifth, the much-vaunted Nord-Zuid metro line, is still being built after lengthy delays—and is the cause of all the construction work you may see around Amsterdam Centraal Station.
It's possible to transfer from the metro to trains at several shared stops, either by crossing the platform or merely going outside to an adjacent train station. Line No. 50 (Ringlijn) travels from Isolatorweg in the northeastern part of the city to Gein, a southeastern suburb. Line Nos. 51, 53, and 54 all start at Centraal Station and follow the same routes until they head into the suburbs. They act as a subway from Centraal Station to Amstel Station, then whiz along the rest of the routes above ground, parting ways at Spaklerweg. The No. 51 passes through Buitenveldert, stopping at the VU and continuing south into Amstelveen. The No. 53 passes Diemen and ends up southeast in Gaasperplas. The No. 54 also travels southeast and shares the rest of its route with No. 50, passing through Holendrecht and ending at Gein.
Trams and Buses
Many tram and bus routes start from the hub at Centraal Station. A large bus depot is on the Marnixstraat, across from the main police station. Trams and buses run about 6 am–12:30 am daily. The tram routes, with a network of 130 km (80 miles) of track, make this form of transport more useful than the bus for most tourists. Night owls can make use of the hourly night-bus services, some of which double frequency on Friday and Saturday night.
Between stops, trams brake only when absolutely necessary, so listen for warning bells if you are walking or cycling near tramlines. Taxis often use tramlines, but other cars are allowed onto them only when turning right. As with all urban systems of transportation, keep an eye out for pickpockets.
There are 15 tramlines servicing the city. Tram Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 16, 17, 24, and 26 all start and end their routes at Centraal Station. The trams that are most frequently used by visitors are the Nos. 1, 2, and 5, which stop at the big central Dam Square and, along with Nos. 7 and 10, also stop at Leidseplein square. The Nos. 2, 3, 5, and 12 will get you to Museumplein and the Museum District. Tram Nos. 2, 5, 16, and 24 travel through Amsterdam's chic Zuid district. The No. 4 tram stops in De Pijp and at the RAI convention center and the No. 5 will take you to Station South/World Trade Center. The remaining lines pass through East and West Amsterdam and take you farther outside the center city (Centrum) to areas generally more off-the-beaten-track for tourists.
More than 40 GVB buses cover all the city's neighborhoods and are a good way to get closer to specific addresses.
To get around by bus, tram, or metro you'll need an OV-chipkaart (public transport chip card)—an electronic payment system, which you hold up to a detector each time you board and leave any bus or tram. You can buy them preloaded at metro, train, and bus stations, or from some magazine kiosks. The cards are debited according to the distance traveled; you can add value to them at machines in the stations. Visit the OV-chipkaart website (www.ov-chipkaart.nl) or call the help desk (0900/0980) for more information. You can also buy one-hour tickets from bus/tram drivers, although this works out to be more expensive. The OV-chipkaart can also be used on trains (the check-in/check-out detectors for the trains are clearly marked and in the railway stations, not on board). You have to activate your card for rail travel at one of the OV ticket machines at a railway station. Teams of ticket inspectors occasionally make spot checks on trams and buses. This doesn't happen often but if you are checked and your OV-chipkaart hasn't been checked in, you face a fine.
Besides the OV-chipkaart system, in Amsterdam you can also buy 24-, 48-, 72-, 96-, 120-, 144-, and 168-hour travel-anywhere tickets (€7.50 for one day, €12 for two days, €16.50 for three days, €21 for four days, €26 for five days, €29.50 for six days, €32 for seven days), which cover all urban bus and tram routes operated by the GVB. Fares are often reduced for children ages 4–11 and for people who are 65 years or older.
The electronic I amsterdam Card provides free or discounted admission to many top attractions and free use of public transport. These can be bought online or from tourist offices in Amsterdam, and cost €59, €69, or €79 for two, three, or four days, respectively.
Buses, Ferries, Trains, and Trams. Information on all public transportation, including schedules, fares for trains, buses, trams, and ferries in the Netherlands. 0900/9292; www.9292.nl.
GVB. Stationsplein, opposite Centraal Station, Centrum, Amsterdam, 1012 AB. 0900/9292; www.gvb.nl.