A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As I previously mentioned in this post, during your stay in the Netherlands your main way of transportation will be cycling, for sure! However, if you are not that ambitious or do not have great trust in your lungs and legs, you will be using trains and sometimes buses to travel within the Netherlands. In this blog, I would like to talk about the basics of the Dutch public transportation system to provide arriving international students with the necessary information.
First and foremost, the Dutch have excellent public transportation. Apart from the international trains, the trains in the Netherlands are operated by a company called NS (be aware, you will be hearing this company quite a lot during your stay in the Netherlands). You can find all the routes, buy tickets and check arrival/departure times of the trains via their website or by downloading the NS app which I highly recommend. Although it is so rare for trains to arrive/depart late or the routes to be changed, it is always wise to check the app before your travels. Also, you can use the app 9292 to check the routes and estimated arrival time before your travels. A small tip: Google Maps do not always work precisely here when it comes to public transportation, so put your trust in the local apps.
You can buy your tickets online or at the stations. However, I would recommend you to have an OV-chipkaart which is a small plastic-ticket that you can charge money and scan before entering and leaving the stations. Having this card will be very convenient for you as you can use OV-chipkaart for all trains, trams, and buses in the Netherlands.
Until you will get your personal OV-chipkaart for which you need to provide your Dutch bank account, a photo of yourself, your registration address in the Netherlands, and pay 7.5€, you can use an anonymous OV-chipkaart which you can buy at Schipol Airport upon your arrival or any other station. Once you order your personal OV-chipkaart, you can purchase one, or more, deals for your subscription, for instance, a %40 discount during the weekdays or weekend free options.
For the ones who will be living in The Hague and commuting between The Hague and Leiden, I would strongly recommend the Trajectvrij subscription. Also, you might consider buying a subscription from HTM, if you will be using the trams and buses in The Hague quite often. However, do your math before taking any subscriptions as you might not need any of these in case you will not travel often. If you would like to learn more about the commuter life in the Netherlands, between The Hague and Leiden in particular, you can also check this post.
One last thing you should always bear in mind while traveling in the Netherlands is that you always need to check-in and out. In case you forget to check-in before your travel, you might get fined by the controllers which definitely will not be a nice experience.
Have you already got your OV-chipkaart? Do you also commute between The Hague and Leiden? Let us know in the comments below.