The Netherlands is well-connected by a robust rail network that will whisk you away to just about any town in the country and it has multiple connections to Europe’s other major cities. And while traveling by the Dutch rail system is fairly straightforward, I’ll cover a few quirks that you should know about. In this Netherlands train guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling the Netherlands by train and how to find the best train ticket prices.
Quick Overview of the Netherlands Rail Network
The official Dutch Railways’ name is Nederlandse Spoorwegen (it’s often shorted to NS) and it connects major cities with 4-5 trains each hour and smaller towns with hourly trains. You can check schedules at the official Dutch rail website at www.ns.nl.
How To Buy Train Tickets In The Netherlands
Buying Dutch train tickets is fairly simple but there is a difference between buying domestic train tickets and buying international train tickets.
I’ve outlined the difference below:
Buying Domestic Train Tickets In The Netherlands
Domestic train tickets in the Netherlands use a fixed-price model so prices are based solely on the distance traveled. This means you don’t save anything by purchasing tickets early. However, you can still buy tickets in advance via Omio and have the digital tickets sent straight to your phone if you want to avoid the hassle of buying tickets at the station.
Alternatively, you can buy tickets at the station via the self-service machines or from the staffed ticket windows—both accept major credit cards.
Buying International Train Tickets In The Netherlands
The Netherlands has multiple international train routes that connect its major cities with other major European cities like Paris, London, and Brussels. These high-speed trains operate on a dynamic pricing model that gets more expensive as the travel date approaches—which means you should book early to get the best prices.
It’s easiest to use a third-party booking website like Omio or TrainLine to find and book the cheapest option for your travel time. These services are user-friendly (especially when using a foreign credit card) and they’ll send your digital train ticket directly to their smartphone app.
- Omio: Omio is a great train booking engine that lets you book tickets from just about every country’s rail service and other digital tickets are sent straight to your phone. Omio charges little to no markup and they make the booking process very user-friendly.
- TrainLine: TrainLine is another third-party train ticket booking site that connects directly to multiple European rail networks.
Popular Trains Routes In The Netherlands
Top Domestic Train Routes From Amsterdam:
- Amsterdam To Utrecht (30 mins)
- Amsterdam To Den Haag (50 mins)
- Amsterdam To Rotterdam (40-60 mins)
- Amsterdam To Breda (1h 10mins)
- Amsterdam To Eindhoven (1h 20mins)
- Amsterdam To Groningen (2h 10mins, 1 change)
- Amsterdam To Maastricht (2h 30mins)
- Amsterdam To Vlissingen (2h 50mins)
Top International Train Routes From Amsterdam:
- Amsterdam-Paris via the Thalys High-Speed Train
- Amsterdam-Brussels via Thalys High-Speed Train or Intercity Brussels Train
- Amsterdam-London via the Eurostar High-Speed Train
- Amsterdam-Frankfurt via ICE International High-Speed Train
General Tips For Using The Train In The Netherlands
- Know Train Station Names: Most larger cities have multiple train stations (Amsterdam technical has nine stations) so this can create confusion. Double check to make sure you have the right station—especially when booking your ticket.
- Study The Departures Board: You’ll find your train platform via the departure board at the train station. Don’t worry if you don’t see your train because they typically only display trains departing within the next 10-20 minutes.
- Train Schedule: Popular routes between major cities will have multiple routes every hour but less popular routes may only have a few per day.
- Self-Service Machines Are In English: All the ticket machines (and train station signs) are in English—there is a good chance customer service people also speak English.
- Pack A Picnic: You’re allowed to bring your own food and alcohol on trains. It’s great for those long train rides.
- No Luggage Limits: There aren’t any weight limits on luggage and you can bring as much as you want (well, as much as you can carry). Simply bring it on and store it above your head, behind your seat, or in the luggage racks in each car.
- Open Seating: Domestic trains don’t have assigned seats so sit anywhere.
- Making Connections: The Netherlands is a small country so many routes connect through Amsterdam. Don’t worry if there isn’t much time between trains because switching trains is usually fairly quick and easy (it’s not like flying).
- Get To The Train Station Early: Train stations are usually fairly easy to navigate but they can be a little confusing if you’re unfamiliar with the station.
- Luggage Storage: Most large train stations will have luggage storage options but small stations most likely won’t have luggage storage.
Check out our Complete Guide To Train Travel In Europe for more tips about traveling Europe by train.
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Thanks For Reading! — James