I can hear you thinking this question from all the way over here. A cheap Dutch train ticket exists?! Well, Yes, it does! Many exist, in fact. NS has got a bad reputation for hiking train prices, which has caused a lot of ranting on DutchReview and other sites.
Unlike some other countries, train prices go by distance in the Netherlands, not by how far in advance that you bought them. So the good news is, you know the price in advance, so you aren’t going to be so ripped off that you want to cry. On the other hand, you can’t get a good ‘early-bird’ discount and you have to deal with the permanent price hikes of getting from one destination to another.
Don’t panic – all hope is not lost. This cheap dutch train ticket guide will have you snatching up those a cheap dutch train ticket right away.
1. Day tickets (AKA dagkaart)
If you buy regular day tickets from NS, you are looking at setting yourself back €53. This gives you unlimited access to train journeys for the day. Do you realistically have €53 to spare though?
Something that I have always done is buy NS day tickets from supermarkets and other high street shops. A few times a year shops such as Kruidvat, Xenos, Blokker, Hema and Albert Heijn sell discounted train tickets. The best thing to do, is to check their sites every once in a while (or in the shop window if you happen to be walking past). Then do a bulk buy on this cheap dutch train ticket!
I’ve found that Kruitvat always does the cheapest at ticket at €13,99. Which is SO much cheaper than the regular NS price. Remember to read the terms and conditions though. Sometimes you can usually only use them at off-peak hours or on the weekends.
2. Advantage card (AKA Dal Voordeel)
*This is available to people who have an OV Chipcard (if you want an OV Chipcard you can get them online or from any machine for €7.50).* Tip: having an OV Chipcard can work out cheaper on the metro and also train tickets (as you don’t need to pay a euro every time for the print-out tickets).
To get this ‘advantage card’ deal you pay €52 per year for a subscription and in return you get 40% off train prices to any destination in the Netherlands. This is only valid at off-peak times though. So you cannot travel between 6:30 – 9:00 and 16:00 – 18:30. (If you want a peak-times discount card (20%) off, you’ll have to sacrifice more p/m for the privilege… it’s still much cheaper than without a discount though!) You can now also get NS Flex, where you pay per month for a discount and then you get a bill at the end of the month to pay for your transportation – so no more topping up you OV card!
The great thing with the advantage card is that you can take up to 3 travellers with you. You just load the discount onto their OV Chipcards and they all get the same discount! How kind of you, NS.
3. Group Ticket (AKA Groepsticket)
For only €8pp, 4 passengers travelling together to the same destination off-peak can get a ticket to anywhere in the Netherlands. Any additional traveller up to 4 people, will pay an extra €1,50.
Basically, the more people that you gather to travel with you (or the more friends you have), the cheaper is becomes. Here’s a breakdown of the prices as an example, so you can easily see how cheap it really is:
- 4 people = € 8 per person
- 5 people = € 6.70 per person
- 6 people = €5.83 per person
- 7 people = € 5.21 per person
To get this great discount, you must order it online, print it, or transfer it onto the NS app.
The group train tickets have gone through a lot over the past few years and now they are preparing for a change (have you noticed I said TRAVELLING TOGETHER in the first sentence?) Read our other guide to the group ticket fiasco, if you want to know more.
4. Cheap Dutch train ticket: Discount websites
Another website which I have used a few times and is good is spoordeelwinkel. This site contains deals every month which are always amazing value. For example, they have deals on their website such as a 1st class return ticket to any destination in the Netherlands with a hot drink for €26. This is just an example of the kinds of deals they have going on a regular basis.
To put this into perspective, I live in Rotterdam, if I was going to go from Rotterdam to Maastricht 1st class normally it would cost €85 plus the €4 for a hot drink and you’re looking at €89 return. That’s a saving of €63! So it’s well worth checking out sites like these, because who doesn’t love a good deal.
They also have great tickets for you tourists out there! For example, they sometimes put on deals where you can get transport and entry fee all paid for in one, so remember to keep checking the site!
5. Other extras to use with your cheap dutch train ticket
Do you have a dog, child or a bike, or all three and want to take them on the train? Well there is a ticket for that! You don’t have to leave little fluffy, your 3 screaming children or your beloved Dutch Granny Bike at home.
A. Dog day ticket
You can buy a day dog ticket for just €3,10, this does not include small dogs and other small animals who get to travel for free! So it’s probably best not to overfeed your pet if you want a free ride. You can load this onto your OV Chipcard or with a disposable single-use card.
B. Children’s ticket
Children can now travel for free with you, if they all have OV Chipcards (€7,50). So there is no need to worry if your child wants to take their friends along. This is only as long as the child is between the ages of 4 – 11 and the person accompanying them is over 12. Don’t forget to ‘purchase’ the Kids Vrij discount though (you ‘purchase’ it for €0).
You can take your beloved fiets on the train for €6,90. This ticket is valid all day and it doesn’t matter how long your journey is, it is still the same price. That way you will never have to part with your bike ever again. Just load this onto your OV Chipcard or buy a disposable single-use card.
6. International discount cards
So maybe you want a change of scenery from the Netherlands and are looking for somewhere new to explore for the day (how dare you). The good news is, if you have an advantage card (the card I mentioned at 2.), you can get to the border of Germany and Belgium and beyond. Once you cross the border you are eligible for 25% off a cross-border international train. This is only if you purchase a RailPlus card which is only €15 per year (and free for you over 60s). This is valid in the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France (for under 26 or over 60), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway (for under 26 or over 60), Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (for under 26 or over 60), Sweden (for under 26 or over 60) Switzerland and Ukraine.
Wow, that’s a hefty list. Not like it really matters too much anyway, you won’t be needing to leave us. 😉
7. The obvious choice (or not so obvious), the NS site
Admittedly, NS deals are not as good as other deals (they aren’t going to sell you a dirt cheap deal for nothing are they). HOWEVER, from time to time NS do advertise some good deals on their site. These are mainly city deals to other countries (it’s almost as if they want you to leave).
I hope this cheap dutch train ticket guide has taught you a thing or two about getting those cheap tickets.
Here’s another of our ticket guides, if you want to read more.
Don’t forget to tell all of your friends about this post, so they can start getting cheap trains too!