We can hear you asking this question from all the way over there: do cheap Dutch train tickets exist? Well, yes! There are plenty of options, you just need to know where to look.
The NS might have a bad reputation for hiking train prices, but there are surefire ways to find great train ticket deals. Unlike some other countries, train prices go by distance in the Netherlands, not by how far in advance you bought them.
The good news is that you’ll know the price in advance. On the other hand, you can’t get a good early-bird discount and you have to deal with the price hikes as they come.
Don’t panic — not all hope is lost, as this cheap Dutch train ticket guide will have you snatching up those handy deals right away. 🤑
1. Day tickets (dagkaart)
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 websites 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 deal.
I’ve found that Kruidvat does the cheapest ticket I can find at €15 a pop, this is much cheaper than what you pay at the station. Always remember to read the terms and conditions, though — sometimes the tickets are restricted to off-peak hours or on the weekends.
This useful website offers an overview of all running discounted train tickets offered by different shops and stores! Unfortunately, the information is only offered in Dutch, but if you scroll down, you can see the discounted prices per person on the right-hand side.
2. Advantage card (AKA Dal Voordeel)
This is available to people who have an OV Chipcard, which you can get online or at any NS info counter for €7.50.
Tip: Owning an OV Chipcard is cheaper if you use public transport regularly in the Netherlands because you don’t need to pay a euro every time for the print-out tickets.
To get this ‘advantage card’ deal, you can pay €61.20 per year or €5.10 per month for a subscription, and in return, you get 40% off train prices to any destination in the Netherlands. This deal is only valid at off-peak times, so you cannot travel with the discount between 6:30 AM to 9:00 AM, and 16:00 PM to 18:30 PM.
If you want a peak-times discount card (20% off during rush hour), you’ll have to pay a little more per month: €24.20. However, it’s still much cheaper than without a discount!
You can also subscribe to NS Flex: From €5 per month, you can get your 40% off-peak discount and pay your bill at the end of the month. This way, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to top up your OV card again. 🙌
Another great thing with the advantage card is that you can take up to three friends 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 (Groepsticket)
For only €6.30 per person, up to seven passengers travelling together to the same destination off-peak can get a ticket to anywhere in the Netherlands.
Basically, the more people that you gather to travel with you (or the more friends you have), the cheaper it becomes. Here’s a breakdown of the prices as an example, so you can easily see how cheap it really is:
- Four people = € 8.75 per person
- Five people = €7.60 per person
- Six people = €6.83 per person
- Seven people = €6.30 per person
You can easily order the Groepsticket online, and each person will receive their own personalised ticket. Easy, right?
4. Cheap Dutch train ticket: Discount websites
Another way to get cheap ticket deals is to check the Spoordeelwinkel section of the NS website, which contains new deals every month. These Dutch train ticket deals are linked to specific destinations, such as cities, hotels, or amusement parks.
They also have great tickets for you tourists out there. 🧳
Occasionally, you can get deals for tourist attractions where you can get transport bundled with a hotel, entry fee, or meal fee 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 bike, or even 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 bike at home.
Doggy day ticket
You can buy a day dog ticket for just €3.30 but small dogs and other small animals get to travel for free (wat moi!). 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.
Children can now travel for free with you if they all have OV Chip cards (€7.50). So there is no need to worry if your child wants to take their friends along. This applies to children between the ages of 4 to 11 as long as they are with someone over the age of 12. Don’t forget to purchase the Kids Vrij discount! (you “purchase” it for €0).
You can take your beloved fiets on the train for €7.50. This ticket is valid all day and it doesn’t matter how long your journey is, it’s 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 to explore something new for the day. The good news is, if you have an advantage card (the OV chipkaart!), you can get to the border of Germany, Belgium, and beyond. 🗺️
Once you cross the border, you are eligible for 25% off a cross-border train. This is only if you purchase a RailPlus card which is valid for the following destinations:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
Wow, that’s a hefty list. If you really need to leave the Netherlands that is. 🤷♀️
7. The obvious choice (or not so obvious), the NS site
Admittedly, NS deals aren’t always as good as some of the other deals out there. However, from time to time, the NS does advertise some good deals on their site. These are mainly city trip deals to other countries, but give it a browse!
Who wouldn’t like a little day trip to Brussels or Paris this summer?
What’s the best deal you’ve got on Dutch transport? Let us know in the comments!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2018 and was fully updated in September 2022 for your reading pleasure.