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Why is Public Transport Becoming so Tourist Unfriendly in The Netherlands?

A question sooooo people have asked me over the years. Then I thought maybe it’s just my friends moaning that they don’t understand it (sorry, guys)! Then when this article went out, I figured that I wasn’t the only one thinking that transport in this country, really isn’t that tourist friendly these days.

Public Transport in The Netherlands

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t fault the transport system in the Netherlands in comparison to what I’m used to. It’s so easy to get around, it’s quick, not too many delays (trust me, go to London). BUT, that’s once you know what the hell you’re doing. Of course, to be a tourist you have the added bonus of most people in the Netherlands speaking in English and of course all of the machines being in English too. But is that what constitutes as a ‘tourist-friendly’ transport system?

The answer is nope, not really.


No Coins? No Thanks!

When you live in a city such as Rotterdam, most people, including myself, use the metro system to get around. That’s fine because I use my ING pin card to top my OV Chipcard and away I go. If you’re a tourist then this just isn’t practical. Most tourists arrive with euros in cash, especially my friends who live in the UK, so have a completely different currency and if they used their bank cards they’d be looking at some lovely (or not) fees. So every single time we catch the metro they are battling with the machine and complaining that you can only use coins. Especially when buying a day card, 8 euros in coins for every single person is never a reality. So I pass the buck, but what about if I wasn’t there?

netherlands ticket machines
But the ticket system makes no cents 😉

One Stop? You Must Pay For a Couple of Hours!

I’ve also noticed that they’ve got rid of a lot of ‘deals’ – so you can only now buy either a 2-hour ticket or a day ticket. Not exactly practical if you want to go for one stop and are paying 3,50 for a 2-hour ticket for a 5-minute ride. This also happens with trams too. If you’re a tourist and you can’t be bothered to walk back to your hotel, you’re paying for an expensive ticket to literally go 2 stops down the road. (If people gave a euro for the amount of times people have moaned at me about this when going from Scheveningen to Den Haag Centraal in order to get home, I could pay for everyone in the whole country).

New 50 Cent Charge

To add insult to injury, NS is now bringing in a 50 cent charge if you go to the desk to top up your card. If you’re lucky enough to even have an OV Chipcard, you will now be penalised for using cash. So again, this means tourists. It’s kind of baffling because tourists bring so much money into the country, please don’t put them off by making it more difficult (or giving them fees)!

public transport in the netherlands

Train Tickets

Unless you’re keyed up on the ‘day card’ deals in the supermarket as a tourist (unlikely for most), you’re faced with paying full price for train tickets. On top of that, for not having an OV Chipcard, you’re paying an extra euro. Have an OV Chipcard? You’re paying an extra 50 cent for using your cash at the desk.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like setting foot in a country that you have no idea about. To me, transport is relativity inexpensive and easy (once you know all the tricks)! But try to remember back to when you were clueless. Not everyone is at the same skill level either. No way could my mother work out the NS machines on her own – she barely found her way out of Schiphol, let alone that. Whilst I can’t fault the system in general for me, it’s definitely becoming more tourist-unfriendly!

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to join our DutchReview Facebook group while you’re here! 😉

Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


  1. Hi I have just got back from Amsterdam and according to my daughter I am old – nearly 50. I travelled from airport to Zuid by train and then metro n trams for my 5 days there. Due to timing I managed with a 4 day multi card. Used ticket machines for all. Remembered to check in check out! Thought travel system was great. I did research before I left home. Big plus was to get euros onto Post Office MasterCard. You then don’t get any fees n can use it in all train ticket machines, shops etc. Would highly recommend it. Have fun in a wonderful country.

  2. Actually as a tourist I found the use of ov-chipkaart convenient. I hate having to carry cash and coins around. 😀 I was in Amsterdam & Haarlem in March and used a Tripkey card for all the trains & trams. It’s a rented ov-chipkaart that got linked to my credit card, so I didn’t have to think about reloading the card or calculate how much to put in it.


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