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The Netherlands Backpacker Eurail Passes Budget Travel Transportation


GETTING THERE

Air

The Netherlands' international airport is Schiphol, 18km south-west of central Amsterdam. It's one of western Europe's major international hubs, and services flights from airlines worldwide as well as the national carrier, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Bus

Eurolines is the main international bus company servicing the Netherlands. It has regular buses from Amsterdam to a crop of European destinations as well as North Africa. Depending on the service, there are stops in Breda, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Eurolines buses cross the Channel either on ferries departing from Calais in France or via the Eurotunnel. Members of Hostelling International (HI) get a 10% discount on Eurolines tickets.

Train

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS; Netherlands Railways) operates regular and efficient train services to all its neighboring countries. For international train information and reservations, call 0900-92 96.

The main line south from Amsterdam passes through The Hague and Rotterdam and on to Antwerp (25 €, two hours, hourly trains) and Brussels (32 €, 3 hours, hourly trains). The line south-east runs to Cologne (45 €, 3 hours, every two hours) and farther into Germany. The line east goes to Berlin, with a branch north to Hamburg. All these fares are one way in 2nd class; people aged under 26 get a 25% discount (bring your passport). The Weekendretour (weekend return) ticket gives a 40% discount on return fares to Belgium or Germany when travelling between Friday and Monday.

The high-speed Thalys train runs five times daily between Amsterdam and Paris-Nord (80/65 € on weekdays/weekends, 5 hours). Those under 26 get a 45% discount.

Sea

Stena Line's high-speed Stena HSS sails from Hook of Holland to Harwich in 3% hours. Fares for a car with driver range from 250 € to 400 €. There are also special five-day return tickets for between 180 € to 350 €. A one-way passenger ticket costs 70/50 € for an adult/child.

P&O/North Sea Ferries operates an overnight boat (14 hours) between Europoort (near Rotterdam) and Hull. Basic rates for cars start at 100/120 € in the low/high season. Adult tickets are 60/80 € and child fares go for 18/25 €.

GETTING AROUND

For all national train/bus/tram information, call 0900-92 92.

Bus

Buses are used for regional transport rather than for longer trips, which are better travelled by train. They provide a vital service, especially in parts of the north and east, where trains are less frequent or nonexistent.

Train

NS trains are fast and efficient, with at least one InterCity train every 15 minutes between major cities, and half-hourly trains on branch lines.

If you're returning on the same day, it's cheaper to buy a dagretour (day return) rather than two single tickets. A One-Day Ticket gives unlimited 2nd/lst-class travel and costs 40/60 €. With this ticket you can also buy a Public Transport Day Card for 5 € which gives unlimited use of city buses, trams and metros.

Car

Foreign drivers need a Green Card as proof of insurance. Road rules are basically stick to the right and give way to the right (except at major crossroads and roads with right of way). Watch out for cyclists - they're abundant. Speed limits are 50km/h in built-up areas, 80km/h in the country, 100km/h on major through roads and 120km/h on motorways. Fuel prices per litre are 1.1 € to 1.25 € for loodvrij (lead-free), 1.3 € for leaded and 0.8 € for diesel. The maximum permissible blood-alcohol concentration is 0.05%. For other motoring information, contact the Royal Dutch Touring Association (ANWB, 020-673 08 44), Museumplein 5, 1071 DJ Amsterdam.

Bicycle

With 10,000km of cycling paths, afiets (bicycle) is the way to go. The ANWB publishes cycling maps for each province. Major roads have separate bike lanes, and, except for motorways, there's virtually nowhere bicycles can't go. That said, in places such as the Delta region and along the coast you'll need muscles to combat the North Sea headwinds. To take a bicycle on a train (not allowed in peak hours) costs 5 € for up to 80km, 8 € for greater distances, or 12 € for a dugkaart (day card). Private bike rental outlets charge about 7/25 € per day/week; hire shops at train stations charge 5/20 € a day/week. You must return the bike to the same station.

 

The Netherlands


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