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Cycling and public transport

The Netherlands is a small and densely populated country, which makes it easy to travel from one place to another.

Cycling in the Netherlands

The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, is a bicycle-friendly place. Cycling is the most common way of getting around. It is fast, it is environment-friendly, and easy! And of course it is also one of the cheapest methods of transportation. There is a bike shop in the basement of the main building of the university. Bike sales for exchange students will also be arranged several times throughout the year. 

Most students arriving for the first time in Amsterdam find that buying a (second-hand) bike is not only an affordable way to travel between home and study, but also a great way of getting to know the city and the surrounding area. It may take some practice to learn to ride your bike like a Dutchie, but once you have learned it you will soon find yourself enjoying this piece of Dutch culture.

Public transport options

Public transport card: OV chipkaart

In the Netherlands you need an OV-chipkaart to travel around with the train, bus, metro and tram. There are two possibilities:

  1. An anonymous card without any discount
  2. A personal card for travel products, where you need a Dutch debit card and the buying process is written in Dutch 

It is very important that you remember to check both in and out when using your OV-chipkaart. This can be done by holding the card against the reader present on platforms (for trains and metro) and on board the vehicle (for buses and trams). You must also check in and out when changing to a different line or mode of transport.

Student travel product

Some students may be eligible for the student travel product. This travel product is part of the Dutch student finance system. It enables you to travel by Dutch public transport for free or at a reduced rate, either during weekdays or weekends.

Note specific requirements apply and that only students with a Dutch nationality, EU/EEA and Swiss students, as well as some students with a residence permit can apply. You can find all details on the governmental DUO website.

Public transport card for international students

For students that do not qualify for the student travel product, VU Amsterdam and ISIC have arranged a special public transport card with discount for international students: the ISIC/OV-chipkaart, a custom-made card for international students. You can buy the basic card for €15,- (including the ISIC card) and sign-up (optional) for services and discount created for international students for a small monthly fee: 

  • 15% discount during off-peak hours on national railway (NS)
  • A digital ISIC card, with the best discounts in the Netherlands and the rest of the world
  • Customised application process for international students
  • Automatic top-up option (no more topping op of balance)
  • Travel data, customer service etc in ISIC mobility app
  • Public transport bike (OV-fiets) and storage 

You need to sign-up for your card here, which includes the public transport card + the digital ISIC card. After confirmation you will be able to pick-up your card during the Arrival days in August. 

General season tickets

Will you be travelling daily by train or bus? Then it may be cheaper to purchase a season ticket with the public transport organisation directly. For train tickets you can take a look at the NS website and for public transport within Amsterdam you can read more on the GVB website. 

If you have a smartphone, the app 9292 (available in English) is a convenient way of planning your journey.