Currency: € EUR
General Living Costs
The Netherlands, like most northern European countries, is fairly expensive to travel around especially if you are stopping in major cities like Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague. Even by being thrifty and staying in dorms you will need to budget around €40 – €50 Euro’s a day.
With even the cheapest dorm rooms costing between €10 – €20, accommodation can make The Netherlands a pretty expensive place to visit. However the country has some great camp sites with good facilities, so if you visit in summer months this is one money saving option.
Getting Money & Currency Advice
- The Netherlands currency is the Euro which divides into 100 cents. Notes are available in the following amounts: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. Beware that many retailers will not accept the larger €200 and €500 Euro notes and you should change these at a bank for smaller denominations.
- ATM’s are never particularly hard to find and they usually accept a wide range of debit cards, some without charging a transaction fee. Credit cards can also be used in ATM’s but beware of incurring interest charges from the date of withdrawal.
- Pretty much all major credit and debit cards, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express, are widely accepted in most places.
As with most of Western Europe, accommodation prices in the Netherlands can be quite expensive especially in popular tourist cities like Amsterdam. Cheaper options are available in the form of hostels but even dorm beds can be over €20.00 depending on the hostel location. A great way to save on accommodation is to use the many campsites throughout the Netherlands. Even available in Amsterdam, Dutch campsites usually have good amenities and security and can be a great cost cutting option. Even if you don’t have a tent, check out some campsites online as many have cabins available to rent that can still work out cheaper than a hotel room.
Try to book accommodation beforehand where possible either online or by phone if you arriving in your destination late at night.
Food and Drink
Similar to most European countries, dining out in the Netherlands can be expensive. Save money by eating street food for lunch and if you’re camping, stop at a Dutch supermarket and cook yourselves; it’s amazing what you can rustle up with a simple camping stove. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant is likely to set you back between €10 – €15. A three course meal for two in a mid range restaurant should cost between €40 – €70. If you like a drink, a half litre beer from a bar will cost around €4.
The Dutch public transport system uses a smart card system called the OV-Chipkaart which is available in three version; disposable, anonymous and personal. Some disposable cards are only valid on particular networks however combination tickets are often also available, for example the new Amsterdam Travel Ticket which combines an NS rail journey from Schiphol airport with GVB, the Amsterdam public transport provider, multi day tickets.
A disposable OV-Chipkaart cannot be reloaded once the loaded fare has been used. It is meant for those who rarely use public transport in the Netherlands and can be ideal if you are only visiting for a short period. Disposable OV-Chipkaart’s are available for a range of different fares including single journeys as well as 24, 48 and 72 hour passes to all of the public transport in one city.
Tickets are available to buy from bus and tram drives or sometimes on board ticket attendees. A single ticket in Amsterdam is valid for an hour of travel (including any transfers) and costs €2.90 which isn’t too bad for a longer journey but is expensive if you are only going a couple of stops.
Special disposable OV-Chipkaart ticket types include the Amsterdam Travel Ticket which combines a Schiphol Airport – Amsterdam return train journey with multi-day unlimited travel on public transport in the city.
Costs are €15 (1 day), €20 (2 days) and €25 (3 days).
Unlimited Amsterdam Travel Ticket Prices:
24 hours (1 day) €7.50
48 hours (2 days) €12
72 hours (3 days) €16.50
96 hours (4 days) €21
120 hours (5 days) €26
144 hours (6 days) €29.50
168 hours (7 days) €32
Choosing which card is best for you really depends on how long you plan on staying in the Netherlands and how often you think you will be using public transport. For a brief city break a 72 hour disposable card is likely to be the most cost effective option, whereas an anonymous version is ideal for those exploring the entire country over a longer period.
When using the OV-Chipkaart you need to remember to ‘check in and out’ on public transport. You do this by scanning your card on the card readers placed at metro gate barriers, train station platforms and near the doors on buses and trams. If you don’t check out you could end up paying a higher fare so it’s definitely worth remembering to do! Ticket officers are able to check cards during a trip with a mobile card reader.
The Netherlands has a good network of regional and local buses which generally connect well with the train network and are ideal for reaching smaller towns and villages. If you are travelling over a longer distance though, you would be much faster going by train than bus.
‘Buzzer’ tickets provide a cheap way to travel across the Netherlands. For €10 a day it is valid after 9am on every Connexxion bus for two adults (and up to three children) and during weekends and public holidays is available before 9am. As Connexxion operate a large majority of the bus routes, you can get from Groningen to Zeeland this way in a day. Unfortunately the bus lines can be pretty indirect, meaning you have to change more than three times on a journey from Amsterdam to Rotterdam.
If staying in Amsterdam, Waterland bus tickets offer a way to explore the historic fishing villages further afield like Edam, Volendam and Marken. Day tickets cost €10 for adults and are valid on all EBS buses serving the area. Buses depart from just outside Amsterdam central station and tickets can be purchased on board.
A single ride on a GVB (Amsterdam Public Transport) night bus costs €4.50. This is valid for 90 minutes and includes transfers to other GVB night buses within that time period. It is the same price whether purchasing via disposable or anonymous OV-Chipkaart. Night bus tickets with Connexxion or EBS buses cost €5 if disposable or €4.50 if purchased with an anonymous or personal OV-Chipkaart.
Trams & Metro
Amsterdam and Rotterdam both have metro networks that run on underground networks in the city centres and turn in to elevated railways on the outskirts. Tram networks are present in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague with Utrecht being home to two sneltram or fast tram lines. Fares vary depending on the network operator but all use the OV-Chipkaart system. A single (one hour including transfers) journey on the GVB Amsterdam network is €2.90.
Train services in the Netherlands are frequent and reliable. There are two main types of train; the Intercity trains and Sprinter (sometimes called ‘Stoptrein’) trains which stop at all stations. All of these trains cost the same as there is one national tariff for train travel. Tickets are therefore valid on both Sprinter and Intercity trains.
If you buy a return ticket you must return on the same day. The price is equal to two one way tickets so you gain no price advantage by purchasing a return. Second class single tickets can cost up to €30.00 for very long journeys. Unlike some other countries in Europe, there are no savings by buying your tickets in advance. The ticket price is uniform and depends on the distance between your start and end destinations. The only trains which are more expensive are the few high speed trains including the Intercity Direct between Amsterdam Central Station and Schiphol Airport. These can sometimes require an extra ‘product’ to be loaded on your OV-Chipkaart.
Train tickets can be purchased from machines in stations, all of which accept MasterCard or Visa cards with a PIN. If you pay by credit card there is a €0.50 surcharge and if you purchase a disposable, single use OV–Chipkaart ticket a surcharge of €1.00 applies. All ticket machines will have English speaking menus available. Tip: A common mistake made by foreign travellers is to accidentally get a 40% discount ‘Korting’ ticket from the machine. A special discount card is required for these tickets. However you can travel on other people’s discount cards. If you know a Dutch student and travel with them, their ‘Studentenreisproduct’ allows for three people to receive a 40% discount!
It is also possible to buy tickets online however a Dutch bank account is required for payment. Unfortunately some tickets can only be purchased online, for example group tickets which have substantial savings. When travelling on Dutch trains you must buy a ticket before travelling, you cannot buy tickets on the train. If the ticket machines at the station are defective, you should inform the conductor on the train immediately. The only exception to this rule is the Grensland Express train, which connects Hengelo to Bad Bentheim, where you have to purchase a ticket from the conductor and the OV-Chipkaart tickets are not valid. First class tickets are about 60% more then second class and for the additional price you will enjoy wider seats and aisles and a less crowded cabin. In our opinion, second class is comfortable enough!
Attraction prices in the Netherlands are similar to elsewhere in Western Europe. Top museums and attractions can have pretty steep ticket fees; adult entry to the Rijksmuseum is €17.50, a visit to the Anne Frank house will cost €9.00 and the Heineken experience will set you back €16.00. Thankfully the Netherlands has some beautiful scenery, green spaces and charming architecture that you can enjoy completely for free. If you’re planning on visiting as many museums and attractions as you possibly can then it could be worth getting a Holland Pass which offers a discount off all the popular sights. http://www.hollandpass.com/
Like elsewhere in Europe, tips aren’t expected in the Netherlands as much as they are in the US or even the UK. Many services have a service charge already added to the bill and if this is the case, you aren’t obliged to tip any extra. Despite this, leaving extra change or rounding up the bill in restaurants is common but don’t feel the need to tip more than this, unless of course, you feel the service deserves it.
Prices listed are as a guide only. Due to market changes and currency fluctuations we cannot guarantee the 100% accuracy of the prices listed. Those listed are gathered from research accurate in December 2015.