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Amsterdam - Getting there & away, getting around

Amsterdam - Getting there & away

Many of the world's airlines fly directly to Amsterdam, but it might be cheaper for you to fly to a nearby city such as London and get to Amsterdam by bus or train. Many airlines will offer you a free side trip within Europe, so ask around and see what offers are available. Departure tax is included in the price of your ticket. Amsterdam's Schiphol International airport is 18km (11mi) southwest of the city centre. An inexpensive train service to Centraal Station leaves every 15 minutes, taking 15-20 minutes. The more expensive KLM bus connects the airport with 15 or so city hotels every half hour. If you've got money to burn, a taxi takes 20-45 minutes.

Amsterdam's main train station is Centraal, which has regular and efficient connections throughout the country and to all neighbouring countries. There are train-ferry services to Britain, or you can catch the Eurostar train through the Chunnel. Eurail passes are valid in The Netherlands. Ferries also run between Amsterdam and Norway.

Amsterdam is well connected to the rest of Europe, including Britain, by long-distance bus. Buses are consistently cheaper than trains, but on some services you'll get a lungful of cigarette smoke.

Freeways link Amsterdam to The Hague, Rotterdam and Amersfort - it's about a six-hour drive from Paris to Amsterdam. Standard European road rules apply.

The Netherlands are very amenable to cycling - this is one of the flattest places in the world, and there are dedicated bike paths throughout the country. Bikes are allowed on trains for a nominal charge and on ferries for very little if any charge.

Getting around Amsterdam

Parking problems, Byzantine one-way systems, narrow canalside streets and thieves mean you're better off parking your car outside the city and riding in on public transport. Amsterdam taxis are among the most expensive in Europe and drivers are rude - though it's no wonder when you consider the conditions under which they drive. In theory you're not supposed to hail cabs on the street, but in practice no-one seems to mind.

Amsterdam has 550,000 bicycles and this is an ideal way to get around, although you need to get used to the idea of having your bike stolen. If you're going to be around for a while, consider buying a secondhand bike and make sure you buy a lock as well.

You can reach most places in Amsterdam on foot, but there's also an efficient public transport system. It covers almost the whole city (though the canal belt can be tricky as trams and buses stick to 'spoke' roads). Centraal Station is the hub of it all, where tram, bus, train and metro lines converge. Ticketing is based on zones, with the same ticket valid on buses, trams and metros. Trams are good for the inner city, buses go farther out, while the train is most useful for getting to the airport and the metro is best for getting to the international bus station.

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