Transport

Conveniently near Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport is the Netherlands’ main international airport and the third busiest in Europe. It is the seat of Dutch passenger carrier KLM, and dozens of other airlines have direct flights and connections to all continents. Rotterdam Airport is much smaller but has handy links to the UK, Germany and Mediterranean destinations.

Eindhoven, Groningenand Maastricht act as feeder airports to Amsterdam, catering to business travellers and holiday charters to sunny climes. From Eindhoven, Ryanair serves London, Dublin, Milan and a handful of Mediterranean cities, while KLM flies to/from London and Paris.

Tickets

Within Europe there are plenty of no-frills airlines connecting Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to other cities, and more often than not their bargain flights can be found online rather than through a travel agent. For long-haul flights the opposite is true – agents are a valuable source for tracking down cheaper flights between continents.

Passport

In principle all passengers with passports are allowed entry to the Netherlands, although those coming from ‘suspected terrorist centres’ may be detained for questioning.

Airlines Flying to & From the Netherlands

Unless otherwise stated, dial 020 before calling the numbers below.
KLM (code KL; 474 77 47; www.klm.nl; Amsterdamse­weg 55, Amstelveen)
Aer Lingus (code EI; 517 47 47; www.aerlingus.com; Folkstoneweg 28, Schiphol)
Air Canada (code AC; 346 95 39; www.aircanada.ca; Evert van de Beekstraat 5, Schiphol)
Alitalia (code AZ; 676 44 79; www.alitalia.com; Evert van de Beekstraat 9, Schiphol)
Austrian (code OS; 09002658920; www.aua.com; Evert van de Beekstraat 37, Schiphol)
British Airways (code BA; 346 95 59; www.britishairways.com)
British Midland (code BD; 346 92 11; www.flybmi.com; Vertrekpassage 1, Schiphol)
Cathay Pacific (code CX; 653 20 10; www.cathaypacific.nl; Evert van der Beekstraat 18, Schiphol)
China Airlines (code CI; 646 10 01; www.china-airlines.com; De Boelelaan 7, Amsterdam)
Continental Airlines (code CO; 346 93 81; www.continental.com; Schiphol Blvd 275, Schiphol)
Delta Air Lines (code DL; 201 35 36; www.delta.com; Evert van der Beekstraat 7, Schiphol)
El Al (code LY; 644 01 01; www.elal.com; Prof Bavincklaan 5, Amstelveen)
EasyJet (code U2; 023-568 48 80; www.easyjet.com; Antareslaan 35, Hoofddorp)
Japan Airlines (code JL; 305 00 75; www.jal-europe.com; Jozef Israelskade 48E, Amsterdam)
Lufthansa (code LH; 09001234777; www.lufthansa.nl; Vertrekpassage 1, Schiphol)
Malaysia Airlines (code MH; 521 62 62; www.malaysiaairlines.com; Weteringschans 24/A, Amsterdam)
Northwest Airlines (code NW; 474 77 47; www.nwa.com; Amsterdamseweg 55, Amstelveen)
Ryanair (code FL; 09002022184; www.ryanair.com; Vertrekpassage 1, Schiphol)
Singapore Airlines (code SQ; 548 88 88; www.singaporeair.com; Evert van de Beekstraat 26, Schiphol)
Transavia (code HV; 09000737; www.transavia.com)
United Airlines (code UA; 201 37 08; www.unitedairlines.nl; Vertrekpassage 246, Schiphol)

Africa

KLM has numerous services to Africa, including daily flights to Johannesburg, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Kenya Airways also offers daily links to the country’s capital. From Johannesburg, low-season return fares to Amsterdam can start at around R5480 (€645) but can be considerably higher if not booked well in advance. Amsterdam is well connected to almost all other European cities. KLM and the major airlines of each country all serve each other. You should be able to find return fares from the major hub airports such as Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid. Generally, there is not much variation in airfare prices for departures from the main European cities. All the major airlines are usually offering some sort of deal, and travel agents generally have a number of promotions on offer, so shop around.

Ferry

Several companies operate car/passenger ferries between the Netherlands and the UK. Most travel agents have details of the following services but might not always know the finer points. Reservations are essential for motorists in high season, although motorcycles can often be squeezed in.

Stenaline (www.stenaline.nl) sails between Harwich and Hoek van Holland. The fast HSS ferries take only three hours 40 minutes and depart in each direction twice a day. Overnight ferries take 6¼ hours (one daily), as do normal day ferries (one daily). Foot passengers pay upwards of UK£40 return. Fares for a car with up to five people range from UK£300 to UK£350 return depending on the season and the day of the week. A motorcycle and driver cost UK£110/UK£200 in low/high season. Options such as reclining chairs and cabins cost extra and are compulsory on night crossings.

P&O North Sea Ferries (www.poferries.com) operates an overnight ferry every evening (11 hours) between Hull and Europoort (near Rotterdam). Return fares start at UK£112 for a foot passenger (for two persons travelling together it’s only UK£133), UK£238 for a car with up to four people, and UK£198 for a motorcycle and rider. Prices here include berths in an inside cabin, and luxury cabins are available.

DFDS Scandinavian Seaways (www.dfds.com) sails between Newcastle and IJmuiden, which is close to Amsterdam; the 15-hour sailings depart every day. The earlier you book, the lower your fare: single fares start at UK£19 for a foot passenger in an economy berth with private facilities, plus UK£41 for a car. The fare for a motorcycle and rider is UK£49 one way. Bear in mind that prices go up in high season. Most ferries don’t charge for a bike and have no shortage of storage space.

Bus

Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and a few of Holland’s smaller cities such as Den Haag and Utrecht, are well connected to the rest of Europe and North Africa by long-distance bus. The most extensive European bus network is maintained by Eurolines(www.eurolines.com), a consortium of coach operators. It offers a variety of passes with prices that vary by time of year, but if you book well ahead bargains can be had.

Car & Motorcycle

Drivers of cars and riders of motorbikes will need the vehicle’s registration papers, third-party insurance and an international driving permit in addition to their domestic licence. It’s a good idea to also have complete insurance coverage – be sure to ask for a Green Card from your insurer.

The ANWB provides a wide range of information, maps, advice and services if you can show a letter of introduction or membership card from your own automobile association. Traffic flows freely among EU countries, so border posts are largely a thing of the past. Customs officials still make spot checks, however, if a particular vehicle draws their attention.

Train

The Netherlands has good train links to Germany and Belgium and on to France. All Eurail, Inter-Rail, Europass and Flexipass tickets are valid on the Dutch national train service, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (www.ns.nl). Major Dutch train stations have international ticket offices, and in peak periods it’s wise to reserve seats in advance. You can also buy tickets for local trains to Belgium and Germany at the normal ticket counters. For international train information, ring the Teleservice NS Internationaal on 09009296 (calls cost €0.35 per minute) or consult the website, www.nsinternational.nl. If you book ahead, NS charges a €3.50 reservation fee per ticket.

From Amsterdam, two main trains travel south. The first, an Intercity (IC), passes through Den Haag and Rotterdam and on to Antwerp (€28, 2¼ hours, hourly), Bruges (€39.40, 3½ hours, hourly), Brussels (€33.40, three hours, hourly) and Luxembourg City (€63.60, 6¼ hours, every one to two hours).

The German ICE high-speed service runs six times a day between Amsterdam and Cologne (€49.20, 2½ hours) and on to Frankfurt (€107, four hours); there’s a surcharge of €2 and €19 respectively. ‘Super Day Returns’ are available to Cologne for €58.50. There’s also a night train between Amsterdam and Munich (from €79) – expect fat surcharges for the sleeper berths. The IC to Berlin (€92.20, six hours, three daily) passes through Hanover.

Weekend return tickets are much cheaper than during the week. A weekend return Amsterdam–Brussels (departure Friday to Sunday, return by Monday) is 40% cheaper than a regular ticket.