Hop on a train in the Netherlands and you’ll be travelling with the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch railway in English) or NS for short. NS trains offer a simple and convenient way to discover everything that Holland has to offer, with an extensive railway network across the country. From the bustling streets of Amsterdam, quieter towns full of culture and even trains to take you cross-border, there are so many destinations waiting to be explored.
Want to know more about travelling on NS Trains in the Netherlands? We’ve put together this handy guide on where NS trains can take you, how often they run and most importantly how to book your NS tickets.
First things first, where exactly can NS trains take you? Take a look at our rail map below to see some of the amazing places in the Netherlands that you can explore by rail.
To make your journey as smooth and comfortable as possible, NS trains are usually divided into different zones – meet & greet, quiet and work and rest. If you’re looking for a peaceful trip, head to the quiet zone where seats are set out in rows rather than facing each other.
Those wanting to socialise should check out the meet & greet zone, which features lounge seating and an open atmosphere.
We know Amsterdam and Rotterdam are on most people’s bucket lists when it comes to the Netherlands but hopping on an NS train also makes it easy to enjoy amazing experiences outside of the main cities. If you’re looking to soak in some of the famous countryside, there are plenty of options for you. In need of inspiration? We’ve highlighted some of the most popular train journeys and NS train schedules our customers take on NS trains below.
You’ll be pleased to know that buying and using NS tickets is a simple and straight forward process. Many people travel using an OV Chipkaart – a magnetic card that can either be used for a one-time journey or topped up – you’ll find these available to buy at stations, newsagents and even some supermarkets. By purchasing your NS train tickets via our website or app, you’ll receive an email with your PDF ticket as a handy attachment – just print this out before taking your train.
For those that aren’t fluent in Dutch, we’ve explained the main ticket types you’ll come across when travelling on NS trains below.
|Voordeel-Urenkaart||Discounted price for train travel, weekdays or weekends, combined with admission to Dutch museums.|
|Enkele reis||The simplest ticket there is, valid for a single journey only.|
|Dagretour||Want to go there and back? This return ticket is valid for one round trip.|
|Weekendretour||Another round-trip ticket, but only for use during the weekend.|
|Dagkaart||Similar to a travelcard in the UK, this one-day ticket allows you to board unlimited trains throughout the day.|
|OV-dagkaart||If you’re thinking about using multiple modes of train, this ticket also allows for travel on buses, trams and subways.|
|Zomertour and Zomertour Plus||Two-day ticket across the Netherlands.|
|Railrunnerkaartje||AKA “Railrunner”. Children between 4 and 11 can purchase this discounted ticket from €2.50 that’s valid for the whole day. Children aged three and under may travel for free.|
There are six different types of train services in Holland, all operated by NS and offering different opportunities to travel around the Netherlands and further afield.
The most common NS service is the Intercity train. As the name suggests, NS Intercity trains connect major cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague together on one fast line – perfect for city hopping. These double-decker trains are usually split into two classes (1st and 2nd class), have comfortable seating and free WiFi available on almost all services – check for the WiFi logo on the side of the train before boarding.
A high-speed version of the Intercity trains, these trains make fewer stops between the major cities and Amsterdam Schiphol airport – ideal for if you’re short on time, or you just like to travel fast! NS Intercity Direct services offer many of the same facilities as normal Intercity trains would (minus bike storage), just at a much higher speed.
The NS Express trains are almost identical to the Intercity trains. However, the destinations and stations these trains call at are usually further out of the city centres. These trains are perfect if you’re looking to explore the different regions of the Netherlands, without entering the major cities.
Essential for commuters across the Netherlands, these trains stop at all stations along a specific route and are designed with rapid travel times in mind rather than a comfortable ride. Many of these trains don’t come with an onboard toilet – something to bear in mind before you travel. Sprinter trains are great for travelling to smaller towns and avoiding higher prices, we’d just recommend avoiding the rush hour crush.
Night trains in the Netherlands typically take passengers through the Randstad area of the country (Amsterdam, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and The Hauge), with services that also run from Utretcht and Rotterdam. There’s usually one service per hour and they begin to run once the last standard NS train has departed. While there are no sleeper cabins available on NS night trains, tickets are the same price as any other NS train on the same route.
When you venture across the border, you’ll be travelling on an NS International service. NS International run trains from many Dutch stations to over 3,300 destinations across Europe – a great option if you’re planning to visit several countries during one trip. NS works with a number of cross-border train companies to provide their international service, including Thalys, Eurostar, ICE trains and TGV.
Many stations offer a secure luggage storage service. The lockers are secured electronically and can be rented for up to three days at a time. There are two sizes of locker available – small and large. Small locker dimensions are 90x45x40 cm and prices start from €3.85. Large locker dimensions are 90x60x40 cm and prices start from €5.70.
Most NS Intercity trains have free WiFi – those that do will have a WiFi logo on the outside of the train. If your train has a WiFi connection, connect to the "WiFi in the train" network.
Small animals can ride free on NS trains, provided they travel in a suitable transport cage, bag or basket – the maximum size of which is 30x30x55 cm.
Guide dogs travel for free providing they’re recognizable as guide dogs for the blind and you buy a guide rate ticket.
Large dogs can also travel on all NS trains providing they are leashed and muzzled. Day cards for dogs can be purchased at self-service ticket machines and are priced at €3.10.
Outside peak hours (09:00 to 16:30 and after 18:00), weekends, public holidays and during the summer months, you can transport your bike on NS trains. You just need to buy a bike ticket, at a cost of €6, at one of the vending machines. The bike must be placed in the appropriate spaces, indicated by a bicycle symbol, on the side of the cars.
Foldable bicycles can be transported as normal luggage. For more information on transporting your bike, you can visit information points inside the stations.