Travelling by train in Holland

Explore Holland while travelling comfortably by train. The excellent railway network, with some 400 stations, takes you from A to B without any hassle.

  • Explore Holland and travel by train.
  • Learn more about station facilities and the schedule.
  • Use an anonymous OV-chipkaart to travel by train in Holland.
  • Travel by bicycle and train in Holland.
  • © Rudy and Peter Skitterians
  • © Marco Wintjens
  • © NS
  • © Rudy and Peter Skitterians
  • © Marco Wintjens
  • © NS
  • © Rudy and Peter Skitterians
  • © Marco Wintjens
  • © NS

Great railway network

Railway travel is a comfortable way to get around in Holland. The country boasts an extensive railway network, and the trains are modern and perfectly comfortable. Since Holland is a relatively small country, you can travel from Amsterdam to Utrecht in just 30 minutes and from The Hague to Amsterdam Central Station in just 50 minutes. And even traveling all the way up north (Groningen) and down south (Maastricht) takes just 2 hours from Amsterdam Central. In other words, travelling by train is a perfect way to discover many beautiful places in Holland! 

Railway travel

You can use a single-use chipcard or an OV-chipkaart (smart card) to travel by train in Holland. The single-use chipcard is perfect for incidental travellers. You can buy it at an NS ticketing machine or service desk. Single-use chipcards always cost 1 euro more per trip. You don’t have to charge credit to the card but you do have to check in and out.
If you plan to use the train more often while staying in Holland, we recommend buying an ‘anonymous OV-chipkaart’. You can buy them at NS ticketing machines or the service desk. There is a one-time fee of EUR 7.50 for an anonymous OV-chipkaart (which can also be used on buses, trams, metros and ferries). Prior to travelling, you must charge credit to your anonymous OV-chipkaart, which can be done at an NS ticking machine. If you want to travel by train, you need at least 20 euros worth of credit on your OV-chipkaart! You must check in prior to every trip and check out at the end. Look for the OV-chipkaart pillars on the station.  

Travelling 1st or 2nd class

Virtually every NS train offers 1st and 2nd class travel (classes are marked inside and outside the trains). If you buy an anonymous OV-chipkaart, you will normally travel in 2nd class. If you wish to have more comfort and space, you can opt for travelling 1st class, in which case you will have to pay extra. You can switch classes on your OV-chipkaart at an NS ticketing machine. On the screen, tap ‘Change class’ and select ‘1st class today’. Hold your anonymous OV-chipkaart in front of the card reader. The class will be changed until 4 AM.
If you buy a single-use chipcard or e-ticket, you can choose to travel 1st or 2nd class while buying your ticket. Go to the service or information desk at any time for more information on 1st class travel and changing classes.


Holland boasts some 400 stations. There are historic stations like Haarlem, small stations like Soestdijk, and big stations like Amsterdam and Utrecht. Station facilities vary, but every station has an NS ticketing machine to buy your ticket. Bigger stations also have a service desk and an information desk, which can answer any questions and offer advice. Service desks also sell tickets. Bigger stations usually also contain a range of food shops as well as shops for buying flowers, books, perfumes and clothes. 

Schedule and departure times

Every station has yellow signs that show the schedule from early in the morning to late at night. They will tell you where and at what time your train departs. Departure signs can also be found on the platforms, which show at what time the next train will be leaving and at which stations it will stop. Any changes are announced by loudspeaker and shown on the departure signs of the platform in question. Always keep an eye on the departure signs!  

Night trains

If you want to travel home by train after a night on the town, you can sometimes take a night train. These service several routes and run after the last regular train that day until early in the morning. They usually run every hour and tickets are available at the regular price. Please note that night trains are available nightly in the Randstad area, but are generally available on weekends only in other regions. Night trains are also often available to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Eindhoven Airport.  

Taking your bicycle along

You can take your bicycle with you on the train outside peak hours (9:00 – 16:30 and after 18:00). You need to buy a bicycle day ticket at an NS ticketing machine, which costs 6 euros. Your bicycle can be stored in the indicated areas on the train, which you can recognise by the bicycle label on the train’s side. For more information on taking your bicycle along on the train, please go to an NS information and service desk.

Download the information flyer on railway travel in Holland here.


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