A Guide to Amsterdam Centraal Station – 10 Important Things

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amsterdam centraal station
by siraanamwong/DepositPhotos

Situated in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Amsterdam Centraal Station is one of the world’s largest and most fairly famous train stations.

This train station was designed by Pierre Cuypers and is known for catering to over 200,00 people a day and being a magnificent landmark.

The new Amsterdam Centraal Station took the place of Amsterdam Willemspoort Station, which had closed in 1878. The Centraal station is now used by tourists and Amsterdam natives every day.

The station building offers services like luggage lockers, underground car parking, bicycle parking, currency exchange, cafes, and restaurants for everyday passengers and tourists.

1. Public Transport Near Amsterdam Centraal Station

Amsterdam Centraal Station is a major transport hub with multiple transport options for the convenience of passengers, especially trains.

Buses at the bus stops and trams are available; however, the majority of them leave from the city side. Trams service the central city, while buses travel to the city’s periphery.

Taxis are available near the Western Tunnel, and taxi drivers are not permitted to decline a short ride. Ride-hailing applications such as Uber are also available.

Amsterdam Centraal Station
Image by Baninov from Pixabay

Tourist boats that give canal cruises also depart from the city side. The city ferry boat lines that connect the city to Amsterdam Noord (North) are located behind the station.

The ferries run every 30 minutes and are completely free.

Most public transport might not be easily available at night after 21:00 p.m.

2. Accessing Tickets

Locals don’t use paper public transport tickets on trains and public transportation; instead, they use a public transportation charge card called a chip card or an OV card, which is accessible on all modes of transportation across the Netherlands.

If you are visiting the Netherlands for a short period, you should get one-way train tickets that can be purchased near the station’s main entrance.

You must verify this ticket at the entry to the platforms area of each railway station and indicate the end of your journey when you exit the station’s platforms area.

There are information desks at the entrance, and several vending machines offer train tickets to various stations around the Netherlands.

If you are planning to travel and explore the city for a while, purchase an OV-Chip Card for city transport.

The OV-chip card is highly recommended for public transportation since it is more convenient than single tickets and can be reloaded with cash or via an app.

You may check the availability of the card and purchase it from locations such as ticket vending machines and supermarkets.

Please keep in mind that you must always touch on and off trams. Otherwise, you’ll be charged a high cost.

3. Arriving At The Centraal Station

centraal station
by siraanamwong/UnlimPhotos

The station features three tunnels beneath all its platforms where you can walk to either the Amsterdam Centre side or the Amsterdam Northside, which is located behind the Ij Lake and is today known as the Ij-zijde (The Ij Side).

These tunnels connect passengers to all train stations, known as the Eastern, Main, and Western Tunnels.

There is also a new tunnel beneath the station, the centrally positioned Ij-Passage, which is more of a shopping area than a railway platform but is a convenient route to get to the lake side of the station.

If you don’t want to take a city boat to the north of Amsterdam or a bus at the bus station to another city, exit through the centre of the metro station.

Town buses, trams, and metro lines to all districts of Amsterdam are available near the exit. The taxi stand is near the IJ Hall, on the left of the Western Tunnel.

For further assistance, the main Amsterdam Tourist Office is located in a classic wooden white Dutch coffee shop in front of the station’s Main Entry and is open to foreign visitors every day. You can get assistance in multiple languages at the office.

4. Transportation To Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

During the day, local trains to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport depart every 10 minutes from platform number 14A or 15.

Other platforms have night trains to the airport.

The train ticket from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal station can be bought at the ticket machines available at multiple places in the station.

5. Transportation To Amsterdam North

If you want to discover Amsterdam like a native or get away from the tourist traps, Amsterdam Noord (Amsterdam North) is the ideal part of Amsterdam for you.

Amsterdam Noord is located across the IJ from Amsterdam’s City Centre and is accessible via a free ferry.

6. Shops And Food Accessibility In The City Centre

The shops in Amsterdam Centraal Station range from apparel and beauty to food stores and storage. Similarly, there are about 65 grocery stores in the area.

The multiple restaurants offer a diverse menu of dishes and desserts worldwide. These are perfect for grabbing a quick yet delicious lunch or food break between travelling via trains.

7. Attractions Close To The Centraal Station

As a major attraction of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Centraal station building has many city sights nearby. Some of them include the following:

7.1. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House is one of the three most popular museums in Amsterdam and is highly recognised across the world.

The real house and hiding spot where Anne Frank stayed during WWII is still standing and has been turned into a museum for tourists.

Tourists can buy online tickets, which are available for both adults and children.

7.2. Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum near the station building is dedicated to Dutch Art and History.

A trip to Amsterdam would be pointless without a stop at the Rijksmuseum, one of the city’s largest and most important museums.

7.3. Vondelpark

The largest and most well-known municipal park in Amsterdam, Vondelpark features a well-known open-air theatre, multiple children’s playgrounds, and various cafés and restaurants, making it a vibrant centre of activity all year.

7.4. Van Gogh Museum

The world’s biggest works collection by the maestro is housed in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The museum’s collection of over 200 paintings, 500 sketches, and 700 letters gives an intimate peek into the life and thoughts of artistic genius Van Gogh.

7.5. Royal Palace

Tourists may purchase tickets to one of Amsterdam’s palaces online. It is quite popular since it gives a good insight into the royal family and their lives though only one floor can be explored.

The palace is absolutely worth seeing when in Amsterdam.

7.6. NEMO Science Museum

Your senses will be captivated by exhibitions, theatre events, videos, seminars, and demonstrations at this mind-blowing science and technology museum.

The visit is free. However, participation in select exhibitions, events, and workshops may be charged.

7.7. Rembrandt House Museum

Amsterdam Centraal Station
Image by Jo Vanel from Pixabay

Just 15 minutes from the Amsterdam Centraal Station, The Rembrandt House Museum will provide insight into Rembrandt’s life.

It is especially worthwhile if you visit other art museums to broaden your experience.

8. Hotels Near The City Centre

The train station is also surrounded by many hotels of varying price ranges and is within walking distance from the station square for the convenience of travellers.

There are various hotels located in front of and near the Amsterdam Centraal Station. There are no transportation requirements to get there; they are just a walk away.

The five-star NH Barbizon Palace and Hotel Victoria are the most well-known. The closest hotel is the Amsterdam Ibis Centre, located on station island.

Other good budget options are Bellevue Hotel, Multatuli Hotel, and many more.

Make sure you look for accommodations before travelling. This will ensure you stay the night at the best place according to your budget with the necessary amenities.

9. Currency Exchange

While travelling, you, of course, will need some cash. Keeping some cash on hand in addition to your credit or debit card is a good idea.

While it may be tempting to convert your money at the Schiphol Airport or Amsterdam Centraal Station, you would be shortchanging yourself.

The difficulty for travellers is to obtain the best conversion rate at the least amount of commissions or other costs charged by a bank or service.

Money exchange shops in Amsterdam and abroad frequently promote ‘no fees,’ ‘no commission,’ or ‘no costs & no commission.’

Before you purchase or sell money, check the tiny print or ask for specifics to ensure that the offered bargain pertains to the amount you plan to alter.

One of the most well-known exchanging companies is Pott Change, a one-office exchange firm whose praises may be found on several travel sites. Pott Change is on Damrak 95, the major route connecting Amsterdam Centraal Station to Dam Square.

10. Tips For Travellers

1. Waiting until you get in town before shopping around for the greatest deal or exchanging currency would be the smartest way to use your money.

Many shops at the Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Centraal Station have somewhat higher prices and are hubs for people intending to trick tourists for their money without making them realise it. Getting tricked at such places is also easier.

The best places to get great and affordable deals are markets around the city. The multiple markets in Amsterdam have different options for you to choose from.

2. It is best to have some cash with you at all times while visiting Amsterdam because many businesses do not take debit or credit cards.

Some ATM cards are incompatible with specific machines or networks, and some retailers and restaurants impose a transaction fee for debit card payments.

Keeping a small quantity of cash on hand in addition to your credit or debit card is a smart choice to get you through the city smoothly.

3. The Amsterdam Centraal Station is mostly very secure. Nevertheless, keep an eye on your baggage and belongings, particularly if it is fairly significant.

You will hear and read alerts everywhere about pickpockets as soon as you specifically arrive at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport or Amsterdam Centraal Station.

Pickpockets adore Amsterdam, and they especially adore visitors who are clueless and innocent about the Amsterdam area and people.

4. Carry your cash and passport in a money belt, bra pocket, and other general anti-theft products.

If you buy tickets at the kiosk, ensure your money is safe and kept confidential. Always be mindful of your cards, cash and documents while travelling the city.

5. In recent years, several reports of visitors have been being approached by persons who seemed and acted like police officials.

The ‘officers,’ claim to be alerting tourists to the availability of counterfeit Euros. They offer to examine their wallets, then perform an exchange scam, leaving the visitors with no money or a pile of bogus Euros.

True officers will not demand to see your money.

6. Be careful of the extremely helpful people around you on the streets. Many of them trick you into giving them what they want.

Be careful, especially about not exchanging currency at any bar, shop, hotel or on the street. You can ask for help from people yourself or accept their help but don’t trust them too quickly.

7. Whenever possible, acquire tickets in advance. Long lines are expected at museums and galleries, especially during the summer from June to August.

Ticketed time slots are offered at major attractions such as the Anne Frank Huis and the Van Gogh Museum.

Amsterdam Centraal Station
Image by Robert Armstrong from Pixabay

8. Rental bicycles are widely accessible around the city, especially near the Amsterdam Centraal station. The bikes are well-made, and locks are given to all buyers.

Cycling is a common mode of transportation in Amsterdam and is used by almost all locals and tourists.

Use one lock for the front wheel connected to the bike frame and another for the rear wheel, preferably attached to a post, bike rack, or other ground-mounted structure.

Parking your bike on the station premise is generally the ideal place and prevents your bike from being towed away by authorities.

9. Smoking Marijuana and alcohol consumption in public is banned and is considered impolite and disrespectful by Amsterdam residents.

Similarly, photographing sex workers in the Red Light District is forbidden. Ensure you avoid these things when visiting the city and train station.

10. The Dutch are noted for their bluntness while talking to people they know as well as strangers. If a local expresses an unvarnished view to you, it is out of honesty rather than impoliteness.

It’s polite to state your thoughts and keep them brief in Dutch society.

This might seem a bit difficult to people from other cultures, but understanding this part of Dutch society might make your visit somewhat better.

11. Hoteldoc and Amsterdam Tourist Physicians are two of Amsterdam’s many English-speaking doctors and medical care services.

Dial 112 for emergencies or +31 20 570 9500 to reach an ambulance directly in case of any medical emergency or care you need.

12. Get an I Amsterdam City Card if you visit more than three Amsterdam attractions. It’s a card that entitles you to access cheap entry to several of the city’s finest attractions.

Depending on the card purchased, the cards are valid for 48 hours or 72 hours after initial use and may be purchased at any of the city’s attractions or Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

13. While drug usage is permitted in Amsterdam, it is vital to remember that selling or buying drugs is still banned in the city.

Do not buy drugs from street vendors.

This is unlawful, strongly discouraged, and can have major ramifications that can end your trip immediately.

14. You must carry your identification everywhere you go in the city. This is a legal requirement.

If you are not from the EU, make sure to bring your passport with you because not having identification might result in a fine.

Similarly, you will still require identification if you are from the EU.

In general, you won’t need to show your ID often, but you might need to if you want to enter a coffee shop.

Most bars do not need ID unless the client seems to be under 18, which is the legal drinking age in the Netherlands.

15. There are several storage facilities in and around Amsterdam Centraal Station, so don’t be afraid to check in your goods for a nominal cost if you don’t want to go touring with heavy bags/suitcases for safety and convenience reasons.

Final Note

Amsterdam is a beautiful city visited by hundreds of people every year. The Centraal station has been in use for years and is still used every day because of its accessibility and consistent services.

While travelling, the trains will be vital, and knowing about the station is extremely important to enjoy a smooth and delightful trip.

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