Interrailing in the Netherlands

Disability & travel

Information for disabled travellers: https://www.ns.nl/en/travel-information/traveling-with-a-disability

Reservations

The Netherlands is a lovely place to visit, not the least because it is so interrail friendly. There are no reservations on domestic trains. except for the Nightjet (to Wien, Innsbruck and Zurich) Eurostar (formerly Thalys) (to Paris) and Eurostar (to London), or recommended reservations for the IC Amsterdam-Berlin and ICE Amsterdam-Frankfurt/Düsseldorf/Basel.

IC Direct Supplement (Toeslag)

The IC Direct/IC Brussels trains within the Netherlands require a supplement (toeslag in Dutch). The supplement is only needed for journeys within the Netherlands between Schiphol and Rotterdam. If you travel to or from Belgium with the IC Brussels or if you are traveling with Interrail or Eurail (only visible on the Dutch version of this page), you don’t need a supplement. The IC Direct only runs between Amsterdam – Schiphol – Rotterdam – Breda. Alternatively, you can take regular IC trains that don’t require the 2.90 euro supplement. The regular IC trains take about 20 minutes longer. The supplement costs 2.90 euros per ride and can be purchased at ticket machines or by tapping your payment card at the designated pole on the platform, this has the advantage of having a difference between peak (06:30-09:00 and 16:00-18:30) fare (€2.90) and off peak (€1.74).

Thalys & Eurostar

Thalys & Eurostar reservations can be made online at https://www.b-europe.com/EN/Booking/Pass#TravelWish or at the international ticket counters from NS, NMBS/SNCB, DB and SNCF, or by calling +32 70 66 77 88 (a Belgian phone number). NS charges €7.50 booking costs for this, but you can use cash here.

The trains leave from platform 15b* in Amsterdam Central or platform 2 from Rotterdam Central. For Eurostar there is a passport check, because you are travelling out of the EU and out of Schengen. Keep in mind that check in will close 30 minutes before departure and you will not be able to even access the Eurostar terminal because the area is closed off by UK Border Patrol! They are not lenient in this and will not allow you access. To make sure you’re on time, Eurostar recommends that you get to the station an hour before departure.

Because of construction work, the capacity in the Eurostar terminal in Amsterdam is limited. If tickets Amsterdam -> London aren’t available, try booking a ticket from Rotterdam. You can then use domestic trains to get from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, which takes less than an hour with Intercity Direct.

(Source: https://www.eurostar.com/rw-en/deals/interrail )

Trains to/from Germany

For trains to Germany seat reservations for IC and ICE services can be made through their normal ticketing system bahn.com, just select the seat only (no ticket) option when booking. A seat reservation costs 4,50 through https://bahn.com/ for the entire trip (multiple trains). For single train reservations it may be cheaper to book through https://oebb.at/en , which costs 3 euro per train.

Unfortunately DB added some restrictions on the ICE international line from Amsterdam to Köln, Frankfurt and Basel. This service now has required seat reservations between 17-6-2023 and 18-8-2023, bookable via the systems mentioned above for international journeys. For domestic journeys within the Netherlands and within Germany there are no required reservations.

(Source (in Dutch): https://nieuws.ns.nl/stoelreservering-gaat-ice-deze-zomer-comfortabeler-maken/ )

You can also use one of the reservation-free regional trains to travel to/from Germany:

  • Arnhem to Düsseldorf
  • Maastricht, Heerlen to Aachen
  • Venlo to Düsseldorf and Hamm
  • Enschede to Gronau, Münster, and Dortmund
  • Hengelo to Bielefeld

If you want to travel from Germany to Amsterdam by train without a reservation you can best use these 2 routes:

  • RE19 From dusseldorf to Arnhem and then transfer to the Intercity train to Amsterdam
  • RE13 From Hamm/Dusseldorf to Venlo. Transfer in Venlo to the Intercity train to Utrecht and transfer in Utrecht to continue your journey to Amsterdam.

Trains to/from Belgium

From Amsterdam, there are two hourly direct train connections to Brussels: the Thalys and the IC Brussels.

  • Thalys to Brussels/Paris: The fastest option, taking slightly under 2 hours. However, it is more expensive, with seat reservations costing around 30 euros.
  • IC Brussels: A reservation-free train that takes about 50 minutes longer than the Thalys. No seat reservation is required or possible.
  • Expected to start in April 2024 is a new service where NS uses one of their new ICNG-B trains to run a limited stop service having the same pattern as Eurostar (formerly Thalys), so only calling at Amsterdam Centraal, Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam Centraal, Antwerpen Centraal and Brussel Zuid taking approximately 2 hours. To not lose connections NMBS will run a service with the same calling pattern as now using their I11 coaches between Rotterdam and Brussel Zuid. The frequency is still unknown but to start it is expected that NS will run the ICNG-B service 4 times per day per direction.

There are also 2 slower regional connections to Belgium:

  • Roosendaal – Antwerpen: An alternative route from Amsterdam to Belgium. It takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes: Amsterdam – Roosendaal – Antwerp.
  • Maastricht – Liège: This regional train line takes only 30 minutes to connect these beautiful and unique cities.

Interrail validity

Your Interrail ticket is valid on all Dutch trains, although see above for the reservations. This includes trains run by NS, Arriva, Blauwnet, Keolis, R-NET, Breng and Connection. Most stations in the Netherlands are closed off with barriers, use the QR on your Interrail ticket to open the gates at the gate with the white background, instead of just a touch pad. Some iPhone users have reported errors with the pass not working on the gate due to Apple Pay coming up. If this happens to you try to put your phone on maximum brightness and keep it about 10-15 cm away from the NFC pad, this will work in most cases. If not, contact support via the pole just outside the gate by pressing the i button.

Other things to know

On most public transport, you can use a contactless card to pay. Make sure to tap in and out when you enter and exit, and you will pay the same fare as locals with a smart card do. This is usually a lot cheaper than buying single tickets.

Recommendations for cities to stay in on a budget are mainly to avoid Amsterdam. If you want to visit Amsterdam, it can be worth it to sleep in other cities and commute into Amsterdam. Intercity trains usually run every 15 minutes during the day, and run 24/7 between Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht. Or dare to explore and head a little bit more east, north or south, to Dordrecht Zwolle, Groningen, Eindhoven or Maastricht for example. The Dutch architecture with the famous canals can be found in most cities in the country! One thing that is the case is that the Netherlands is not cheap. Expect to pay more for a hostel bed than for example Berlin unless you book way in advance.