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is €7.50 (as of 2014) and is non-refundable. These cards are available at ticket offices and vending machines valid up to 5 years. This card is reusable and has an electronic purse. It is transferable, and therefore cannot be used for discounted travel, or for monthly or annual season tickets. However, the anonymous card can contain multiple products simultaneously, as long as those are 'simple' travel products, like those available for the disposable card. * Personal OV-chipkaart is useful for anyone entitled to travel with a discount. It is also the only type that can hold a monthly or annual season ticket. Because of these characteristics, the personal card is non-transferable and features the holder's photograph and date of birth. The personal OV-chipkaart has an electronic purse. In addition, it can be set to automatically top its balance up when it drops below a certain level. The personal card is the only one that can be blocked if it is lost or stolen. Travellers can buy a travel product, for example a one-day pass for an entire city or a monthly season ticket for a certain route. When they check out after the trip (see next section), the system will recognise that a certain product has been used and, if necessary, deactivate it. The other option is to use money from the electronic purse on the OV-chipkaart. On checking in, the system will charge a checking-in fee (€20 for NS trains, €4 for metro, tram and bus), which will be refunded as soon as the traveller checks out, minus the fare for the trip actually made. If a user fails to check out, the checking-in fee, which is higher than the fare for most actual journeys, is not refunded. Loading travel credit can be done at station ticket machines, at ticket offices and some tobacco shops and supermarkets. During a trip, personnel can check cards with a mobile card reader. You must be travelling away from the point where you checked in. Usage When travelling by train or metro, the OV-chipkaart is held against a card reader as soon as the traveller enters the station or the platform. The card has now been 'checked in', and the boarding fee will be charged to the card. When the passenger ends the journey at another station, the card is held against the card reader again in order to 'check out'; the boarding fee is refunded (minus the fare for the journey actually made if the traveller is using the e-purse). There are two types of card reader systems on train and metro stations: free-standing card readers, and card readers integrated into ticket gates. When travelling by tram or bus, travellers check in and out when entering or leaving the vehicle. Card readers are placed near each door for this purpose. Checking in and out is always required, except when you transfer from one train to another from the same operator. Changing trains from one operator to a different operator requires checking out at a card reader of the first operator and checking in at a card reader of the second operator. When you cannot check-out (i.e. the check-out device is defective), you can claim costs with your public transport company. Buying public transport cards and loading credit Anonymous cards and appropriate disposable cards are obtainable at ticket machines on train stations and the Amsterdam (GVB) and Rotterdam (RET) metro. Also many supermarkets, tobacco shops and Bruna bookstores sell anonymous cards. Most places where cards can be bought offer the ability to load a credit, but may need a debit card with PIN code. Further note that bus and tram stops usually don't have any means to buy cards or load credit. You can apply for a personal card at Ov-chipkaart.nl. This requires an address in The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg or Germany. Unused credit It is possible to get a refund of unused credit on Personal and Anonymous cards at a ticket office for a € 2.50 fee. The anonymous and personal OV-chipkaart have a validity of four to five years. Any credit that's still on an old card can be transferred to a new card; for free if the old card is still valid, or for € 2.50 if it isn't. By train 280px thumbnail Amsterdam Centraal, the entry point to Amsterdam for millions of visitors (File:Amsterdam Centraal Façade.jpg) Most of the Netherlands is densely populated and urbanised, and train services are frequent to most big cities and larger villages and towns in between. There are two main types of trains: Intercities which only stop at major stations and Sprinters which stop at all stations. All types of train have the same prices. Also, there are high-speed trains called 'Intercity Direct' between Amsterdam and Breda, which only requires a supplement ticket between Schiphol and Rotterdam. Travelling all the way from the north of the country (Groningen) to the south (Maastricht) takes approximately 4 hours. The Spoorkaart is an map of the railway system and shows all services. Connections with only one train per hour are shown in thinner lines. Most lines offer one train every 15 minutes (every 10 min during the rush hours), but some rural lines run only every 60 min. Where more lines run together, the frequency is, of course, even higher. In the western Netherlands, the rail network is more like a large urban network, with up to 12 trains per hour on main routes. The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) operates most routes. Some local lines are operated by Syntus, Arriva, Veolia and Connexxion. Because of the high service frequency, delays are quite common. However, the delay is usually not more than 5 or 10 minutes. Trains can be crowded, especially in the morning rush hour. Reserving seats on domestic trains is only possible on the Intercity Direct. One particular mistake tourists often make is getting on the wrong part of a train. Many trains consist of two parts with different destinations. Somewhere on the way to the final destination, both parts will be separated and will continue on their own to their respective destinations. In that case, the signs over the platforms will show two destinations and which part goes where: ''achterste deel achter'' means back and ''voorste deel voor'' means front, referring to the direction of departure. Feel free to ask other passengers or an employee. Another frequently made mistake involves travelling from Schiphol to Amsterdam. From Schiphol you can go to either Amsterdam Centraal or Amsterdam Zuid (South). These railway stations are not connected directly and many tourists with the idea of going to Amsterdam Centraal wind up at South. Therefore always check the destination of the train. From Amsterdam Zuid you can take the metro to Centraal, or a train to Centraal with an interchange at station Duivendrecht (2nd floor). There is a convenient night train service (for party-goers and airport traffic) between Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, Leiden, Schiphol, Amsterdam, and Utrecht, all night long, once an hour in each direction. In the nights F-Sa and Sa-Su, North-Brabant is also served. You can get to Dordrecht, 's-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Tilburg, and Breda. Most trains have two comfort classes (1e klasse and 2e klasse). Some regional lines don't have first class. First class and second class are usually distinguished by different colour schemes. Signs with either "1" or "2" next to outside doors and carriage doors indicate class. Some zones in train are silent zones. Noise is to be kept to a minimum in these areas. They are indicated either by a stylised face in silhouette holding a finger to the lips, or a yellow oval with "Ssst". Free Wi-Fi is available at almost all major train stations and in many Intercity trains. Electrical outlets are only available in a few Intercity trains, and then only in First Class. Buying train tickets There is one national tariff system for train travel. You don't need separate tickets for other operators. All train companies in the Netherlands now use the OV-chipkaart: paper train tickets are no longer issued. Travellers have the following options for ticketing: *Obtain a non-disposable OV-chipkaart: an anonymous card or personal card as mentioned above, which costs €7.50 per card. Note that if you already bought one of these cards from a provider that is not NS, you need to activate it for NS train travel. This happens automatically when loading money onto the card at one of the NS ticket machines. *Purchase a disposable OV-chipkaart for each journey. These are for sale at ticket machines, but the ticket price is €1 higher than the price on a non-disposable card. Note that a disposable card can be bought for a single or for a return, so in this case a return (1x €1 surcharge) is cheaper than two singles (2x €1 surcharge). *Use an e-ticket. There is no surcharge for these. *International trains arriving in or departing from the Netherlands may use separate ticketing systems. International discount passes such as the Eurail pass do not use the Chipkaart system either. The ticket price is uniform and depends on distance. Tickets are valid on both sprinter and intercity services; there is no difference in price. However, for domestic travel with Intercity Direct or ICE trains, you will need a surcharge which you can buy at the ticket machine, to be used directly. With Intercity Direct, this fee is only needed when travelling between Schiphol and Rotterdam. The most used tickets are the single (''enkele reis'') and return tickets (''retour''). The latter is valid only for a return on the day itself, but the price is equal to two singles, therefore a return offers no price advantage over buying singles (except when using a disposable OV-chipkaart). Tickets are valid in any train on the route (as opposed to being valid in only one fixed train). It is allowed to break at any station on the route (even on stations on the route where you don't have to change). Like in many countries, there is a difference between first and second class. A second class ticket is about 60% of the price of a first class ticket. The main advantage of first class is that it is less crowded, and seats and aisles are generally wider. For children 4–11 years accompanied by adults, a Railrunner ticket can be bought for €2.50. Tickets may be purchased in advance online ("e-tickets") although a Dutch bank account for payment (iDEAL) is necessary. Note that pre-bought tickets are personal, and train conductors may ask for ID. There is no price difference compared to travelling with an anonymous or personal OV-chipkaart, however e-tickets are €1 cheaper than a disposable OV-chipkaart. Alternatively, Belgian Rail's European travel site offers e-tickets on some Dutch domestic routes, usually at the same price as the Dutch NS (check to make sure), but ''does'' allow foreign credit cards. Tickets can be purchased from machines in stations using Dutch bank cards or Maestro debit cards. Ticket machines also accept Visa and MasterCard at 15 large train stations, listed here. There are plans to enable credit card payments at every ticket machine by the end of 2014. Some of the machines, at least one at each station, also accept coins (but no notes). Only larger stations have a ticket counter. The ticket machines have English-language menus available. A common mistake made by foreigners is accidentally getting a 40% discount ('korting') ticket from the machine. A special discount-card is required for these tickets, although you can travel on other people's discount cards too. (See Discount rail pass (#Discount rail pass)). If you have trouble using the ticket machine, ask someone else for help; almost everyone speaks some English and will help you out. You must '''buy a ticket before travelling''' — since 2005, you can no longer simply buy a ticket from the conductor, as in some other countries. If you buy a ticket on board, you will have to pay the normal price ''plus'' a €35 fine. If the ticket machines are defective, go to the conductor immediately when boarding. The conductor is not allowed any discretion on this policy, though being polite and pretending to be an ignorant tourist ''might'' help you get away with having an invalid ticket. In worst case though, if you do not have either enough cash, or a passport, you could be arrested by railway police. Discount rail pass Visitors planning to travel by train in the Netherlands should consider the Eurail pass with the Benelux package (see eurail.com). This allows for unlimited train travel within Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg over multiple days. Europeans, not being eligible for Eurail passes, should look into Inter Rail Passes for their discount train travel (see interrail.eu). For tourists thinking of travelling by train for some days it can be a good deal to get a ''Dal Voordeel Abonnement'' (Off-peak discount)which gives the cardholder (and up to three additional persons travelling with him or her) 40% off for one year on NS trains, except when travelling during peak hours (working days 6.30-9.00h and 16.00-18.30h, except holidays). Price €50 for one year (2014). The subscription includes a personal OV-chipkaart which takes 2 weeks to process. If you already have one, the subscription can be loaded onto your own personal OV-chipkaart. Remember to always check in and out, the discount will be automatically applied, depending on the time of check in. NS also have monthly and yearly subscriptions for free travel in weekends, off-peak hours or the entire subscription period including peak hours, and also a subscription that offers a 40% discount for the entire period including peak hours. Travellers who are in the Netherlands for only one day and want to see much of the country by train, may want to get a ''Dagkaart'' (day pass, €51). But note: it may be cheaper to just buy a ticket. The ''dagkaart'' would require about 6 hours train travel in one day. There are also special deals on the ''Dagkaart'' from stores such as the Hema, Blokker, Kruidvat or Albert Heijn which you buy for a discounted price (€13-16) and then print out at home. It is important to note the validity of such tickets (e.g. not valid during morning rush hours, and valid for all days or just Saturday-Sunday, and the time period for which they are valid). Using one of those tickets is probably the cheapest way to get around in the Netherlands by train, especially for round trips. In the station Most stations are small with only one or two platforms. Stops at towns or villages in general aren't provided with railway staff. However cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht have large central stations with up to 14 platforms. It can take 5, maybe even 10 minutes to move from one platform to another, especially for people who not familiar with the station. The platforms are all numbered. When platforms are so long that two or more trains can halt at the same platform, the different parts of the platform are indicated with the lowercase letters a b c. On some stations, capital letters are used to indicate which part of the train stops at which part of the station. Do not confuse the lower case and upper case letters. Time tables can be found in the station hall and on the platforms. All train tables are normally yellow, with exceptions for the different schedules during planned maintenance works (blue) and queen's day (orange). Departing trains are printed in blue (on yellow tables), arriving train tables in red. Unlike in other countries, the tables themselves are not ordered by time of departure, but by direction (Please notice this is actually by line, from bigger stations some cities are reach by several lines! Tourists better ask someone, which line is fastest for your destination.). In some cases, more than one table is necessary to cover a single day for a certain direction. Additionally, most stations have blue electronic screens, indicating the trains departing during the next hour. By bus The network of regional and local buses in the Netherlands is fine-grained and frequent and usually connects well with the train network; by bus travellers can reach most small villages easily. However, for long-distance travel, these regional buses are not convenient and much slower than the train. Fast long-distance buses are only available on a small number of routes that aren't covered by the rail network; these buses have special names that differ by region, such as ''Q-liner,'' ''Brabantliner'' and ''Interliner'' and special tariffs. There are four main bus companies in the Netherlands, ''Connexxion,'' ''Veolia,'' ''Arriva'' and ''Qbuzz.'' A few large cities have their own bus company. A cheap way to get across the Netherlands is to buy a "buzzer" ticket. It costs €10 a day, and is valid after 9AM on every single Connexxion bus for two adults and up to three children. On weekends and holidays it is also valid before 09:00. Because Connexxion have a wide-spread network, you can get from Groningen to Zeeland this way in a day, and it undercuts the train. A big downside though is that bus lines are very indirect. For example, getting from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, would require three or more changes. In short: bus journeys will almost always take longer than train travel. For example, trip to Rotterdam from Utrecht will take 40 minutes, but in the Bus it will take 1.5 hr. However, if you want to enjoy the countryside and villages you can prefer the bus trips. Many companies and regions have their own bus discount tickets, which are often cheaper than using credit on the OV-chipkaart. Park-and-ride-(travel-)tickets: some towns and cities have special cheaper bus tickets from car parks near the city limits to the city centre, for outside rush hours, usually a return ticket. Night buses Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht offer public transport at night. Only Amsterdam has a service all night and every night; in the other cities it is more limited to the beginning of the night or only during the weekend. Several other cities and regions also have night buses, usually even more limited. Some night buses cover quite a distance, such as Amsterdam-Almere. You might need special night-bus tickets so be sure to check the city pages. By metro or tram The two largest cities, Amsterdam ( map) and Rotterdam (map), have a metro network which consist of mainly elevated railways outside the city centres, and some kilometres underground railways within the centre. Line E of the Rotterdam metro has a start final destination at The Hague Central Station. Furthermore there is a large city tram network in the agglomerations of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague; Utrecht has two ''sneltram'' lines (fast tram or light-rail). By bicycle Cycling in the Netherlands is much safer and more convenient than in many other countries, because of the infrastructure - cycle paths, cycle lanes, and signposted cycle routes - and because of the small distances and flatness. All these factors plus many more additional facilities such as numerous picnic places, terraces, small ferry-connections and camping places, makes it often preferable to discover the country by bike rather than by car. The proliferation of bicycles also means that you're seen as a significant part of the traffic mix - motorists will let you know if you don't keep to the rules and presume you are aware of other traffic. This is specially important to know in the very busy (chaotic) centres of the biggest cities. Here it can be sensible to get off your bike for a few hundred metres and or leave the centre entirely by taking the bike onto a train, metro or randstadrail-tram). Some things to know: * Cycle lanes and cycle paths are indicated by a round blue sign with a white bike icon, an icon on the asphalt, or by red asphalt. Using them is considered mandatory. * Cyclists must obey the same traffic signs as motorists, unless exempted. For example, a cycle icon under a no-entry sign, usually with the text 'uitgezonderd' (except), means cyclists may use the street in both directions. * Where there is no cycle lane or path, use the regular road. This is unlike the rule in Germany and Belgium, where you are supposed to use the footpath in many places. Cyclists are not allowed on all (semi-)highways indicated as "Autosnelweg" or "Autoweg" * On some narrow streets that do have a cycle path parallel to them, mopeds may be required to use the cycle path, rather than the main street (as is usual). * Bicycles must have working front (white) and rear (red) lights. Reflectors are ''not'' sufficient. You may be fined (€40) for cycling in the dark without a light, and you seriously endanger yourself and other traffic by doing so. Small, battery-operated LED lights attached to your person are allowed. Regular signs for bicycle routes are usually white, with a red border and lettering, more recreational touristic routes to a town or village are green lettered. In rural areas as well as in nature areas, signposts may be so called ''Paddenstoelen'' (mushrooms). These are small boxes (more or less resembling the form of a mushroom) near the ground on which the destinations are printed. There are different ways to use a bicycle: * staying in a city, the bike can be used as a means of transport, to get from A to B. This is the way local people most of the time use it, for short journeys it is faster than car, bus or tram. Cyclers can also reach interesting places near the city, which may not be accessible by public transport. * Many times bikes are also used as means to see nearby places and landscapes: ** The many '''signposted cycle routes''' are designed for this, most of them take cyclists back to the starting point. Some rural routes go through areas inaccessible by car. ** In most parts of the Netherlands it's possible to create your own routes by connecting marked and numbered points called "knooppunten". (see for more information planjeroute.nl (plan your route).) * Except for the rush hours in the morning and at the end of the afternoon, bikes can be '''taken on a train'''. Therefore cyclers are to buy a supplementary ticket called "dagkaart fiets", which is easily obtained from the automated kiosks for €6. As an alternative, bikes can be easily rented at (or near) train stations. Folding bikes can be taken on board for free as hand luggage when folded. All trains are provided with specific bicycle entrances. Cyclists may park their bike here and also are allowed to ask people to move for this reason. Also in two western urban region's it's possible to transport bicycles for free by metro (Amsterdam The Hague-Rotterdam) or randstadrail-tram (The Hague-Zoetermeer), except during daytime from monday-friday. * More experienced cyclists may like to set off across the country. The national '''long-distance cycle routes''' are designed for this type of holiday; see Cycling in the Netherlands Long-distance routes. The best online routeplanner for cyclists can be found at a wikiplanner made by volunteers of the Dutch cyclist union "Fietsersbond". Bike theft Bike theft is a serious problem in the Netherlands, especially around train stations, and in larger cities. If possible, use the guarded bike parking ('stalling') at train stations and in some city centres. They will cost up to €1.20 per day. In general, '''use 2 locks of different kinds''' (for example, one chain lock and one tube lock). This is because most bike thieves specialize in a particular kind of lock, or carry equipment best suited to one kind of lock. Ideally, you should lock the bike to a lamppost or similar. Bike thieves have been known to simply load unattached bikes onto a pickup truck, so they can crack open the locks at leisure. In cities, bikes are often stolen by drug addicts, and they sell most stolen bikes too. They often simply offer them for sale to passers-by, if they think no police are watching. Buying a stolen bike is itself illegal, and police do arrest buyers. If you buy for a suspiciously low price (e.g. €10-20), or in a suspicious place (in general, on the street), the law presumes you "know or should have known" the bike was stolen. In other words, actual ignorance of the bike's origins is no excuse. Bike thefts should be reported to the police. Please do so. Buy or Rent Bike shops are the best place to buy a second-hand bike legally, but prices are high. Some places where you can rent bikes will also sell their written off stock, which is usually well maintained. Most legal (and often cheap) second-hand bike sales now go through online auction sites like marktplaats.nl - the Dutch subsidiary of eBay. For more information, see this site. The Dutch bicycle-share system "OV-fiets" is only accessible for residents of the Netherlands or those who have a Dutch bank account. The member fee of €9 per yr and €3 per trip is debited automatically. Extra legal protection "Weaker" parties in traffic such as cyclists and pedestrians enjoy extra protection from the law regarding liability when an accident occurs with a "stronger" party (e.g. cars). The basic idea is that the stronger participant (e.g. a car driver) is ''always'' liable when an accident occurs between a weaker (e.g. a cyclist) and the stronger party, ''unless'' force majeure can be proven. Force majeure is here defined as (1) the car driver was driving correctly and (2) the faults of the cyclist were so unlikely that the car driver did not have to accommodate his driving for them. When this cannot be proven, the car driver is liable, but this can be limited when the accident can be attributed to the behaviour of the cyclist, up to 50% (more if the cyclist was consciously being reckless). The burden of proof for force majeure, for faults of the cyclist and for recklessness are with the car driver. Such things can be hard to prove, which is why in practice some people will say cyclists pedestrians always have right of way, but this is incorrect. By car A car might be a good way to explore the countryside, especially places not connected by rail, such as the Veluwe and parts of Zeeland. Drive on the right. The motorway highway network is rather extensive, though heavily used. Congestion, especially during peak hour, is usual and can better be avoided. Roads are well signposted and many times provided with new technologies. A Motorway highway (''Autosnelweg'') is indicated with a letter A number combination which is placed in a red box. In the less urbanised parts, such as the Southwest and the North, motorways highways are few. Many times connections there are made by a semi highway called ''Autoweg'', or another N way. All these connections are indicated with a letter N number combination in a yellow box. Most times motorist will automatically be directed to the nearest A or N road. So who likes to make a touristic ride avoiding mainroads, needs to follow signs to local villages. If your car breaks down on the highway motorway you might go to the nearest roadside emergency telephone; these ''praatpalen'' can be recognized as they are about 1.5m high, yellow and have a rounded bunny-eared cap on top. This is the direct connection to the emergency and assistance services. Alternatively, you might use a mobile phone to reach the ANWB autoclub via toll-free number 0800-0888; your membership of a foreign autoclub might entitle you to discount rates on their services. Leased (business) cars and rental cars are usually serviced by the ANWB services included in the lease rental price; but you may want to check any provided booklets. Road signs with directions are plenty, but having a map is useful, especially in cities where there are many one way streets, and getting from one part of the city to another is not always so straightforward. Be careful not to drive on bus lanes, often indicated with markings such as ''Lijnbus'' or ''Bus'', nor on cycling paths, marked by the picture of a bicycle, or by a reddish colour of the asphalt. Also, do not use the rush-hour-lanes (''Spitsstrook'') when the matrix display above the designated lane indicates a red "X" - this means they cannot be used. Fuel is easy to come by, but extremely expensive. It's better to fill your vehicle before entering the Netherlands, since the Belgian and German fuel prices can be €0.30 lower per litre. Unmanned gas stations, such as TanGo or Firezone, save up to 10 cents, but are still far more expensive than their Belgian counterparts. Prices of fuel are, as of 2012, €1.84 ($2.20) a litre in manned stations. Along highways many gas stations are open 24 7. More and more unmanned gas stations can be found, even along highways, selling petrol cheaper. These unattended stations accept all common debit and credit cards. All gas stations sell both petrol and diesel; the "premium" brands have the same octane level (they allegedly contain compounds that improve fuel efficiency to offset the higher price). Liquid Petroleum Gas is sold at relatively many gas stations along the high ways, but it is never sold in built-up areas. The symbol for LPG gas is a green-coloured gaspump-icon, set beside the general case black-coloured gaspump-icon. LPG fueled cars need regular petrol to start the motor, and can also be operated using strictly petrol, though it is more expensive. If you come in the Netherlands with your LPG fueled car, probably you will need an adaptor. If you buy in your country, ask for the ''specific'' Dutch adaptor. The plug sold as "european" (screw style), is used in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany but won't fit Dutch pumps. Driving rules in The Netherlands Road rules, markings and signs are similar to other European countries but have some particularities: *At unmarked intersections, traffic coming from the right ALWAYS has priority. Traffic includes bicycles, horses, horse-drawn carts (recreational use and fairly uncommon), electric wheelchairs, small mopeds and motorised bicycles. *Cycle paths are clearly marked and are widespread throughout the country. *On motorways, on and off-ramps (slip-roads) are usually long and allow for smooth merging. However, returning onto the motorway from an exit lane is illegal. Passing on the right and needless use (other than for passing) of the outside lane(s) is prohibited. (Passing on the right is permitted only in slow, congested traffic.) '''In built up areas public transport buses have the priority when leaving a bus stop''', so be careful as they may pull in front of you expecting that you will give way. If you are involved in an '''accident''', both drivers need to complete and counter-sign a statement for their respective insurance companies (damage form "schadeformulier"). You are required to have this form on hand. The police need to be notified if you have damaged (public) property (especially along the highways), if you have caused any sort of injury, or if the other driver does not agree to sign the insurance statement. It is illegal to hit and run. If the other driver does this, call the police and stay at the scene. The emergency telephonenumber is 112 (toll-free, will even work from disconnected mobile phones); the telephone number for a non-emergency police presence is 0900-8844. Speed limits The speed limit in built up areas is 50 km h with some zones limited to maximum of 30 km h. Note that 30 km h zones are home of unmarked intersections (so '''all''' traffic from the right has right of way!). Outside of towns speed is limited to 80 km h (this includes most N-roads, though some are restricted to 70 or 100). On some local roads the speed limit is 60 km h. The maximum speed limit on the interstate is 130 km h, however this is mostly based on the time you are driving, as well on the opening of the spitsstroken (rush hour lanes, indicated by long interrupted lines, when open, the speed limit is 100 or 80 km h. This is indicated by a green arrow (open) or red cross (closed)). Speed limits are always designated next to the interstate, but confusing even for locals, so remember this when driving on an interstate: * If there are no signs whatsoever, you may drive 130 km h. * If there are signs saying 120, 100, 80, the top speed at all times is (respectively) 120, 100, 80 km h. * If there is a sign saying 120 (6-19) the top speed is 120 km h between 6 AM and 7 PM, and 130 at all other times. * If there is a sign next to or in proximity of the 100 (6-19) sign saying 120, the top speed is 100 between 6 AM and 7 PM and 120 at other times. If you come across a sign saying 100, the max speed is 100 no matter what time it is. * Speed indicated on the dot matrix signs above the lanes '''always''' take precedence over anything else you see, both when the speed is in a red circle (the regular speed limit) or without (an incidental speed limit, indicating traffic or construction). A white circle with a diagonal bar in it indicates 'end of all speed limits from dot matrix signs' from which moment on you obey the ordinary signs. Your speed will be checked nationwide by the police and fines are heavy. Exceeding the maximum speed with more than 50 km h will result in seizure of your driving licence. After that driving is considered a criminal act. Pay extra attention to '''Trajectcontrole''' signs: that means that in the road you're driving there is an automatic system that checks your average speed on a long section. Radar detectors are illegal devices to have in your car. They will be impounded and you will be fined €250. Keep in mind that the police use so-called radar detector detectors to track down radar detector users, so it is best to turn them off. Drinking and driving is not allowed and this is enforced strongly. Breathalyser tests occur frequently, both on an individual basis (i.e. you get pulled over and the police see it necessary for you to undergo a breathalyser test) as on a bigger scale (i.e. the police has set up a designated control checkpoint on a highway). A unbroken yellow line next to the sidewalk means '''no stopping''', a broken yellow next to the sidewalk means '''no parking'''. Some crossings have "shark teeth" painted on the road, this means you have to give way to the other traffic. Note that police also use unmarked traffic surveillance cars, especially on the highways. They have a video surveillance system and often they '''don't''' stop you right after doing a violation but they keep on following you. That means if you do more violations, you'll be fined for everything you did. Note that the policemen in unmarked cars are '''obliged''' to identify themselves after pulling you over, which means you shouldn't have to ask. Policemen in marked cars have to show their ID only when you ask them for it, but they too are obliged to show it when asked. Urban driving Urban driving in the Netherlands is considered by many tourists and locals alike to be an exasperating, time consuming and expensive experience. The traffic systems of most city centres are designed to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, rather than vehicles. City roads are narrow, riddled with speed bumps, chicanes and a large variety of street furniture (with knee-high, asphalt-coloured anti-parking poles being probably the most dangerous threat to paintwork as they tend to either blend into the background or be beneath the driver's view). Other hazards are: * Pedestrians protruding on the road or crossing in dangerous and not-permitted areas. * Cyclists have more rights and are more assertive in asserting them than in most countries, which can be intimidating to unaccustomed drivers. Please, always give priority to cyclists when turning across a cycle lane. If you are involved in a collision with a cyclist, you will be automatically liable (though not guilty). * Narrow bridges. '''Parking''' in city centres can be expensive. Particularly in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, street parking is sometimes limited to only a few hours and prices are €3–6 per hour. Generally, underground car parks cost €4–6 per hour and may be by far the best choice for practical and safety reasons. Consider using public transport to avoid traffic jams and the great difficulties involved in finding a parking spot. P+R '''park and ride''' facilities are available at the outskirts of bigger cities; you can park your car cheaply there, and continue your journey via public transport. By taxi Taxi service was traditionally a tightly guarded monopoly. In recent years, the market was deregulated, but prices are still high. Taxi drivers are licensed, but they do not, as of yet, have to pass a proficiency exam, providing they know the streets. This is planned in the future, since the taxi market is being re-regulated. In the bigger cities taxi drivers can be un-friendly to very rude. You'll find that, especially in the western part of the country. taxi prices are very high for very little politeness and service. The public transport system often proves to be cheaper and a lot faster. Some taxi drivers refuse short rides (e.g. under €10). This is illegal, but it's hard to enforce this prohibition. There is a maximum tariff, and it's built into the taxi meters. If you negotiate a price before you get in, the price you have to pay is the negotiated price, or the metered price, whichever is lower. Getting in a cab without enough money to pay for the ride is illegal, so it's wise to negotiate a price. All legal taxis have blue license plates. So do some other vehicles for group transport, such as minibus services for the handicapped. By thumb Making your way on thumb is accepted and locals that take you typically expect no payment in return. It's less suited for short rides from small towns or minor streets, as the lack of traffic may cause a long wait. Hitch-hiking ''on'' the highways motorways is not allowed but generally tolerated on the interchanges access points, provided you do not create a dangerous traffic situation. Interchanges are indicated by a letter A number combination printed in a red box on signposts. Try to stay before the traffic sign highway motorway (a bleu rectangle with two separated lanes disappearing in the distances printed in white) or the sign of the front of a car, indicating the entrance to a semi-highway. Also try to stay on a spot where cars have slow speed and where it is possible for drivers to stop. The same safety rule applies to highway gas stations and rest places, and to traffic lights on non-highway motorway roads. For longer distances, the large amount of highway crossings make it difficult to find a driver going to your exact destination. A simple (cardboard) plate with your destination written on it is a common way to increase chances of finding the right driver, and may also convince suited drivers that they will not be stopping in vain. There are official hitch-hiking spots (''liftplaats'') (lift-stops) and recommended unofficial spots mainly at the edges of a few major cities: Amsterdam * Prins Bernhardplein, before NS Station Amsterdam Amstel (on east side of the river Amstel) (past the bus stop). Leads to the ramp of the S112 of the A10, direction A1-E231 A2-E35. It is recommended for the directions Central- East-Netherlands. For other directions routes try also alternative spots. '''Alternative spots other directions''' (recommended for the directions West- South-Netherlands): * Amstel (on the west side of the river Amstel) near traffic-lights Utrechtsebrug and near beginning- end-stop of Tram-line 25. Leads to the ramp of the S111 of the A10, directions A2-E35-E25. * Junction S109 of the A10, close to NS Station RAI (RAI Congress Centre; specially when there are large events or congresses). Leads to the ramp of the S109 of the A10, directions A2-E35-E25 A4-E19. *At bus stop Amstelveenseweg Ringweg Zuid just northeast from metro station Amstelveensweg. There is an on-ramp which leads to the A10 North, A4 (to the South) and A9 (both directions). What makes this location convenient is that cars can easily stop in the bus lane in order to pick you up. The Hague * Utrechtsebaan next to the northside of the Malieveld, at the beginning of the A12-E30 towards Utrecht . Also possibilities towards A4-E19 for Delft-Rotterdam and for Leiden-Amsterdam '''Alternative spots other directions:''' * Edge at the northwest-side of the Malieveld crossing Zuid-Holland-laan, Boslaan (Utrechtse baan),Benoordenhoutseweg, towards Leidsestraatweg-N44-A44 for Leiden and Amsterdam. Nijmegen * Graafseweg (Venlo and Den Bosch), at the major city-centre roundabout (''verkeersplein'') Keizer Karelplein (hitch-hiking on the roundabout itself is not recommended), * near the Waalbrug before the bridge in direction Arnhem, * at the Annastraat, close to the Radboud University (RU) University Medical Centre (UMC), * at the Triavium, across shopping centre Dukenburg. Other cities * '''Groningen''': Emmaviaduct (''200m west of Centraal Station''), on the road to A28 *'''Utrecht''' close to petrol station and ramp of the Waterlinieweg near 'De Galgewaard' soccer-football-stadium, North Northeast to A27 A28, South East to A2 A12 A27. *Due to reconstruction of the road, the liftershalte in Maastricht at the beginning of the A2 (near the soccer stadium De Geusselt) unfortunately has been removed in 2012. By plane Due to the small size of the country as well as the abundance of road and rail connections, domestic flights have proven to be unprofitable in the past. Therefore, none exist at the moment. Talk Commons:Category:Netherlands Dmoz:Regional Europe Netherlands Wikipedia:Netherlands


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