The Netherlands is a small and densely populated country with an excellent public transport system. Wherever you want to go in the Netherlands, you can get there easily and in comfort by train, bus, tram, ferry, etc.
Leiden is easy to reach by public transport. Trains from all directions (including directly from Amsterdam and The Hague) stop at Leiden Central Station, and the city centre is just a short walk from the station. The region boasts an excellent network of buses, and there is a frequent service from the station which will take you to every corner of the city and to neighbouring towns.
Most people buy a OV-chipkaart. An OV-chipcard is a transportation card that can be used on all different forms of public transportation throughout the entire country. There are two different types of OV-chipcards:
- Anonymous OV-chipcards can be bought at the Tourist Information, supermarkets, Bruna, train stations, and at the service desks of OV companies. Anonymous OV-chipcards need to be charged manually by machines that can be found at supermarkets and public transport stations.
- Personalised OV-chipcards need to be purchased online (purchase one here). These cards can be directly linked to your bank account. The card deducts money off of your bank account automatically when the balance on your card reaches EUR 0. For the re-loading amount you can choose between EUR 10, 20, or 50. This is useful because you won't have to worry about putting credit on your card manually when you want to travel. It is important to note that it is not allowed to travel using another person's personalized OV-chipcard, and you can be fined for doing so.
Both OV-chipcards cost EUR 7.50.
When using the OV-chipcard, you need to check in and check out, when travelling, and also when you have to change transport. Sometimes the card reader is in the bus or the tram and sometimes on the platform. With a positive balance on your OV-chipkaart you can check in and out. Hold your OV-chipkaart against the screen of a gate or single card reader. The gate will open: the card reader will give a confirmation signal. At the end of your journey you check out in the same way. If you forgot to check out, you can request a refund online. Before using your OV-chipcard for a train for the first time, you need to use a machine at a train station to set up whether you will be traveling first or second class for all your future train journeys. The number one or two (representing first or second class) is printed on the outside of a train cabin, so make sure you are traveling in the correct cabin. It is important to note that traveling without paying a travel fee through using an OV-chipcard or buying a ticket is illegal, and passengers are constantly checked on this. You can be fined heavily for using public transportation without paying.
Sometimes, in order to get to a specific location, you will need to transfer from one form of transportation to another. A practical site where you can plan your travel by public transport is: 9292 (there is also an app). 9292 tells you what the fastest travel route is, what specific transportation you should use (train, bus, tram, etc.), the number and time of the transport, and whether a stop over is necessary. You can also check the price of your planned journey on 9292. Other interesting sites are The Dutch National Railways (Nationale Spoorwegen – NS) and en.gvb.nl.
tel: 0900-9292, € 0.70 cpm.
International train services, tel: 0900-9296, € 0.35 cpm
Leiden Area Bus Companies
The Expat Centre / Leiden Tourist information has an Arriva service point where you can buy subscriptions and ask questions.
The Stena Line ferry from Harwich (Essex) docks at Hoek van Holland (Corner of Holland – very close to The Hague) and from here, travellers from the UK can make their way to Leiden Central Station within an hour.