There couldn’t be an easier way to get around the Netherlands than to utilize their awesome train system. From arriving at Schipol airport to practically any destination across the country, you’ll be set! As an added bonus, it is the easiest way to travel with kids when you are in the Netherlands.
Immediately after clearing customs at Schipol, it is easy to locate the Schipol Train Station. From here you can purchase your tickets at any of the bright yellow kiosks located across the station floor. You can easily proceed to change the language from Dutch to English (or whatever you may need). The kiosks are very user friendly — you make your purchase simply by entering in the first few letters of your final destination. The list populates with your options once you begin to type, you select your destination, number of tickets (note that kids under the age of 4 are FREE and kids 4-11 qualify for a Rail Runner day pass — more on that later) and the class of your ticket. We travel 2nd Class when traveling with our kids — to keep things simple and laid back for all involved.
The Rail Runner Day Pass is a steal for train travel with kids, at 2.5 Euro each – simply grab one for each 4-11 year old in your party on the main screen of the kiosk in the “Other Products” section.
Check the train schedules either at the printed train tables or on the monitors located throughout the station, identifying the final destination of the train with the stops following. Note that your end point may not be the final destination, so you will have to look at the fine print to find where you are headed! Questions? The friendly staff are available at easy to locate information kiosks as well!
You can also determine the timing of your route ahead of time on the easy to use trip planner on the Netherlands Rail website or even Google Maps (just use the directions to/from your locations and click on the train icon).
Once you have your tickets, you validate them at any of the yellow posts around the station and proceed to your platform. Confirm the destination of the train on the monitors at the platform – trains run on a tight schedule and are very precise in their departure times, so don’t just board the first train you see at your platform. Be sure to board onto a train that matches the class of ticket you purchased (1st or 2nd).
Keep your tickets! You’ll need them to exit major train stations – the smaller ones don’t typically have an exit turn style to go through. The kids’ Rail Runner passes stay good all day so if you are making a pitstop to explore a city en route to your final destination, just hang on to their ticket for use again throughout the day.
The trains are easy to use, quick and cheap! We traveled all over the Netherlands with the kids this past week and it couldn’t have worked better. They loved the stations, the trains and the ever changing view out their giant windows.
We love train travel with our kids – and loved watching them figure out the train system on their own over the course of our week, too. Talk about a great way to learn time, days of the week, map reading and confidence. Life lessons abound!