Transportation tips for international students in the Netherlands

As the restrictions get lifted, things to do and places to go to in the Netherlands are getting more and more attractive. International students are finally getting the time and opportunities to explore, restriction free! But, getting around the country can be an expensive affair, so here are some tips to students wanting to travel, on a budget!


Before we talk about the various other options you have when choosing how to get somewhere, we have to get this one out of the way. Most people in the Netherlands have bikes, and they are the most convenient mode of transportation in terms of expense and speed. Bike lanes adorn the cities, there are bike parking areas at every corner you turn, and it is incredibly safe too.

Swapfiets offers bike rentals on a monthly subscription basis for just 15€ a month, but another very common alternative is to purchase 2nd hand bikes with a one time payment instead!

Public Transportation

Once you purchase an OV Chipkaart, you have essentially unlocked cheaper fares for all public transportation including the tram, metro, busses, and even ferries.

Instead of purchasing your anonymous OV at the train station, ESN Rotterdam offers a great deal for new incoming students! You can purchase your card at our office for a deposit of 10€, which you can claim back once you leave the city by simply bringing back the card! You can also purchase a personal OV Chipkaart online for 15 euros, and have it automatically top up your card with money as it starts to run low.


Using the NS app, you can easily locate all the trains that are running within the country at all times (use NS international for international trains!). If you are 18, you even qualify for the youth pass, which costs a total of 7.50€ for the entire day, as long as you don’t travel during peak hours!

Traveling in groups also lowers your final costs. Another tip, travel with a Dutch friend and get a 40% discount on your train ticket!


Flixbus is the cheapest bus operator for international travelers in Europe, and it is incredibly popular too! If you book well in advance (like 2 weeks), going to and from cities like Rotterdam to Paris, Cologne, Brussels, etc… is not only your most convenient option, but definitely your most within budget one too! For last minute trips, it is possible to book a ticket directly at the bus stand, but if you’re able to, it would be best to book in advance on the flixbus website. By doing so, you can get a 10% discount on your next Flixbus ride with your ESN card!


As a student on budget, taking an Uber in the city can get very expensive very quickly. But, “Bolt,” another ridesharing app acts as the cheaper form of Uber! Depending on the time you’re looking at rides and availability of drivers, Bolt rides can go as low as 3 euros for a ride from the South of Rotterdam, all the way to Kralingen!


When booking trips to cities a little further away, Ryanair definitely has your back! In addition to their already really cheap prices, they’re doing time sensitive offers all the time. So it’s best to keep an eye out for those at all times! Trips from the Netherlands to the UK by flight could go as low as 10€, round trip, with no extra baggage (other than a backpack).

If you own an ESN card, you can get an extra baggage allowance of 15kg as well as 10% off of 8 single flights and more!

Written by Saumya Bothra, from the Content Committee