The entire website is also available in English. This information is targeted towards international students.
The Netherlands is quite famous for its biking culture. There are more than 22 million bikes in the Netherlands, and only 18 million people! More than 40% of all journeys in Utrecht are made by bicycle and the city is actually home to the largest bike parking in the world, which can accommodate 12,500 bikes. Most of, if not all international students also participate in ‘the Dutch love affair with the bike’, and cycle to class or home instead of taking public transport. So how do you get started? First, you will need a bike. The best bikes are the second hand ones, because the newer the bike is the bigger the chance it gets stolen. The city centre is filled with bike stores, all of which sell new and second hand bikes for prices that range between 30 euros all the way up to 200. Always make sure to test the bike before buying it, and to check it for any possible issues.
For international students, the easiest and safest way to get a bike is through SwapFiets. After getting a subscription with SwapFiets, they provide you with a new bike, which comes fully equipped with lights and a lock. It also has a distinct look so it usually never gets stolen. The best thing about the subscription is that the bike can be given back and swapped for a new one if you get a flat tire or it breaks down, which saves a lot of time and money in the long run! You can also find bikes for a cheap price here, on ‘marktplaats.nl’ and also through Facebook. One last piece of advice, never buy a bike offered to you by a stranger for the very low price of 10 euros, it is most definitely stolen!
In addition to the good biking infrastructure, the Netherlands also has a relatively good public transport system. Every form of public transport makes use of the OV-Chipkaart, which can either be a personal or an anonymous one. Anonymous OV cards are sold at the stations as well as certain stores throughout the city. The personal OV card can be ordered online and delivered to your Dutch address. The benefits of a personal OV card are many but mostly have to do with discounts on travel, as well as having access to an ‘ov-fiets’ which is a bicycle that can be rented for a small period of time.
Train tickets can be bought at the stations and individual bus tickets can be bought once you ar eon the bus, but be aware that bus drivers do not accept cash!
More information about the OV- Chipkaart system can be found here.