Holland has an extensive rail network with regular services all over the country. You can get from one side of the country to the other with your bicycle in a matter of hours. This makes the train a good way of exploring different parts of Holland. The journey planner of Dutch Rail will help you plan your journey.
Taking your bicycle on the train is easy. There are also good bike rental facilities at most larger stations. This is why the train is such a popular way for Dutch cyclists to get to the starting point of a route. Many cycle routes start at or near a train station.
Using the Dutch trains
Holland has an extensive rail network maintained by different train operators. NS is the largest Dutch train operator and is in charge of all the main lines. Some of the more local lines - which often take you the more interesting cycling regions - are run by smaller train operators. The policies for taking your bicycle might vary, so check out the website of the train operator you're travelling with.
The ticket system is not entirely straightforward. You don't buy a paper ticket, but you have to check in and out with an OV-chipkaart at the beginning and end of your journey. You can buy a single-use chipcard or an annonymous OV-chipcard which can be used more than once at the ticket machine. For an explanation how the OV-chipcard system works, see: Traveling with the OV-chipkaart.
Taking your bicycle on the train
You are allowed take your bicycle on Dutch national trains outside rush hour. The prohibited times are between 6.30 and 9 a.m. and between 4.30 and 6 p.m. on workdays. This restriction does not apply in the weekend, on national holidays or in July and August.
You will need to purchase a special Bicycle Day Ticket. Folding bikes - as long as they are folded - are considered luggage and can be taken free of charge any time of the day.
You are expected to place your bicycle in the special bike areas. There are stickers on the train to show you where they are. If the bike areas are full, you might be asked to wait for the next train. It is not possible to reserve a space for your bike. All bicycles are allowed, even a recumbent or a tandem. It is prohibited to take a cargo bike, tricycle or a bike trailer on the train.
Tips for taking your bicycle on the train
- Lock your bicycle.
- Make sure your bike can't fall when the train rocks from side to side.
- Don't block the doors or passageways.
- Remove your luggage.
Exceptions to the rules:
- If you have an international train ticket for yourself and your bike, you are permitted to take your bicycle on Dutch national trains during rush hour.
- In the weekend you can take your bicycle free of charge on the trains of Arriva in the Achterhoek Rivierenland in the east of Holland.
- You can't take your tandem or recumbent on the trains of Arriva.