Are you looking for the best way to get from Amsterdam to Utrecht? Then I’ve written this post for you. I live 20 minutes from Utrecht myself. Since Utrecht is a transportation hub in the Netherlands, I travel to and from this city regularly.
The best way to get to Utrecht is by train. It’s fast, and it’s city center to city center. In this article, I’ll tell you how to make this journey in a few easy steps. Getting there is straightforward. And because of its proximity to Amsterdam and with so many things to do, it’s one of the easiest day trips from Amsterdam.
I love Utrecht very much. It has a lot of the Amsterdam charm but is still distinctly different. It also has far fewer tourists than Amsterdam. Don’t get me wrong, Utrecht gets its fair share too, but nothing compared to Amsterdam.
What is so special about Utrecht? Its coziness, the lowered terraces along the central canal, the highest church tower in the Netherlands: The Dom, and much more like Miffy’s birthplace.
Table of Contents
Amsterdam to Utrecht Train Times
From Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht Centraal, there are many fast trains each hour.
It is important to note that Utrecht (like Amsterdam) has many different train stations.
But, particularly in Utrecht, all, except for one, are commuter stations that are not interesting to visitors. The station you want to travel to is Utrecht Centraal (Utrecht central station).
The average journey time to Utrecht from Amsterdam is just 25 minutes. You can go direct between these Dutch cities up to six times an hour.
It means there are many direct trains every day. You can travel between Amsterdam and Utrecht by direct train every 10 minutes. Times and services may vary depending on the time of day, but they always have fast direct services available at least four times an hour.
How To Buy Your Train Ticket From Amsterdam to Utrecht?
I’ve seen advice recommending you go to the ticket machine or, worse, how to get an OV chip card (a local tap-in tap-out card), which is a thing of the past.
You don’t have to do either. It only adds costs and complexity. There are much simpler ways to travel. The OV-Chipcard is not needed anymore. If you’ve read elsewhere, you do as a visitor; that is outdated information.
The Easiest Train Ticket is OVpay
Today it can be as simple as tapping any debit or credit card when you enter the gates (tap in) at Amsterdam Centraal Station (which gives access to the platforms), and you do the same after arrival in Utrecht (tap out).
The correct fare is automatically calculated and charged to your card, and that’s it—no printing tickets or losing time getting one. This system is called OVpay.
You said – it can be – so does this always work?
It does, but… there are exceptions, like when you want to travel first class, with kids under 12, or with a larger pet.
How to Buy Your Tickets For This Journey?
If you decide not to use a Contactless card for travel, the next best thing is The NS App. The App takes a bit to get used to nowadays since it has so many options ( I wrote a complete guide on buying train tickets in the Netherlands) including.
Other Ways To Buy Tickets
- At the station’s ticket office (available at larger stations) – There’s a €1 surcharge per ticket, but it gives you the benefit of human interaction.
- The ticket vending machine requires a credit card with a pin or a Dutch bank card, and each ticket carries a €1 surcharge. This extra cost has made the machine a thing of the past, as alternative options like the App or OVpay (which supports easy tap-in tap-out with all contactless bank or credit cards) have become more prevalent. If you don’t mind shelling out an extra €1 per ticket for the tactile experience of pressing buttons, stick with it by all means. However, there are certainly more economical and convenient options available.
- The NS Dutch Railway Website – There’s no surcharge for tickets purchased here, but keep in mind that online ticket purchases must be printed out, which can be inconvenient while traveling. Alternatively, you can load your purchased ticket into the App if you don’t have access to a printer. However, using the App from the get-go might be easier since this involves fewer steps.
For a complete guide on traveling by train in the Netherlands, including details on how to buy your tickets, I recommend you to read my post on train travel in the Netherlands.
Practical Tips For Your Journey from Amsterdam to Utrecht
- Open the gates at Amsterdam Central Station by tapping your bank/credit card if you opt to travel with OV Pay, otherwise with the QR code in the app (after you purchase your tickets > Click More at the bottom right corner > My Tickets) or the QR code on your printed ticket. You do the same when you arrive in Utrecht.
- Trains for Utrecht leave from different platforms. Use the app to look for the correct departure platform (at the home screen, type Amsterdam Centraal as your departure station and Utrecht Centraal as your arrival Station > hit search.
- Utrecht is seldom the final destination of the train, so like at the stop list on the information screen and don’t be confused by a different destination. Often trains for Utrecht terminate in Maastricht, Nijmegen, Venlo, or Eindhoven.
- The yellow departure signs at the platforms are confusing, even for a Dutch person. Ignore them and use the app to plan your journey (see below).
Tip: If you plan to travel from Amsterdam Central by train, arrive early. The station’s stunning architecture deserves a few minutes for appreciation rather than rushing directly to your platform. Don’t miss the opportunity to grab a coffee or enjoy a meal at “1e Klas,” a restaurant on platform 1. Once a fancy waiting room, it now serves as a restaurant. It gives off a museum-like vibe. And don’t forget to greet the parrot perched by the bar.
How To Plan Your Journey From Amsterdam to Utrecht By Train?
You can use the NS app on your phone (see link above) or the NS website to plan your journey. Both are available in English.
It’s as simple as entering your departure and arrival stations and clicking search to find the next departures. Of course, there are also options to change the date and time to look for future trips.
How to get from Amsterdam to Utrecht by Bus
In theory, there are buses between these two cities, and Flixbus or Eurolines operate them. I say in theory because they are not practical on this route.
For one, buses leave from Duivendrecht station or Amsterdam Sloterdijk station. Neither is in a central location, thus adding costs. Buses also leave far less frequently, and tickets are departure specific, which is not the case if you take the train. Thus, the train offers more flexibility. With train tickets costing less than €10, there is almost no savings by taking the bus.
Travel to Utrecht by Car
The distance from Amsterdam to Utrecht is about 50 kilometers (30 miles). By car, it’s a little bit longer. The journey takes 40 minutes without traffic, but then you’re lucky. Expect an hour for your average travel time. Compare this to 25 minutes by train, and it’s easy to see why the car is not the best mode of transport for most visitors unless you have a specific reason.
Take the A2 Freeway between Amsterdam and Utrecht to get there.
Note this freeway has many lanes (up to 10), but the speed limit is relatively low (100km/60 mi).
If it’s quiet, and with a road this wide, it’s tempting to speed, but be aware you won’t see it, but they employ “Trajectcontrole” here. It’s not just a camera but tracks your average speed over a longer distance. If that average is above the speed limit, you promptly receive a ticket by mail or through your car rental company.
Please note that Amsterdam and Utrecht have paid parking, and rates are steep.
An excellent option to visit the town center is to park at a P+R location on the outskirts. They are designed to keep cars out of the city in exchange for free or low-cost parking and good public transportation options from the parking lot. There are quite a few in Utrecht. P+R Utrecht Papendorp is the most convenient next to the A2 Freeway.
You buy a parking ticket (2023 pricing is €6), which allows you to park all day and travel with up to 5 people to and from the city back to the car.
Renting a car allows you to move at your own pace and make stops as you wish. A rental car can be a good decision if you’re going to sites in the surrounding areas of the countryside. Rentalcars.com is my favorite platform. I find they most often have the best rates. Discover cars is an alternative. Check them both for the best comparison.
Travel to Utrecht by Taxi
Taking a taxi is also possible. But it’s far more costly. A one-way trip costs about €90 for a maximum of 4 people (similar to Uber). However, you can find a much better deal with local firms when you book in advance. Google is your friend here.
Hello To Utrecht
Now you’ve made it to Utrecht. It’s important to decide what to do and see. I wrote a post to help you create your itinerary: Best Things To Do In Utrecht For A Special Day Out 🚂.
Is it possible to travel from Amsterdam to Utrecht Direct?
Yes, traveling from Amsterdam to Utrecht is possible without changing trains. There are four to six fast direct services every hour from early morning to late at night between both stations.
When does the first train run between Amsterdam And Utecht?
People often ask, but when is the first train from Amsterdam? The answer is they run around the clock. Between midnight and 6 am the frequency is lower, just once an hour, but they do go.
What is the Price of a Train Ticket between Amsterdam and Utrecht?
The price of tickets varies. It depends on whether you travel first class or second. If you can travel with a person with a discount card or not. Prices change regularly, but currently, a one-way ticket between these cities in standard class costs approximately €9.
Are You Traveling From Amsterdam to Utrecht Soon?
I’d love to hear your thoughts: What you are you looking forward to when visiting Utrecht? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.
Support My Passion for Holland: Every Coffee ☕️ Counts!
I hope you found this Amsterdam to Utrecht guide valuable. If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a small donation by clicking here to “Buy Me A Coffee” —your generosity is greatly appreciated!
A Stress-Free Experience 😌
If planning this trip feels overwhelming, consider using one of my trip-planning services to simplify your vacation. I’m here to help you create an unforgettable experience.
Stay Connected: Get My Insider Tips Straight to Your Inbox 📬
Don’t miss out on my future travel guides, current events, practical travel advice, and insider tips! Subscribe to my mailing list here.