What to see and do during short or long layovers in Amsterdam?

Updated: June 2018

Amsterdam is one of my favorite destinations. Being a principal hub for KLM and other SkyTeam airlines, the Schiphol International Airport (code: AMS) is a relatively friendly airport for connecting passengers.

The airport is just 15 minutes away by train from the city center, making a visit to Amsterdam a very viable option if you are in for 4-5 hours or more.

In this post we’ll  run through a few  ideas on things to do while in transit in Schiphol. Feel free to provide your own recommendations by leaving us a comment.

Up to 4 hours layover

If your stay in Amsterdam Schiphol is shorter than 4 hours hours, i would recommend that you’ll relax at the airport.

From my previous experience, connections in Schiphol are generally efficient, especially if weather is pleasant. I would allow at least 60 minutes to connect between Schengen and Non-Schengen destinations. 30-45 minutes connections in Amsterdam are, according to my previous experience, a risky value proposition.

If arriving from outside Europe, go through passport control and head on to your gate. Several dining locations are available through the concourses.

Free WIFI  is available for four hours so you are able to catch on your email, to-do lists, plan your journey and browse the web. Network name is Airport_Free_Wifi. If some reason your WIFI connection terminates, simply rejoin. The airport also offers an internet lounge in which you can use desktop computers ( as always when using public computers – be sure that you logoff any websites you have accessed).

Smoking is available in designated areas of Lounges two and three.

Showers are available for rent at the Yotel (Lounge two – upper level)  and Mercure  hotel(Lounge three -upper level). Current price is 15 Euros.

4 hours layover or more

AMS airport is just 15-20 minutes away from the city Central station, so your best bet will be to take a short DIY sightseeing tour of lovely Amsterdam.

Note: Allow at least 4-5 hours to travel to the city center,complete the essential tour outlined below and go through security to your flight.

Once you clear passport controls and go through customs, you might consider store your luggage in the baggage depot or designated lockers (6 Euros for a small luggage piece). Most probably, you have now reached Schiphol Plaza in the arrival gates level. Go ahead and buy a return ticket to Amsterdam Central Station. Trains depart every 8 minutes approximately.

Here are a few essential things to do and must-see attractions that you can visit in approximately 4-5 hours:

  • Exit the Central train station towards the Damrak street.
  • Take a tram to the Museum Area. If you are not in a hurry, we specially recommend the Van Gogh museum (opened 10:00-18:00, book tickets in advance so you can avoid the queues!). The museum hosts the most impressive collection of Vincent’s work.
  • Stroll around the beautiful Vondelpark.
  • Wander around river Amstel’s canals and if it’s shiny grab something to eat in one of the beautiful bistros by the canals I specially like the ones located by Herengracht and Prinsengracht.
  • Catch a tram, bus or just walk back back to Central station and onwards to Schiphol airport.

Additional activities that you might want to consider:

  • If you are not into museums, you can instead  hop to the working class Pijp neighborhood  to visit the Heiniken  beer brewery by the Amstel. While in the Pijp be sure to eat in one of the Indian restaurants.
  • Rent a bike and tour Amsterdam your way.
  • Visit the Tulip museum at Prinsengracht.
  • If time permits, visit the Rikjsmuseum, which hosts some additional masterpieces from the 16-17 century.

Overnight stopovers in AMS

Unless you need some sleep, there is not much to do around Schiphol, so definitely head to the city center. Boutique hotels by the canals are our favorites.
Now it’s your turn. Did we forget anything? Feel free to leave us a comment to let us know!

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