The man sitting next to me on the plane looked a bit flustered. We were about to land at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol when he turned to me and muttered that he had a five-hour layover in Amsterdam and asked me if I was flying on to another destination as well. “No, I live here”, I replied. “What can I do on a long layover at Amsterdam Airport?”, he countered. I asked him if he’d been in Amsterdam before. The answer was negative, “no, just the airport many years ago”. It was a familiar answer. About 40% of all arriving passengers at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol are in transit to another destination. I didn’t hesitate for a moment: “This is your chance then to visit Amsterdam”. I gave him some tips, suggested what to do and see and traced a walking route on the map of Amsterdam in the inflight magazine.

Schiphol Airport Amsterdam

Things to do on a layover at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

The conversation on the plane prompted me to write this post about things to do while on a layover at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Millions of transit passengers travel through the airport every year without grabbing the opportunity to explore Amsterdam’s UNESCO World Heritage canals or any of the beautiful attractions or historic towns located within easy reach of the airport. I’ve listed below, depending on the length of your layover, things to do at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; how to visit Amsterdam and things to see and do in a short time; and attractions and cities near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol:

1 – 2 hours

You’d better get moving to your next flight! Keep in mind that if you’re transiting between a long-haul or a non-Schengen European destination (such as the United Kingdom) and a Schengen destination in the European Union – or vice-versa – you will have to pass through passport/security controls. There are fast-track lanes if you have a tight connection.

2 – 5 hours

There are many things you can do at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to keep occupied:

Relax: If you don’t have access to an airline lounge, you can relax at one of the lounge chairs that are scattered throughout the airport or grab a shower. Or you can indulge yourself with a shiatsu massage in one of the Massage-o-Matic chairs or at the XpresSpa which offers a variety of spa treatments as well as waxing, manicures and pedicures.

schiphol klm lounge
Entrance to the KLM Crown Lounge for international (non-Schengen) passengers.
Some of the many relax chairs at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Or you can do what many transit passengers do: sit around at one of the many bars and cafés, and mingle with fellow transit passengers or the bartender. For a drink with a view of the planes, head for the Upper Floor Bar. For something Dutch, there’s the Heineken Bar and Taste From the Lowlands Grand Café. Kebaya serves Asian food, from sushi to dumplings.

There’s a large variety of restaurants and cafés at Schiphol Airport.

Active: If you enjoy shopping, you’ll love the variety of shops at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, from fashion to consumer electronics, to books and chocolates, toys, sports gear, accessories and jewellery.

There’s a good variety of shops at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
There are also various high-end brands.

You can also visit a branch of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. This little museum has a modest collection but it’s worth visiting to while away your time. Next to it, you’ll find NEMO, a fun, science ‘discovery’ corner that should keep kids occupied for a while.

things to do at amsterdam airport
Rijksmuseum Schiphol
And you can browse around the Museum Shop.
things to do for kids at schiphol airport
The NEMO science corner is popular with families.

Hotel inside Schiphol Airport

There’s Yotelair inside the airport terminal where you can get a room for a few hours to enjoy a shower and a rest, or hire a cabin for a shower.

5 hours or longer

A layover of five hours or longer makes a quick visit into Amsterdam or a nearby town a real option, especially if your luggage has been checked through to your final destination and you have your boarding pass for the onward flight. Trains run directly from the airport (the station is a minute’s walk from any of the Arrival Halls) on a very frequent basis to Amsterdam and other towns. The journey to Amsterdam Centraal (Central Station) takes approximately 20 minutes.

Please note that, depending on your nationality, you may need a visa to enter The Netherlands. Find out here if you need a visa. Should you require a visa, you can apply for an online visa (

A typical scene in Amsterdam.


Options for a quick visit to Amsterdam and surrounding attractions

Go it alone: Purchase a return ticket, then take the train to Amsterdam Centraal (make sure you only board a train that goes to Centraal). When you exit Amsterdam Centraal, you can either opt for a canal tour (boats leave from and return to the station’s doorstep) for a 1-1.5 hour tour along the canals. Read more about things to do in Amsterdam.

The intersection of the Keizersgracht and Leidsegracht.
Groenburgwal – one of Amsterdam’s most picturesque canals

You can opt to purchase the IAmsterdam City Card (1-5 days) which includes a free canal cruise, free entrance to major museums and attractions, free public transport (metro, tram and bus in the city), 24-hour bicycle rental and much more.

Walking routes in Amsterdam

I’ve included suggested walking routes below which can be done in an hour or as long as several hours (depending on your pace or how much time you have). These routes take you past some of my favourite parts of Amsterdam including the Brouwersgracht (one of the most picturesque canals), the Jordaan neighbourhood, the Anne Frank House, the Nine Streets neighbourhood, the Begijnhof (or Nunnery) and the Groenburgwal (another impossibly picturesque canal) before leading you back to the station.

Tulip fields and the Keukenhof flower gardens

In the spring months (late-March till May), you can hop on the Keukenhof shuttle bus from the airport that takes you in 20 minutes to the nearby tulip fields and the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens.

Tulip fields near the town of Hillegom, southwest of Schiphol Airport.
Tulips and hyacinths in the Keukenhof gardens.


Overnight layovers in Amsterdam

If you have an overnight layover with an early-morning flight the next day, I recommend spending the night at one of the hotels at or near Schiphol Airport. If you have a bit more time, for instance, if your flight only leaves in the afternoon or evening the following day, then it’s worth booking an overnight stay in the Amsterdam city centre. I recommend booking a hotel that’s close to a train station such as nhow Amsterdam RAI (just 10 minutes from Schiphol; read about my stay there), Park Plaza Victoria and art’otel (both adjacent to Amsterdam Centraal Station).

Discover historic towns near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

If your layover is four hours or longer and you’re already familiar with Amsterdam, I recommend spending this time to visit one of the nearby historic towns:


Leiden (map) is a vibrant university city located southwest of Schiphol Airport. The city played an important role in the history of the Netherlands as well as globally in the scientific field (Leiden University has since its inception in 1575 spawned thirteen Nobel Prize winners!). Leiden is also the birthplace of Rembrandt. From Schiphol Airport station, frequent trains take you to Leiden in just 20 minutes, making it a great alternative to Amsterdam.

leiden day trip
The historic City Hall in Leiden.
things to see in leiden
De Valk windmill sits beautifully at the Rijnburgerssingel in Leiden.

From Leiden Centraal (central station), stroll along the Steenstraat into the historic town centre (the country’s second-largest 17th century town centre after Amsterdam) with its canals and beautiful homes. Main attractions include the Museum of Antiquities, the Burcht (hilltop medieval fortress) and Pieterskerk (Peter Church). Americans will find this church particularly interesting: the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers of the United States, lived here before moving to the New World.

A plaque at the Pieterskerk describing the Pilgrims in Leiden. Several US Presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Bush Sr. & Jr. and Barack Obama can trace their heritage to these Pilgrims.



Haarlem (map) is another nearby historic city. It’s located about 30 minutes away from Schiphol Airport by train (via Amsterdam Sloterdijk station) or direct by bus/taxi. You’ll find beautiful medieval cobblestone streets and charming canals and much more.

De Adriaan windmill in Haarlem.

The Cathedral of Saint Bavo is one of the must-sees in Haarlem. This Gothic cathedral in the city centre is famous for its 18th century Müller Organ; the likes of Händel and Mozart once played this world-famous organ.

The St. Bavo Cathedral or Grote Kerk in Haarlem.

Haarlem is also home to important art museums such as the Teylers Museum and the Frans Hals Museum, dedicated to the famous master. Another must-visit is the historic De Adriaan Windmill (dating from 1779).




Delft (map) is a historic town situated roughly between The Hague and Rotterdam. Famous for its Delft Blue pottery and as the birthplace of Vermeer, Delft is a beautiful town to explore. It’s also the home of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), the official burial place for the House of Orange (the Dutch royal family), a tradition that began in 1584.

Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Delft
The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Delft.
Delft is famous worldwide for its Delft Blue ceramics.

These days, Delft is a charming town with many things to see such as the Nieuwe Kerk and Oude Kerk (Old Church) where the famous painter Vermeer is buried. If you’re a fan of Vermeer, don’t miss the Vermeer Museum (Vermeer Centrum). If you love Delft Blue, you have to visit Royal Delft, the original Delft Blue factory from the 17th century, where you can see craftspeople at work. In addition, on Saturdays in the spring/summer months, a big antique market opens up along Delft’s picturesque canals. Read more about things to see in Delft.

Open-air antique market in Delft.

Delft is <40 minutes from Schiphol Airport, making it a real option if you have a layover longer than six hours. If you have time, sign up for a guided walking tour of this fascinating town.

The Hague (Den Haag)

The Hague (map) is the administrative capital of The Netherlands. All the government ministries are housed in this vibrant city which is just 30 minutes by train from Schiphol Airport. The Hague is a city of contrasts: from gleaming skyscrapers, to historic monuments such as the Binnenhof (one of the oldest Parliament buildings in the world) and the Peace Palace. The city also houses all embassies and important international organisations such as the International Court of Justice. The King of the Netherlands also has his official residence (Huis ten Bosch) and office (Noordeinde Palace) in The Hague. Another important attraction in The Hague is the Mauritshuis Museum, which is home to a stunning collection of, among others, Vermeer and Rembrandt paintings.

Sign up for a walking tour of the historic city centre to see the most important sights.

The Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice, in The Hague.

From Schiphol Airport station, there are frequent trains to Den Haag Centraal (The Hague Central Station): approximately 30 minutes.



96 Responses

  • Hi Wendy,
    5 hours is do-able but pretty tight. You could be in the city in about an hour after landing (provided that your bags are checked through and the immigration queues are ok), spend an hour+ walking around, then head back to the airport. To be on the safe side (security lines could be long), I recommend being back at the airport 1.5 hours before your next flight, which means leaving Centraal 2 hours before your flight. You can purchase a same-day return ticket at one of the Yellow/blue machines in the Arrival Hall (where the baggage carrousels are) or at Schiphol Plaza, the central concourse. If your flight into Amsterdam is delayed (I hope not), I don’t recommend attempting this trip, even if you have 4 hours to spare.


  • HI Keith,

    We will be travelling via Schipol to UK in April with a 5 hour layover. Would it be enough time to get through customs and travel into Amsterdam Centraal and back to the airport?

  • Hi,
    13.5 hours gives you plenty of time to take the train from the airport to the city centre, do a canal cruise from just outside the Centraal Station and walk around the city centre (follow one of the walking routes in my blog post). make sure to get back to the airport at least 1.5 hours before your flight.

    Best regards,

  • Greetings from Texas ,
    Hi, me and my two boys are planning to Visit UK this December 2022 .On the way to UK we have a 13.5 hrs layover in Amsterdam. I was completely in the dark about,” what to do, where to go, how to go, ” until i went through your blog! It is so helpful indeed and full of information. Just wondering if you could guide us to utilize our time in Amsterdam precisely.

  • […] Schiphol Airport has six runways and three interconnected terminals that form a nucleus from which eight piers fan out in different directions. With its wide array of shops, cafés, restaurants and bars, spa, hotels, a branch of the Rijksmuseum (the only airport in the world to have Rembrandts), a library and many other facilities, Schiphol Airport is a major transit hub in Europe, and is definitely one of my favourite airports. Read about things to do on a layover at Schiphol Airport. […]

  • Hi Grace,
    5 hours is a bit tight but you should have just enough time to take the train to the Central Station, hop on a 1-hour canal cruise, then return to the airport. I suggest you purchase your canal cruise ticket in advance to avoid the queues. If you have a valid Schengen via, then you should have no problems entering the Netherlands. However, please check with the Dutch Embassy before you leave.

    Have a great and safe trip!


  • i came from dubai and i have schengen visa going to madrid. i have layover in amsterdam for 5hours is that enought for me to visit the city. and i have schengen visa but im pilipino pasport do i have to aaply visa to visit the

  • Hi Janos,
    It’s very easy to take the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal station. I don’t know what day you’re arriving but a quick check on the Dutch trains website: shows that there are direct trains from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal at, for example, 06:31 and 06:41. They depart from platform 1 or 2 and take 17 minutes.
    There are Starbucks at the airport too which should be open when you arrive. 🙂


  • Wow, you replied…Thank you!
    After viewing the website for the trains I am uncertain which train to take from the airport to the Amsterdam Centraal station and what train to take to return to the airport. Your walking map seems very helpful because I was able to follow the walking map but the train line is what has me confused. Your assistance is greatly appreciated especially since there is a Star Bucks a handful of meters from Amsterdam Centraal.
    Thank you!

  • Hi Janos,
    Yes, there are trains operating from the airport to Amsterdam at that time. By the time you get to the city centre, it should be around 7am. You can grab a breakfast first (there are various cafés in the central station but also along the Damrak avenue that leads from the station to the Dam square) or you can start your stroll. You can follow the walking map in my blog post. I’m not sure if the canal boat cruises start that early but if they do, that’s an option too (check at the booths outside central station). Please be back at the airport at least 1.5 hours before your departure. Enjoy Amsterdam!



  • Hi Anu,

    I will always recommend a visit to Amsterdam (how can I not? Haha!), however, August is a very busy month so prices will be high and accommodations will be booked up months in advance. On the other hand, the late-summer weather should be good.

    If you decide to do a layover tour, I suggest hiring a driver/guide (considering you’re travelling with kids) and customise your itinerary to suit your preferences. Attractions that are great for families with kids include the Rijksmuseum, Artis zoo and the Nemo science centre. Here are more suggestions. Alternatively, you could take the train to Centraal Station and hop on a canal cruise that departs in front of the station, then walk around the Jordaan neighbourhood before making your way back to the airport. Though, my experience with going on a canal boat tour with small kids is that they tend to get restless quite quickly. If you go it alone, it could be an exhausting experience as there’s quite a bit of walking involved and the busy roads/pavements will make walking with a stroller cumbersome.

    If you decide to stay a few nights, I would avoid staying in the city centre but choose one of the surrounding neighbourhoods such as the Plantage neighbourhood (around the Artis Zoo) or the Zuideramstel/Oud West neighbourhoods. These are more family-friendly and are only a short hop (less than 10mins) by tram to the city centre. I can also recommend staying in a different town such as Haarlem or Weesp and take the train to Amsterdam (about 15-20mins) for a day trip.

    I hope this helps. As I said, August is a warm and busy month but there’s a lot to see and do in the summer months. If you decide to do a stopover, I suggest hiring a driver/guide to make things easier for you and your family. If you decide to stay a few days, it would be much better to pick a quieter neighbourhood or a small town near Amsterdam. Whichever you choose, I wish you safe travels and I hope you enjoy your time in Amsterdam.

    Note: I’ve added links to iAmsterdam, accommodation and tour pages to give you an idea of where to stay and what to do. Should you make a booking, I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you).

  • Hey Keith,

    My husband and I will be traveling from Bangalore to Toronto in August 2019 (end) with our two kids (age 3.5 and 11 months). We are contemplating if we should just do a long layover (7-8 hours) and do the typical tour from the airport or if we should stay a couple nights (3 nights) and explore more.

    What do you suggest?
    If we decide to stay 3 nights, what area or hotel/air bnb recommendations do you have with kids?

    What can we do for the 3 days we are there? (Kid friendly)

    Thanks in advance!

  • Hey Keith,

    Thanks for the quick revert. And yes, we are traveling with kids. So will think of the pre booked tour which might be more comfortable.

    Thanks again,


  • Hi Sandhya,
    If you have a Schengen visa, that’s sufficient to enter the Netherlands. It should be ok to do either (train/canal cruise or a transit tour) considering you have 5 hours 40 mins. If you’re travelling with kids, I would suggest a tour. If it’s just adults, I would personally take the train and explore on my own – you can hop on a canal cruise or follow one of my suggested walking routes in this post. Should you venture out on your own, please make sure you get back to the airport at least 1 hour 15mins before your departure (provided your baggage is already checked through and you have your onward boarding passes).

    Have a safe trip and enjoy Amsterdam!

    Keith 🙂

  • Hi Keith,

    I just wanted your advice on what to do during my layover in Amsterdam. We have a layover of 5h 40mins on our way to Rome from Bangalore. Would you suggest I pre book a transit tour online or reach the airport and then take the train and do one of the canal tours? I was worried that in case there is a delay in the flight then the pre booked tour service may not wait for us. We hold Indian passports but have Schengen visas. Would there be other visa requirements?
    Please advice.


  • Hi Samuel,

    5:45mins is do-able. You can take the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal (station); 20 mins. In front of the station, you can hop on a 1.5 hour canal cruise, which takes you back to the station. You can then take the train back to the airport. Providing that you have your boarding pass for your next flight and your bag has been checked through, I recommend that you be back at the airport 1.5 hours before your flight departure. Alternatively, you can book a private tour. A driver/guide will meet you at the airport, give you a 3-hour tour of the city and bring you back to the airport in time for your flight. I hope this helps.

    Have a safe trip and enjoy Amsterdam!

  • Have a 5:45 hr layover on my way to israel..
    Would u recommend going to the center?
    Not planning on eating anything in tge city.. Just going to bring some sandwiches as i cannot eat anything not kosher( im Jewish)..
    Is it enough time to get a little tour of the city?
    Also how long before my flight should i be at the airport?
    Thanks in advance

  • Hi Christina,
    You have sufficient time to make a quick visit to Amsterdam. Please ensure that your luggage (if you have any) is checked through to your final destination and that you have your boarding pass for your next flight. I suggest you take the train from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station (approximately 20 mins.). As you step out of the station, you’ll see various canal cruise companies. You can go for a cruise to see the canals (1-1.5 hours). Upon returning, you could have a meal somewhere close to the station or in the station (Perron 1 restaurant is beautiful!). Please be back at the airport at least 1.5 hours before your flight.
    Have a good trip!


  • Hi there,

    I am considering a route where I’ll arrive in Amsterdam at 5:40 PM and then my next flight leaves at 12:55 am, giving me 7 hrs stopover.

    Because it’s the evening, would you still recommend sightseeing? What places would you recommend for the evening? And will it be safe?

    Thanks so much 🙂

  • Hi Jacob,
    3 or 4 hours is a bit too short as you’ll have to be back at the airport about 1.5 hours before your next flight. I wouldn’t recommend a trip downtown.

    Cheers & have a safe trip,

  • Hi, I have a 3 hr and 45 min layover that probably will end up being 4 or a bit more bec usually, flights get in earlier in Israel unless there are delays. Any chance I can get out to the city, even for a short time, to see a few places?

  • Hi Joshua,
    I think it’s cutting it a bit close. You should be back at the airport about 1.5 hours before your flight and the canal tour takes about an hour and you have to calculate about 2 hours from getting off the plane, taking the train and onto the canal cruise. It’s tight and if anything is delayed, you might miss your flight.


  • Hello
    I’m arriving at the airport at 9:05am and my flight is at 1:50pm. That gives me a total layover of 4 hours and 45 minutes. Do you think it’s enough time to take the train to Amsterdam central, go on a canal tour and come straight back? Or is that cutting it a little too close?

  • Hello Gracia,
    I recommend that you check with the Netherlands embassy in Dubai just to be sure.

    Kind regards,

  • Hi. I’m holding a Philippine Passport but I have residence visa in UAE coz I am working in Dubai. I will travel going to Morocco this July and I saw that I have layover in Amsterdam airport for 14hrs. Am I still allowed to go out of the airport and have some tour for myself or I need to apply visa??? Note Im holding philippine passport but I have UAE Residence Visa. Thank you. ???

  • Hi Roxanne,
    I’m not sure to be honest if they’ll let you in at that time in the morning. I suggest tweeting your question to @Schiphol for an answer. They’re very responsive. Have a great New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam!


  • Hello!

    I’m leaving AMS for SEA in the morning of January 1st. I’m planning to ring in the new year at one of the parties in town the night before. I’m thinking of not getting a hotel room that night since I see myself partying until wee hours of the morning and it might just be a waste of money if I check-in at a hotel. Do you think I can just go directly to the airport at 2 am and sleep there? I can check-in online ahead of time and print my boarding pass at one of the kiosks. Do you think this is OK? I don’t have any checked luggage so I don’t really need to wait for the check-in counter to open, right? Will I go past the security check at that time and will I be permitted?

  • Hi Tia,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog! Most places in Amsterdam centre (both for shopping and dining) are frequented by both locals as well as tourists. The main shopping areas are the Kalverstraat (the main ‘high street’). Also good to check out the Nine Streets neighbourhood ( with its mix of vintage and contemporary fashion, book stores and antiques. If you’re into budget/vintage shopping, check out the flea market at Waterlooplein or the Albert Cuyp market (both the street market and the shops behind the stalls). If you have to choose between the two, head for the Albert Cuyp market. As for places to eat, there are too many to mention – it really depends on your budget and taste. If you love Chinese food, I can recommend New King in the Zeedijk street in Chinatown (reasonably priced and very good).

    As for souvenirs, lots of people bring cheese home with them. There are quite a few cheese shops in the city centre like Henri Willig or the Cheese Museum at the Prinsengracht (across the canal from the Wester Church/Anne Frank House). If you stumble upon a bakery, ask if they have freshly-made ‘stroopwafels’ (a typical Dutch caramel-filled waffle). If not, you can buy them at most supermarkets. These waffles are immensely popular with my family/friends overseas! You can also get them at the airport before you depart but they’re a lot more expensive there.

    Hope this helps!


  • Dear Keith,

    I chanced upon your website, whilst googling for some budget friendly shopping places in AMS. I have a 24 hrs. layover and would like to know about where do the locals usually eat and shop, not the touristy kind though. Also, what is unique to AMS that I can take with me home as souvenirs.

    Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.

    Thanks and stay blessed!!!

  • Hi Ally,
    I checked with KLM via Twitter (@KLM) and they said that you have two options: you can collect your bags in Amsterdam and check them in again for your connecting flight OR when you check-in in Houston, say that you would like your bags checked through to your final destination.
    Hope this helps. Have a safe journey and I hope you enjoy your layover in Amsterdam.

    Best regards,

  • Hi Keith,

    My family is planning a trip to Houston, US from Malaysia using KLM flight in May 2017. Our return journey involves 13.25 hours transit in Amsterdam. We would like to visit the tulip, windmill and the canal ride in the city.

    Our question is do we check out and check in again our luggage during this layover. Someone told us if the transit time is more than 12 hours, we need to check out and check in our luggage again.

  • Hi Noor,

    If your flight is at 1pm, please be back at the airport by 11:30am at the latest. You can choose to spend the night at the airport (Citizen M, Hilton, Sheraton…) or in the city (choose a hotel near the Central Station). If you start exploring the city around 8am, you’ll have a few hours before you return to the airport. I can’t think of any windmills near the airport that are easily accessible by public transport. However, if you take the train from the airport to the Amsterdam Central Station, sit on the right side of the train as you’ll pass 1-2 traditional windmills. Since you only have a few hours in town, I suggest taking a canal cruise from the Central Station (1.5 hrs max.). Alternatively, you can take the short walk as shown in the map on this post.
    Hope this helps. Safe travels! 🙂


  • Hi Keith,
    I bought a flight back to Malaysia from UK this August with a long 16 hr transit at Amsterdam. Unfortunately, my husband and I will be arriving late in the night and the flight to KL is at 1pm the next day. So there will be about 5-6 hours daylight left for us. Where would you suggest to explore Amsterdam during summer for this layover? Are any windmills nearby the airport accessible by public transport? Thanks.

  • Hi,
    Thanks for your comment. It’s perfectly possible to visit Amsterdam on a 5.5-hour layover. The prices you see are for private tours (for a single person, the rates are in the hundreds of euros). You could inquire with any of the tour companies offering these tours if there are others on that day/date who are doing the tour as well so it makes it cheaper for you and them. Alternatively, it’s very easy to just hop on the train from the airport (you’ll be in the city centre in 20 mins.) and go for a stroll around town or hop on a 1-hour canal cruise from the Central Station.
    Hope this helps. Have a good trip!


  • Hi Keith,

    You’re article kind of convinced me that I can venture out of Schiphol Airport and go to the Central Station and explore on my own during my 5.5. hours layover on the way to Munich from California. Back in 2005, I was able to do a city tour with a roundtrip airport pick-up and drop-off included in the fare at a really good price; I cannot seem to find this anymore. Do you know of any company that will do this without costing me over 100 euros?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  • Hi Cyndi,
    As a transit passenger, you’ll have to pass immigrations/customs to meet your friends as they’re not allowed in the passenger areas (i.e. past the security/immigrations check).


  • Hi Keith,
    Just off the top of your head, do you know if friends can come into Schiphol to visit you while in transit?
    Many thanks,

  • Hi keith !! I just had some questions 🙂 I lived in the philippines and will be traveling to lima and will have a brief layover at Schipol airport,do I need a transit visa for it?thanks

  • If you don’t have an accommodation and just want to party all night, you can check We list gather electronic music events in one simple map. There are a lot of events in Amsterdam (and elsewhere!).

    Have a good night out.


  • Hi Vinnie,

    You’ll have 1.5 days in Amsterdam then. That’s great. On the 27th, if you wish to explore the city yourself, I suggest taking the train into town (Central Station) and hopping on a canal cruise from there (1.5 hrs.). After the cruise, you can simply walk around town (see suggested walking routes) or visit some of the museums. Then have dinner in town before returning to your hotel. Alternatively, you can book a guided tour (there are many to choose from. Simple Google ‘Amsterdam tours’). I wouldn’t plan anything for the morning of the 28th. Hope this helps.

    Enjoy your visit!


  • Hello there,

    I will be travelling to amsterdam in Nov 27 at 6 am and stay at a hotel near by airport and leave next day 28 at noon. I am USA citizen. What are my best possibilities to see the city? Take floating dutchman? It only takes 2 hours. What else I can do to spend quality time economically? Thanks for any advice.

  • Hi! Keith, I am an INDIAN travelling from Lima(Peru) to India. I have a stop over of 20 Hrs in Amsterdam. Do I need a transit Visa to go to the city?

  • Hi Stella,

    It won’t be possible to cover all that in five hours, I don’t think. The tulip fields are in full bloom now but the Keukenhof Gardens will be stunning next month (and isn’t far away from the airport). You would have to make a choice: Amsterdam city (to see the Anne Frank, Van Gogh, red-light district) or the flowers (Keukenhof Gardens). For the latter, I would go on an organised tour which leaves from and brings you back to the airport. For Amsterdam city, you can explore on your own. Keep in mind that there are often long queues at the Anne Frank House so you might want to leave that for another visit (when you have more time).

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers & enjoy your visit to Amsterdam!

  • Hi,
    I’m traveling to India next month and have a 5 hour layover in Amsterdam. Do you recommend an organized tour or should I explore on my own. I want to see Anne Frank House, tulip fields, van Gogh museum, and red light district. Is that doable for me?

  • Hi Keith, i’m a tunisia, i will go to Malaysia and transit at Amsterdam next month i have transit 24h before go to malaysia
    how i can have a chance to visit Amsterdam for few hours??i want to visit place in amsterdam an take picture 🙂
    My concern now is, can I just go out of the airport ?? my passport tunisia
    thank you

  • […] Things to do during a layover in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – The conversation on the plane prompted me to write this post about things to do while in transit at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Millions of transit passengers travel …… […]

  • Hi Jannete,
    You’ll have sufficient time for a trip to Amsterdam. I assume you’re taking the evening KLM flight to Kuala Lumpur. If your bag is checked through and you have your boarding pass for this flight, then being back at the airport around 7-7:30pm should be sufficient. You could opt for a tour (check the tour desk at the Arrival Hall) or you could purchase a train ticket to Amsterdam (20mins by train from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station) and explore the city on your own. I’ve included several walking routes on the map above. The historic city centre is small, making it very walkable. Keep in mind that if you plan to visit one of the museums (Rijksmuseum/Van Gogh/Stedelijk), you might need extra time as it could be busy at the ticket counters. If you just want to walk around, I suggest a route through the Jordaan neighbourhood, Nine Streets, Spui/Begijnhof (nunnery), flower market, Rembrandt square, Amstel river and back to the Central Station via Chinatown (Nieuwmarkt)/red light district.

    Hope this helps. Enjoy your stay in Amsterdam! 🙂


  • I will layover AMS at 1:20pm to 8:45pm on my way back from Basel to Kuala Lumpur on 1 Nov 2014.I would love to visit AMS and I know that I need to be back at the Airport by 6:30pm. May I know where should I visit and how do get around AMS since I only have 5 hours to spend in AMS?

    Hope to hear from you soon. Best Regards

  • Hi Federica, sorry for my late reply. I hope you managed to see Amsterdam because you had enough time to visit the city.

    Kind regards,

  • Hi everyone,

    next week i will have a layover of about 5h 30 m in Amstedam. The scheduled time of arrival is at 14.40 from Abu Dhabi and departure to Italy at 20.15.
    Do you think so that I have enough time to visit the city?Just having some picture and maybe some food.
    Up to you.. At what time do you think I have to take the train from Amsterdam Centraal to the airport? I was thinking arount 17.45. Consider that I will have the european passport and the boarding pass, so I think there are not so many passport controls to do.

    Thank you!!

  • Great tip Lisa. The building is called Oudemanhuispoort, the location of my old faculty. Walk through the passage (where you can browse through the antique books stalls) and check out the gardens. Lovely building. When I have friends visiting, I always take them there. 🙂


  • You could also walk to the university of Amsterdam 200 meters east of the Spui. One of the most beatiful university buildings of the Netherlands just next to the red light district!

  • Hi Carmen,
    I don’t think you need a visa to enter the Netherlands with a Malaysian passport (but please check to be sure). If you’re flying from the US to Malaysia via Amsterdam on the same ticket, your bags will be checked through. Just make sure you have your boarding pass for your next flight. Once you arrive, head straight to Immigrations to enter the Netherlands. When you get back to the airport – make sure you’re back in the airport about two hours before your next flight – just go straight to the Immigrations counter and proceed to the gate. It’s pretty straightforward. Have a great stay in Amsterdam! 🙂

  • Hi Keith, i’m a malaysian, returning from US to Malaysia and transit at Amsterdam next month. After reading your blog, I was thinking of booking a longer transit flight do that I can have a chance to visit Amsterdam for few hours. My concern now is, can I just go out of the airport with my boarding pass to Malaysia and pass through the immigration just like that. If yes, when I come back to the airport, do I need to check in again as I have done it in US.

  • Hello Afong,
    Schiphol Airport is big but it’s all within one building so you can walk from one gate to another. It’s very easy and there are signs posted everywhere or ask one of the ground staff if you’re not sure. If you have your boarding pass for your next flight, just check the gate number at the tv screens and walk to the gate. A two-hour transit time is more than sufficient.

    Have a good trip!


  • I am transit through Ams to Panama. My transit time is two hours. In this article you suggest that if 1-2 hours go to the flight directly. Just wondering is the airport big and will the direction be clear for flight transit?

  • I wish I had seen this post before I went to Amsterdam. I did go outside and checked some of these places out in my 10 hr layover, but I just wished I was more organized. Love the map in the middle! thanks

  • Hello Cher,

    As a Singapore national, you do not need a visa for a stay in the Netherlands for up to 90 days. If your luggage is checked through to the final destination, you don’t have to pick it up and check it in again. Enjoy Amsterdam! 🙂


  • Hi,

    I have a 9 hour transit and I’m thinking of booking a tour at the airport to see Amsterdam. I hold a Singapore passport so I don’t think I’ll need to get a visa right?

    Also, my luggages will be checked straight through to Singapore so I won’t have to check my luggages in and out if I decide to book a tour do I?

    I’ve never been to Europe before and I and really hope I can see a bit of Amsterdam, even if just a little!

  • Hi Jeyn,
    A passport stamp is not necessary in this case: from Curaçao to Manila via Amsterdam, these are two international, non-Schengen connections. However, make sure that the luggage is checked through to the final destination (Manila) to avoid having to collect the luggage in Amsterdam and checking it in again (in which case, you will have to pass through immigrations). However, I assume the luggage will be checked through – ask the airline just to be sure.

    Hope this helps.


  • if one person travels on a connecting flight from Curacao to Amsterdam then from Amsterdam to Manila, does the immigration officer stamp his/her passport? please reply I am npot familiar with how things go at amsterdam… by the way, the person travelling is a Filipino seafarer…

  • Hi Keith,
    How can I be in touch with you? Can I get your email?
    I’m from Malaysia working in Doha. But currently in Houston for work.
    Going back to Doha thru Amsterdam soon.
    Am thinking of stopover in Amsterdam.

  • Hi Keith,
    Nice article. I have a >6 hr layover at Schipol airport. I am really interested in taking this opportunity to visit the city but am not sure if I need a visa for that. Do you anything about the visa requirements for short visit. I know some airports like turkey do the tours for transiting passengers without any turkish visa requirements
    Thanks a lot

  • Hi Keith,

    How are u? Just curious, are u asian (filipino). Anyway, im travelling on April 1, 2012 to Tunisia and with 10hours layover in Schiphol. Im really gettin crazy thinking what to do during that 10hours, gosh…im not sure if i will be allowed to go out of the airport to explore the city (im from Philippines, by the way), u know “visa thing”. Anyway, are the hotels inside airport are affordable? im travelling with my 21month old son.

  • These are all great suggestions! Thanks to a missed connection from Brussels, the hubby and I had the chance to do a quick canal belt walkabout and a visit to the Van Gogh Museum. It was one of those opportunities we’d never we would get to do again… until we ended up moving here 2 years later!

  • Thanks! This is perfect timing as my husband and I have a layover on the 20th. Would love to get him a surprise message.

    Thanks for the info and Enjoy your Afternoon Drinks.

  • I’d go downstairs to the trains I’d head toward Amsterdam but I’d get off the train in Purmerend and walk toward the Koe Markt and arriving there I walk into the Bonte Koe one of the top bier cafe in the Nederalands I prefer to think of it as the best of the best bier cafes in the world . I’d surprise Huub and ask him where his pretty wife Linda is I’d visit a while and on my way out I’d tell em to say hello to Willem my day would be complete then !!!!!!!!

  • Or you could sample some of lthe fine liquors at the Duty Free shops in the airport, and choose your favorites to take home with you.

  • Schiphol is a fantastic destination – as an Amsterdam local or traveller! The customer service there makes customs/immigration/boarding/shopping a great experience..

  • If you’re flying to Europe, Amsterdam Airport is a great hub to fly into – and you can come visit me too! 🙂


  • I sometimes drop by at Murphy’s – if I’m not mistaken, I think it’s the only place inside the terminal with an open courtyard.
    Thanks for your comment.


  • I have to admit that I loved this airport. Aesthetically pleasing and easy to get around. Even getting through customs and immigration wasn’t that bad. Or maybe I just had a good experience! 🙂

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