How to spend a layover in Amsterdam

Schiphol is a major flight hub in Europe as KLM has its base here. After spending hundreds of hours at airports around the world, I honestly have to say that considering how big Schiphol is, it is a very boring airport. Food is expensive and crappy, the airport is old and dirty and there is not much to do. On my way home from Israel I had 5,5 hours at Schiphol, so I decided to go into the center of Amsterdam instead of waiting at the airport. I highly recommend doing this, so here are a few practical advises and some suggestions for what you can do!

How much time do you need and how do you do it?
Most bloggers and articles I read while preparing for my layover recommended to have 6-7 hours, and at least 5 hours. I would say that it is possible to do a visit in Amsterdam if you have more than 4 hours.

The city is easily reached by train. The train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal runs all the time (during the day) and takes about 20 minutes. The price of a return ticket is around 8 euros. We used around 30 minutes from arrival until we were on the train. We did not store our luggage at the airport – if you want to do this, it might take some more time. We spent a while at the passport control as we came from a non-Schengen destination. If you are traveling within Schengen, I guess you need less time.

Amsterdam Centraal station is located in the city center so you can walk almost everywhere from the station without wasting much time. On our way back, we waited for about 10 minutes for the train, and spent 40 minutes getting to the right departure hall, through security and then to our gate.

With a 5-hour layover, it is possible to spend 3 hours in the city, and that is not too bad!

What should you do?
This was my second visit to Amsterdam, but as I was travellng with my brother who has not been there before, we only focused on the most central area.

By planning a one hour long walk (I used Google Maps and was well prepared), we got to see The Red Light District, the Royal Palace and Amsterdam’s stunning architecture and canals. We also had lunch in the city. If you have more time, you can include several other sights in the area – the walking distances are not bad! If you’re looking to visit the Red Light District, you should be aware that the area looks much different at night than it does during the day. By day, the area is vibrant but noticeably subdued. You may see a few girls that look like Live cam girls but nothing too risque. After all, it is only the day time. However, by night, you’ll think you’ve just stepped into the living incarnation of a website like, with beautiful, scantily dressed women everywhere you look.

Another option is to take a canal tourist boat. The shortest cruise takes one hour and leaves from the train station. I will be having a layover of five hours at Schiphol in April and then I will try the canal cruise for sure!

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2 thoughts on “How to spend a layover in Amsterdam

  1. Amsterdam er en hyggelig by, synes jeg! Jeg skal ha en mellomlanding der i april, men da kommer vi om kvelden, skal overnatte på et hotell og må tilbake til flyplassen om morgenen. Ikke så mye tid til sightseeing, med andre ord.

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