Amsterdam night!
September 9, 2009 7:20 PM   Subscribe

I have an 11-hour layover in Amsterdam on my way home to the states - great! ...'cept it's from 9pm to 8am - yikes?!

So I ended up with an interesting itinerary for my trip home from Europe: an 11-hour layover in Amsterdam! I've read some helpful, day-time suggestions for a 9-hour layover here, but I'm afraid some of the 'to-dos' might not apply to me since I'll be arriving 9pm on a Saturday and departing 8am the next morning. I'm definitely interested in venturing out of the airport, as it'll be my first time in Amsterdam, and I'm hoping the hivemind could provide some suggestions as to what a solo, female traveler (in her early 20s) might do during the wee hours of the night! I'm planning to power through and stay up all night, but if this strikes you as a potentially insane/unfruitful endeavor, please tell me! Any/all tips would be much appreciated! :D
posted by jus7brea7he to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, The Netherlands (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Schipol has Yotel which has really cool rooms ("cabins") available by the hour if you find your energy flagging at 2 am.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:52 PM on September 9, 2009

Having been to Amsterdam twice, I would suggest being very careful about your personal safety. Myself and 4 other guys were followed by 3 big scary dudes for a block or two until we turned around and assumed a "fighting stance" (I almost pissed myself I was so scared.) Had three friends mugged by one crazy guy with a knife the size of his forearm. My friend walking in front of me was punched in the head for turning down a really high gentleman trying to sell him coke. These were all separate incidents.

I'm not saying there isn't anything to do at that time of night or that my experience was typical. But be careful and I would caution against walking any neighborhood alone after dark.
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:11 PM on September 9, 2009

Yes, definitely, be careful! If I were you I wouldn't stay up all night - I'd get a room in a youth hostel or cheap hotel (find one with good user ratings) and go there after just a few hours wandering around by yourself.
posted by hazyjane at 10:29 PM on September 9, 2009

Speaking as a commenter in that earlier post -- I've only done that kind of all-night layover in Amsterdam in the company of friends. I got in late, went to a party, had a fun time, and got an early train to Schiphol. Even as someone fairly familiar with the city, doing it on my own would have been a different matter.

There are places that stay open fairly late (3am-ish) but if you're unfamiliar with the city, you're more likely to get lost and/or be drawn to the more dubious areas. The Schiphol trains do run all night, albeit less frequently, so if you want to cry uncle, you don't have to look for a place in Amsterdam itself. You should also be able to leave the majority of your hand luggage in a locker at Schiphol: take your passport, boarding pass, cash, etc, ideally in something that's mugger-proof.

So, I dunno. I have a few places in mind that would easily take you from, say, 10pm through to 1-2am very comfortably, or even further into the night, but I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable about recommending them to a first-time visitor on a layover. It's the sort of thing where I'd say "impromptu A'dam meetup!" and hope that a few friendly MeFi denizens might volunteer to play guide and chaperone.
posted by holgate at 10:50 PM on September 9, 2009

I'm not saying I know this to be true of nestor's anecdotes, but I studied abroad in Amsterdam, and those stories sound an awful lot like the experiences my friends had while they were in *ahem* paranoia-enhanced states of mind. In reality, the city is not dangerous if you don't go looking for danger, and I never heard about one genuine incident of peril from my entire cadre of students, which was pretty big. I myself often walked alone for an hour or more through the city at night unperturbed. Sure I'm a guy, but I'm not exactly an intimidating presence, and I didn't see anything that made me even think twice about my safety.

If I were you, I would take the train from the airport to Amsterdam Central station, then grab a cab to the Leidseplein (or a bus or tram if you prefer). It's the main touristy nightlife center of the city, and it'll be busy and safe until pretty damn late, any night of the week. The whole place is a total riot; you'll find no shortage of fucked-up strangers to gawk at. For music that doesn't suck, consider checking out a show at the Paradiso or Melkweg, which are among the few clubs in the area likely to have more locals than tourists. Once the festivities die down or you get sick of the idiots, maybe take a leisurely stroll back to the station, first heading straight into the heart of the city, then curving up along the Singel canal. The city is so beautiful and peaceful at night, it just seems like one of the perfect places on the earth. Once you get back to the center, then you can check out the Red Light District if you're feeling brave. It's unlike anything else you'll ever see, but it is one of those dangerous places I was talking about earlier, and it's kind of psychologically distressing to boot.

(If you can't tell, I'm basically just fantasizing about what I'd do if I had another night in Amsterdam. It's my favorite place ever and I don't think anyone should pass up the chance to see it.)
posted by martens at 11:47 PM on September 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd do what Martens suggest (Paradiso is my fave venue - depending on who is playing). Data point: female, travel alone a lot. In fact, moved to Amsterdam alone. Had a blast for four years. I don't consider the city unsafe, but there are areas (example: the red light district) that can get sketchy on weekends. Catch a band, go play pool in the coffee-shop just off Leidseplein, visit FEBO at three in the morning and buy odd looking foods like bitterballen from little window-machines.
posted by dabitch at 1:08 AM on September 10, 2009

Mrs Mutant is Dutch, and we keep a second flat in Amsterdam. Even before marrying her I've spent a lot of time there; its a very safe city, I'd have to say I've seen less open violence than here in London or New York when I was living there.

I'm not going to suggest the crime rate is zero, there are lots of problems with pickpockets, for example, however anecdotes about personal safety upthread seem very much indicative of the drug culture and not just folks hanging out and partying in Amsterdam.

martens is spot on with his recommendation re:Leidseplein, however I'd suggest taking a taxi both ways to / from Centraal Station; I've done that walk many times, its not exactly a short walk and you're in a new city.

Probably your biggest problem will be the taxi touts; not that you won't get where you're going, but it may cost twice as much as a local would pay. But don't worry about that, just have a great time!

Make sure you get your hands on a street map before you travel, have major streets / landmarks all noted in advance and keep track of where you are wrt Centraal Station and other points of interest.

Oh! Drink plenty of coffee and between the caffeine and novelty of the new, I'm sure you won't have much of a problem staying awake.

Have a great time!
posted by Mutant at 1:16 AM on September 10, 2009

If you're going to be around the Leidseplein, maybe check out the schedule at SugarFactory. And make sure to get some frites at some point!
posted by KatlaDragon at 2:02 AM on September 10, 2009

Maybe I'm getting old, but I read this and thought "This is the sort of thing airport hotels are made for."

Sigh. Yeah, I'm getting old.
posted by The Michael The at 4:12 AM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

You'll have a great time around the leidseplein area - lots of bars, lots of tourists. Sugarfactory for dancing (breakdance crews!), Paradiso and Melkweg for concerts and dancing. Just around the corner there's my favourite bar, het genootschap der geneugten ('society of delight'). It's a small brown cafe and jeneverbar with just the right mix of locals and tourists. There's a lot more exciting places, and it's a great town just to stroll around, but that's maybe for another time, when you're not alone and on a schedule. That said, for an all-night party I'd go to the other side of the river. I've never had any trouble, but I'm neither woman nor tourist. I'll probably be in town, so memail me if you need company, or try to find some at the airport. Have a great time!
posted by Psychnic at 7:26 AM on September 10, 2009

And do not smoke just before you leave - the smell of weed might get you in trouble at the airport.
posted by Psychnic at 7:30 AM on September 10, 2009

Yeah, I was going to say Leidseplein, the Paradiso and/or Melkweg, though also the brown-cafes to the west for something slightly less clubby. (My personal favourite of those is Cafe de Tuin in the middle of the Jordaan, an area which is definitely worth walking through as the sun rises, if you make it that far.) Or there's Cafe de Koe (English writeup) which isn't far from Leidseplein up Marnixstraat.
posted by holgate at 8:57 AM on September 10, 2009

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