What to do with 8-hour layover in Amsterdam Schiphol?
August 1, 2018 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I have an 8-hour layover in Schiphol. Is there enough time for me to go into downtown Amsterdam for a nice meal and walk around downtown?

I'm flying from Berlin to Vancouver via Amsterdam. I will likely have one checked luggage. I will not be changing airlines. Here are my questions:

1. From cursory Googling, there seems to be a 20-minute train between Schiphol and Centraal station. This sounds too good to be true. If you have personal experience with this train, could you confirm whether the train ride really only takes 20 minutes?

2. How early will I need to be back? For trans-Atlantic flights, I normally try to arrive about three hours in advance. But since I'm not changing airlines, maybe I won't need the full three hours? Again, please tell me about your personal experience!

3. If you have recommendations for a breakfast or a brunch spot, please let me know! The flight arrives at 7:20am. Some restaurants should be open by the time I get to downtown, especially around the train station, right?

4. My sweetie has requested that I pick up some Hopjes for him. I'm guessing they're pretty easy to find everywhere, but I thought I would ask.
posted by tickingclock to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, Netherlands (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I live in Amsterdam part of the year.

1. Yes 20 minutes. Why wouldn't it? Cost: 5,40 euros.

2. You want to be back at Schiphol 3 hours before your flight. You may not need it, but it might be crazy busy at security. You also have to do the pre-check for a flight to the States.

3. That's early for Amsterdam. Vinnie's is a good place for breakfast that opens early. Two locations.. Move yourself immediately away from the train station. The area is over-impacted by tourism and you won't have a good time.

4. You should be able to find them at any Albert Heijn supermarket. Or this place, which gives you a good goal that involves a nice walk.

Enjoy. Hit me up if you have more questions.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:05 AM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

There are companies that specialize in this, but you could certainly do your own tour. Amsterdam is very compact and walkable. I'd suggest fitting in a canal tour and/or one of the free ferries behind Centraal Station.
posted by soelo at 9:10 AM on August 1, 2018

More than enough time. You should definitely go into town. Trains leave from Track 1 about every 10 minutes. The train ride takes 15-20 minutes.

especially around the train station, right?

There's no reason to stay around the train station. Amsterdam is tiny and you can walk from the train station to most parts of town in a short amount of time.

If the flight lands at 7:20, you could be in Amsterdam by a little after 8am. Assuming your flight leaves at 3:30pm, I'd think about heading back shortly after noon.

That still gives you four hours. Anything else you want to see/do? I live in Amsterdam as well.

I don't usually have breakfast out but I am a coffee fanatic. Once you exit the station, look for a huge hotel called the Barbizon. Head toward it and enter the street to the right of it. take another immediate right. and walk down along the canal until you reach Oude Kerk. In a small garden attached to the church, you'll find De Koffie Schenkerij. It is a pretty walk, at least in the morning.
posted by vacapinta at 9:36 AM on August 1, 2018

The train does indeed take 20 minutes. I second the advice to get away from the train station. Café Hoppe, which opens at 8 am, does simple cold breakfasts if that's your thing, or stop by later for a beer or a glass of genever.

FWIW, if I had that layover in Amsterdam, I'd probably head to the Rijksmuseum. The Tropenmuseum is also interesting, not just for its collections but also for seeing how a former Colonial Museum has been transformed after decolonization.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:36 AM on August 1, 2018

*You can buy Hopjes in the grocery store in the airport.
posted by French Fry at 9:37 AM on August 1, 2018

Yes, you have enough time. And you're doing this in the right direction - I had a 12-hour Amsterdam layover after a transatlantic flight once, and there are some pictures of me having a nap on a canal cruise. Trains into the city are pretty much idiot-proof.

One thing to point out which you didn't explicitly mention - the Anne Frank museum requires advance tickets. Get tickets ahead of time, if that's something you're interested in. We did not. We ended up at the Van Gogh museum, where I'm pretty sure I took a nap while standing.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:28 AM on August 1, 2018

On the other hand, I've never been compelled to visit Anne Frank. The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh, however, whenever I get the chance, and in eight hours, with luck, you could see both.
posted by Rash at 11:11 AM on August 1, 2018

With only 4 hours realistically on the ground, I wouldn't try to "fit" much in. There's no better city in the world to just wander around and take it in.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:54 AM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

For sure you have enough time for this. We did it with a 6 hour layover too. There are even still lockers at the airport if you end up with something you don't want to carry around.

Amsterdam is beautiful.
posted by csmithrim at 12:24 PM on August 1, 2018

A word of warning, if your flight out is back to the states you want to be REALLY careful to be back in time, the automated Kiosks will literally not print your boarding pass or let you check in at all if you're too close to your departure time. I think that cut off is 60-90 mins depending on airline. I can tell you for sure I've been on the wrong side of it and you don't get to get on that plane. :)
posted by French Fry at 1:58 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

My recommendation, based on personal experience, would be to go 20 minutes in the opposite direction to Leiden. It's cute and walkable with lots of nice cafes and a grocery store near the train station to get snacks. This is what I did last time I had a layover; while I also love Amsterdam, I'd go back to Leiden in a heartbeat. Getting back to the airport was easy and security was a breeze.
posted by smorgasbord at 5:14 PM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's one of my favorite cities for a layover. You can get plenty done, more so if you're comfortable riding a bike in the city, which is the best way to get around (you can even bike to the countryside it's so close). Or, you could even fit in a bicycle tour if you want to bike but aren't confident in riding alone. But even if you don't bike, strolling around and popping in and out of coffee and cheese shops is a fun way to pass the time too.

I also second Rijksmuseum as it is fantastic.

And also second Albert Heijn for picking up all your souvenir/food goodies. There's one very conveniently located at the station and the lines move fast.
posted by bluelight at 6:24 PM on August 1, 2018

I will not be changing airlines

the automated Kiosks will literally not print your boarding pass or let you check in at all if you're too close to your departure time

Depending on the airline, you should be able to get boarding passes for the entire journey at your first check-in. If you can't do that, see if you can get boarding passes before you leave AMS. The airline should be able to tell you what time you need to be back at the airport.

Watch out for cycle lanes alongside the footpath in Amsterdam - cyclists to not give way to pedestrians.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:22 PM on August 1, 2018

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