Amsterdam Layover
April 8, 2008 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Longish layover in Amsterdam. Will I have time to do anything?

My brother and I are going to have a 9hr layover in Amsterdam-Sciphol in late May (from about 11:30AM to 8:45PM). I want to know if it would be feasible during that time to actually get into the city for a bit as neither of us have ever been.

Any tips or recommendations?
posted by ecab to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, The Netherlands (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Go. A layover was my first intro to Amsterdam, and I've been back twice since. Nine hrs is more than enough time, and even if you only see the Central Train Station and grab a fresh Heineken by a canal, it's worth it. Amsterdam is like Venice - see it if you can.

I remember there being some great bars/cafes on Herengracht, which is only 2-3 canals to the right after you walk out of the train station.

The train ride takes 20-30 minutes.
There are are at least 4 trains per hour.
I think a one way is only 3-4 Euros.

I think you can still stash luggage at the airport too, but haven't tried that recently.
posted by Prevailing Southwest at 2:16 PM on April 8, 2008

Definitely doable.You get the train from directly under the airport terminal. It takes hardly any time and you get bang into Amsterdam city centre in around 20 mins. There is no shortage of bars around the city centre. Some parts are really nice to walk around. Take the opportunity. It will be worth it.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:29 PM on April 8, 2008

Also late May is usually a great time of year to see the Dam.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:30 PM on April 8, 2008

Yes! Absolutely. In addition to beer, that's plenty of time to grab some of their famous pancakes or terrific pastries.

You could even get stoned but that might be a really bad idea during long travel plans and passages through airport security.
posted by chairface at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2008

Thanks for the responses.

I'm working at an NGO in the Mid East this summer, which is my final destination, so I don't think I'm getting stoned in Amsterdam, what with all the crazy drug laws that the ME has.

Does anyone know how long before my flight out of Amsterdam I ought to head back to the airport?
posted by ecab at 3:19 PM on April 8, 2008

Absolutely. The train ride from Schiopol to the city's main train station (Centraal) is about 40 minutes and 5-6 euros return. They run frequently all hours of the day, so no worrying about getting back in time.

There are lockers in Schiopol if you want to ditch your carry-on stuff. The cost varies by size but I remember paying about 3 euros for a decent sized locker.

The aptly named Centraal train station will make a good start and end point for a quick tour of the city. I did the same thing on a 7-hour layover last January.

I went back about 90 minutes before my flight. My flight continued to Lyon, France. You may want more security time for non-EU destinations.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by KevCed at 3:22 PM on April 8, 2008

Pre-9/11 that was a healthy amount of time to spend. Can't speak to it since, but when I had that much time in the past I was able to hop a train downtown, get some lunch, hit the van gogh and sex museums, tour the Heineken brewery and spend some quality time in the beergarden, do some shopping and make it back in time to catch my flight on to Cairo. Do avoid the dope -- jet lag will make it a mildly fuzzy experience already -- and depending on where you'll be in the meast, it's abundant anyway. Bon voyage!
posted by mumkin at 3:46 PM on April 8, 2008

yeah, it's more than enough. if I had had time to visit only one place in Amsterdam, I would have gone to Anna Frank's house first.
posted by matteo at 4:11 PM on April 8, 2008

When flying back to Europe, I always go through Schiphol, and make sure I have a long enough layover to spend half a day in Amsterdam. The lockers for hand luggage are a godsend, as long as you a) remember to take out your passport and boarding pass; b) don't lose your receipt, which opens the locker with a barcode scanner; c) don't forget to pick up your bag when you return.

The train from Schiphol to Centraal is 15-20 minutes. Buy your ticket in the station (machine or person-at-counter), as you can't buy one on the train, and you'll be fined a wedge of euros if the inspector catches you.

Things I have done on my last layovers: go to the Jordaan for coffee and applecake. Wander round Spui, and the gorgeous Begijnhof courtyard garden. Buy licorice from Jacob Hooy, the little chemists' shop near Nieuwmarkt. Take the 20 tram on a nice loop of the Centrum for not much money. Go all the way out to the Albert Cuyp market. Etc. Just get away from Damrak and the red light area, because it's all a bit trashy.

Schiphol's nice, but eight hours there will have you stir crazy. Half a day in Amsterdam is nicer, and so easy to do.
posted by holgate at 5:54 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

There are lockers at the Centraal train station as well.

I recommend biking around the city, it's a really nice way to see it. There's a bike rental place just outside the train station. If you leave the station facing the city, turn to your left and there's a MacBike rental place. Make sure you lock your bike if you stop to do something because bike theft is unfortunately supposed to be common.

The Anne Frank house was good. If you can get there early, you don't have to wait as long in line but there's usually a pretty long line by mid-day. Would also recommend going to Museumplein if you're into art. There's the Van Gogh museum there. With your time limits you would be best off biking or taking the tram to Anne Frank/Museumplein.

There's also a tourist information centre directly outside the train station that has plenty of information.
posted by catburger at 7:03 PM on April 8, 2008

For the Ann Frank house, reserving evening tickets might be an option, though it would cut close to your departure time.

I'd probably avoid the big art galleries, just because you'll feel as if you're on the clock while you're there, and that's not a great way to appreciate it. There's a nice little Rijksmuseum exhibit in Schiphol, if you want a taster before you leave.
posted by holgate at 8:05 PM on April 8, 2008

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