What to Do During a Layover at Amsterdam Airport
If you are up for a short or long layover at Amsterdam Airport and are dreading how to spend your spare time there, you are about to receive good news! Amsterdam Schiphol Airport isn’t an ordinary airport. Its pre-security Schiphol Plaza is considered a city’s shopping mall, while its various services and amenities and its easy layout make it one of the most passenger-friendly airports worldwide.
Things to Do at Amsterdam Airport
During short layovers, it is strongly advised to stay in the airport. Although being a single-terminal aviation hub, Schiphol Airport is vast, meaning that you’ll have to leave plenty of time to get from one pier to another. Still, with so many things to do at Amsterdam Airport, staying there is going to be a blessing in disguise! So, how are you going to spend your layover at the airport? Check out the top things to do!
Shopping Therapy at Amsterdam Airport
With more than 200 shops lying around the airport, nothing can stop you from going on a shopping spree during your layover. From local stores to international chains, you’ll find a wide variety of products, no matter what you may be looking for. On the other hand, at duty-free shops, you can buy cosmetics, alcohol, perfumes, and much more at tax-free prices. Are you traveling on a tight budget? Window shopping never did anyone any harm!
Drink & Dine at Amsterdam Airport
You’ll find more than 80 restaurants and bars scattered over the Amsterdam Schiphol airport’s premises. However, if there’s one thing the Netherlands isn’t known for, it’s its cuisine. Still, you’ll find plenty of eating options, serving local and international cuisine. Whether you relish a snack, a fast food option, or a fine-dining dish, you’ll spot something to suit your taste buds. On the other hand, AMS drinking choices are equally diverse.
Use the Airport’s Wi-Fi
Amsterdam International Airport offers free Wi-Fi to its passengers. You can use the airport’s network for a 4-hour period of time. Still, after that time limit, all you have to do is rejoin the network for another 4 hours.
Amsterdam Airport is Kids-Friendly
In fact, all airport lounges have designated children’s areas. In those play zones, your children will have the time of their life, while you’ll get to relax and unwind before your onward flight.
Meditate or Perform your Religious Duties During your Layover at Amsterdam Airport
The AMS Meditation Center is an interfaith zone, open around the clock. It is located in the non-Schengen area of the airport (at Lounge 2) and is accessible to all passengers. The center offers a range of facilities, including meditation sessions and a library where you can read books on spirituality. What’s more, regular services take place here as well.
Play the Piano or Read a Book
Believe it or not, Amsterdam International Airport has a library where you can read a book, leave any unwanted books of your own, or even take one book with you. In the airport’s library, you’ll also find a grand piano. Don’t overthink it! You can use it to practice or just play for fun. I-pads are also on tap.
Enjoy the Scenery
Take a rest between your flights observing the AMS plane traffic. You can head to Panorama Terrace, open from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm, and enjoy the vistas. Watch the planes landing and taking off and empty your mind of any negative thoughts. Adjacent to the Panorama Terrace lies the Panorama Restaurant, operating during the same hours and providing quality eating and drinking options with a view!
Are you a Nature-Lover?
You can enjoy a “natural experience” without exiting the airport’s doors! If it sounds unreal to you, all you have to do is head to the Airport Park, the AMS zone where you can find real trees, recorded birds singing, and even exercise bikes. Located at Lounge 1, the Airport Park is open from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm and is the ideal place to relax, read your book, or “sweat” during your layover at Amsterdam Airport.
Our Tip: Your phone runs out of battery? You can stay in form and charge it at the same time! Verily, you can charge the phone while riding the bike!
Get to know the “Future Case”
Head to Lounge 3 and have an interactive “journey” to the past, getting to know the airport’s history and observing its evolution over the years. The Future Case allows you to delve deep into the Schiphol airport’s past while giving you the option of taking things in hand by playing the Airport Creator game and creating an airport of your own!
Have a Glance at the Famous Rijksmuseum’s Exhibits without Leaving the Airport
Lying on Holland Boulevard (in the center of the airport), the Rijksmuseum Schiphol operates 24/7 and is accessible to all travelers without an extra fee. It displays paintings of Dutch artists. In fact, its exhibits change from time to time. Thus, every time you get to visit Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, you’ll find a different selection of the main Rijksmuseum paintings. In that way, even during short layovers at Amsterdam Airport -when visiting the centrally-located-in-Amsterdam Rijksmuseum is out of the question-, you can still get a good taste of its collection.
Opt for a Bus Tour (Inside the Airport!)
During your Amsterdam airport layover, you can discover the “Schiphol Besides the Scenes”, the one-hour bus tour that gives you a good insight into the airport’s layout, operation, and hidden gems. The Schiphol Experience’s prices start from 16€/17.10$.
Play During your Amsterdam Airport Layover
Are you ready to become a detective during your layover at Schiphol Airport? Download the Schiphol Discovery Trail questionnaire and try to answer all the questions by visiting the right airport place. After finding your way through all the questions and finishing the Schiphol Discovery Trail, you can brag about your expertise on the main Dutch Airport!
For Workaholic Travelers…
Schiphol Airport has all the necessary amenities for finishing your work task or organizing a business meeting. Verily, workstations are to be found at all lounges (including Piers C and D). Moreover, the Spaces Lounge, situated on the third floor of Departure hall 1 (right next to the Panorama Terrace), is equipped with workplaces and meeting rooms, providing the perfect working environment, as it combines high-tech features with a pleasant setting thanks to its amazing view.
Pamper yourself at Schiphol Airport
You’ll find several spa and wellness facilities at Schiphol Airport. Thus, why not exploit your layover time to refreshen yourself before your next flight? From massage sessions to facials and other beauty treatments, Amsterdam Airport has everything you need to spoil yourself.
Have a Shower
Besides the airline lounges’ facilities and the airport hotels’ amenities, the passengers of Amsterdam International Airport can also use the free airport shower facilities. They are to be found in Lounge 2.
Relax during your Layover
At a 2€/2.14$ cost, you can use the airport massage chairs. They are to be found everywhere inside the terminal and offer shiatsu massages to the passengers paying the relevant fee. Additionally, the airport has five resting zones, kitted with comfortable chairs, allowing passengers to enjoy a relaxing time at the airport. Last but not least, opting for one of the lavish airport lounges is always a good idea. Some of them are accessible only to members, whereas others can be accessed for a fee.
Check-in to the Airport Hotels
Two hotels lie inside the AMS terminal. The 3-star Mercure Hotel Schiphol Terminal is located at Lounge 3, and the one-of-a-kind YOTELAIR at Lounge 2, near Piers D and E. Besides the airport hotels, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, CitizenM Schiphol Airport, and Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center are within a 7-minute walking distance from the terminal (yet landside).
Our Tip: Amsterdam Airport is planning to become an overall non-smoking aviation hub. For the moment, smoking is allowed only outside Schiphol Plaza in Jan Dellaertplein.
Things to Do near Amsterdam Airport
A long layover at Amsterdam Airport is the ideal opportunity to leave Schiphol and head to the amazing city of Amsterdam. If opting for a taxi ride or a comfortable Amsterdam airport transfer, you can expect to reach Amsterdam downtown in about 22 minutes. On the other hand, the fast, effective, and affordable trains need only 14-17 minutes to get to the Centraal Station, located in the heart of the city, whereas the ride with the Amsterdam Airport Express Bus 397 lasts as much as 27 minutes, under normal traffic conditions. In any case, you should plan your schedule wisely so as to return to Amsterdam Airport at least two hours before your onward flight.
Hence, what is there to do in Amsterdam? Take a glimpse at some of the top options!
Our Tip: Are you wondering what to do with your luggage during your layover? Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has designated baggage storage locations and lockers, on Holland Boulevard, at Lounges 2 and 3, and at Kelderplein (landside).
Do it the Dutch Way: Cycle
You can’t find a more suitable way to explore Amsterdam than with a bike. Rent one bike from the countless spots around the city and start cycling your way around the city, discovering Amsterdam on two wheels. Several bike rental companies offer guided tours as well that showcase the city’s main attractions. In that way, you won’t just wander around, but you’ll pedal through the most charming neighborhoods and the most popular sightseeing. In any case, Vondelpark, the picturesque urban park, is one of the must-do rides in Amsterdam city.
Opt for a Boat Tour
If you aren’t the “cycling type” and you prefer comfortable and hassle-free rides, you should definitely opt for a boat tour. Numerous tours around Amsterdam’s famous canals allow travelers to take a good look at the city in just one hour. Departure points are scattered around the capital. Thus, you won’t face any difficulties in reaching one, and you’ll have plenty of options for your cruise tour: from cruises with a cheese and wine option to luxury tours or boat trips with an open bar.
The Dam Square is a City’s Must-See
Find your way to Dam Square, and you’ll come upon so many and so interesting city attractions. Verily, “The Dam” as locals call it, is perhaps the most tourist place in Amsterdam. Here, you’ll find the National Monument (the famous Obelisk), the Royal Palace, and the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) -not so “new” as it is dated back to the 15th century!- while the well-known Kalverstraat, one of the city’s main shopping streets, lies nearby.
Visit the Red Light District
The Red Light District is to be found near the Dam and is totally worthy of your time, though not for the reasons that may come to mind! To begin with, the buildings lying around are simply beautiful, being perhaps the most excellent sample of the Dutch architectural style. In fact, here lies the Oude Kerk (Old Church), which is the city’s oldest building.
You may not be in Paris. Still, Amsterdam has everything needed to offer you an unforgettable shopping experience. In fact, if shopping is your passion, forget about all the “mainstream” options and head to De Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets), one of the most captivating neighborhoods. In the trendy Nine Streets, you’ll take some of the best pics of your journey, and ferret out appealing boutique stores, and vintage shops, but also plenty of pleasant coffee shops that will definitely capture your attention.
The Anne Frank House
Nothing can be more overwhelming than visiting the Anne Frank House. The house where the young girl and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II is a constant reminder of how devastating war can be. Your visit will surely bring chills down your spine, but you’ll be somewhat wiser at the end of the tour.
The Heineken Experience
The unique museum won’t just introduce you to the brewing procedure but will offer you a one-of-a-kind interactive experience during your layover in Amsterdam. From the old brewery facilities to the beer tasting and the interactive multimedia displays, the Heineken Experience will thrill you if you are a beer lover yet totally engage you even if you are not.
Cultivate yourself During your Layover in Amsterdam
In other words, go visit one of the plenty and various city museums. From the old-time-classic Rijksmuseum to the modern Stedelijk, you can pick one or more of the top city options as most of them lie close to each either at the homonymous “Museumplein”:
- The Rijksmuseum: located at Museumplein, the well-known Rijksmuseum hosts a large collection of paintings, proving the contribution of Dutch art history to the world’s culture. Verily, it even houses masterpieces of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Jan Stein, as well as a wide variety of Asian art. It is considered one of the most important museums in the world.
- The Van Gogh Museum: dedicated to the incomparable Dutch artist, the Van Gogh Museum displays a wide collection of his works of art. As it is a one-artist museum, it allows you to witness his art process through the years and get to know his personality. It is situated in Museumplein as well.
- The Stedelijk Museum: this option mainly addresses lovers of contemporary art. You’ll find it at Museumplein too. A visit to Stedelijk Museum will allow you to observe more than 90.000 works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, besides the periodical exhibitions housed from time to time. It is one of the largest modern art museums in Europe.
- Moco Museum: you may have visited its sibling in Barcelona. Still, Amsterdam’s Moco Museum is totally worth your time, showcasing modern art at its best edition. You’ll find Moco Museum in the Museumplein area.
- Nxt Museum: if you want to get in touch with something different than art in its classical form, Ntx Museum should be on your to-do list during your layover in Amsterdam. It is a museum concerning media art and is one of the most futuristic experiences in the city.
- The Madame Tussauds Museum: located in the Dam, little need to be said about the Madame Tussauds Museum. If you are in for a “waxy” experience, go for it!
- The Upside Down Amsterdam: the must option if you want to have fun during your stay in Amsterdam. The Upside Down Amsterdam is a totally in sync with today’s reality social media museum, providing an all-the-way interactive experience that will turn your world…upside down!
Our Tip: Whatever you may choose to do, you should at least try some traditional Dutch dishes such as stroopwafels, bitterballen, and herring, and grab a quick coffee or a drink. In fact, if you want to enjoy a completely different from the ordinary drinking experience, you should head to the Icebar, the bar where everything -from walls to glasses- is made of…ice!