3 Amsterdam Layover Itineraries for the Best Short Break

Amsterdam layover air travel during Covid 19

Do you have an Amsterdam layover? Lucky you!

I’m always excited when I have an Amsterdam layover on my itinerary. It is so easy to get into the city from Schiphol Airport that I usually jump on the chance to do some sightseeing – unless it’s grey and rainy and about 0 degrees, which does unfortunately happen in the colder months.

Amsterdam layover
With a bit of luck, you’ll be able to catch a sunset on your Amsterdam layover.

A couple of weeks ago, I was flying from Berlin to Panama City and had a 9-hour layover in Amsterdam. It was 12 degrees and sunny, perfect picture-snapping weather, so I ventured out.

In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my absolute favourite things to do on an Amsterdam layover, as well as the logistics of getting in, around and back out of the city.

When is an Amsterdam layover worth it?

First things first: when is it worth heading into the city? I’d say an Amsterdam layover is worth it when you have at least 6 hours between flights. Realistically, a 6-hour layover will allow you to enjoy 2 hours in the city at a relaxed pace. Since the Canal Ring (aka the go-to spot for visitors) is quite compact and very close to the Central Station, you’ll still be able to cover plenty of ground and get a good feel for Amsterdam.

The logistics of an Amsterdam layover

Let’s break it down:

  • Getting out of the airport can easily take up to an hour from the moment your plane lands. As I usually travel from Berlin, and Amsterdam is also in the Schengen Zone, I’ve been able to go from the plane to the airport train platform in under 30 minutes. Traveling within EU borders means you don’t need to go through immigration, which is a huge time saver.
  • The train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal comes roughly every 15 to 20 minutes. It takes 20 minutes to reach the heart of Amsterdam.
  • From there, you’ll be able to walk to the first canals in under 10 minutes.
Amsterdam layover
Amsterdam’s sights are only a short walk from the Central Station.

Let’s say it takes you an hour to get out of the airport and at worst 20 minutes to get on the train. You’ll be at the heart of Amsterdam in just under 2 hours after landing.

You can stroll around for 1.5 to 2 hours, then start heading back to the airport to give yourself plenty of buffer time. Of course, if you have an 8- or 9-hour layover, it’s much better!

Getting to and from Schiphol

Conveniently, the train station is located right beneath Schiphol, a short walk from the check-in area.

A one-way ticket to Amsterdam Centraal costs 5.90€. If you’re short on cash, don’t worry. You can pay with direct debit or credit at one of the self-serve machines. But please don’t lose your ticket – you’ll need to scan it to get past Amsterdam Centraal’s turnstiles.

Storing your luggage

Who would want to lug their bags all around Amsterdam? Do yourself a favour and store your suitcase and extra carryon, either directly at the airport or at Amsterdam Centraal.

There are lockers located in Schiphol’s Schengen Terminal at the intersection of wings B,C, and D. I would assume the international terminal also has storage space.

Storing your luggage lets you explore the city unencumbered. Here I am at the Rijksmuseum.

If you’re changing terminals for your next flight, however, it would be wiser to take your luggage with you into the city and avoid unnecessarily having to go back through an extra terminal to pick it back up.

10 thoughts on “3 Amsterdam Layover Itineraries for the Best Short Break

  1. Long layovers are the best and I love how you gave detailed information on how to stow luggage and tips for the train. This is a super helpful resource! Pinned for future layovers.

  2. Amsterdam looks beautiful! It has been on my list to visit for ages now but I’ve never quite got around to it! A layover looks like a great way to see some of the best of the city in a short time. Thanks for the great guide!

  3. This brings back memories, Marguerite. This is a good overview of the city. And the practical information re Schiphol will be useful to travellers. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This is such a detailed list! A friend of mine had an Amsterdam layover a few years ago and she always says that she wishes should would have explored the area while she was there. I love your suggestions!

Leave a Reply