A great city deserves a great airport, and Amsterdam is one of the few great cities of the world to actually have one. Schiphol Airport has won “Best Airport in the World” honors seven times since 1980 and also won “Best European Airport” for 15 consecutive years. No, it doesn’t really look much different from most other airports, but Schiphol is famous anyway for the fact that everything (usually) works as planned.
Who flies into Schiphol?
Schiphol is the home base to KLM Airlines so it’s possible to go nearly everywhere from Amsterdam non-stop. Martinair and Transavia also base themselves here, as does Northwest Airlines for their European operations. Easyjet, Bmibaby, and SkyEurope are among the low-cost carriers that fly directly into Amsterdam, and all that competition helps keep prices reasonable. This is the fourth busiest airport in Europe, behind London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Frankfurt.
Just have a layover at Schiphol?
Thousands of passengers every day change planes in Amsterdam and especially those flying on Northwest or KLM often have layovers lasting between 3 and 12 hours in the city. The great news is that with as few as 3 hours between flights you can actually get to the city center for a quick look around, and it won’t cost you much or be a big hassle. With more time you can actually take a canal cruise, see a museum, or visit one of the city’s famous coffeeshops. Check out the Amsterdam Layover Guide for all the details.
The airport has loads of shopping in the main halls, including a large grocery store. The food court area has a huge variety and conveniently stays open until midnight. One of the more unusual features of Schiphol is that the Rijksmuseum has a mini-branch here. They keep collections of both classical and contemporary art here for the amusement of passengers with a bit of time to kill.
If you’ve got a very early or late flight you might want to look into the Schiphol park/sleep/drive packages that conveniently combine these elements for you.
Getting into town from Schiphol
Taxi – Obviously you can hire a taxi from the airport to take you directly to your hotel in the Amsterdam city center. It’s not cheap though, usually around €50 – €60, and traffic into the city is often congested. If you’ve brought a ton of luggage or are traveling in a small group this isn’t a terrible option though.
Shuttle bus – There are a few companies shuttling visitors from the airport into the city and back again. Connexxion is the best known with the largest fleet. These shuttles trundle along a regular route that connects most of the larger hotels together, and at a set schedule. Again, if you’ve brought too much luggage then this might not be a bad option, but they do charge per person so if you are traveling in a small group a taxi is better. The fare is €14.50 for one-way and only €22.50 if you book a round trip.
Train – This is the best option for almost everyone. The train leaves around every 10 minutes from just beneath the airport itself. After you get your luggage just follow the signs for the train (take a couple of right turns and you’ll be there). Buy a ticket from the windows you see and then take the escalators down to tracks 1 and 2 below. The fare is €3.90 each way. If you buy a round trip ticket there it’s only good for the same day, so stick with the one-way. This station is on the normal rail lines so these trains are usually going beyond Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. They usually stop between one and three times before arriving at Centraal. Pay attention, follow the crowd and you’ll be fine.
For more detailed information, see Getting from Amsterdam airport to downtown.