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Layover in Amsterdam
Destinations,  Europe,  Flight Layovers,  Travel Tips

How to Spend a Layover in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a fabulous place to have an extended layover for a number of reasons. First of all, you don’t even need to leave the airport. There are so many amazing shops and restaurants located both before and after security. For overnight layovers, you still don’t need to walk outside, even if you want a hotel! Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Hotel are both a 15 minute walk from the nearest terminal, connected to the airport by an enclosed walkway! 

Another reason a layover in Amsterdam is so convenient is due to the city’s accessibility from the Schiphol Airport. The Schiphol Airport Railway Station is connected to the airport (it’s literally the same building). You can take the Intercity Direct or the Sprinter train directly to the Amsterdam Centraal station, which is located in the middle of all the main attractions. The trains depart every five to fifteen minutes from the airport and only takes fifteen minutes one way! Purchase your tickets at the ticket machines at the train platform entrance with a credit or debit card for 6 euros. 

Lastly, Amsterdam’s main attractions are all very much located in or near the city center. This is a city center that is very condensed, with a lot squeezed into a very small surface area. It is a great place to get out and explore during a layover, as you can see a lot in a short period of time. Therefore, without further ado, below are ten ideas the next time you have an extended layover in Amsterdam!

Ten Ideas for a Layover in Amsterdam

Layover in Amsterdam

Eat Dutch Pancakes

The world-famous Netherland pancakes are to die for and there is no way you can step into the city of Amsterdam without trying these fluffy delicacies! I visited Dutch Pancake Masters and had Citroen en Suiker (Lemon & Sugar) Pancakes. I still dream about them and the thick, sugary syrup that accompanied the meal. The restaurant was beautifully decorated and the service was fantastic as well! I can’t speak for the other pancake restaurants, but they are all over the city – so make sure you don’t leave Amsterdam without having your pancakes!

Layover in Amsterdam

Go for a Bike Ride

What is the most classic Amsterdam activity you can possibly imagine? Going for a bike ride right? Well, it’s a perfect layover activity, as it can allow you to see much more of the city in a shorter period of time compared to if you were walking. Bike rental services are scattered throughout the city and will only cost between 7 and 13 euros for half a day. You can also take a guided bike tour around the city, though the timing of the tours may not always line up with your layover in Amsterdam.

Layover in Amsterdam

Take Plenty of Photos

Amsterdam is one seriously instagrammable city! Even in the rain, the photos still turn out pretty great. More than anything you’ll want to capture the beauty of the famous Damrak waterfront (pictured above) then meander over to the Nine Streets (De 9 Straatejes). De 9 Straatejes are the nine streets that are located in Amsterdam’s canal district (where you will find the four main canals in the city). The streets are extremely picturesque and you can spend your entire layover in Amsterdam getting lost in the many shops and cafes that line them.

Take a Canal Tour

A canal tour is another popular tourist activity that is relatively cheap and doesn’t take up too much time. It’s a perfect activity for a layover, especially when the weather is nice! For 13 euros you can take a guided, 1 hour boat tour along the canals that run throughout Amsterdam in a glass topped boat. This is another great way to see a large part of the city when you find yourself crunched for time!

Layover in Amsterdam

Visit Dam Square

Dam Square is the city’s main square, full of historic buildings and monuments. Look for the National Monument, the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) and the New Church (De Nieuwe Kerk). For 12,50 euros you can visit the palace and 13,50 euros will grant you entry into the church. Madame Tussauds Amsterdam Wax Museum is also located in Dam Square, which costs 25 euros for a visit.

Layover in Amsterdam

Sample Cheese

Cheese shops are also everywhere in Amsterdam. The Netherlands are famous for one cheese in particular: Gouda! It’s not just plain gouda cheese either, it’s any flavor you can imagine. Think jalapeno, garlic, pesto, black pepper, italian herb, chili, apple, fig, and truffle.  Of course you don’t have to pick your cheese at random – you can sample them all to your heart’s content. Then, you can purchase your favorites and bring them back home. They are packaged so they can remain well-preserved in your suitcase until you are ready to eat it after your trip.

Have a Drink

Amsterdam is a big city in Europe, so of course there will be pub’s around every corner. This is probably the best bet if you only have a short layover in Amsterdam and the weather is bad. Don’t forget to try Jenever, the Dutch Gin – an extremely popular drink had all around the Netherlands!

Layover in Amsterdam

Learn about the Body

Check out Body Worlds Amsterdam to learn about everything that is happening within your body. It’s a fascinating exhibit that contains over 200 real human bodies that teaches everything you need to know about anatomy. Body Worlds is an international exhibit that has been brought to hundreds of cities around the world. Not all of these exhibits are permanent, however, luckily for its visitors, Amsterdam is one city where it will remain forever!

Have Some Sex [Education]

Do you know everything you need to know about sex? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Only one way to find out though: visit the Sex Museum Amsterdam. Here you will learn about the history of sex around the world, and also see a laughable amount of genitalia. Another interesting fact? There are plenty of sex museums out there… however, this is the first one to ever exist, as it’s the oldest in the world! It will only cost you 9 euros to get in too.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not

There are Ripley’s Believe it or Not museums in many major cities around the world. All the Ripley’s are unique though. Amsterdam’s location in particular boasts a shrunken head, a vortex tunnel, miniature sculptures, a jungle room, a “world of weird,” and more. For 21.50 euros the Ripley’s world is yours during your layover in Amsterdam!

There is so much more to see and do in Amsterdam, and if you are able, you should probably stay for at least several days. However, if a layover is all you have, the suggestions above are all within walking distance of one another, only one kilometer or less from the Centraal Train Station. There are also a number of ideas listed above that are indoors. There is a reason for this! When I had my layover in Amsterdam, it was pouring down rain. I did walk around for a while to take it all in, but after I was successfully soaked, I needed to hide from the rain. 

My layover in Amsterdam ended up being extended much longer than originally intended as well. I initially had an eight-hour layover while flying from New York to Istanbul. However, my flight to Istanbul ended up getting cancelled (twice!) while I was in Amsterdam due to a horrific storm. Did you hear about the 2022 Storm Eunice that hit the U.K and some other western European countries? If not, here is a news article to catch you up. My layover ended up being more than 24 hours and I stayed overnight at the Hilton Amsterdam Airport (it was absolutely wonderful!). In the end, I did get to Turkey for my trip with Intrepid, which was wonderful, but I am very grateful for my experience in Amsterdam – even if it was slightly challenging.

Owner and creator of Travels with Kayy. Travel blogger and adventure enthusiast, creating content to inspire and help fellow travelers plan amazing itineraries and explore all the corners of the earth!

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