Amsterdam Stories and Tips

Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport

Schiphol Airport Amsterdam Photo, Amsterdam, Netherlands

I'm always a little nervous about flying into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport as it is one of the largest airports (actually 17th biggest in the world, and 4th biggest in Europe handling almost 15m passengers each year), and one of the worst for a reputation for losing your baggage.

However, my fears are unfounded for many Europeans at least these days, thanks to the drive of many budget airlines to persuade folks to only take hand luggage given their extra baggage charging policy.

Exit from Schiphol to the city centre is straightforward via the train. The trains leave from the airport concourse (or rather, below it).

Tickets one way to Amsterdam Central Station cost around 4 Euros per person and is a lot cheaper than the approximately 50 Euros it costs to take a taxi. Even if you need to grab a taxi from Amsterdam central to your hotel, you will almost definitely find it cheaper to hop on the train first. There are trains every 10 minutes or so, up until approximately 1:30 am, and they start early in the morning from 5 or so.

In terms of getting a ticket, it is always worth saving a few Euro coins from a previous trip if you can as the easiest way to buy tickets is via the ticket machine, which only accepts coins rather than notes. Decide how you are going to pay before using the machines (they are user friendly with English instructions) as some are coins only, others cards only.

You can pay at the machines by card but it is more expensive by a Euro or so, and for some unknown reason the machines have never accepted our debit cards.

Look out for the franking machines – just stick it in with the silver foil side in your hand – this validates your ticket. The train takes 20 minutes or so tops to get to Amsterdam Central Station. You will easily know when you are at the Central Station.

Departure from Schiphol can be a little confusing as it is one of those airports that perform passport control first, and then a baggage and security check for your hand luggage as you leave for your gate. In addition, some of the gates are a goodly way from the departure lounge meaning you may have to schedule in a lot of time for leaving the airport – I saw some estimated walking times to get to the gate at around 30 minutes.

Obviously if the hand luggage and security scan is busy then that time can be extended.

There are a number of restaurants at Schiphol including a McDonalds. We had a small but tasty tuna sandwich from the main concourse restaurant for around 7 Euros. As always with airports, my tip is to dine before you leave Amsterdam city if you can.

There is also a good range of shops ready to take your excess Euros, including places selling trinkets such as china clogs (why would anyone buy these) and small chesses and chocolates. Again, they aren't particularly cheap but you can come across the odd sale bargain.

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