How To-Do a Layover in Amsterdam

You look at your travel itinerary and you see that you have a 6 hour layover in Amsterdam.  You’ve heard all about Amsterdam…and would love to check it out, but you only have 6 hours.  Think you got time?  You bet you have time.  A six hour layover in Amsterdam is just enough time to make you wish you could stay, but enough time to get over it…and enjoy the time you had while there.  6 hours in an airport lounge area, or 6 hours stretching your legs on the streets of Amsterdam.

If you’ve decided to stretch your legs and do some mini sightseeing, you’ve made the right choice.  It’s easy, and completely doable.

My typically layover looks something like this:

Arrive Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) at 7:45AM
Depart Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) at 2:15PM
This is a 6 hour and 30 minute layover.

Let’s do this.

8:00AM: Exit off of the plane.

8:15AM: Store carry on luggage in lockers near passport control.  This will cost you 6 Euro.

8:40AM: Follow the signs through Passport Control/to Train Station.  To your right will be the ticket window.  Purchase (6.50 Euro) round trip train tickets to Centraal Station and you’re on your way.  Please Note:  They do not accept Mastercard or American Express.

The train ride to Centraal Station take about an average of 17 minutes.

9:10AM: Exiting Centraal Station and looking out on the beautiful city which is Amsterdam.

Right outside in front of the Eastern Entry, located in a traditional wooden white Dutch house, there is the main Amsterdam Tourist Office of the state run VVV (Dutch: Vereniging voor Vreemdelingenverkeer – Association for the Foreign Visitors; open daily: 9 am – 6 pm). To the left in the same building you may find an Information Service of the public transport GVB (open: Monday through Friday 7 am – 9 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am 6 pm; they also sell public transport tickets.  Within a 10 – 15 minute walk from Centraal Station are numerous sites.  You can stop here if you’re not quite sure what you want to see, and/or what you have time to see, during your time in the city.

However…being who I am I’ve come into town to get legally baked.  Where else in the world can you do that..and on a freakin’ layover?   U Gotta Luv It!!  But, Amsterdam is a wonderful city with many sites to see. Yes, that is right…there is more to Amsterdam besides the Coffeeshops and the Red-Light District.


9:15AM: Seated at Baba’s Coffeeshop on the corner of Oudebrugsteog & Warmoesstraat.  I also like Sheeba’s Coffeeshop, a few doors down, on the other side of the street.  BTW:  Warmoesstraat is a nice street to walk along as well…and good pedestrian street for people watching.  I typically take a walk along this street after my stop by the Coffeeshop.

10:00AM: Walking around the city…cruising towards Dam Square (about a 5 – 10 minute walk from Centraal Station).  This is a cool spot for chillin’ and people watching.  You can grab something to eat; there are food stalls and restaurants galore.  Not the best quality…but good for pizza slices, french fries, middle eastern food, etc.  And, this always comes in handy since the munchies may be kickin’ in right about now.

11:00AM: Cruising the streets (and this is especially good for your legs after sitting for so long), since we have about an hour before we need to start heading back.  May go into one to the “low-end” museums (i.e. The Sex Museum, The Marijuana and Hash Museum), or walk along the canals (I love this, especially in the summer), maybe stop into Baba’s for one last one 😉

Noon: Head back to the Airport.

Local trains to the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, during the day, depart every ten minutes from platform 14a or platform 15 (This can change.  Make sure to verify).

12:45PMish: Back at the airport, collecting my luggage, and going to see which gate my flight is departing from.

That is my 6-hours in Amsterdam.  And, you know what?  No one can’t tell me that this isn’t better than sitting up in the airport.

I must say, A-GAIN…Amsterdam is SOoooooooo much more than just the Coffeeshops.  This is a city worthy of at least a 5 – 7 day stay.   There is lots to see and do, the people are friendly…and it’s just an easy city to “chill out” in, while you see some interesting sites.  But…if you don’t have days to spend in Amsterdam…6 hours will do you good.

Check out this cool Amsterdam Airport Layover Guide.  It has lots of good information, more details on sites, and a downloadable Miniature Amsterdam pdf Travel Guide.


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About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 30 countries, and counting.


  1. Next time let me know! I'll show you some specially nice places!
    Now I know you are very healthy, but hmmmm, there are these places where you can get the most increadibly yummie cakes……

  2. That is so funny because this is EXACTLY what my husband and I do every time we transit through Amsterdam, down to Baba’s!! BTW, a mutual friend, PK, sent me to your blog. I can see I’m going to like your travel style!

  3. Hi GlobalGal (love the name) thanks for stopping by. =)