Long layover in Amsterdam? Get out of that airport and explore!
On my trip to Nairobi, Kenya, in June, I had a 7 hour layover in Amsterdam. After factoring in how much time we should allow to get out and back into the airport, we decided we had 4 solid hours to explore. That with one hour to get downtown and two hours to get back and through security.
I visited Amsterdam about 6 months earlier and felt really confident about my timetable. During this quick trip, we landed around 6:00am. First step: Freshen up and find a locker. Inside the airport terminal, there are electronic day lockers to keep your carry-on and other valuables as you explore the wonders of the airport (massages, nail salons, restaurants, awesome shopping) or world outside.
Here is our full timetable — leave your questions and Amsterdam layover suggestions in the comment section below! Spending more time in Amsterdam, read my 3 day guide!
5:50am: Get off the airplane
Out flight landed a bit before 6:00am and we were off the plane fairly quickly. Because we were there for a connecting flight to Nairobi, we didn’t need to go to baggage claim.
6:00am: Use lockers to store your luggage
We found some lockers inside the airport to store our things for about $7 USD. The lockers were large, electronic, and accepted all major credit cards. Note: There are also lockers outside of the airport in the train station, but by locking things in the airport lockers, we avoided carrying those things back through security.
6:15am: Quickly get through customs
We made it through customs quickly, and because we didn’t have anything to claim, we were able to exit the airport into the train station right after.
6:30am: Take the train downtown
We missed a train (which are very on time) by 1 minute, so we had to wait a bit for the next one. We enjoyed the train station WiFi and reconnected with the world for a quick second. At the station, you can buy a roundtrip ticket to and from an electronic, yellow kiosk. You can’t miss them. Switch it to English, then purchase a roundtrip to Amsterdam Centraal.
7:00am: Grab breakfast to fuel your journey
I did a lot of food research last time I was in Amsterdam and there were a handful of restaurants we didn’t get to try (I star things on Google Maps to remember). Before getting on the plane, I checked what time each establishment opened and settled on going to Omelegg. It opened at 7am and served up so many different omeleggs (omelettes) and egg-forward dishes. I love the atmosphere, the wooden menus, and the delicious food.
After a long flight, this breakfast felt so right. Everyone enjoying food there were tourists — popping in for a quick bite before their next destination. I got the Gorgonzola Bacon omelegg. After eating and sipping on some strong coffee, we paid at the register (no tipping here) and started our walk around town.
8:00am: Start your walking tour of Amsterdam
It was my friends’ first time in Amsterdam, so I knew that walking around would be enough. We wandered through the Red Light district, which has an odd feel early in the morning, and made our way to the I Amsterdam sign. If I was with Ryo, we might have taken a different a different route or tried to grab breakfast one place, coffee another, and a snack for the plan in another. We love that travel hustle.
Here is the map of the route we took during our layover. It was so nice to walk in the morning light and take in the quiet of the city.
10:00am: Spend some time shopping around the Royal Palace
Not much was open this early in the day, but we did manage to stop at a clothing store and grocery-esque store to grab some travel essentials and souvenirs (i.e. stroopwafle). If your layover was later in the day, you might have time to stop and do more shopping. I suggest checking out the area around the Royal Palace on your way back towards the train station. Careful not to buy anything too crazy because you have to go back through customs when you get to the airport.
10:30am: Take the train back to the airport
We set a goal to be back on the train by 10:30pm. That would allow us plenty of time to get through security, shop around, grab a snack, then head to the terminal for our 12:55pm flight. The Amsterdam airport is one of my favorites with a lot of shopping, a nail salon, meditation room, massage area, and lots of electronic massage chairs.
11:00am: Get through security, bypass long lines because you have no baggage
Since we didn’t have bags to check, we were able to bypass one big line. Nonetheless, it still took about 30-45 minutes to get through security. Then, one slight snag we ran into after security was finding the locker we left our stuff in. We remembered some airport landmarks it was near and eventually figured it out. My advice: Pay better attention than we did.
And that’s that! If your layover is later in the day, you’ll be able to enjoy more of Amsterdam’s luxuries like shopping, museums, and food. We were there too early, but I highly recommend wandering through Albert Cuyp Market and getting chocolate-drizzled stroopwaffel and other treats. There are also a handful of breweries and coffee shops to experience — just remember you have to get back through airport security in a few hours.
Share you Amsterdam must-dos below!