How To Spend A Fabulous Layover In Amsterdam

Picture of one of the canals a top thing to see during a layover in Amsterdam

If you have a 6+ layover in Amsterdam then you must step outside the Schiphol airport and explore the canals. Nothing is more exciting than booking a ticket that has a long layover in a city you haven’t explored. The city of gouda and gingerbread homes has many things to do to keep your senses stimulated. After your short layover in Amsterdam you will be eager to return for a longer visit.

Windmill on a sunny day. Text reads top Amsterdam travel guide for a quick layover in the city.

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Things To Know Before Your Layover In Amsterdam

Should You Leave The Airport During a Layover In Amsterdam

You may wonder if you can leave the airport at all with a short layover in Amsterdam. It is possible to explore Amsterdam if you have at least a 5-hour time frame. Anything less, don’t bother. Consider your time to get through customs, the airport, and get to the train station.  Schiphol Airport is the 3rd largest airport in all of Europe. Not going to lie, it took me awhile to even find where the train station was located. And, when I returned, it felt like eternity to find my gate to board. 

Schiphol is huge peeps, so really consider the time just to navigate leaving and returning to the airport. 

Currency To Use During Your Layover In Amsterdam

Euros are the primary currency in the Netherlands. Amsterdam is a little pricey so make sure you have plenty of cash during your layover for eating and souvenirs. But if you don’t have cash most places do take debit and credit cards also.

Luggage Storage At Amsterdam Airport

If you have some carry on luggage that you prefer not to tote during your layover in Amsterdam there is storage at the Schiphol Airport.

Schiphol luggage storage sites are located around the airport. Get more information on pricing and where they are located here. Just remember where you left your luggage when you return the airport is huge.

Getting To Amsterdam’s City Center From Schiphol Airport

A line of motorcycles and bikes on the streets of Amsterdam

Taxi

There are many ways to get to the city center from the Schiphol Airport. Hailing a taxi is one way to reach the main square but is pretty pricey and and averages around 40-50€. The commute usually takes a minimum of 30-minutes just to reach the city depending on traffic and day of the week. In my opinion don’t waste your precious time during your layover in Amsterdam commuting by cab.

Bus

Taking the bus is another way to reach the city cheap costing around 4€ for a one way ticket. But, the commute is the same at catching a to get to the city center from Schiphol airport. 

Train

The quickest and easiest way to reach the city is by the train from the airport. Just hop off at Centraal Station, to be within walking distance to everything during you layover in Amsterdam. The commute is fast and you will arrive at Centraal Station in 15-20 minutes. One day pass costs less than 8€. For your short layover this is the cheapest and quickest way to get to the city.

Weather In Amsterdam

Winter in Amsterdams are freaking cold and lasts from December to February and snowfall is quite common. Temperatures can drop to 32°F (0°C) at night during this time of year. During the day temperatures may spike a few degrees. If you are not a fan of the cold, then maybe you want to find a layover in a city a little bit of warmer weather.

March to May is spring time in Amsterdam and temperatures are initially cold and with possible snowfall! Highs during this season usually reach 50°F (10°C). However, May has more pleasant weather and highs are around to 77°F (25°C).

Summers in Amsterdam range from June to August and weather consists of warm days, but cooler nights. Average highs during the summer months can reach up to 86°F (30°C), while nights drop to 68°F (20°C). Rainfall is frequent during these months with breezy days.

September to November is when autumn begins in Amsterdam. September is initially pleasant then gradually turns into cold, wet, and rainy weather. This may not be the best time to explore the city during a layover in Amsterdam.

What To Do During A Short Layover In Amsterdam

gingerbread homes you will see during in Amsterdam

During my short layover in Amsterdam I knew I had very little time to explore this city, every second counted during my visit. I opted for a guide to make the most out of my Amsterdam stopover. After hours of researching, I came across a company called Triple. Triple is a private tour company led by locals.

Triple has a variety of customized tours to select from. They offer tours ranging from nightclub hopping, biking around the city (would have loved this one if it wasn’t so dang cold during my visit), food tours, and the list goes on. Since I love nothing more than to eat when traveling, I booked the Food Tour Amsterdam for only 15€. What an awesome price, right? After you book your tour, you will be contacted by your guide. We arranged to meet at Dam Square and ventured off on our adventure.

Without further ado, I am going to show you my guide from a local of the best things to do during a layover in Amsterdam. 

Eat A Stroopwafel From A Street Vendor

A stroopwafel one of the things to eat during a layover in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famous for stroopwafles which is gooey caramel sandwiched between two delightful thin wafers. You can get one freshly made from local street vendors all around the city. Eating a fresh stroopwafle has been a dream of mine and they taste way better in Amsterdam then the store bought ones at home.

Stroll The Endless Canals

Picture of one of the many canals seen during a short layover in Amsterdam

One of my favorite things to do in Amsterdam was walking along the canals. Did you know Amsterdam has 165 canals in their city, but unfortunately you won’t be able to see them all during your layover in Amsterdam. 

Don’t rush strolling through the canals and really embrace the scenery around. It was one of the most relaxing things to do in Amsterdam and something I really enjoyed.  

Indulge In Some Delicious Dutch Desserts

Metropolitan has some delicious Dutch treats that will please your tastebuds. Something unique you can do at this cafe is sniffing cocoa powder. Honestly, I don’t know why it is done, I didn’t taste it or felt any differently, but hey I can say I did it.

Stuff Your Face With Gouda

During a layover in Amsterdam you must eat Gouda, it’s a must. Plenty of shops around Amsterdam sell Gouda along with other variety of delicious cheeses. I highly suggest going inside and sampling the many cheeses they have available. Gouda in the Netherlands is nothing like what you will taste where you’re from. The Dutch take pride in their Gouda as they should it’s creamy, salty, and everything a cheese should be.

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Fill Up On Crunchy Bitterballen

Bitterballen with dipping sauce one of the top things to eat in Amsterdam.

Some of the most delicious food I have eaten was in Amsterdam and my favorite treat was the bitterballen.  Bitterballen is an extremely thick stew that’s breaded and deep fried. It was pure comfort food and yummy deliciousness. Seriously though, don’t leave Amsterdam without eating one of the treats.

Sip On A Local Beer With A View

Blue Amsterdam offers a spectacular view of the city. After all that walking around you may be ready to relax before heading back to the airport. Order a Affligem Blond, which will be one of the best beers you will ever sip on I promise. I actually wish I had one now with some Bitterballen.  Skip ordering a Heineken, get the Affligem Blond which was recommended by my private guide. And, I am so glad I went with his recommendation. 

Visit The Oldest Pharmacy In Amsterdam

Large wooden barrels at Jacob Hooy and Co one of the places to visit during a layover Amsterdam

Step back into time and visit Jacob Hooy & Co which is the oldest pharmacy in Amsterdam. It is a precious hidden gem and is deserving of a visit and truly a unique experience. The pharmacy has the original wood barrels lined against the wall. Lots of great little finds in here, especially their licorice candy. 

Take A Peek At Red Light District

Okay, who isn’t curious about the Red Light District? But, honesty, there wasn’t too much to see. Maybe since I arrived early morning during my layover in Amsterdam. I did see women dressed semi provocatively sitting behind a window, but not too many people were around. 

RELATED POSTS: How To Spend A Layover In Paris

Our Layover In Amsterdam Is Up

Amsterdam is worth exploring if you find yourself with a short layover. I got a brief taste of the city and cannot wait to return for a longer visit. After your short layover in Amsterdam you will feel the same.

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24 Comments

  1. interesting , normally I just tried to narrow my connection time within 2 hours, but yeah, if Amsterdam is on the way, next time, I shall try a long leap, then I can get to see the city again and at least grab some nice food 😀

    1. I really enjoy booking long layovers so I can sneak in another country. Yes, schedule a long layover to see Amsterdam. It is worth it!

  2. Amsterdam is beautiful! Thanks for the tips 🙂

    1. I know right? The canals are gorgeous!

  3. Great post! I really want to check out Amsterdam sometime. 🙂 It seems like a lot of fun.
    Krystianna @ Volumes and Voyages

    1. It is one great city. I highly suggest going!

  4. I’ll be in Amsterdam a little longer than a day next March, but with not a lot of time between work functions – looking forward to trying out some of your suggestions!

    1. I love Amsterdam. Hopefully, you will get some time to explore the city!

  5. I love Amsterdam! These are some great tips for first-timers! It’s perfect for someone who doesn’t have too much time!

    1. Thank you so much. Amsterdam is one amazing city!

  6. I really enjoyed my time in Amsterdam. I do wish I was there longer! Awesome guide!

    1. I wish I was there longer too. It is such a great city!

  7. Thanks for the great guide! Amsterdam has been on my list to visit for a while. It’s one of the first places I want to visit after lockdown!

  8. Amsterdam is my dream! My husband has visited 4 times before we met and I can’t wait to go together!

    1. Oh you both will have a great time together. Hope you two get to go soon!

  9. The Discovery Nut

    Been there a while ago, and look forward to coming back. Thank you for all the advice 🙂

  10. I love all these ideas for what to see on a layover in Amsterdam! I haven’t been there in years but I’d go straight for the Gouda cheese, beer and strolling the canals. I’ve yet to leave an airport on a layover but I think it would be a fun way to kill time and see something new!

    1. Those are the best things to do there. Gotta love food and drinks! It is a great way to kill time definitely!

  11. I’ve always heard the most amazing stories from people spending layovers in Amsterdam and I always wondered what they could possibly get up to in just a bunch of hours -now I definitely understand what they’re talking about!

    1. There is plenty to do in a few hours there. I hope you get to go soon for a layover or a longer visit!

  12. Amsterdam seems like the perfect place for a stopover! I was supposed to go in April but for obvious reasons, plans were derailed 🙂 I will keep your post in mind for when I can finally go again!

    1. It is the perfect place. I hope you get to visit soon!

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