10 great things to do when transferring at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Hubbing over Holland's gateway can also be a lifestyle choice

Perhaps in an ideal world, we would all fly directly to our destinations. But if you’re breaking up your journey at an airport like Amsterdam Schiphol, you’ll realise why stopping over can be an unforgettable experience in itself.

Hubbing over Holland’s gateway can also be a lifestyle choice, as the airport has become an attractive destination in its own right – a “city” that never sleeps.

Most of the 24/7 entertainment can be found at Holland Boulevard, where elements of Amsterdam and Dutch culture have been incorporated into the airport scene and can be felt, be it when you’re soaking up Dutch culture in the airport library or in the art gallery.

TERMINAL U explores 10 experiences that make Amsterdam Airport Schiphol an ultimate place to stop over:

Holland Boulevard Amsterdam Airport

1. See the bright lights of Holland Boulevard

Follow the crowd to Holland Boulevard – a popular and vibrant area where you can try dutch-inspired poffertjes (mini pancakes) while sitting in giant tea cups, dabble in art, try a spot of gambling or simply sit back in a recliner chair or pod in the lounge. There’s something here for everyone and even if you’re just chasing a connection, you have a cool introduction to Holland.

Holland Boulevard mimics the bright lights of Amsterdam’s streets, with a walkway running parallel to the zone’s attractions, lit up by florescent blue lamps.

It’s hard to miss the blue lights, but if you get lost, head to the airport’s transit zone between piers E and F.

2. Perform to a crowd of passengers

amsterdam schiphol holland boulevard

For those of you with musical flair, here’s your one opportunity to shine by staging your own mini concert to a potential audience of hundreds of waiting passengers.

A sleek black piano awaits passengers at Holland Boulevard, set against a backdrop of cosy living room areas. Even if you can’t hit the right notes, learning to play the piano is a productive way to spend your time in transit.

Amsterdam Schiphol staff have also pulled out all the stops to create lounge areas that are a home away from home, and each “room” is replete with television sets and quirky furniture, including pods. There’s even digital (special effect) fireplaces.

3. Place your bets at Holland Casino


Try something unconventional and play a few hands of blackjack, or perhaps some poker or roulette at Schiphol’s in-terminal casino.

The novelty factor? It’s also allegedly the only airport casino in existence.

There’s also something quite alluring about having the chance to double your holiday spend between flights – if you’re disciplined enough not to spend all your cash.

Winnings are paid in Dutch guilders, which can be exchanged for other currencies at the casino.

You’ll find the casino between Gates E and F at Holland Casino (in case you can’t sniff out where all the money is).

Entry itself is free, but you must be over 18 and will need to show valid ID – so don’t lose your passport.

Open daily from 6:30am-7:30pm.

4. Learn to create Dutch-inspired Cocktails.. then drink away.

Holidays are always a good excuse to indulge yourself in a luxury or two, and sipping a cocktail near your gate room is a experience not to miss (you don’t have to be a business traveller in a lounge either).

The Bols Genever Cocktail Experience” at Holland Boulevard is a place where you can order your favourite cocktail (or try something new) by touch-screen. Your virtual bartender will show you how to make one yourself, then take your printed receipt to the Dutch bar where your drink will be created with pizzazz.

If you haven’t heard of the Bols Brand, it’s an institution – founded in 1575 and is big in the Dutch market – producing “Genever”, the Dutch form of gin.

5. Feel well-cultured by browsing the Rijksmuseum

schiphol museum

If you have time to contemplate the beauty of period art, Amsterdam Schiphol has built an annexe of Amsterdam’s renowned Rijksmuseum in the departures area.

Here there’s an impressive collection of drawings and paintings from the Golden Age: a period in Dutch history dating back to the 17th Century.

The inspiring gallery leads down into a museum shop, where you can browse and buy art products reflecting the work of some of the Dutch artists featured in the gallery.

Entrance is free and you’ll find the gallery next to the library at Holland Boulevard.

Open 7:00am-8:00pm.

6. Lounge in the airport’s reference Library

Amsterdam Schipol airport library

Amsterdam Schiphol is not only one of Europe’s biggest hubs, but an information hub for passengers, with a decently stocked library, if you’re interested in Dutch culture.

For more details on Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s library, see our earlier news story

7. Surf the web on iPads

At Amsterdam Schiphol, iPads are part of the furniture in the KLM Crown Lounge. Take note that you can only access the lounge if you are a KLM World Business Class/Europe Select passenger, KLM American Express Corporate card holder, or an elite Flying Blue member.

But iPads are available for all passengers in the airport Library where you can browse through books and art, as well as download digital audio and video files.

The airport currently offers free WiFi access for one hour from anywhere in the airport terminal. From a laptop or mobile device, select the network labelled ‘KPN’ and you will be presented with two options. For free WiFi for one hour, select ‘free, limited-time access’.

8. See Holland’s highlights while you wait


If you have well over four hours dwell time at Schiphol, why not book a whistlestop tour to Amsterdam at the airport’s tour desk?

With the city centre just 10kms away from the airport, there is a trip on offer to suit everyone’s time needs.

Excursions include a gentle one-hour daytime cruise (€20), a two-hour candlelit evening (€29.50) and a two and a half-hour city tour (€49).

Make your way to either Arrivals 4 (opposite Starbucks), Arrivals 2 or Holland Boulevard (between E and F piers) to book a tour.

Or visit www.greatamsterdamexcursions.com and book ahead to receive a 10% discount per tour.

9. An inspired rest stop at the gate

Here’s a novel way to wait in style for your flight, if you’re lucky enough to be flying with the airline paying a premium to use this snazzy gate technology.

At Pier G, the airport opened “innovative gate” last year – an experiment with technology giant Philips to make the gate experience more inviting and fun.

The seating area looks more like a funky bar area than a holding room and is lit up in the airline’s brand colours.

Mood lighting changes from warmer to darker colours as passengers board their jet.

Other nice touches include giant video screens, a concierge desk staffed by the airline, binoculars for plane spotting, work desks for business travellers and little water fountains to quench your thirst before dehydration on the plane sets in.

First used by Cathay Pacific, other airlines are also using the gateroom for certain flights and Schiphol is looking at expanding the concept to other gate rooms.

10. Pick up a bunch of flowers

flowers and bulbs

Anyone who loves spring flowers, especially tulips, should visit the Keukenhof flower gardens near Amsterdam. But if you’re only spending time at Schiphol, you can pick up your own bunch at one of the many flower shops scattered around the terminal. If you’re flying long-haul, bulbs or seeds may be the better option!

Transfer passengers – what you need to know

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has one terminal, making connections a little easier. To check-in for your connecting flight, head to a transfer desk at any of the following locations:

Lounge 1 T2 + T3
D-pier T4 + T5
E-pier T6
F-pier T8
G-pier T9

To help you get your bearings, here’s a map of the terminal, below: (click to enlarge)

transfer area

Air France-KLM also have around 100 self-service transfer kiosks in the terminal, where you can check in for your connecting flight.

The standard transfer time at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to a flight within Europe is 40 minutes and 50 minutes for an intercontinental flight.

If you are travelling to/from Schengen and non-Schengen countries, you should count on having to go through additional security checks and customs inspections.

Also remember to arrive at the gate at least 30 minutes before your flight departure time.

What others have said

  1. hi….i will travel from Quito to new Delhi( India) via Amsterdam in 17th December-2014. i have 23 hours time to get connecting flight for Delhi.
    is there any facility to get transit visa for visit Amsterdam city ( out side airport). kindly suggest is there any facility to sleep at night safely. kindly reply.thanks.
    Hitesh panchal.

  2. Hy ! I have a flight at the end of October from Germany and I will stop in Amsterdam – Schiphol. My stop will be of 4 hours. I understand from the comment (very helpful ) that I can leave the airport. Is it possible to visit the town center in just 4 hrs ? Thanks a lot :)

  3. Hi I will be going through Schiphol in March on my way to Canada. I need to take a room for a few hours but I understand if I stay at Yotel then I can’t leave the airport. If I take a room at Mercure Hotel will I be allowed to leave the airport for some sightseeing before my flight? Also, I will have 3 hours only from 8 – 11am. What is the best way to use my time? Thanks

  4. I am travelling from Kuala Lumpar through to Dublin but have a2 and a half hour stop over – is there somewhere that i can go to freshen up and have a shower? and if so how much does it cost?

  5. I’ll be arriving from Birmingham, UK at Schiphol at 11.35 & transferring to international flight to Calgary, Canada departing at 12.35. Is this cutting it a bit fine or will I have plenty of time to catch the flight to Calgary?

  6. I have a 12 hour layover and would like to explore but I don’t want to lug all my baggage along. Is there a place I could store it safely at the airport?

  7. Hi I wanna know im south african and flying from leeds (jet 2)to schipol with a 3 hours stop over then flight to cpt but my problem is to get my baggage cos I cant go through passport control cos im in transit? Any advise please

    • Your airline should be able to check your bags through to your final destination if it is a partner airline or they have a luggage agreement. Check with your airline for details. Also, if you do have to collect your bags and recheck them 3 hours is ample time. Check with the Dutch authorities concerning your particular passport and access to the Netherlands.

  8. I want to know if it’s possible to take a tour of Amsterdam during my transit. I arrive around 8am and then catch a connecting flight around 1:pm. What number train to take and how to take a canal tour? Thanks for ur help

    • There are trains to Amsterdam Central Train Station every few mins. Just outside of the station you will find plenty of tour options readily available to you. A one hour boat tour cost about 20 Euro.

  9. Hi. Straightforward question that a lot seem to be asking but no answers yet. This is the question which only requires a “yes” or “no”. If I have a connection at amsterdam, am I ALLOWED to leave the airport then come back later for my connecting flight??….thank you

    • Yeah me and my friends done it many times, procedure could be short or long dependig on ur passport. We all had canadian passports so it was a stamp in and out
      -currently at schipol airport

      • Do we have to check our luggage out before leaving the international zone if we are on a connecting fligth and want to visit Amsterdam

        • Most airlines will allow you to check your bags through to your final destination if your layover is less than 24 hours. Therefore you do not have to collect your bags in Amsterdam. Check with your airline for their policy.

  10. Heey am traveling from billund Denmark to Zambia but my flight pass through Schiphol airport but I have no idea how to find my gate and hmm help

    • Schipol is one of the easiest airports to transfer through. There is plenty of signage in English and also the staff are helpful.

  11. I’am a Belgian citizen traveling from Panama to Thailand, between the flight at Schiphol i’ll have 5 hours, can i leave the transit zone to do some shopping before the Passport control?

    • There is plenty of shopping inside the transit zone, but as a European or American you can easily pass through passport control and you can shop in the large shopping area just beyond baggage claim.

  12. I have a stopover of around 22 hrs in Amsterdam before i catch my next flight.
    Can anyone tell me that, Do KLM provides free Hotel in this case… (Both of my flights are from KLM).

    Please advice

    • Airlines do not provide free food or lodging unless they have caused your delay. Passengers who purchase tickets with long delays in between must make their own arrangements.

  13. Hi, I have 19 hours between flights in Schiphol, I am worried as to what could I be doing there. Do we have place to sleep for so long? Any idea.

    • There are at least two hotels inside the transit area of Schipol. The Mercure and Yotel are both options for a few hour sleep. If you have a passport that will allow easy exit from the airport there are several budget hotels very near Schipol.

  14. hi flying with kLm from dublin to schiphol airport have 40 minutes to connect with a KLM flight to istanbul and i am worried we wont have enough time luggage should go straight through

      • I suppose you both have your answers by now, but if you are flying KLM or a partner airline 40 minutes should be plenty of time for your bags to make it to your connecting flight. If you are changing airlines to a non-partner airline you may have problems.

  15. this post is really great since it has been helpful and at the same time, informative. Really worth the read! I do hope that you’d still keep on posting such informative articles like this. :)

  16. I bought my daughter and son a pair of “slipper clogs” at a store in Schippol Airport, my son has outgrown his, but my daughter stillnwears hers. My question is; do any of the shops at the airport have websites ? Allowing for an online purchase please ? I wish to buy my son a bigger pair of slipper clogs.

  17. We will have a 3 hour layover and are traveling with 3 toddlers. Is there anything for them to do to release some of their energy?

  18. I have 10 hours halt at Amasterdam Airport, for my connecting flight to USA
    I wish to go outside of Airport for city sightseeing.Can I get Visitor visa at the Amasterdam Airport?

  19. Hello,
    I flying back on the 14th from the States to Jordan via Schiphol airport, spending 8 hours in airport between flights, I would love to spend sometime outside the airport.
    I am traveling to the States on the 29th of June, there is no time for me to submit for chengen from Jordan since it requires 10 working days. Can i apply for the visa from the airport? What papers should i have to have?

    Many Thanks for your assistance

  20. Arriving at airport and going to Port Terminal for cruise. Can’t use train as husband has cane and leg brace. How much is cab ride? Is their a bus from airport to port.

  21. Hi,
    I would like to buy a bottle of Genever in duty free shop, how much does it cost pls and what flavours do you have?

  22. arriving at schiphol from capetown saturday april 21 at 11:00, next flight is to atlanta at 16:55, want to meet family outside the transit zone, can we get outside with our schengen visa ?

  23. my flight is reaching 06:05 and leaving at 13:30.
    Is it advisable to book a 2hrs trip in advance which starts at 9am.

    would I be able to come back on time to catch my flight, please reply.

    • Wow, that coat is kind of insane, but in one of those ‘this looks so warm and relaly cool’ kind of ways. The background shark relaly cements how fierce this coat is. Glad to hear that you’re not freezing to death xx

  24. I am looking for a bookstore that sells children’s books in Dutch. Is there a bookstore in the Schipol airport that might have them?

  25. I am looking for something to do between 4pm and 7:30pm with a very active 6-year-od. a tour? a playground? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

  26. I love this airport … It is amazing.

    Tomorrow, I am actually going to spend another between flights hours in that airport and would love to check the art gallery. Something that I had no idea of its existence till now that I read this article.

    : )

  27. >>Even if you can’t hit the right notes,
    >>learning to play the piano is a productive way
    >>to spend your time in transit.

    Not wanting to put anyone off, but I think using the piano for learning/practice is probably frowned on. When I passed through Schiphol recently, a small printed sign on the lid of the piano says “A degree in music is not required to play but good taste is”. And a handwritten note next to it put it more bluntly: “If you can’t play, please LEAVE IT!”.

    I’m guessing the staff who work in the nearby concessions are a little fed up with listening to hackers. If you play, best to stick to the tunes you know really well. :)

  28. Hi,
    We have a transfer flight at Amsperdam Airport for almost 24 hours in between could we go out of the airport if we have Shengen visa?

  29. A friend of mine is flying from India to Portland. He will have a stop in Amsterdam. I would like to meet him.
    Does he need an European Visa? CAn he leave the transitzone? Or can i enter the trasit zone.
    What kind of papers do we need to meet eachother. Plse help me out.
    I want to give him some support !!!

  30. I would like to buy some BOLS GENEVER while I awaiting my flight to Australia-where at Schiphol can I buy it

  31. I have about 7 hours between my flights so I was looking for things to do, but after reading this piece I wish I had more time at Schiphol. Thanks for this wonderful information. It has made me even more excited about my transit than my actual trip.

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