What makes a great layover city? For one, the airport needs to be a regional and international hub. Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, for many travelers, is the gateway to Europe, the first place they touch down on their travels on the continent. It hosted a mind-boggling 71 million passengers in 2018.
To be a great layover city, there must also be a convenient, quick and clean way of getting into town from the airport. The train into Amsterdam City Centre from Schipol is a breezy 20 minutes, costing just 10 Euro – and the seats are far comfier than the airplane seats you just left.
Finally, a great layover city needs to be… well, a great city in general. This, more than anything else, is why Amsterdam is a serious contender for the best layover city in the world. Not only is it popular and convenient, but the canal-rich city is an incredibly charming way to divert your attention as you await your next flight elsewhere.
If you’re lucky enough to have a long layover in Amsterdam, here are a couple of suggested itineraries for your stay in this amazing city. And if you haven’t booked your trip yet, but want to plan for a layover, check out these vacation deals for a trip that includes a stop in Amsterdam.
Anything less than a four-hour layover and your jaunt into the city from the airport may feel rushed. Four hours is a nice sweet spot. Factoring in an hour for round-trip train travel, you’ll have three hours to explore. As you pull into Amsterdam Centraal (the city’s central station) there’s plenty to see in the immediate area:
- Stroll the OudezijdsVoorburgwal canal, directly outside the station, making a stop at the historic Oude Church.
- Head one street over from theOudezijdsVoorburgwal to the OudezijdsAchterburgwal, the famous Red Light District. Don’t worry – it’s not as speedy as you may have heard, and in fact, contains many beautiful buildings and tourist attractions.
- Walk east to the Bloemenmarkt, a flower market where the country’s famous tulips are on full display.
- Make your way back up to the train station via the Singel Canal, stopping for a locally brewed Dutch beer along the way!
With eight hours on your side, you have a lot more time to explore. In addition to the above itinerary, try adding these attractions to your list:
- Tour the halls and exhibits of the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands’ national museum. Plenty of paintings from the Dutch Masters are on display, as well as an impressive roster of European treasures.
- Visit the Anne Frank House to see the secret annex where she hid with her family from the Nazis, the original diary she kept, and even the Oscar Shelley Winters for her 1959 role in The Diary of Anne Frank.
- Bask in the regal, imposing beauty of the Royal Palace, the official residence of the King of Holland.
A layover doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With the right city, it can be a mini-vacation in its own right. Plan your next trip through Travelzoo and make sure you include a layover in Amsterdam.