A msterdam Schiphol (AMS) is consistently voted one of the best airports in Europe. It is located just 17km south-west of Amsterdam, Netherlands and is a major hub for Air France-KLM and Skyteam partner Delta. This is our guide for travellers using the airport...
Getting There and Away - The 2 cheapest ways to get to the city are by train or bus. There is a train station at the airport with platforms below ground. As of 2012, standard rail tickets to Amsterdam Central station cost €3.80 one way or €6.50 in first class. Note, you need to pay extra to use the "FYRA" trains to Amsterdam Central - the fare is €4.50 (2nd class) or €7.50 (1st class).
Train tickets can be purchased at the yellow and blue ticket machines - these take Euro coins (but not notes) and Dutch bank "PIN" cards. At Schiphol the machines also accept credit cards / Maestro payments for a €1 surcharge. Alternatively, you can buy tickets at the "NS Tickets & Service" desk which incurs a €0.50 surcharge.
Before travel check the overhead boards on the platform - make sure you get on a train that goes to "Amsterdam Centraal" and not "Amsterdam Zuid/WTC" and "Amsterdam RAI" which are stops on a different line. The trip to Central station should take 15-20 minutes.
There is also the red 197 bus service that can get you to Leidseplein in the centre - this costs €4 one-way.
Shuttle buses run by Connexxion to hotels cost €16 one-way and €26 return. There is also a shared minibus taxi service run by the airport which costs €22 one-way. A standard taxi to the centre will set you back €40-50 and takes up to 45 minutes depending on traffic.
If travelling business or first class with Emirates to/from Amsterdam, a complimentary chauffeur service is provided up to 65km from Schiphol.
Train Connections - At Schiphol you can take various Intercity services: one going south to Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven and beyond; another to Leiden, The Hague and Rotterdam; an international Intercity train to Antwerp and Brussels; a Deutsche Bahn Intercity service to Berlin. In addition, there are high-speed trains: the international Thalys serving Antwerp, Brussels and Paris and the domestic FYRA trains which go to Rotterdam and Breda.
The Airport - Schiphol has a shopping area called Schiphol Plaza in the public area of the airport. The departures side is effectively one terminal divided into a Schengen and non-Schengen section - these have the "See Buy Fly" shops selling the usual airport fare. Despite the tax free advertising, prices are not that cheap. There is a decent sized supermarket near the station hall (Food Village) which is probably the cheapest place to buy various food and drink items. If you want to buy souvenirs / Dutch delicacies / flowers however, you are probably better off buying them in town.
There is a large outside panorama terrace on the public side where you can watch the planes. From Departure Hall 1 you need to go upstairs to the 3rd floor - just follow the signs. The terrace has some good views of the departure gates, apron and runways on the north and eastern side of the airport. There is also a retired KLM Fokker jet on show.
If you are flying to one of the Schengen countries in Europe there are no passport controls. If you are connecting from a non-Schengen to a Schengen flight (or vice versa) you will need to go through a passport check. Passport controls do not normally take more than 10 minutes maximum. However when connecting at Amsterdam you should schedule in plenty of time - if you land on the (infamous) Polderbaan 18R/36L runway it can take you 10-15 minutes just to reach the arrival gate. You may then have to walk to the other end of the airport on top of any passport / security checks.
There is a membership scheme for European nationals called Privium which allows fast border passage via iris scans. The basic scheme costs €119 per year, Privium Plus membership costs €185 per year with extra benefits - lounge access, business class check-in on participating airlines and some further discounts.
There are a numerous restaurants / fast-food places / cafes / bars including an Irish pub on the departures side. We like the sandwiches at the La Place Express in Schiphol Plaza near the station. For a bit more of a splurge check out the Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar on the Schengen departures side.
There is a good variety of comfortable seating at Schiphol including many "lazy chairs" where you can lie down. Additional seating is found upstairs which is a much quieter area - this is where all the airport lounges are located. See our guide: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Lounges
Showers - Free showers are available in the toilets near the British Airways lounge (non-Schengen). You need to bring your own toiletries and towels (and a pair of flip flops is handy for hygiene). Alternatively go to the Mercure hotel where you can take a shower in a private cabin (with soap, shampoo and towel provided - plus hot drink) for €15. Located upstairs in Departures Lounge 3.
Rijksmuseum Schiphol - This is a small museum with regular exhibits of old Dutch paintings. Free entry, located on Holland Boulevard between non-Schengen piers E and F. Open between 0700 and 2000.
Library - Below the Rijksmuseum can be found a small library which has books available to read in many different languages plus ipads for surfing.
Spa/Massages - XpressSpa offers pedicures, manicures, massages and foot reflexology. Departures Lounge 2 between 0700 and 2000. Alternatively get a chair or water massage at Back To Life on Holland Boulevard.
Meeting Rooms - Exchange Avenue (near the Panorama Terrace) has 8 different rooms available for hire which can hold from 2 to 80 people. Office heavyweight Regus also has a location at Amsterdam Schiphol (8th floor of Skyport office - departures 1) with business and meeting facilities.
Internet - KPN offers 1 hour free WiFi throughout the airport. There are 2 KPN Internet Centres (open 24 hours) at Schiphol - which offer premium internet services plus printing, copying, scanning facilities. Locations are in Departure Lounge 1 (after passport control) and in Departure Lounge 2 (2nd floor).
For layovers at Amsterdam airport, consider heading to the city if you have over 4 hours to spare.