- Airlines & Destinations
- Coffee & Restaurants
- Accommodation & Hotels
- Airport sevices
- Things to know
Schiphol Airport (IATA: AMS) is one of the busiest airports in the world, situated 15 km southwest of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It serves the city of Amsterdam and the surrounding area, with connecting flights to destinations in Asia, Europe and North America. It is home to KLM, the Dutch flag carrier airline and the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name.
Schiphol is divided in many different zones. The ground floor before passport control has the entrance of the airport, the railway station (with the platforms underground), the four Arrivals halls, and Schiphol Plaza, the central shopping zone. On the 1st floor you can find the check-in desks and Departure Halls 1, 2 and 3. From this floor you can go to passport control and enter the transit area.
The area after passport control is known as Schiphol World Avenue and has four sections: Lounge 1, Lounge 2, Holland Boulevard and Lounge 3. Holland Boulevard is the area's central plaza with a casino and a museum. Gates B-H can be accessed from all of these lounges. Lounge 4 for low-cost carriers is completely separated and only connects with gate M. It has very few facilities.
Schiphol opened on 16 September 1916 as a military airbase. The end of the First World War also saw the beginning of civilian use of Schiphol Airport and the airport eventually lost its military role completely. By 1940, Schiphol had four asphalt runways at 45-degree angles. The airport was captured by the German military that same year and renamed Fliegerhorst Schiphol. The airport was destroyed through bombing but at the end of the war the airfield was restored quickly. In 1949, it was decided that Schiphol was to become the primary airport of the Netherlands. The airport's official English name, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, reflects the original Dutch word order (Luchthaven Schiphol).
Airlines & Destinations
KLM and its partner Delta Air Lines offer worldwide connections. Asia, Europe and North America are particularly well served. British Airways offer up to 15 flights per day to three airports in London. Transavia, Jet2, Easyjet and other low-cost carriers provide a fairly economical way to city-hop to Amsterdam from other cities in Europe.
Schiphol has one giant terminal with all facilities under a single roof radiating from the central plaza (Holland Boulevard). The area is divided into three lounges designated 1, 2 and 3. Gates or concourses are connected to these lounges, but it is possible to walk from one gate to another, even to those connected to different lounges. The exception to this is Lounge 4: it is connected to gate M for low-cost carriers, and once past security, passengers cannot access any other lounges or gates. Lounge 4 has very few facilities.
Few airlines and destinations have a dedicated gate. KLM and Transavia use all gates except H and M.
- Lounge 1 consists of gates B and C, dedicated to Schengen areas.
- Lounge 2 consists of gates D and E. Gate D has two levels. The lower floor is used for non-Schengen flights, the upper floor for Schengen flights. Gate E is a dedicated non-Schengen area.
- Lounge 3 consists of gates F, G and H. They serve non-Schengen areas. Gate H is used by low-cost carriers.
- Lounge 4 consists of gate M, a dedicated Schengen area for low-cost carriers.
For most travellers, the most convenient way to reach Amsterdam or other major destinations in the Netherlands from the airport is by train, with most destinations reachable either directly or with one transfer.
Most major destinations in the Netherlands can be reached from Schiphol either directly or with a single transfer. Use the ticket machines or ticket desks. Not all machines accept credit or debit cards, and those that do require chip-and-PIN cards.
Alternatively, you can buy an Amsterdam Travel Ticket, which includes a train return ticket to and from Schiphol to any of Amsterdam's stations, plus unlimited travel on all GVB trams, metro and (night)buses for 1, 2 or 3 days.
The train station at Schiphol is located underground, under the main airport hall; trains to Amsterdam Centraal usually run from platform 1 or 2. Note: this is not specific, one is never sure which platform it arrives. Information signs are updated when the train enters the tunnel. It is the same platform, though it matters on which side the train stops. This is why you'll see a lot of locals and tourists waiting just at the end of the escalators or stairs. They eventually go to the right track when it is updated.
For most destinations there are 1 or 2 trains per hour, for more regional destinations trains are more frequent. There are 4 to 5 trains per hour between Schiphol and Amsterdam in peak times. Regional trains run all night, although between 1am and 5am only once an hour. The price and duration of the journey are the same as during the day. However, trains for further destinations will generally not run at night. Check before you travel.
Many trains southbound from Amsterdam stop at Schiphol then continue on to Belgium or France. If you are going to one of those countries, it is usually possible to pick up a train direct from Schiphol.
- Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal. There are plenty of direct trains from the Schiphol to the Amsterdam Centraal. A journey takes 16-18 minutes. There are several train stations in Amsterdam and not every train stops at every station; note which station is closest to your accommodation. €4.20 if using an OV-chipkaart; €5.20 single-use card.
- Amsterdam Airport Express (Bus #197). Connexxion operates a service between the airport and Museumplein, Rijksmuseum, and Leidseplein. The bus is only worth taking if these stops are closer to your accommodation. Buses depart from platform B9 daily from 05:01-00:21 every approx. 15 minutes. In the nigh bus #97 runs the same route routhly every hour. €5,00 (from a driver); e-ticket €4,75 (single) €9,00 (return) or consider Amsterdam Travel Ticket.
Do not use a taxi unless there is no alternative; travel to Schiphol by train or by bus, if possible. Taxis from Schiphol are unexpectedly expensive. You pay around €7.50 (as of Oct 08) as a minimum charge and that includes the first 2 km. Then the meter starts racing. The ride costs about €40-50 to go to, say, the Leidseplein. Depending on the time of day and traffic levels, it could take only 25 min. If you're unlucky, it could take twice as long. Choose the nicest cab as that driver is more likely to be reputable. You don't have to pick the first taxi in line. If possible, reserve a cab up-front [www], this will ensure a fixed price for the ride.
There is a way to get 50% discount on your ride to Amsterdam or 20% discount to other destinations. Here's how it works: Look for an upcoming TCA taxi (spot the roof light!) at the departure halls (on the first floor). Say 'hello' to the driver while the passengers step off. This works out for you and the driver as he's not allowed to wait for customers at the airport and this way he doesn't have to drive back empty.
By shuttle service
- Connexxion Hotel Shuttle serves over 100 city centre hotels, with 8-seater shared van departures about every 30 minutes between 6 AM and 9 PM, cost to most city centre destinations €15.50/25.00 one-way/return—more convenient than the train if you have heavy luggage and still cheaper than a taxi. Buses depart from platform A7 and can be reserved for the trip back +31 38 3394741.
- myDriver Amsterdam rides to/from the airport cost a fixed rate of €50 and has a meet and greet service inside the arrivals hall
- UberBlack rides to/from the airport cost a fixed rate of €60.
- Book Taxi Amsterdam has a convenient rate of 66€ from Schiphol Airport to city centre (including Meet & Greet) and only 54€ for a 8 pax minivan.
- Tinker offers transfers with an advance booking discount and calculates price per seat. Transfers are available from €9,95 and include a pickup from a TinkerBelle. Bookings are made via telephone +31 20 290 0050 or online.
- Amsterdam Airport Taxi Services has fixed rate Schiphol Airport transfers to or from the city centre at €49 for a Mercedes E class including a meet and greet special, €65 for a minivan.
By rental car
If you plan to rent a car for the duration of your stay, Schiphol has several car rental companies on site [www]. Typical opening hours are 6AM-11PM daily. The car rental desk can be found in Schiphol Plaza, on the same level as the Arrivals. The A4 motorway leads straight from Schiphol to the Amsterdam ring road A10, in about 10 min.
If you decided to bring your bicycle on the plane with you, there is a 15-kilometer sign-posted bike route from the airport to Amsterdam. Turn right as you leave the airport terminal: the cycle path starts about 200 metres down the road. There is a map of the cycle paths around Schiphol available on this PDF (green lines are cycle paths).
The airport is large, but you can only get around on foot (and travelator). Expect to walk long distances, especially if arriving on an international flight and connecting to another... likely in another terminal.
If you are entering the European Union, you must go through customs and immigration as well as security processing. During busy times (often) this can take 20-30 or more minutes than just walking to an assigned departure gate. Choose flights with adequate connection times.
Schiphol uses a one-terminal concept, where all facilities are located under a single roof, radiating from the central plaza. The terminal, though, is divided into three sections or halls designated 1, 2 and 3. All of these halls, piers or concourses are connected. However, it is possible, on both sides of security or border inspection, to walk from between piers, even those connected to different halls. The exception to this is the low-cost pier M: once airside (past security), passengers cannot access any other areas. Border control separates Schengen from non-Schengen areas. Schiphol Airport has approximately 165 boarding gates.
Schiphol has large shopping areas as a source of revenue and as an additional attraction for passengers. Schiphol Plaza is the shopping centre before customs, hence it is used by air travelers and non-traveling visitors.
Departure Hall 1
Departure Hall 1 consists of Piers B and C, both of which are dedicated Schengen areas and shares D-pier with Departure hall 2. Pier B has 14 gates and Pier C has 21 gates.
Departure Hall 2
Departure Hall 2 consists of Piers D and E.
Pier D is the largest pier and has two levels. The lower floor houses non-Schengen flights and the upper floor is used for Schengen flights. By using stairs, the same jetways are used to access the aircraft. Schengen gates are numbered beginning with D-59; non-Schengen gates are numbered from D-1 to D-57.
Pier E is a dedicated non-Schengen area and has 14 gates. It is typically home to SkyTeam hub airlines Delta Air Lines and KLM, along with other members, such as China Airlines and China Southern Airlines. Other Middle Eastern and Asian airlines such as EVA Air, Etihad Airways, Iran Air and Air Astana also typically operate out of Pier E.
Departure Hall 3
Departure Hall 3 consists of piers F, G, H and M. Pier F has 8 gates and is typically dominated by SkyTeam members such as primary airline KLM, Kenya Airways, China Airlines and China Southern Airlines, and other members. Pier G has 13 gates and is, except for pier E, the only terminal that handles daily Airbus A380 service, by Emirates and China Southern Airlines. Piers H and M have 7 gates each and are home to low-cost airlines. Piers F, G and H are non-Schengen areas. Pier M is a dedicated Schengen area.
General aviation terminal
A new general aviation terminal was opened in 2011 on the east side of the airport, operated as the KLM Jet Center. The new terminal building has a floorspace of 6,000 m2 (65,000 sq ft); 1,000 m2 (11,000 sq ft) for the actual terminal and lounges, 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft) for office space and 1,000 m2 (11,000 sq ft) for parking.
Coffee & Restaurants
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants at the airport, both before and after passport control. Most are quite expensive, so the fast-food joints are the only option if you're on a budget.
- Burger King, Schiphol Plaza. 24 hours. Not just your average Burger King, this is the busiest one in the world with 1.3 million visitors a year. It has never closed since its opening in 1993. But the menu is the still the same. Burgers. €.
- McDonald's Lounge 2, Lounge 2, Schiphol World Avenue. 05:30-21:00 daily. €.
- McDonald's Lounge 3, Lounge 3, Schiphol World Avenue. 06:00-22:00 daily. €.
There are drinking water fountains available throughout the airport, but in the majority of cases these are located before security checks. If you want to fill your empty water bottle after security checks: this might be possible depending on the gate. On piers H and M, toilets are available with cold drinking water, all the way at the end of the pier. At the other piers, the security checks are often arranged by gate, where each gate has its own after-security zone. Depending on the size of this zone, which can be just a waiting room, there might or might not be toilets and taps available.
Accommodation & Hotels
- citizenM Amsterdam Airport, Jan Plezierweg 2, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. A modern budget hotel with trendy design rooms. Every room has Wi-Fi access, films-on-demand and an LCD television. €69-€120.
- Mercure, Lounge 3, Schiphol World Avenue, . The only full-fledged hotel after passport control. It can only be booked if you are on transit. €85-95.
- Sheraton, Schiphol Boulevard 101, . €269-616.
- Yotel, Lounge 2, Schiphol World Avenue (near gate D), . Automatically operated hotel cabins that can be booked by the hour (with a minimum stay of 4 hours). Good for a short nap if you're in onward transit. Food and drinks can be ordered with the computerized interface. Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. €46-68 for 4 hours, €10 for any additional hour.
The most important thing you need to remember in these European airports is the duty laws for the nation it applies to. There are many shopping options in the airport, though.
- Free Wi-Fi. You need to agree with the terms and conditions beforehand.
- Airport Telecom Shop.
Things to know
Before passport control
- Panorama Terrace (Panoramaterras), 3F (go upstairs from Schiphol Plaza between Arrivals 1 and 2 or at Arrivals 3). Nov-Mar 09:00-17:00, Apr-Oct 07:00-20:00. The panorama terrace at the top floor oversees planes arriving and leaving gates C, D, E and F. Bring your camera or use the telescopes. A Fokker 100 airplane is displayed on the terrace; it has a tiny museum inside about the history of Fokker, the largest Dutch airplane manufacturer. Especially fun for children. There are restaurants and bars on and around the terrace (smoking allowed). Free.
- Sheraton Fitness & Spa, Sheraton Hotel, Schiphol Boulevard 101 (between Schiphol Plaza and the World Trade Center), . 24 hours daily (sauna, steam room 06:00-23:00). You can get a day pass for an unlimited use of the fitness room, sauna, rainforest showers, steam room and wellness area.€20/day.
After passport control
- Airport Library, Holland Boulevard, Schiphol World Avenue (between gates E and F). The world's first airport library. Reading books and listening to music is mostly done digitally, using tablet computers. You can download the books to your own digital device for reading on your journey. An interesting way to learn more about Dutch culture and literature. Free.
- Airport Park, Lounge 1, Schiphol World Avenue (above gate D). Who would expect a city park right inside an airport terminal? Obviously, it's not an ordinary city park, as the butterflies are projected onto the walls, and the sounds of nature come from the park's speakers. Still, it's the most tranquil environment you'll find in an airport serving millions of travelers each year. Free.
- Holland Casino, Holland Boulevard, Schiphol World Avenue (between gates E and F). 06:30-19:30 daily. A full casino within the airport's terminal walls. Free lockers are provided for hand baggage. A boarding card and valid ID are required for entry, 18+ only. Free.
- Rijksmuseum, Holland Boulevard, Schiphol World Avenue (between gates E and F). 07:00-20:00 daily. Since 9 December 2002 Schiphol has an annex of the acclaimed Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in its terminal. The permanent exhibition displays ten works by well-known painters from the Dutch Golden Age (17th century). The temporary exhibition changes a few times a year. Souvenirs are available at the museum shop. Free.
Schiphol has six runways, one of which is used mainly by general aviation. Due to vicinity of residential areas, all runways are used almost exclusively in one direction.
The Rijksmuseum operates an annex at the airport, offering a small overview of both classical and contemporary art. Admission to the exhibits is free.
In summer 2010, Schiphol Airport Library opened alongside the museum, providing passengers access to a collection of 1,200 books (translated into 29 languages) by Dutch authors on subjects relating to the country's history and culture. The 89.9 m2 (968 sq ft) library offers e-books and music by Dutch artists and composers that can be downloaded free of charge to a laptop or mobile device.
For aviation enthusiasts, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has a large rooftop viewing area, called the Panoramaterras. It is not accessible to connecting passengers unless they first exit the airport. Enthusiasts and the public can enter, free of charge, from the airport's landside. Since June 2011, it is the location for a KLM Cityhopper Fokker 100, modified to be a viewing exhibit. Besides the Panoramaterras, Schiphol has other spotting sites, especially along the newest Polderbaan runway and at the McDonald's restaurant at the north side of the airport.
Schiphol has its own mortuary, where the dead can be handled and kept before departure or after arrival. Since October 2006, people can also hold a wedding ceremony at Schiphol.
Schiphol also has a new state-of-the-art cube-shaped Hilton hotel with 433 rooms, rounded corners and diamond-shaped windows. The spacious atrium has a 41-metre-high (135 ft) ceiling made of glass and is in the heart of the building. A covered walkway connects the hotel directly to the terminal. The hotel was completed in 2015.
Watch out for pickpockets and baggage thieves on trains: a common trick is a knock on your window to distract you, so that an accomplice can steal your luggage or laptop. Another one is to have an accomplice jam the doors and then steal your luggage. The thief jumps out and the door immediately closes, making it impossible to catch them.
However, in recent years, railway police have made a great effort to reduce this sort of crime; nowadays it is at 'normal', big-city like levels. It however is recommended not to leave your baggage unattended. This is also announced in the station regularly.