The 10 Best Things to Do on a Layover in Amsterdam

There are hundreds of things to do on a layover in Amsterdam. After all, it’s a popular layover for US-connecting flights.

However, we have 10 things to do on a layover in Amsterdam that we recommend above all. After all, some things in the Netherlands simply cannot be overlooked.

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10. Take a walk in the city center

Given you have a few hours in the city, you can simply take a walk around its famous canals. These streets are perfect for a few Instagram-worthy pictures. If you’re trying to buy souvenirs for friends and family, your best bet is a shopping mall instead of wasting time in different shopping locations. Many tourists stop at Magna Plaza for 1 or 2 hours of quick shopping.

9. Visit the Red Light District

You simply cannot overlook the Red Light District which is known to both locals and visitors. You can have a great day seeing the neon-lighted windows in the kinky neighborhood. You’ll find this place not to be off the map by any chance as tourists are found taking pictures here both during the day and during the night. If you become overwhelmed by the crowds, you can choose one of the multiple restaurants or pubs in the area to unwind.

8. Eat brownies

Amsterdam’s coffee shops are now famous around the world. Marijuana is legal in the city and it is widely used in brownies you can serve at local coffee shops. For most tourists, it’s going to be a unique experience that is hard to match in most other cities around the world. Just make sure you’re not driving back to Schiphol Airport for your connecting flight.

7. Join other tourists on bike tours

Bikes are the most popular means of transportation in Amsterdam. But if you’re new to cycling, you might be a bit overwhelmed or you might not even know where to ride. Luckily, there are plenty of cycling tours to choose from most of the days in the city where you can even meet other travelers. We Bike Amsterdam is one of the tour operators you can book in advance if you want to try out this experience. The operator has guided tours that also give you details about the history of the city while cycling. It’s a relaxing activity from start to finish when you stop for apple pie.

6. Visit iconic museums

You might not have too much time on your hands to admire the art on a layover, but a few hours are enough to see what you can’t see anywhere else in the world. Amsterdam has its own museum area which you find in Museumplein. You can easily reach the area by public transport. Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums can be found here. These museums offer you a glimpse into the cultural side of Amsterdam and they also come with their own gift shops you can visit for an inspired souvenir.

5. Visit Leiden

Leiden is a town right outside the main Amsterdam airport. Sure, you won’t get to the actual city by stopping here, but what better occasion than now since its only 20 minutes from the airport. Leiden is the home to one of the oldest universities in the world. Leiden University was founded in 1575 and it has given several Nobel Prize winners over the years. The city also has a charming historic look which makes it worth visiting with its quirky shops and Amsterdam-like canals.

4. Book a city tour

You can book a direct Amsterdam city tour which lasts about 3-4 hours and which takes you alongside its famous landmarks. The bus tour is worth checking out if you don’t like walking too much. Some of the best companies offer airport pick-up and drop-off which means you won’t have to deal with the hassle of public transport or lose any time taking the wrong transportation method into the city.

3. Admire tulip fields next to the airport

The country is known as the flower supplier of Europe and tulips are very popular in the Netherlands. You can admire large tulip fields close to the airport. There are hundreds of types of tulips and hybrids to admire in a person and it can be a once in a lifetime experience. The closest field of tulips is only 20 minutes away from Schiphol Airport. You can board the Keukenhof shuttle bus to reach it.

2. Buy designer clothing

There are hundreds of shops at Schiphol Airport. If your layover is short (1-2 hours), you can’t leave its premises but you can still find good deals right inside the airport. Famous shops here include those of brands such as Victoria’s Secret, WH Smith, SuitSupply, Omega, and MAC Cosmetics.

Shops at the airport can be categorized in those you can visit before security checks and those you can visit after security checks. However, you should still be able to find a good deal on your favorite Gucci handbag or your next Rolex watch even without going through security.

1. Rest at Schiphol Airport

Did you know there’s a spa at the Schiphol Airport? If you’re connecting flight is also long, you might even consider this relaxation method as a method of boosting energy levels. However, you can also sit back and have a massage or even sleep in the airport’s Massage-O-Matic shuttles. For a modest fee, you can board your next long flight fully relaxed. These massage areas are quite popular here but there’s plenty to choose from. You can find them in Lounge 1 and Lounge 4 as well as in B, C, D, and E boarding gates.

Amsterdam is a city of many colors which has something to offer for everybody. But during your layover, you don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself by indulging in energy-draining activities. From relaxed bike tours to visiting local museums, the city has the right activity for you even if you’re just swiftly passing by.