Amsterdam Schiphol AirportIATA Code: AMS
Location: The airport is nine miles (15km) southwest of Amsterdam. It is 36 miles (57km) from The Hague and 46 miles (73km) from Rotterdam.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: +31 207 940 800, or from the Netherlands: 0900 0141.
Transfer between terminals: Although there is only one terminal at Schiphol, the sheer size of the airport can be daunting. Schiphol Airport is made up of a single terminal building with three concourse or departure halls connected to the central building. It is easy to walk from one concourse to another, with one exception: the low-cost carriers departures hall, which is known as Pier H. The low-cost carriers hall is easy to find, but once you've entered it you can't turn back and re-enter the rest of the airport.
Transfer to the city: Train: The simplest and cheapest way to travel from Schiphol to Amsterdam, and around the Netherlands generally, is by train. The airport railway station is located beneath Schiphol Plaza and trains depart for central Amsterdam and other destinations around the Netherlands. Trains leave the airport station every 15 minutes, except from 12:30am to 5am when the service only runs every hour. The short 15-20 minute journey between Schiphol and Amsterdam costs EUR3.80. Taxis: Private and shared taxis can be booked via the Schiphol website. Taxi fare between Schiphol Airport and central Amsterdam generally costs EUR35-40 and the trip takes 15-30 minutes depending on time of day and traffic. Taxis are great for door-to-door service, particularly for passengers with lots of luggage. Bus: Numerous buses depart from just outside Schiphol Plaza to various destinations around the Netherlands. Most buses into Amsterdam run every 15-30 minutes from 6am until midnight during the week and slightly less frequently on weekends. Bus fares start at EUR1.60 and the journey to central Amsterdam takes up to 30 minutes. Many hotels offer free shuttle services to guests.
Taxis: A taxi to the city centre from Schiphol Airport will take around 20 minutes and cost around EUR35. Visitors can go to Schiphol Plaza where they will find the metered Schiphol taxis which will display their rates. Avoid touts and unlicensed taxis. National taxi service, Schiphol Travel Taxi, has fixed rates for everyone who travels to and from the airport.
Car rental: Renting a car is a great way to see the Netherlands, but not the ideal way to see Amsterdam itself, particularly because of the lack of available parking spaces within the city. If you're brave enough to face the parking shortage, car rental agency desks can be found inside the arrivals hall at Schiphol Plaza. Companies operating from Schiphol include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Alamo, Sixt and National. Car rental operators are located inside the arrivals hall and in Schiphol Plaza.
Facilities: Money and communications: ATMs and currency exchange facilities are available in both the arrivals and departures halls. Luggage: Lost baggage must be reported to the airline in question. Baggage and items lost within Schiphol Airport can be located through the airport's lost and found centre, which also forwards lost items by post to passengers that have already departed from the airport. Luggage lockers are available for storing luggage for a maximum period of seven days. The lockers can be found in the lounges as well as in the basement and arrivals hall three. The left luggage service costs EUR5-10 per day, depending on bag size. Seal & Go offers a luggage wrapping facility, the service starts at EUR7.50 and the machines are located in departure halls two and three. Conference and business: A fully-equipped conference facility is available at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The business service includes catering, a boardroom and reception halls that can accommodate up to 80 people. The conference facilities are located above the departures hall on the third floor. Reservation arrangements can be made through the Schiphol website. The airport also has internet facilities and plug-in points throughout the departures section and lounges. Other facilities: A first-aid centre and medical clinic are available at Schiphol. However, the clinic is only open between 8:30am and 3:30pm from Monday to Saturday in departures hall two. There is also a pharmacy located in the same area, which stays open until 5pm. The airport also has a free library and art gallery. Disabled facilities and priority parking bays are available and there is a casino located onsite. WiFi: Free wi-fi service is available throughout the airport. There is also a paid wi-fi option, which allows faster access. Once you've accessed the Schiphol website in your browser, simply click on whichever option you'd prefer. Information: Information desks are located in the lounges as well as in the departures and arrivals halls. Staff members are multilingual and the helpdesks are open 24 hours a day. Shopping: The main shopping area at Schiphol is the Schiphol Plaza, which is open daily from 7am to 10pm. These shops include newsagents, tobacconists, a hairdressing salon, florists, an electronics shop called 'Capi', America Today, Nike, a Crocs shop, an H&M, as well as shops selling perfumes, high fashion items, name branded clothing and jewellery. The duty-free shops can be found beyond passport control. They open an hour before the first flight of the day and close 30 minutes after the last flight. The 'See, Buy, Fly' duty-free shops encourage passengers to do just that: see it, buy it and then jet off to your next destination. If only all shopping experiences could be that simple. Food and Drink: Schiphol Airport has a broad range of restaurants, snack bars and pubs available with cuisine options ranging from sushi to freshly made sandwiches. Most food and drink places at Schiphol are open between 7am and 8pm. Travellers needing a late night bite, midnight snack or pre-dawn caffeine fix should head to Bread! in lounge three or Cone Bar in lounge two as they are open 24 hours a day. There is a food court with fast food options including McDonald's and Sbarro's on the upper level of the terminal.
Parking: There is a drop-off zone in front of the terminal and a quick pick-up area outside the arrivals hall. Short-term parking facilities are located close to the terminal and cost EUR2 per half hour. Medium-term parking can be found at the Schiphol Smart Parking area. This parking should be booked in advance on the Schiphol website; it costs EUR5 per day and is connected to the terminal via a frequent shuttle bus service. Long stay parking is available in P3 for EUR6.50 per day and is a short shuttle bus ride from the terminal. Valet parking is also available between departure halls two and three; this service will set you back EUR40 for the first three days and EUR30 per day thereafter.
Departure tax: None.
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Lively, lascivious Amsterdam has a unique atmosphere that makes a mockery of the caricature of the 'conservative Dutch'. Radiating out from Dam Square, the historic centre of the city is ringed by quaint canals and cobbled streets, and throngs with bicycles, tourists, houseboats, students and street performers. Amsterdam wears two faces: on one, it smiles and beckons hedonistic youth with its notorious Red Light District and liberal view of marijuana use; while on the other it offers discerning travellers some of Europe's finest museums and art galleries.
For the tourist, one of the joys of Amsterdam is its compactness. The old part of town is a pleasure to explore on foot, strolling across ancient bridges and down narrow lanes past gabled houses, and dropping in to browse inviting souvenir boutiques crammed with blue and white Delft china and wooden clogs and tulips. Pavement cafes and cosy bars offer rest and refreshment. An alternative is to take a circular canal-boat cruise and see the city from the water, peering in on the lives of the locals who live on houseboats lining the waterways.
At night even the most conservative visitor is drawn by the lively atmosphere of the infamous Red Light District, known as De Wallen, which is bounded by the Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Oudeziujds Achterburgwal canals near the Dam Square. Here prostitutes display their charms in brightly lit shop windows and touts encourage passers-by to view raunchy floorshows. The best nightclubs and bars, and theatres and cinemas are mainly to be found in the bustling Leidesplein and Rembrandtplein.