Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) is one of the more pleasant airports in Europe with its light and spacious terminals.
Schiphol has become a major connecting hub for many air travellers, especially those using Air France-KLM and partner airlines. Excellent onward transport options include the Dutch rail network, Thalys high speed train to Paris and Intercity to Brussels.
Here are a few tips on getting the most out of Schiphol airport:
Single Terminal Concept
Schiphol airport has effectively one terminal grouped by different piers. The terminal is divided into Schengen and non-Schengen sections as the Netherlands is part of the Schengen European area, an open border agreement. The Schengen zone of the airport is ‘within’ the Netherlands.
You need to pass through a passport (border) control if travelling to/from outside the Schengen zone (this includes destinations in the UK, Ireland, US, Asia, Africa). Thus the non-Schengen zone is technically outside of the Netherlands. Many nationalities need an applicable Schengen visa to enter into the Netherlands.
Queues at Schiphol immigration are normally reasonable and you should only have to wait 5-10 minutes at the most. There are e-passport gates for EU citizens.
Schengen examples – Passengers flying Amsterdam-Barcelona or Milan-Amsterdam would normally have no passport control at either end.
A passenger flying London-Amsterdam-Barcelona would need to go through a border control on arrival at Amsterdam Schiphol to enter the Schengen area – once through they would essentially have no further passport checks on their journey to Spain.
A passenger flying Milan-Amsterdam-Delhi would not need to show a passport in Italy but would have a passport check at Schiphol as they would be departing to Delhi from the non-Schengen gates.
Recent renovations have taken place at the airport to create centralised security zones rather than have security at the gates.
Onward Travel – There is a station directly under Schiphol Airport with trains to Amsterdam and other cities in Holland. For more detailed info see our Schiphol to Amsterdam page. International rail connections are possible to Antwerp, Brussels Airport/Brussels and Paris.
City Tours – If you have a layover of more than 6-7 hours at Schiphol then consider taking the train into the city (15 minute ride) and doing some sightseeing, shopping or having a meal. Check out our Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Layover Guide
Schiphol Airport Facilities
Panorama Terrace – Schiphol Airport has a large outdoor panorama terrace located upstairs (3rd floor) on the public side between arrivals 1 and 2. It has some excellent views of the aircraft gates and a couple of the runways. There is an old KLM Fokker 100 aircraft on display plus an indoor café and bar there. Open daily, normally between 0900-1730. [Until 10 Feb 2023, 1200-1730 (Sun-Thu), 1000-1730 (Fri), 0900-1730 (Sat)]
Did you know that Schiphol Airport has 6 runways? These are the Aalsmeerbaan (18L-36R), Buitenveldertbaan (09-27), Kaagbaan (06/24), Oostbaan (04-22), Polderbaan (18R-36L) and Zwanenburgbaan (18C/36C).
There are designated plane spotter areas at the end of IJweg (2141 CN Amsterdam) at the Polderbaan and along the Buitenveldertbaan at Loevesteinse Randweg (1118 EL Amsterdam) next to the McDonald’s.
Shopping – Schiphol Plaza is the shopping retail area which lies on the public side and the shops are open daily between 0700-2200. It houses a variety of stores including Dutch favourite HEMA and the likes of G-Star, Hunkemöller, Leonidas, SuitSupply (tailored suits) and Victoria’s Secret.
Planes@Plaza is the popular aviation-themed shop selling aircraft models and other air memorabilia.
You will find a mid-sized Albert Heijn supermarket (open 0500-0000). There is a News/Books store, Etos (chemist), an Airport Telecom Shop (for local SIM cards), Gassan Plaza (watches, jewellery) and a number of flower shops.
On the departures side of the airport there are the See Buy Fly shops – selling a variety of items from perfumes, tobacco and alcohol, clothes, watches and luggage, to books and electronic items. There are often special offer prices – supposedly the cheapest available in the Netherlands. Premium Dutch food delicacies can also be purchased although you can get these a lot cheaper in town.
Meeting Point – There is a meeting point sign in the middle of the station hall between escalators going down to platforms 3-4 and 5-6.
Note, if meeting someone arriving at the airport – there are 4 different arrival exits and the exit for a specific flight will be indicated on the arrival screens. However, it can be possible that a passenger comes out of a different exit, especially if they are carrying only hand luggage.
Comfy Chairs – There are a number of very comfy lazy chairs available all around the terminal (past security) particularly on the upper level. They are popular and finding a vacant one can be difficult. If you get one take care not to fall asleep – you wouldn’t want to miss your flight!
Airline Lounges – There are a number (invitation-only) airline lounges located on the upper level. Please see our review of all Schiphol airport lounges
Showers at Schiphol – Transit or departing passengers can freshen up by taking a shower at the Mercure Terminal Hotel or the YOTELAir, both of which are on the departures (airside). The Mercure is found in Lounge 3 terminal and the showers are on the 1st floor of the hotel – it charges €19.50 for a shower cabin and this includes soap, shampoo, shower cap, towels and hair dryer. The YOTELAir is in Lounge 2 (near pier D) and it also charges €17.50 for an hour in one of their 2 available shower cabins.
For arriving passengers one possibility for a shower at Schiphol is to head to the airport’s Sheraton Hotel (very near the main public arrivals hall/train station). A day pass to its Fitness & Spa facilities (including rainforest showers) costs €35 – you can buy at the hotel reception.
Eating/Drinking – There are over 50 places to eat and drink at the airport catering for different tastes and budgets. At Schiphol Plaza (public side) you can find the La Place Restaurant (decent self-service food) and La Place Express outlet, a Burger King, Café Rembrandt (a brown café), Happy Seafood, HEMA Food (try some Dutch smoked sausage), Döner Kebab & Pommes Frites (fast food), LEON (healthy fast food), Pizzas Per Tutti (pizzas), Verspilingsfabriek (‘zero waste’ soups), Starbucks and Segafredo (coffee bars), TOKO To Go (Asian) and a number of other cafés and bars.
Within the terminal (departures side, past security), amongst others there is the Amsterdam Bread Company, Bubbles Seafood & Wine bar, Dutch Kitchen (typical Dutch products), Grand Café Het Paleis, East Bar & Bites (Asian), Murphy’s Irish Pub, Jamie’s Deli (Jamie Oliver), Pana Bar (flatbreads), Harvest Market (organic and gluten-free food), Silverscreen Bar (1920s themed American diner) and many other café outlets all over the terminal. Obviously airport prices are usually a bit higher than in the city.
Museum – The Rijksmuseum Schiphol exhibit on Holland Boulevard features 17th century Dutch Masters paintings, located between Lounge 2 and 3.
Airport Library – Schiphol has its own compact library area on Holland Boulevard which holds a selection of books as well as iPads and touch screens.
Doing Business – Meeting rooms (public side) are available at the Regus Schiphol Airport Meeting Centre or at the nearby The Office Operators (TOO). Meetings can also be held at some of the hotels at Schiphol mentioned below.
Free WiFi internet is available throughout the airport under the network ‘Airport_Free_Wifi’.
Relax – various massage and beauty treatments are on offer at XPress Spa at various locations. There are also Massage-O-Matic self-service massage chairs around the airport.
There is also a Meditation Centre located on the upper level of Lounge 2 (which also offers church services on Sundays at 1100).
Flight Information – Live flight info can be found on the schiphol.com website. Schiphol also has an app for passengers which can help them navigate the airport.
You may want to consider staying at one of the Schiphol Airport hotels
If you just want to remain in the terminal during a layover you could consider taking a pod-like room at the YOTELAIR which is in the airside Lounge 2 terminal (non-Schengen departures). The minimum stay is 4 hours, hand-baggage only.
There are also 3 hotels located a short walk from the airport terminal. The budget CitizenM design hotel has small capsule-style rooms. The Sheraton is a very comfortable but more expensive option with spacious rooms and an atrium bar. Finally the Hilton is within walking distance and has modern rooms.
Schiphol Car Parking
There are various car parking options at Schiphol airport.
The P1Parking is for drop offs/pick ups/short trips and is located 3-6 minutes walk from the departures terminal. Parking is for up to 48 hours and is charged at €1.10 for 10 mins, €44 for 0-24 hours and €88 for 24-28 hours. Parking longer than 2 days is charged at €100 per day.
P3 Long Term Parking offers parking for longer periods in either a sheltered car park close to its entrance or in unsheltered spaces. There are free shuttle buses (5 minute trip) running to the terminal every 10 minutes. Parking charges are as follows: €44 for 0-24 hours (sheltered/unsheltered), €75 (unsheltered) or €80 (sheltered) for 24-28 hours. Each day thereafter is charged at €8.50. Cheaper rates may be available when reserving online.
P6 Valet Parking is available where you simply drop your car off at P6 (2 minutes sheltered walk from the terminal). Your car will then be parked unsheltered by one of the attendants, no more than 12km will be added to the vehicle. On your return your car will be waiting for pick-up at P6. The parking rates are higher than P3 – €70 for the first day; then each subsequent day is charged at €5.50 per hour to the maximum day rate of €45.50. There are extra options for sheltered parking and car wash services.
This article was originally published in 2010 and has continuously been updated. Last update 2 January 2023.