How To Get From Amsterdam Airport to City Center

Last Updated: December 12, 2023

Gerrit Vandenberg

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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Hi, I'm Gerrit

I enjoy sharing useful tips about the beauty of this county.

Are you wondering about the best way to get to Amsterdam from the Airport?

Then this is the only post you need. I’m a Dutch local, and I travel often between Schiphol Amsterdam airport and Amsterdam city center.

I know what I am talking about.

There are 7 methods to travel from the airport to the city center. In this article I cover each and every one.

I understand all these choices can be overwhelming, but don’t worry. I start with the best mode of transportation for most travelers.

Then I give the two best alternatives that also works for many people.

And finally I’ll cover the last four methods, which can be a good idea for some, including why, and why they’re not the best methods for most travelers.

I’m going to make it super easy for you. Promised.

Still confused? Ask your question in the comments below and I will answer it.

Gerrit at Amsterdam Central Station.
Me in a train at Amsterdam Central Station – © Hidden Holland

Amsterdam Airport to City Center: Multiple Options

These are the seven methods of getting from Amsterdam Airport to the City Center of Amsterdam:

  • Private Driver
  • Train
  • Bus
  • Hotel Shuttle
  • Taxi
  • Ride-Share (Uber et cetera)
  • Car Rental

What is the best transportion option for you?

It depends, I know, what kind of answer is that. But I am going to make the choice easy.

The main two factors are: how much luggage do you carry and what is the location of your accomodation.

The Best Option For Most: Book a Private Driver

While I usually take the train myself I wholeheartedly recommend a private driver when you’ve just arrived.

Especially if you travel with luggage, and had a long flight. There is something about having somebody waiting for you.

Private transfer Amsterdam Airport to city center.

It’s cheaper than you think if you book with the right partner. I work with Get Transfers. You’ll get quotes for different types of vehicles, prices start at €50-€60.

That is similar to the cost of a taxi. But a lot easier. Your driver will meet you at the airport.

Book Yourself a Private Transfer

Why get in line at the taxi queue at the airport, when you can also book a private driver?

Your driver will be waiting for you in the terminal building with a sign, at the price of a regular taxi.

Get Transfer offers the best-priced personal driver transfers from airports worldwide, including Amsterdam.

TIP: Download the App.

Train from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam

The train is the next best option for most travelers. Especially if your accommodation is near Central Station, Rai Station, Zuid Station, Bijlmer Arena Station or Sloterdijk Station.

The airport train station is conveniently located inside the terminal building. After you clear customs. Just follow the yellow signs for trains.

It’s a short distance away and easy to find.

Who is the train for? For those who want to quick transportion to the city at the lowest price. It’s best for those who travel light (backpack or a trolley suitcase).

The train is the cheapest way from Amsterdam Airport to the city. With prices from €3-€4 one way. It takes only 15 minutes to Amsterdam Central Station.

Trains run around the clock at high intervals.

Train platform At Schiphol Airport.
Train platform At Schiphol Airport – © Hidden Holland

Which Amsterdam Railway station is best for you?

Five stations in Amsterdam are handy for visitors:

  1. Amsterdam Central Station: Perfect if you visit the city for a day. Or if your accommodation is around Central Station, Amsterdam North, or the NDSM wharf. (Amsterdam North and NDSM are just a free ferry ride from Central Station). Travel time to Central Station is 13-18 minutes, 8x an hour.
  2. Amsterdam Sloterdijk: Around Sloterdijk station, there are multiple modern hotels. Travel time from the airport is 10 minutes, and trains run 6x an hour. From Sloterdijk, it’s just five minutes by train to Central Station after you drop your bags, and these trains depart every few minutes.
  3. Amsterdam RAI: The RAI is the Amsterdam Exhibition Center. If you attend a show here, this station is perfect. There are also multiple big hotels. Trains to the RAI are different trains than those to Central Station. Check the screens carefully. From the RAI, you can easily reach the city center of Amsterdam by Metro.
  4. Amsterdam Zuid (South): Amsterdam South is close to the airport and very convenient if you travel to one of the major businesses on the “Zuidas” or stay at a hotel here. Like the RAI, the trains stopping at Amsterdam South from the airport are different trains than to Central Station. So check the screens. Trains depart at a super high frequency. You can easily connect on the metro to the city center from here.
  5. Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena: This station is perfect for the famous Johan Cruijff Arena football stadion, the Ziggo Dome (large concert venue), or the AFAS Live concert hall. All “Intercity” trains to Utrecht stop here. You can also find hotel chains here. From Bijlmer, you can reach the city by metro or train.

Pros for the train:

  • Cheap
  • Reliable
  • Fast
  • Frequent departures
  • Multiple stations are helpful.

Cons for the train

  • Luggage can be a hassle on the train
  • Train stations might not be near your hotel
  • Trains to Amsterdam are busy
  • Pickpockets

Pickpockets are a problem on trains between the airport and the city. Mainly because tourists are off-guard, they’ve just arrived, are in a vacation mood, and people generally don’t pay much attention to their belongings.  

Don’t confuse this with trains not being safe. That is not true. I feel perfectly safe on a train between the airport and the city around the clock.

But you have to observe your belongings. Don’t use the luggage racks! Keep your valuables in view and within reach.

Use common sense, and don’t get distracted. Then you’re fine!

Avoid The Ticket Machines 

Ticket machines are both busy and more expensive. Use the app instead.
Train ticket machines are busy and expensive – © Hidden Holland

You’ll pay more at these machines (+€1 per ticket) than buying an ticket online or travel directly with your contactless debit or credit card (you must check-in and out for this to work).

I recommend to buy your ticket on the NS website. NS is the Dutch Railways.

If you book atleast 4 days in advance and travel off peak you can save 10%. After booking you load your tickets in the NS Extra app.

The Lowest Priced And Most Flexible eSIM cards (incl. tethering)

Airalo Netherlands eSim

Stop searching for WI-FI; get an affordable eSIM for the Netherlands. From just $4.50 for 1GB, but I recommend at least 10GB. TIP: Get the App for easy top-up.

Locals tip: Tickets are not train specific. So don’t worry booking a ticket for a specific depature you can take any train on the same calendar day (just be aware if you have discounted off-peak ticket, you travel within those times).

I’ve written a complete step-by-step tutorial on how to buy train tickets in the Netherlands and how to use them, including the contactless option. It has all the information you need.

If you’re curious what it’s like to travel on Dutch trains, different classes et cetera you’ll like my article: The Netherlands by Train.

Bus – The Airport Express from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam

There is a express bus between the Airport and Amsterdam. Who is it for?

For those with not too much luggage and staying in the Museum Quarter (your accommodation is around Museum Square (Van Gogh/Rijks/Moco/Stedelijk).

If that is you, the bus can be a convenient way to travel from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam. Central Station is too far from this area without transfering to a tram. The bus will be direct.

Bus 397 Amsterdam Airport to Leidseplein.
Bus 397 Amsterdam Airport to Leidseplein – © Hidden Holland

The Amsterdam Airport Express is line 397. The 397 bus has WIFI onboard and charging points for your mobile phone. Plus, low entry access (easy when you travel with luggage).

Buses depart from platform B15-19 (make a right when exiting the terminal) every 8 minutes. The Amsterdam Airport Express provides a quick and easy transfer from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam’s museum district.

Get your 397 Express Bus Ticket From the Airport to Amsterdam here.

Getting your ticket in advance has these benefits:

  • No hold up when you board the bus trying to purchase a ticket
  • You can use mobile tickets, no need for a printer
  • Instant confirmation
  • You’re buying from an authorized reseller

Below is a complete list of all stops on this bus service from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport:

  • Knooppunt Schiphol Noord
  • Anderlechtlaan
  • Amstelveenseweg
  • Olympisch Stadion
  • Haarlemmermeerstation
  • Emmastraat
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Leidseplein
  • Busstation Elandsgracht

Buses are red and will show the text Amsterdam Airport Express. The number is 397 or N97 (during the night). The stops in the bold ar the most convenient for most.

The I Amsterdam Card is NOT valid From the Airport

If you have an I amsterdam card (or you’re considering buying one, it a discount city pass) it’s important to know it includes transportation WITHIN Amsterdam and the airport is not within the city.

The “I Amsterdam Card” can be used on GVB (Amsterdam Public Transport Company) on buses, trams and metros, not on trains.

If you wondering if the card is for you, I wrote a comprehensive guide: Is the I amsterdam card worth it?

Regular Taxi – Often Not The Best Idea

Taxis in Amsterdam are among the most expensive in the world. The short one-way trip to Amsterdam can easily cost you between €35 and €50.

A private driver cost about the same but with a lot of extra benefits compared to a taxi.

Official cabs are metered, prices are not fixed. The result is that drivers often take detours to rack up the costs.

The waiting area for official taxis is outside the terminal building. Not great if it’s windy and cold.

WARNING: many unofficial taxi drivers are roaming the arrivals area but these are often criminals. The rates they offer sounds great but they then force you to pay (much) more once you get to your destination.

Sometimes hundreds of euros. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories. That is no way to start your vacation.

The airport actively patrols the arrivals area to kick them out, and there are announcements but I still see people do it all the time.

Another reason to book a private driver. They wait for you with a name sign.

Book Yourself a Private Transfer

Why get in line at the taxi queue at the airport, when you can also book a private driver?

Your driver will be waiting for you in the terminal building with a sign, at the price of a regular taxi.

Get Transfer offers the best-priced personal driver transfers from airports worldwide, including Amsterdam.

TIP: Download the App.

If you still decide to take a regular taxi, do this:

  • Use the official taxi rank outside the terminal ONLY. There is often a wait, be willing to accept that
  • Never, ever accept an offer from somebody inside the terminal building that tells you to skip the wait
  • Tell the driver firmly where you’re going
  • Also, tell the driver this is NOT your first visit (you know where you’re going)
  • Use your phone with Google Maps to follow along and let the driver see you doing this. This helps them taking the most direct route.

The Lowest Priced And Most Flexible eSIM cards (incl. tethering)

Airalo Netherlands eSim

Stop searching for WI-FI; get an affordable eSIM for the Netherlands. From just $4.50 for 1GB, but I recommend at least 10GB. TIP: Get the App for easy top-up.

Taking an Uber from Amsterdam Airport Has Drawbacks Too

After a lengthy legal battle, Uber is now officially legal in Amsterdam. Uber can be cheaper than a taxi, depending on the time of day.

What is great is that prices are fixed when booked, detour or none.

But what I don’t like of ride-shares from the airport is that they only wait 5 minutes and the pick up location is out of the way.

Basically you have to first find it and only when you get there order your Uber.

If you’re unlucky it can then be quite a wait since drivers can’t wait at the airport. So they always have to travel to you first.

For prices similar to a private driver, booking a private driver is in my humble option the better option.

Hotel Shuttles from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam

If you have an airport hotel with a direct shuttle then that is your best option. But here I want to talk about the Amsterdam Hotels Shuttle Bus.

It’s advertised heavily by hotels, and at the airport. But I don’t like it.

The Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle is something between public transport and a taxi. Rates are also about in the middle.

The benefit of the Hotel shuttle service is that you can pre-book to over 100 hotels in Amsterdam. No transfers and no luggage to haul around.

BUT…

This is shared transportation. Your hotel might not be its first stop. I mean if it serves 100 what is the changes yours is first. And if you’re last, it’s a LONG drive.

This hotel shuttle service must also be pre-booked in advance, so you’ll have less flexibility.

You can only travel with one piece of hold luggage and one piece of hand luggage.

You can’t use this service if you have more than one suitcase per person.

If you don’t want to pay a private driver, I would use train or the express bus instead.

Where does the Connexxion Hotel Shuttle Bus depart?

Go to bus stop A7 just in front of the terminal building, and follow the signs to Taxis & Buses. Buses leave every 30 minutes. 

You can confirm the return trip from Amsterdam to the airport at your hotel’s reception desk at least two hours before you depart.

Rent a Car at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

If you visit Amsterdam only, renting a car is NOT a good idea. Amsterdam is a small city with narrow streets and trazillion bikes and trams (that have different traffic rules, you’re most likely not familar with).

Parking fees in Amsterdam are also astronomically high.

That said, if your accommodation is outside the city, or you’re traveling to different appointments in the area and especially if you’re exploring the countryside, renting a car can be an excellent idea!

Roads (outside old city centers) are excellent, and traffic rules are not very different from other countries. Dutch are very structured in their driving.

Most people find Dutch roads busy, but drivers predictable.

The city centers of old towns can get you in trouble. Avoid those if you can. Most old towns have parking locations at the edge of town (called P+R). They offer easy and often discounted public transportation to the center.

If you need to rent a car, I recommend Rental Cars or Discover Cars. I use Rental Cars for all my car rentals, no matter where I am.

Prices are consistently low and transparent, I never had any issues.

But sometimes you can get better prices from Discover Cars too, and they’re reliable too. Both work with all major rental car companies.

IMPORTANT: In Holland (and other European countries), car rental companies are far stricter regarding damages than in the US.

Be sure to check the car for EVERY damage, no matter how minor, and report this to staff (have them note it down and give you a copy of the note).

Also, take pictures of the car from all angles before you leave the premises. If a dispute arises upon returning your vehicle, you can prove it wasn’t you with these photos.

Another great option (that I do myself) is to book with the full insurance option. You’re then covered for all damages with no deductible.

You can also bring your deductible to 0 at the car rental desk, but this is more expensive (and include fewer other coverages) than the full insurance option from Rental Cars or Discover Cars directly.

Find the lowest price for Car rental in the Netherlands

For the best car rental rates, I suggest checking both Rental Cars and Discover Cars. I often go with Rental Cars, but it’s worth comparing both.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. All transportation options between Schiphol Amsterdam Airport and Amsterdam City Center.

Was I able to clarify it for you?

Recap: a private driver is the best option if you want to get to your accommodation hasle free and if you have luggage.

The train is great if you want to save money and travel light. (Or the Express bus if that is more convenient if your hotel is near museum square).

The other transportations can be useful, but for most people they’re not.

If you still have a question after reading this post, ask me in the comments below. And I’ll will answer it.

Find A Place To Stay In Amsterdam

Find accommodation in Amsterdam for the lowest prices on your favorite platform. What's great about this map is that it shows both Hotels, as VRBO rentals (AirBNB but then cheaper).

Update your (intended) travel dates for accurate prices. TIP: Zoom out on the map (-) in the bottom right corner. This will show more options and availability.

What Transport Option is Best For You?

I’d love to hear your thoughts: Did this post help you deciding which transportation option is best for you? Let me know in the comments. Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬. I’ll reply back to every comment personally 👋.

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PS: If planning this trip feels overwhelming, know I’m here to help. If you need assistance with your Netherlands vacation plans, I offer tune-up calls and custom itinerary creation to make you’re trip planning much faster and less stressful.

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And each week, I'll send you new tips to plan your Netherlands vacation. If you decide it's not for you (any longer), unsubscribing is always just a click away.

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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