How To Get From Amsterdam Airport to City Center

Last Updated: April 25, 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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Amsterdam Airport to city center sounds simple, but with so many different options, it’s easy to get confused. In this post, you will learn all about the available transportation options. I’ll give you all the pros and cons for each option, so you know which option is best for you.

My goal is to make it easy for you to choose what transportation option is best for you.

The main advantage of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is that the building is a one-terminal concept. Once you get off the plane and through immigration and customs, you can connect with ground transportation within minutes, even though this airport is huge.

The train station is right below the terminal building at the arrivals level. Just outside, you can also find all other transportation options. Finding your way around is easy; everything is well signposted.

Did you know Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is just 20 minutes away from Amsterdam?

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

Amsterdam Airport to City Center: Multiple Options

What is the best option for you? It depends on where your accommodation is. What price point you’re comfortable with? How mobile are you? And if you travel with (a lot of) luggage or not.

These are the transportation options available from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam:

Train from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam

The train station is conveniently located inside the terminal building. After you clear customs, follow the yellow signs for trains. It’s a short distance away and easy to find.

You can travel from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station and a few other Amsterdam railway stations, which can be very helpful, depending on your final destination.

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, 4x an hour. You can also find hotel chains here. From Bijlmer, you can reach the city by metro or train.

When to use the train from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam?

The train is the most reliable, cheapest, and fastest way to travel to your destination if that destination is near a train station. If not, the train might not be the best option.

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. Trains can also become crowded. Pickpockets have noticed this and taken advantage of it. 

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 okay!

A few more notes on the trains: 

Ticket machines are easy to use, but buying your ticket in the NS Extra app is cheaper and more convenient. There is always a line at the ticket machines. And you’ll pay more at these machines (+€1 per ticket) than buying an e-ticket in the app. You skip the wait, travel with an e-ticket on your device, and pay by credit card.

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

Always buy a one-way ticket! This is important because a roundtrip is only valid for same-day travel. There is no difference in fare between two one-way tickets and a roundtrip. Never buy a roundtrip ticket unless you’re in Amsterdam for the day.

You can plan your journey easily online with the NS travel planner or in the NS Xtra App. Both will show you ticket prices. Look for the full fare price. Discounted prices are only available locally and only with a paid subscription.

Traveling from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to any station in Amsterdam costs just a few euros.

1st Class (Comfort) or 2nd Class (Standard) Between Schiphol and Amsterdam?

Dutch trains have two travel classes: the 2nd (standard) and 1st (comfort). For journeys longer than 30 minutes, I think 1st class is worth it. But NOT on the short trip between the airport and the city.

2nd class seats on Dutch trains. Which are blue.
2nd class seats are blue – © Hidden Holland

I travel first class on most journeys over 30 minutes. Seats are spacious and comfortable, there is more legroom, and most trains have power outlets. Free Wifi is available in both classes.

For shorter distances, including all Amsterdam stations from the airport, it’s just not worth the extra charge. Before you’ve found a seat, you’ve reached your destination. Ignore the comfort (1st class) option on the ticket machine screen and buy a standard (2nd class) ticket. Find a blue seat (not red), or stand in the hallways.

Bus – The Airport Express from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam

The bus can also be a convenient way to travel from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam. Specifically, if you stay near Museumplein, Leidseplein, the Rijksmuseum, or Olympisch Stadion. 

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

One of the most useful and popular buses for visitors is the Amsterdam Airport Express, 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.

Many hotels are in this area, and therefore the bus is a good option if you stay in one of them. This bus service is NOT convenient if you need to travel to Central Station or Amsterdam Noord. 

The bus is inexpensive at just €11,25 for a return. Your return ticket is valid for up to 14 days. You can also buy a combination ticket for this bus service, including a day ticket for regular public transport in Amsterdam. Check out the options by clicking the link below.

Buying your tickets here via our link will not only help to support us at no extra cost to you, but you’ll also enjoy the following benefits:

  • No hold up when you board the bus trying to purchase a ticket with foreign currency
  • 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).

Other public transport Buses from Schiphol:

Other buses are generally not interesting for visitors. You probably already know if you need to use other bus services because you’re traveling to a specific destination.

Buses from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to the Keukenhof

If you are lucky enough to be in Holland during the flower season (late March-early May), you most likely want to visit the Keukenhof. Visiting the Keukenhof directly from the airport by public transport is effortless. There is no need to go on an expensive tour.

Keukenhof gardens are easy to reach from Amsterdam Airport.
Keukenhof Gardens are easy to reach from Amsterdam Airport – © Hidden Holland

Take bus 858, 8x an hour. Journey time: 30 minutes. It’s that simple. If you take a tour company, you get limited time at the park, and they’ll take you to souvenir shops and other tourist traps. Please do not do that and travel by public transportation.

It’s so easy and convenient; you’re in charge of your time. You can buy a combination ticket for entrance to the park (a skip-the-line ticket) and the bus 858 from Schiphol Amsterdam Airport here. It’s a good deal and will save you a lot of time! If I would travel from the airport, this is the ticket I would buy.

Regular Taxi – And Why I Think It’s 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.

You might be thinking, well, that’s worth it to me because it’s direct, and there are no strangers around me.

Still, taking a taxi is usually not a good idea for a few reasons. One: official cabs are metered, and prices are not fixed. The result is that drivers often take detours to rack up the costs.

Also, many unofficial taxi drivers are roaming the arrivals area, trying to get you in their taxi. Often the rates they offer are hardly ever the price you pay, and they can become aggressive. They might not let you out of the car or will not give your luggage back if you don’t pay the highly inflated prices, sometimes several hundred euros. Yikes! Don’t let this be you.

If you still decide to take a taxi, please 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.

Taking an Uber from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam

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. The best part is that you can order a ride from your phone and know what you’ll pay upfront. No detours.

You always know the driver will take the shortest route because they will lose money if they don’t, the opposite of a metered taxi.

The stop for Uber pickups at the airport is to the far right (if you stand in front of the terminal building with your back facing the terminal building). Use exit B. If you have trouble finding it, ask official Airport personnel only, or you might risk running into an unofficial taxi scammer. 

A quick tip is to go to the pickup location before you order your Uber. This way, you’ll avoid the Uber waiting time charge if they have to wait more than two minutes for you.

Predicting how much time you’ll need from landing to the pickup location is challenging. If you’re unlucky and land on the “Polderbaan” runway, taxi time to the gate can be up to 20 minutes. Walking from the arrival gate to immigration varies greatly, as does the waiting time for immigration and customs.

If you travel with luggage, there can be another wait that is pretty unpredictable to collect it. Therefore it’s much better not to book an Uber before you arrive at the pickup location.

A Private Transfer is another excellent option from Schiphol Airport to the city.

Many travelers prefer to avoid all the hassle of public transportation, taxi ripoffs, and waiting times for an Uber. If this is you, pre-booking a private transfer is the best way. Service levels will be higher.

You don’t need to search for the right pick-up location or stand outside the terminal building. A driver will meet you in the Arrivals Hall or at the meeting point with your name on a sign. Easy as that. Your transfer is prepaid, and the driver will help you with your luggage. 

Check our partner site, Tiqets, for options.

Private transfer Amsterdam Airport to city center.

Hotel Shuttles from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam

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 note this is shared transportation. Your hotel might not be its first stop. A shared service will affect your travel times. Hotel shuttles must also be pre-booked in advance, so you’ll have less flexibility.

You can 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.

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. This combination isn’t exactly made for comfortable driving. Not even for us Dutch. And to top it all off, parking fees in Amsterdam are 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 are predictable. The city centers of old towns can get you in trouble. Avoid those if you can. Most old towns have parking spots (called P+R) just outside the (old)city and offer easy and often discounted public transportation to the center from there.

If you need to rent a car, we recommend Rentalcars.com. This is the company I use for all our car rentals no matter where I am. Prices are consistently low and transparent, and I never had any issues.

Rental Cars has:

  • No credit card fees
  • No amendment fees
  • No unexpected surcharges
  • A choice of the biggest car rental companies
  • 24/7 phone support

In Holland (and other European countries), car rental companies are far stricter regarding damages than the same companies, for example, in the US. So 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 savvy option 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 can be more expensive (and include fewer other coverages) than the full insurance option from Rentalcars.com.

What Amsterdam Airport To City Center Transportation Option Is The Most Convenient For You?

I’d love to hear your thoughts: Did this post help you deciding which transportation option is best for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.

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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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