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A Day in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport train station

ABOVE: Train station at Schiphol Airport.

What can you do when KLM and its partner overbook your flight and bump you while an untrained gate agent spends half an hour checking you in? In our case, we could look forward to a 12-hour layover in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport after being rerouted through Newark on our way to Venice the following day. So there was only one thing our family of five could do, short of booking rooms in the airport's hotel: spend a Saturday exploring Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is only 20 minutes from Schiphol by train, making it an easy excursion for anyone who has more than four or five hours between flights. So, after loading up on Dutch guilders at the exchange counter, we found a row of baggage lockers in the "D" concourse and stowed our carry-on gear.

Next, we left the airport terminal for Schiphol Plaza, which combines a railroad station with a shopping center. After saying Goede dag to the Dunkin' Donuts characters who were trolling the plaza, we headed for the railroad ticket counter and bought day return tickets to Amsterdam's Centraal Station. An escalator took us to Tracks 1 and 2 below the plaza, where a train was waiting.


  • Like most other people in Holland, the railroad clerks speak English, so there's no need to whip out a phrasebook when buying tickets.

  • To save money, buy your train ticket from a vending machine. (If you go to the counter, you'll pay a transaction fee in addition to the ticket price.)

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