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As of June 2016, new, centralized check-in policies have made check-in times extremely long (upwards of 2 hourrs). There are 30 minute waits for new, automated baggage check-in. Waits of over an hour for security. And waits of 30 munutes and more for non-EU citizens at passport control leaving the country. Plan to arrive minimun of 3 hours before your flight.
There are several ways to get from Amsterdam Airport to the city.
Train to Amsterdam Central (and beyond):
Getting from plane to train is incredibly simple - the railway station is inside the arrivals hall; purchase your tickets from the machines on ground level (they takes credit and some debit cards. Some will take coins but not notes), go down the moving walkway or lift to the platforms and you're ready to go. If you are unsure of where to go or which train to get after your long flight then you can also buy tickets at the large ticket desk in Schiphol Plaza above the platforms.
There is no longer a surcharge for using the ticket counter but there is a €1 surcharge for buying a paper ticket now both at the counter and from the machine. This applies to all train tickets bought in NL not just the airport. This is due to the introduction of the OV chipcard system and the paper ticket also has an electronic chip in it. Also, for payments with VISA or Mastercard you pay an additional € 0,50.
There are also ticket machines for the trains in the baggage reclaim hall so you can get your tickets whilst waiting on your luggage arriving.
Here's a step by step method on how the ticket machines work so you don't look like a tourist trying to work them out.
Some people have reported having trouble getting the ticket machines to work with MasterCard or with debit cards. So just go to the train ticket counter - they are very helpful and will also be able to tell you when your train is leaving and where to catch it.
As of January 2015, the journey to Amsterdam Central costs € 5,10 2nd class for a single trip and € 8,00 1st class . Round trip (return) tickets are not available except for day returns (dagretour). There is no need to travel 1st class on this journey that only lasts 17 to 20 minutes. 2nd class is perfectly comfortable. Do not leave sight of your cases on the train. Most trains are double decked but you can usually get some kind of seat by the door to avoid dragging your case up or down the stairs.
If heading to Amsterdam then there is the Amsterdam Travel Ticket which covers a round trip train journey to all Amsterdam stations and transport on the GVB public transit network.
There are seven trains per hour to CS. Some are direct trains and some are stop trains that also stop at Amsterdam Lelylaan and Amsterdam Sloterdijk. Always check the boards as not all trains go to Amsterdam CS. Nearly always the trains will leave from platform 1, 2 or 3. Please note that there are a number of train stations serving Amsterdam and it may be that if your hotel is on the south side of the city. the Amsterdam Hilton for example, then it may be quicker and easier to connect via Zuid/WTC station and take tram 5.
IMPORTANT – you must check in and out with your ticket at the readers before you go on to the platform and check out again when you reach your destination. If you don’t check in then basically although you have a ticket you are travelling without one and can be fined if your ticket is inspected.
Just outside the terminal, beyond the taxi rank, there is a number of bus stops where you can get connections to various places that are not directly served by train. Getting to Haarlem is quicker by direct bus (300) for example. If your hotel is to the south west of the city or in the Museumplein or Leidseplein area then it may be worthwhile looking at taking the Amsterdam Airport Express (bus197), which stops at Museumplein, behind the Rijksmuseum & by the American hotel just by the Leidseplein. This is very handy for all hotels in these areas and much more convenient than the train and tram combination you have to take otherwise. Furthermore these busses have plenty of room for luggage. Tickets cost €5 for a one-way ticket and €10 for a roundtrip ticket. Another option is to use a 'Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket' with which you can travel through Amsterdam and the metropolitan area for 24 hours.
There is also athe N97 nightbus between 0100 & 0500 which departs once an hour and uses the same route als the Amsterdam Airport Express.
There is a convenient luggage storage facility at Schiphol Airport. Located on the lower level between the major arrival halls are lockers in various sizes. Locker sizes range from small (for carry-on bags) to very large (for Pullman size bags). You can store 4 pilot style wheeled bags in one medium size locker. The first minimum hours are paid in advance but your luggage can remain for additional days and be paid for with credit card at the locker. There are convenient tables for repacking if necessary. There is also a money exchange booth. The area is accessible by elevator or stairs from the ground floor. A good option if you have a layover and would like to make a luggage-free journey into the city or are taking an overnight stay but don’t need all your gear or the hassle of hauling excess bags for a short stay.
From 1 April 2015, the I amsterdam Visitor Centre at Stationsplein by Amsterdam Centraal will be open daily from 9:00 to 18:00. You can get a good street map of Amsterdam there for about €3. It there is a queue for the tourist advisers the same map is dispensed by a machine. This map is more detailed (i.e. gives all street names) than the one give away free by hotels etc. There is also a visitor centre at Schiphol
Taxis can be found at the taxi rank situated outside in front of the Schiphol plaza, every trip will go on the taximeter starting with a fee of € 2,90 than € 2,12 per kilometre and a waiting tariff during the journey of € 0,40 per minute (2014-2015). Under normal traffic conditions a trip to the city centre will take in between the 25-30 minutes.
There are pre-bookable taxi services such as Tinker Travel https://tinker.travel/ . Please note this is not an official Schiphol taxi service it is just recommended by regulars on the TA Amsterdam Forum. They are much cheaper than the normal taxi's from the rank at around €28 to get into the centre of town
Tipping should be done at your discretion and as a reward for good or superlative service.
Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle
This is another option for getting to Amsterdam hotels. It can be a good way to travel but there are also reports of the shuttle taking a long time to get to their destination as this is a shared service.
Car hire at Schiphol Airport
When you leave the baggage claim you have to go to Schiphol Plaza and then walk to the arrival terminal building 3 where you can find most of the major car rental desks to book and pick up your rental car. They are open 7 days a till 23.00 hrs.
Other possibility is to do a search online at one of the car hire broker websites which allows you to compare prices from all major suppliers and immediately take advantage of good deals. Online bookings only by credit card payment.
When you leave Schiphol Airport you can take the highway A4 heading north to Amsterdam and Utrecht. When you take the A4 heading south you go direction Den Haag and Rotterdam. Speed limit on the highway is 120 km/hr, in the city 60 km/hr or less. Be aware the signs because fines are high.
When you have planned to drive into the city centre with your rental car add satellite navigation to your booking and take the extra insurance out, if not included. Amsterdam is very crowdy, so change on damage is possible. Without the sat. nav. it's almost impossible to arrive where you want.
Also be aware of the fact that, when you go back to Schiphol Airport, coming from Amsterdam and you need to refuel your car, there is NO fuel station on the highway between Amsterdam and the airport. You best refuel at the fuel station Total in Amsterdam Zuid (south) next to the Olympic Stadium or search on the website of TOTAL for other locations
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