So long to the days of killing time at the airport with nothing to do but buy duty free, and waiting for that long connection to your dream destination. The fabulous capital city of the Netherlands is often a common layover point between the US and many other European cities, especially if you’re flying with airlines such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
If you happen to find yourself at Schiphol for nine hours, fear not. Why? Because there are oodles of fantastic things you’ll want to see and do while you’re there. From the splendour of the Rijksmuseum to just simply grabbing a pint at the Heineken Experience, here’s 11 must-not-miss things to do on a layover in Amsterdam.
The Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands’s premier art gallery. With over 7,500 masterpieces on display spread over 1.5km (0.9 mi.) of galleries, feast your eyes on a ‘Golden Age’ of nation-defining art and creativity, all while skipping the extremely long line!
Learn all about the famous artist’s life via the world’s largest Van Gogh collection, with priority access. From celebrity masterpieces (those sunflowers and that bedroom), to wonderful sketches and little unknowns – immerse yourself in the creative brilliance of an artistic master. Not enough art? Don’t worry. There are plenty of paintings by contemporaries Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Bernard on display too!
If you love beer, then this historic brewery is a must. The jewel in the crown of this self-guided VIP boozy experience is an eye-opening multimedia exhibit that lets you ‘become a beer’ by being shaken up, sprayed with a dash of water (literally) and subjected to a little heat. Beer lovers will revel in it, novices may shudder, but it’s all in the name of fun. Score.
If you’re on a five-hour layover, hop on this private chauffeur-driven (yes, it’s snazzy) three-hour tour of the city that takes you to see all the main sites, including the Royal Palace, Anne Frank House and the Jordaan.
If you’re not a walker (a sacrilege in this part of the world), jump on a Segway and follow an uber-knowledgeable guide who will whizz you round to all the city’s top attractions. Glide along the crazy-colourful canals and wonky, iconic buildings, then gander into lesser-known spots not yet discovered by masses of tourists, all to the sounds of a wireless commentary – how very modern.
Not a city person? Then you’re in luck, because this charming little tour lets you see a little bit of the dashing Dutch countryside by bike. Ride along the Amstel River and Instagram magical little homes dating all the way back to the Dutch Golden Age. On the way, you’ll also stop off at one of the oldest farms in the country. There, you’ll get the chance to eat some cheese – heaven – and check out some traditional clogs (those pretty Dutch shoes you see on all the key rings). And yes, they’re for sale.
If country life isn’t for you, but cycling is, just stick to the city – it is famed for its two-wheelers, after all. Bike it with a local guide who will show you the canals, the museums, and the notorious (but fun) Red Light District, along with many other hidden gems on a historical tour you’ll be ‘grammin for days.
This one’s for a unique, hilarious (and possible cringe-worthy) photo souvenir. Dress up in traditional Dutch flair at the Dutch Costume museum. Take it home as a personal keepsake, send it to the bae, or the parents. Whatever you choose, it will be chuckles all round.
You can’t visit Amsterdam without bobbling along the canal. Best thing about this tour? The boat is totally uncovered, which means absolutely nothing will obstruct your views of Amsterdam’s fabulous landmarks.
The whole point of travelling is making friends, right? Wave goodbye to the professionals and see the city from a local’s perspective. Completely friendly, safe and very, very private, choose where you want to go and your new friend will give you all the goss about the city. Fun!
In another part of the world? Stop off at one of these airports and they’ll give you a free tour of the city!