We have a 7 hour layover in Amsterdam and was wondering if anyone had recommendations on how we could spend some of that time in Amsterdam. We've never been there before, so any suggestions would be helpful!
I would head straight to the Van Gogh Museum. Any free time after that could be spent at the Anne Frank House or simply wandering around. A word of caution - watch out for bicycles!! They are everywhere and you don't hear them like you do cars and buses. The pavement and sidewalks are clearly marked for pedestrians and bicycles.
Amsterdam is a very compact city, so all attractions are easily reached from the central train station on foot or by tram. Since your time is limited you may want to visit museums that are clustered together. For example, the Rijks Museum/Van Gough Museum or the Hermitage/Jewish Museum/Zoo/Tropical Museum. For such a short visit I highly recommend the "Top Ten Amsterdam" guidebook.
When I was heading into A'dam from the airport back in 2003, I sat by a young couple on the train. I did the ETBD extrovert thing and chatted them up. Turned out they were honeymooners from Venezuela, and they had a layover at the airport about as long as yours. So, they were heading into A'dam to "spend some of that time" there.
We ended up doing the canal boat tour together. It was only about an hour or so long, but it was fun to get a guided tour of A'dam via water. At the end we took photos of and with each other, and went our separate ways. It was a cool encounter that I'll always remember.
Aside from that, you can have some lunch at a cafe, or just walk around - there are plenty of things to see that are near the train station. Have fun!
I'd take one of the walks in the book Amsterdam Made Easy: The Best Sights and Walks of Amsterdam. This little pocket book is filled with easy to follow walks (even for the terribly jet lagged) that show you Amsterdam at its best (even the "Naughty Walk" through the Red Light District is interesting! The book only costs $10. I did this once. The first time, I made the mistake of taking the touristy canal boat trips. Although it was interesting, the rocking of the boat really just put me to sleep. Amsterdam is a great city!
Rick Steves' Amsterdam, Brussels & Bruges 2007 book has several walking tours listed. I'd recommend getting the book, reading through the descriptions and then talking the walking tour that interests you most, using the book as a guide. It lists the amount of time each tour takes. One does the museum district, the other the red light district, etc.
I also do think a canal ride is worth it. The RS book also lists the less "touristy" boat rides if you want to go that route.
Also, I don't know if the airport has luggage storage, but I hear that the Central train station does.
Schipol does have baggage lockers. They are located in the terminal before the immigration check as you exit.
I had a 4 hr layover once and I did the canal tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. But you have to be into engineering and architecture to enjoy the boat trip.
The boat I was on took on local residents as a commuter bus and the trip ended up being over 2 hrs. I still made it back to the airport to catch my flight.
that was an interesting experience. lol
Anne Frank House, VanGogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Dutch Resistance Museum, a one-hour daytime canal boat tour, and have a meal at the Taj Mahal restaurant if you can...Yum!
Hi we also had a seven hour layover last year. Is your layover on the way to another city in Europe or on the way home? If it is on the way home you will need extra time as you will need to go through security at the actual gate. This caught us by surprise. On our 7 hour layover on the way over to Europe we took the train into town and just walked around for a few hours. We were pretty jet lagged and it was great to be out in the sun and not spend it inside. We knew we would see plenty of art when we got to Italy. Have fun. The airport also has a website you might want to check out that talks about tours that leave for a few hours right from the airport.
In regards to the security checks at schipol airport. Last year transatlantic travelers has to go through two security screenings, one right after the immigration check, and another at the gate. At the beginning of the year, the general security screening after immigration was eliminated for all passengers. All security screening are now done at the gates for all flights, all destinations. So the process has been streamlined a bit.