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Like most of Europe, the best way to get out of the airport and into the city is via public transportation. Amsterdam’s public transportation system is quick and relatively cheap. By far the most popular way to get to central Amsterdam is by train. The railway system has a direct line that connects Amsterdam’s Schiphol International ( AMS ) Airport to Central Station.
There are 7-8 trains per hour. The trip takes around 15-20 minutes and the trains generally leave from platform 1, 2 or 3. It will either be direct or make a couple of stops before Central Station. The fastest train is Fyra in 14 minutes
You can buy tickets from the machines on the concourse above the train tracks. For all normal trains the single fare is 3,90 Euro, on 2nd class (correct, January 2013). Some machines will accept euro coins, for others you must have a Dutch debit card or a Maestro-enabled debit card. Almost alone amongst railway stations in the Netherlands there are a few machines that also accept VISA and Mastercard, but only when they have a PIN and at a considerable surcharge of 1 euro. You can also buy tickets at the ticket office with card or cash. If you choose to do this you may well have to queue, you will also have to pay a surcharge of 50 cents per ticket.
If you’re travelling with lots of luggage there is ample room to stand in the entrance/door area of the carriage rather than try to struggle with your bags up or down the steep and narrow stairs to the seats. Most people are able to continue their journey from Centraal Station to their hotels by either walking or catching a tram from immediately outside the station. If you want door-to-door instructions for train and subsequent tram or bus or metro: www.9292.nl/en is the site. Select as departure 'trainstation' and then Schiphol, and as destination your hotel address.
When returning from Central Station to Schiphol your train will almost certainly leave from platform 13, 14 or 15. These are the ones furthest from the main station entrance. As you enter the station you will see two screens. One shows all departures, the other just those that are going to Schiphol.
During the night (roughly between 0.30 and 5am) there is one train per hour between Amsterdam Central and Schiphol Airport v.v. Be aware that as of 15th December 2013, this train will not run on the following nights: Sunday to Monday night, Monday to Tuesday night and Tuesday to Wednesday night. On those nights, trains will operate only between Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Sloterdijk. A connecting replacement NS bus will run between Sloterdijk and Schiphol, keeping the airport accessible by public transport. Extra travel time: 20 minutes.
Times and prices for all train travel in the Netherlands can be found on the NS website.
Additional information on trains and buses at Schiphol can be found on the Touristbuddy website.
An alternative for those arriving with a lot of luggage is the Connexxion hotel shuttle. This costs €16 single, €26 return (correct Jun 12) and drops off/picks up at most of the city´s hotels. For pickups (return journey) it's not very reliable. There are instances of drivers not turning up and the company not refunding the consequential taxi fare you will have had to take. General advice is to book them at least 30 to 45 minutes before you think you will need them.
Also for the Leidseplein and Museumplein areas you can take the direct Connexxion bus 197 (generally 4 x per hour and taking 30 mins). Cost around 4 euro for a single. Do note that GVB multi-day cards and singles are not valid on these buses and neither on the trains. There is one 'semi-GVB' bus line from airport to Amsterdam, 69 to Sloterdijk station, but it's quite a slow way to reach the city unless your hotel is on the Western edge of the town. Despite varying stories from GVB about validity of their tickets on these buses, the one-hour tickets ARE valid on these (from and to Schiphol too) and most likely the multi-day cards too. If you do take the 197 bus then be aware that at certain times this is also used by workers at Schiphol and it can get quite crowded. However most of them only take the bus as far as the P40 parking. As a strategy you can take any bus going to the P40 parking (this is free) and wait on the 197 there. Actually there is a nice heated waiting room there so if the weather is bad, even better. This means that you should be able to get on the 197 with your luggage and get a seat easier.
The OV chipcards (not the GVB 24 hour passes though) are accepted on all Connexxion and R-Net busses from Schiphol. you can get an anonymous one from the yellow ticket machines i.e. the NS rail ones, in Schiphol Plaza for €7.50 plus any money you want to load on them. Please see the article about the OV card system for more info. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g18...
For people in wheelchairs this bus might be a better option as it has a dedicated wheelchair space with securing straps and the busses are fitted with hydraulics to lower the entrance to kerb level
A taxi rank is also immediately outside the airport. Simply walk out the terminal building and the taxi rank is right in front of you. Fare to the city center is around 45 euros. You don't need to take the first taxi in the queue, just pick the one which suits your needs. If there are four or more people in your party with luggage then normally larger people carriers are available. These are allowed to charge more than saloon cars by law but it will be cheaper than using two normal cabs.
If you want to be that bit more environmentally friendly then there is a new bookable taxi service Taxi Electric which uses electric vehicles. They are cheaper than normal cabs but they have to be booked in advance. http://www.taxielectric.nl/en
Notes about getting the correct train and security.
There are a number of 'Amsterdam' stations. Those using the network regularly often find ourselves amongst visitors on other trains who think they are going to Centraal station. When boarding the train at Schiphol look at the overhead signs on the platforms to ensure your train is actually going to Amsterdam C.S. and not to one of the other ones such as Amsterdam Zuid or Amsterdam RAI, which are a few miles south of the town center.
Bag snatchers are known to be particularly active on the trains to and from the airport. They see travellers, those who are in a strange country and who may be tired having just come of a long flight, as relatively easy pickings. Don't be too frightened. Crime levels in NL are low and personal security is generally very good. Just stay alert and keep an eye on your bags, especially whilst train doors are open.
GVB (Transport within Amsterdam)
- Since February 2011, the Holland Tourist Information desk at Arrivals in the airport does not sell the now-defunct 'Amsterdam All in one' ticket anymore. However they still offer the service of a convenient all-in-one purchase of the tickets needed, at a small surcharge. They sell bundles consisting of two single undated journeys Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam and back and a 24-, 48-, 72- or 96 hours ticket for unlimited travel on the GVB network in Amsterdam including the nightbusses which are normally € 3,50 one way. The prices for the bundles are currently e.g. 14.90 for 24-hours GVB card and 19.40 for 48-hours and so on; that is 0.50 euro more expensive than buying the cards separately (AKO kiosk at airport sells the GVB cards, NS vending machines are the only cheap source for the NS rides.) For an arriving tourist, this Tourist Information Desk service saves quite some time and might be worth the surcharge.
Remember the www.9292.nl/en is your travel planning friend.