Amsterdam: 4-Hour Layover

These adorable, smushed-together buildings are all over the city.

I recently traveled to Abu Dhabi after redeeming miles (90,000 miles and $46) for first class on Etihad’s A380 (the plane with the shower and onboard bar!).  I reviewed each segment of my trip:

I wanted an ~8-hour layover in Amsterdam so I booked a flight on the American Airlines 757-200.  Unfortunately, the plane was hours late taking off, leaving me with only a 4-hour layover in Amsterdam.


De Bijenkorf–a large shopping mall in a beautiful building.  As the sun set, it became easier to see the Christmas lights.

Transportation from AMS to Downtown

Traveling from the airport to downtown Amsterdam was easy.  I paid $7.33 USD to put my carry-on luggage in a locker (basement of AMS) for the day and $9.95 USD for a round-trip train ticket to Amsterdam Central Station.  My credit card would not work at the train ticket kiosk so I had to buy a ticket from an attendant at the ticket counter.  I waited about five minutes for the train.


The screens accurately predicted the arrival time of the next train.  English-speaking attendants were present to help guide tourists to the proper train.  The DC Metro has a lot to learn…


Legroom was ample for the short trip.  I was surprised to see that each seat had a little trash can mounted to the wall.


The cabin was laid out in a 2-2 configuration, with enough room for two people to stand side-by-side in the aisle.

Getting Around

All the bikes.  The overwhelming majority of people walked or rode bicycles.  Some folks drove, but navigating the roads was difficult given that bikers had overtaken the city.  There were several bike rental stations in/ near Central Station.  A 3-hour bike rental cost around 11 Euro (approx. $12 USD).


Soooo many bicycles.


Amsterdam is very walkable. 

The canals were navigable but I mainly saw tour boats (as opposed to commuters) in those boats.

Anne Frank’s House

If you want to visit the museum at Anne Frank’s house, make a reservation ASAP.  Tickets are 9.60 Euro (approx. $10 USD) per adult and they reserve you an entrance time between 9am – 3:30pm.  Entrance times from 3:30pm – 7pm (close) are sold onsite at 3:30pm, meaning people line up hours beforehand to try to secure a ticket.  From April-October and on Saturdays the museum is open until 10:00pm.


Not pictured:  the huuuuge line of people without reservations.  You do not want to be one of those people.

Flower Shop  (Stins Flower Market)

Apparently Amsterdam is famous for its flowers.  I came across this flower shop that sold all kinds of bulbs.  The presentation was impressive, it was one of the most-colorful stores I had ever seen.


Stins, located at the corner of Muntplein and Singel.

Food and Drinks

The fast food selections included American staples–Starbucks and McDonald’s.  Almost every restaurant/ bar advertised the availability of Heineken.  I found a little hole-in-the-wall place near Anne Frank’s museum, called de Prins, to grab food.  Beers cost around 5 Euros (approx. $5.50 USD) and sandwiches were 5-12 Euros (approx. $5.50 to $13 USD).  My pressed French sanwhich with brie coast 4.50 Euro (approx. $5 USD).


I sat at the bar which was cozy.  The folks sitting next to me were traveling from Minnesota–fellow Midwesterners.  The husband worked for Delta and was excited to tell me that they flew business class to Europe.


The meat was not very good but the brie was delicious.  The IPA featured pine- as opposed to citrus-flavored hops.


If you could not tell, I am a millennial.  I had to try Starbucks’s Speculaas Latte, which I had not come across in the U.S.  It tasted like a slightly sweet chocolate/ caramel latte but it was not good enough to get again.  I was impressed that the attendant wanted to make sure she spelled my name correctly.  The customer service in Amsterdam was top notch, much better than I receive on a daily basis in the District of Columbia.


Amsterdam was an adorable city and I will definitely return.  Transportation from the airport to downtown was cheap and easy, making it an excellent city for a short layover.

4 Comments on "Amsterdam: 4-Hour Layover"

  1. I’ve got a 4-hour layover in Amsterdam and want to chance it, too! I don’t count a country as “visited” unless I’ve left the airport:D
    A fellow midwesterner

  2. This was helpful! I have a 4 hour layover coming up in July — do you need to go through immigration to get out of the airport or go through any specific process, or can you just leave and come back as long as you have your boarding pass?
    Also, how early did you get back to the airport before your flight?
    Thank ya much!

    • thetravelingmillennial | June 5, 2018 at 2:05 am | Reply

      You will need to go through customs (exiting) and security (returning) so you’ll want to plan accordingly. Since you are not picking up a checked bag, customs should not take long. Amsterdam is connected by a train that runs fairly frequently so you should get to spend at least an hour in the city. Research in advance how to buy the train tickets because I burned a solid 10 minutes trying to decipher that system. I returned to the airport about 45 minutes before my plane began boarding which was sufficient for me. Have fun 🙂

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