I have a 5-hour layover at AMS on a Saturday evening (16:00-21:00), on an intra-EU itinerary to the UK. I'd like to leave the airport and have dinner in town.

  • Is this reasonable? (From reading the travel wiki article, it looks like this is plenty of time to take the train into the city and back.)
  • Ideally I would like to find a restaurant that is popular, not expensive, and quintessentially Dutch (i.e. traditional). I am looking for restaurant recommendations in particular, or recommendations on where to find decent recommendations. (The travel wiki article's 'eating' listings are pretty sparse.)
  • Any cuisine preferences? And is the food more important, or seeing something of the city (while happening to also grab some food)?
    – Gagravarr
    Nov 18, 2011 at 11:39
  • 2
    @nibot: You really need to make this quite specific to fit the Stack Exchange Q&A format. We don't really do recommendations and suggestions unless they are very specific. Nov 18, 2011 at 12:47
  • 2
    As an aside, if you do find a good place, I suggest adding it to the Wikitravel page afterwards ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Nov 20, 2011 at 0:48
  • Thanks for editing. You successfully improved this into a good question that I can now vote up (-: Nov 20, 2011 at 9:14
  • "quintessentially dutch" - that part would be hard, given that locals consider kebab and shoarma quintessentially dutch, and that's probably not what you're looking for.
    – vartec
    Jun 14, 2012 at 13:47

3 Answers 3


Success! Five hours proved to be plenty of time to escape Schipol for an enjoyable Saturday evening in the city before returning to the airport to catch our flight to the UK.

We stashed our carry-on luggage in the lockers located at the airport near the airport train station. A "medium" (actually quite large) locker is € 6 for 24 hours. The freedom to wander the city without carrying around unnecessary things is great.

The inter-city trains run very frequently between the airport and Amsterdam Centraal Station. A ticket costs € 3.70 each way, and the inter-city train takes only 16 minutes. The ticket machines do not accept cash. You can pay with coins or with a bank card--you might want to use the change machine located near the luggage lockers to get some coins. To pay with a credit card (i.e. Visa), there is a small surcharge and you must know the PIN for your your credit card.

There is no shortage of restaurants and cozy, crowded pubs. We did not have any particular place in mind at the time of the arrival, so we enjoyed simply wandering around somewhat randomly, enjoying the scene of dutch families sitting down to dinner in their brightly-lit canalside apartments. (It appears that the transition between the lunch and dinner menus at many restaurants occurs at 6pm.)

By luck we stumbled into exactly the sort of restaurant I had been hoping to find, cozy and authentic, and, by the time we left, completely full of people, in the Jordaan neighborhood. We dallied for a desert course. Loathe to rush our meal, we then had to hurry back to the central station to return to the airport and catch our flight.

Returning to Schipol at 8pm, we found that our flight to the UK departed out of the terminal (D) where the train station is located, saving a possibly long walk to the gate. There was absolutely no line at immigration (I was surprised to have my passport stamped--I thought this didn't happen on intra-EU travel?) and we made it to our gate right on time.

  • 4
    The UK is not in the EU-travel treaty of Schengen, so you needed the customs check.
    – Ton Plomp
    Nov 28, 2011 at 20:12
  • 5
    @Ton: passport check, not customs check to be exact. It's still EU, so it's still customs free.
    – vartec
    Jun 14, 2012 at 13:50

You could take the Floating Dutchman, but then there is no dinner included.

If you would really like to go for a bite, I would recommend going to the Nieuwmarkt/Zeedijk. There are quite some nice restaurants there. The zeedijk start right at the central station, and the nieuwmarkt is at the end of this zeedijk.

Given the short time you have, you should buy your train tickets to Amsterdam Central online. This way you don't lose time queuing for a train ticket.

  • Is it possible to buy a train ticket online without having a Dutch bank account?
    – nibot
    Nov 25, 2011 at 22:50
  • Yes with Visa/Mastercard
    – user141
    Nov 27, 2011 at 19:56
  • Under "My method of payment", I see only: Rabobank, ING, ABN AMRO, SNS Bank, RegioBank, ASN Bank, van Lanschot, Tridos Bank, and Friesland Bank. How do I pay with Visa/Mastercard?
    – nibot
    Dec 7, 2011 at 22:58

I had an 8-hour layover at Amsterdam in 2003. I took the train to the city and ate at the first restaurant that I encountered, just across the square on the right side. By the end of the meal I was talking to a local and half an hour later I was at her place. Best 8-hour layover ever! So whatever you do, be very nice to the locals!

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