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As someone who lived in Amsterdam, I am often asked how to get from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam by train. It’s pretty easy to go independently from Schiphol to Amsterdam (and vice versa), however, I’ve included a step-by-step guide with photos on how to navigate the Dutch trains to get to Amsterdam to start off your Dutch adventure.
The best way to get from Schiphol Airport into Amsterdam city is by train. I do not recommend taking taxis as they have quite a poor reputation within the city for taking advantage of tourists who do not know prices. A taxi driver has once tried to rip me off and I’d recommend just taking the train for ~5.50 euros (plus one euro for the train ticket paper) per person.
The train from Schiphol Airport runs every every 10-15 minutes direct to Amsterdam Centraal. The journey takes about fifteen minutes to bring you from the airport to the heart of Amsterdam Centre. It’s easy, clean, and simple. Sometimes, the trains can be crowded, but you can wait for the next one if you choose!
From Amsterdam Centraal, you should be able to walk or catch a train or bus (different system) towards your final destination in Amsterdam. You might want to look up the directions ahead as there are several train stations in Amsterdam and it might be more convenient to take the train towards another station (e.g. Amsterdam Sloterdijk) if your hotel is near here.
(If you really want to take a taxi and you’re staying in Amsterdam Centre, I’d recommend waiting until you arrive at Amsterdam Centraal to hail a taxi at the taxi stand.) It’s cheaper and you’re less likely to be ripped off!
Land in Schiphol Airport
Welcome to the Netherlands. Schiphol Airport has a lot of great amenities that you can read about here in this Schiphol Airport guide, including some great food.
Go through immigration (if applicable)
If you’re flying from outside of the Schengen zone or Europe, you’ll need to go through immigration. You’ll find Wi-Fi throughout the airport to get your documents ready for immigration. Depending on the flight, it might take 20-40 minutes to get through immigration as the line can be long for non-EU citizens.
Gather your luggage (if applicable) and head to Schiphol Plaza
After immigration, you’ll gather your luggage, if you have any, and leave the airport to enter the terminal. From here, look for signs for Trains. There will be a large open area with shops, which is where you’ll find the train ticket machines!
Find a ticket machine
From here, you’ll look for a ticket machine like the one above. If anyone tries to engage with you to ask you if you need a taxi, sell you a ticket and/or exchange money, avoid these people as these are common scams. Only buy your ticket through the machine and use official exchange desks prior to buying a ticket. Similarly, the “taxis” that approach you in this area are unlicensed.
Note: You’ll need to have a debit or credit card with a chip in it that is cleared for international use. You can also pay with coins, not bills. (There is an ATM in the terminal.) There is also a clerk available to help with transactions along the wall if you’re having difficulty.
Get the ticket machine into English and get a one way ticket
At the bottom left-hand corner, you’ll see a British flag and the word English. This will switch the machine into English to make it easier. Then, select one way ticket.
A return ticket only applies to journeys made the same day, so don’t buy this if you’re only heading to Amsterdam from Schiphol! If you need to purchase a ticket for a child under 12 (reduced fare), you can check under “other products” oddly enough.
First and second class are a pretty minor difference, but if you want to ensure that you have a seat on the train, I recommend choosing first class as there are generally seats available. Otherwise, you may need to look for a seat in second class or stand for fifteen minutes.
Get a one-way ticket to Amsterdam Centraal
From here, you’ll need to select your destination. By default, Amsterdam Centraal comes up. You can tap that or hit the A button if you’re going to one of the other train stations within Amsterdam.
Note: Amsterdam Centraal is only one of the train stations in Amsterdam.Many tourists make the mistake of getting a ticket to the wrong station and/or getting off at the wrong station.
Check on Google Maps for the best station for your hotel! It might be that Amsterdam Sloterdijk or Amsterdam Amstel should be your destination. You can always take a bus onwards towards these destinations from Amsterdam Centraal if you want to get to Amsterdam first.
Pay for the ticket and gather your ticket
From here, you’ll want to pay for your ticket. If you’re using a card, you’ll tap Debit/Credit Card prior to looking to your right for the card machine. You’ll need to put the card with the chip towards the machine into the card reader. It sometimes needs to be pushed a little further prior to working. You might need to enter a pin.
After, you can choose if you want a receipt. Be sure to check the bottom of the machine for your ticket and receipt. Don’t leave without your ticket!
Find the correct track
This may change, however at the time of writing, trains to Amsterdam Centraal from Schiphol Airport are via Track 1&2. You should check the boards for updated train information.
Tap in with your ticket
Before you enter the train, you need to check-in to activate your ticket! This means that you’ll briefly press your new paper card against the yellow machine prior to hearing a beep (and seeing a green light). This means that you have checked-in successfully. From here, you’ll go down the escalator and wait for your train.
Note: Don’t lose your ticket! You will need to check-out with your train ticket and it might be checked on the train. As a result, I recommend putting your ticket in a secure pocket!
Get on the train to Amsterdam. (Let other passengers off before getting on!)
Allow other passengers to get off first. Then, get onto the train with your stuff. If the door isn’t opening, press the button on the side of the train to open the doors! I recommend checking the class (1 or 2) to go into the applicable class. If the train is pretty full, you might need to stand if you have second class tickets.
Press the open doors button when you’ve arrived at Amsterdam Centraal (wait for the announcement!)
After fifteen minutes, you’ll arrive in Amsterdam Centraal. Your train might continue on to other cities, so be sure to get off at Amsterdam Centraal! From here, watch the gap.
Exit through the gates by tapping your ticket
From here, head down the stairs in order to exit the station. Amsterdam city is on your right. You’ll need to tap your paper ticket against the gate in order to exit the train station. Welcome to Amsterdam! You’ll find many more tips for visiting Amsterdam here!