Very few places can reconcile reputations of being a party and historic town in equal measure, but Amsterdam is certainly one of them. Flights to Amsterdam will take you to a city as pretty as a postcard, where streets crisscross over canals, giving way to countless coffee shops, beautiful architecture, and museums filled with the works of renowned Dutch painters like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Vermeer. While sites like Anne Frank's House will give you an insight into Europe's history, those looking for modern-day Amsterdam's famous nightlife entertainment will be spoiled for choice. Buy tickets for a walking tour through the infamous Red Light District, sip on a cold one at any of the local bruines (pubs), or head to one of Amsterdam's many nightclubs to dance until the wee hours of the morning. And as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, bikes are cheap to hire and getting around Amsterdam is easy —just hop on and pedal away to discover all this great city has to offer.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is not only the most convenient airport to fly to in order to get to Amsterdam, it is also one of Europe's busiest airports, used as a hub by KLM for connections to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as well as other destinations in Europe. The vast number of airlines and high frequency of Amsterdam flights makes it easy to find cheap tickets at almost any time of year. KLM, Air Transat, and Arkefly have direct flights to Amsterdam from Canadian cities like Montreal and Toronto. Amongst the many other airlines which offer cheap flights to Schiphol are US, Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, Delta, Continental, and British Airways.
Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination for visitors from around the world so it's hard to find a time when the city is not crowded. July to August are especially busy, but the period from March to June can also be fairly packed with tourists in Amsterdam for a variety of music festivals, visiting the tulip fields, or to celebrate Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) on the 30th of April. The wintertime has fewer crowds and cheaper airfares but keep in mind that the number of daylight hours are substantially reduced and temperatures can go as low as 0-5°C, so you will definitely need to pack warm clothes.
For the best of weather and airfares, the ideal time to book your cheap flights to Amsterdam is in the shoulder seasons of September or March. Regardless of when you travel, pack a light coat and umbrella to make sure you're equipped to deal with Amsterdam's slightly unpredictable weather.
Flights to Amsterdam will bring you to one of Airport Schiphol's (AMS) three terminals. The airport is not far from the city centre, so you can get to the city in 20-40 minutes, depending on which of the following ground transportation options you use.
Public Transit: If you plan on travelling via public transport (bus, metro, and tram) during your stay, it is cheaper to buy an OV-chipkaart smartcard for less than €10 and then use it across all public transport systems. Fares are structured on the basis of travel zones and you can top up at any of the metro station vending machines or dedicated Gemeentevervoerbedrijf (GVB) locations across the city. Alternatively, average fares for a one-hour Zones 1 and 2 ticket is approximately €2-€3 and day passes are about €7 with discounts available for seniors and children. From the airport, public transport includes buses and trains.
Trains are run by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) from a station located under the airport. Tickets can be purchased at the yellow kiosks located at Schiphol Plaza or at the station's ticket counters. Average one-way fares to Amsterdam Centraal are about €4 with discounts for children. This is a cheap travel option and by far the quickest for getting to the city. You can also connect to international and regional destinations from this station.
There are a number of bus services which operate between the airport and downtown Amsterdam as well as the surrounding regions. Schiphol Sternet operates buses from Schiphol Plaza in front of the arrivals terminal; Zuidtangent Express Bus Routes 300 and 310 run from the airport to regional destinations; and Interliner runs rapid bus transfers from the airport to a few dedicated stops in the Amsterdam city area.
Hotel Shuttle: A complete list of the 10 hotels which provide courtesy shuttles is listed on the airport's website. Most hotels offer this service between 6:00 a.m. and midnight but it is advisable to confirm the pick-up time and location with your hotel before your Amsterdam flight.
Connexxion also operates a shuttle service every 10-15 minutes between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. to over 100 hotels in Amsterdam. Shuttles leave from platform A7 outside the arrivals hall and you can buy tickets at the Connexxion counter at Schiphol Plaza. One-way trips average €15-20 and round-trip tickets are about €25.
Shuttle Services: Official door-to-door shuttle services are operated by Schiphol Travel Taxi which offers shared-ride vans, private vans, and luxury car services. Average one-way fares from the airport to downtown Amsterdam are €20-25 while return trips are €35-40. Private vehicles will cost you about €50 for a one-way trip and a luxury car fare is approximately €60. In addition, there are several other companies which offer shuttle services from the airport, and their rates are similar those of Schiphol Travel Taxi.
Taxis: If you're pressed for time, head straight from your flight to the taxi stand located outside Schiphol Plaza. Amsterdam taxis are infamous for being extremely expensive so you may want to explore other travel options before taking a cab. Average fares to central Amsterdam locations range from €30-€50, and some taxi companies also offer meet-and-greet services if you book in advance.
Car Rental: Companies which provide rental cars at AMS include Hertz, Alamo, Sixt, Europcar, Thrifty, and Budget. Follow the signs to the rental agency counters to collect your car.