Amsterdam Central Station
The vast majority of visitors arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which is located 15km (9 miles) southwest of the city.
From there, most people take a train into town.
Central Station is the city’s main transportation hub. Its front faces Amsterdam Centrum — the center of town.
The rear, where the bus station is located, faces the river IJ and (across the river) Amsterdam Noord.
Note: Currently large sections of Central Station, both inside and outside the main entrance, are construction sites. Amsterdam City is building a new metro extension that will eventually make it possible to travel from Amsterdam-North to Station Zuid (South) in just 15 minutes.
Naturally, there have been all kind of delays and cost overruns, and the project — initially scheduled for completion in 2011 — is currently slated to be finished in
Behind Central Station a new bus terminal was opened in December, 2014. Overlooking the river IJ, the bus station is at the same level as the train tracks.
A new, glass roof was added to the station. It features the name ‘Amsterdam’ in giant letters, and covers not just the bus terminal, but also the taxi rank, the kiss & ride places, and a significant portion of the quay.
Underneath the terminal are shops and restaurants. Below it all is a tunnel for cars.
Note: while the terminal provides magnificent views of the river IJ, it is prohibited to cross the traffic lanes.
You reach the terminal by walking through one of the tunnels to the ‘IJzijde’ exit (IJzijde = side the river IJ is on).
- Money Changing
You’ll see GWK Travelex currency exchange offices and cash machines throughout the station — and several along the main road to Dam Square — but the best place to change your money is Pott Change.
- Tourist Office
The tourist office is located outside Central Station, in the white building across from, and to the left of, the main entrance (see photo above).
However, it pays to plan your trip ahead of time using guide books and web sites.
If you do need to visit the Tourist Office, a word to the wise: ignore the sales pitches and hold out for free answers. There are better things to spend your money on.
Note that hotels and hostels also have tourist information available.
Besides, the Amsterdam you’re interested in is a relatively small place. You’ll find your way around to all the hot spots in no time.
VVV Tourist Office
Stationsplein 10 [Google Map]
Tel: 020 551 25 12 [Amsterdam phone info]
A newer, expanded Amsterdam Tourist Office location is found inside Amsterdam Central Station, at Track 2.
- Public Transport Information
Information about — and tickets for — buses, trams and metros can be obtained at the GVB Ticket Office. It is located in the white building shown above — to the left of the Tourist Information Office across from Central Station.
- Luggage Storage Lockers
There are luggage storage lockers on the far right hand side of Amsterdam Central Station. They operate by credit card (as long as it included the MAESTRO logo).Drop & Go: As an alternative, you can use the independent Drop & Go facility at Prins Hendrikkade 86. That’s just across from Central Station, a few doors to the left of the large church building. They provide Laptoplocker as well, along with a few additional services such as boarding-pass printing, and luggage weighing.
- Lost Property
Collect lost property at:Stationsplein 15
Tel: 020-557 85 44 [Amsterdam phone info]You will need to bring a valid ID.Found items are kept for only 3 days. They are then forwarded to a depot in Utrecht.
You can report lost items by calling 0900- 321 21 00 (Euro 0,80 p.m) [Amsterdam phone info], Monday through Friday, 8:00 – 20:00 (8 AM – 8 PM).
Mind you, it can take up to three weeks to locate your property — if it is was found in the first place. There is a fee for shipping a found item.
- Grand Café Restaurant
While there are lots of fast-food hote-in-the-walls in and around the Station, the more discerning traveler will enjoy the first class, 19th century surroundings of Grand Café Restaurant ‘1e Klas.’ Fringe benefits include observing the real life parrot who happily lives at one end of the bar. Plus you get good coffee — certainly coffee that is infinitely better than the stuff served at Smits Koffiehuis just outside of Central Station. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. It is located in the former First Class Waiting Lounge on Platform 2B.
Things to Beware of
- Beware of pickpockets
As in every city, large or small, you should beware of pickpockets and luggage thieves. A quality money-belt is not a luxury.
Don’t allow your attention to be diverted from your luggage. While one guy will helpfully spread our a large map to show how to get to where you want to go, his companion carry off the briefcase or suitcase you put down so you could hold the map.
- Beware of hotel runners
Helpful though they may seem, reject the services of anyone who offers to get you a hotel, show you a good place to eat, or wants to help you carry your luggage. If you are not led into an alley where his or her cohorts can rob you, you will most likely be taken to either an illegal hotel, or a hotel where the final bill will shock you senseless.
- Beware of the trams and buses
Don’t get hit or run over by them. It annoys drivers and passengers alike, causes unnecessary delays, and can ruin your vacation as well.
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