I recently flew from the US to Europe but I due to a bad connection I found myself with a six hour layover in Amsterdam. 6 hours isn’t really enough time to visit the city itself but it’s a bit long for just sitting at the gate, so I looked for some other things I could do near the airport.
The first thing I did was go to the panorama terrace. The panorama terrace is located near the departure area but ‘outside’ of security-that is, after arriving I had to pass to the public side of security in order to reach it. The panorama terrace gives you a good overview of most of the airport and is a good place to look at planes landing, taking off, and moving around. It also seems to be quite popular with planespotters-every time I have been there there seem to be at least a few people just looking at planes and taking pictures.
The other thing you can find on the panorama terrace is a KLM Fokker 100 airplane, which is kind of meant for kids but is open to everyone. There isn’t really anything special about the plane but you can take a look at the cockpit and there are speakers which play some audio recordings of air traffic control conversations which makes you kind of feel like a pilot too.
After the panorama terrace I went to the Cruquius museum, which is located in Hoofddoorp, the same town in which the airport is technically located. The Cruquius is an old steam pumping station, one of three which was used to drain the Haarlemmermeer, a historic lake which at one point grew to the point of threatening Amsterdam. The Cruquius was amazing-it is the largest beam steam engine ever built, and it is still in working order-although they demonstrate it with air pressure and hydraulics instead of steam. When I was there there was one other visitor from Australia and we had a ‘private’ tour of the steam engine itself after which we were free to explore the museum. The museum is highly interesting as well because it explains a lot of the history of the Netherlands as well as pumping technology in general. I was really very impressed by the place.
In order to get to the Cruquius I took a train to Hoofddorp and then a bus to the Cruquius, and I was able to do everything comfortably in less than 3 hours (including both the travel and the museum visit).
I thought that I would be tired and bored during my six hours at Schiphol but actually getting and out and doing a few things helped me stay awake, and the time passed quickly. The panorama terrace is a good place to go for anyone with a bit of time to kill in Schiphol and who doesn’t mind repassing through security, while the Cruquius was one of the best museums I have been to in a long time-highly recommended for anyone in with time to spare in the Amsterdam area.