If you fly to / through / around Europe long enough, chances are really good that you’ll end up with a tight connection at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam at some point. How long of a layover do you really need in Amsterdam anyway?
- In my experience, intra-European (Schengen to Schengen) connections can be made in as little as 40 minutes.
- You’re going to need at least an hour and 10 minutes to make a connection to a non-Schengen country (pretty much anywhere outside of Europe).
Despite how complicated the Amsterdam Airport may seem, it’s actually fairly simple and easy to navigate. Don’t worry. You got this!
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The reason why short layovers are ok in Amsterdam (most of the time)
There are two very good reasons why short layovers in Amsterdam are relatively easy to manage:
- It’s an airport designed and built from the ground up to make connections (to points all over the world) as simple as possible. AMS is one of the most efficient airports I’ve ever been to – which is saying a lot considering that I don’t speak a lick of Dutch.
- It’s an extremely simple airport design. There’s only one terminal building, and walking between all concourses is fast and easy. Assuming you won’t have to go through any security checkpoints to reach your connecting gate, it’s possible to walk from one end of the airport to the other in under 20 minutes.
The bottom line is that they have really nailed the passenger experience at the Schiphol Airport. Everything just makes sense, and every connection that I have ever had there has been as smooth as butter.
What is the minimum layover time needed for connecting flights in Amsterdam?
The amount of time that you lead for a layover in Amsterdam will dependent tirely on where you are flying to. Basically, the airport is separated into two separate zones (Schengen and non-Schengen).
If you’re flying to another European destination, you will be confined to one part. If you’re flying to anywhere else, you’ll be confined to another. Don’t worry. It’ll be perfectly obvious where you need to go once you arrive. And if by chance you can’t stop worrying (I totally get it), do be sure to check out my post about having to go through customs for a connecting flight in Europe. It’ll explain everything.
Connecting to Schengen flights
Layovers for one Schengen flight to another Schengen flight in Amsterdam can be as low as 40 minutes. I actually did it in 35 minutes once, but that was a wee-bit tight. 40 minutes is a safer amount of time. FYI, the reason why such short layovers are possible is because you won’t need to go through any additional security checks.
Note: Passengers arriving from the US to Schengen destination will have to go through passport control (but not security). In that case, 50 minutes is a safe amount of time – although it’s entirely possible to do it in less time than that.
Connecting to Non-Schengen flights
Layovers from a non-Schengen flight to another non-Schengen flight in Amsterdam can be as low as 45 minutes. An example of this would be flying from Canada to South Africa with a connection at AMS. This type of layover doesn’t require going through passport control, so in most cases, you’ll be able to go directly from one plane to another.
A brief overview of the terminal layout at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
As I’ve already mentioned, the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is a refreshingly efficient change of pace from other major hub airports. Yes, it is intimidatingly large. But once you arrive you will see that it makes total sense (and that everything is laid out in the most efficient way possible).
There is one large interconnected building with 6 individual concourses at AMS. There are no inter-terminal trains or transfer buses to worry about. You can walk everywhere you need to go.
It’s worth noting that there are some remote gates at the Amsterdam airport (meaning that you’ll have to get on a bus to reach your aircraft). This won’t affect how you move through the airport however. If your flight is assigned to a remote gate, you’ll still have a physical gate area to wait at inside the airport. Like I said – it’s extremely efficient and easy!
Walking time between all terminals at AMS
Assuming that you don’t have to pass through any additional security checks or passport control, it’s possible to walk from one end of AMS to the other in about 15 minutes at a brisk pace. At a more leisurely “no f***s given” pace, it’ll probably take 25.
Here are my personal time estimates for walking between all terminals at the Amsterdam Airport at a normal pace:
Concourse B to:
- Concourse C: 4 minutes
- Concourse D: 8 minutes
- Concourse E: 12 minutes
- Concourse F: 16 minutes
- Concourse G: 20 minutes
Concourse C to:
- Concourse B: 4 minutes
- Concourse D: 4 minutes
- Concourse E: 8 minutes
- Concourse F: 12 minutes
- Concourse G: 16 minutes
Concourse D to:
- Concourse B: 8 minutes
- Concourse C: 4 minutes
- Concourse E: 4 minutes
- Concourse F: 8 minutes
- Concourse G: 12 minutes
Concourse E to:
- Concourse B: 12 minutes
- Concourse C: 8 minutes
- Concourse D: 4 minutes
- Concourse F: 4 minutes
- Concourse G: 8 minutes
Concourse F to:
- Concourse B: 16 minutes
- Concourse C: 12 minutes
- Concourse D:8 minutes
- Concourse E: 4 minutes
- Concourse G: 4 minutes
Concourse G to:
- Concourse B: 20 minutes
- Concourse C: 16 minutes
- Concourse D:12 minutes
- Concourse E: 8 minutes
- Concourse F: 4 minutes
It’s worth noting that there are very few instances where you’ll ever be able to walk unrestricted from one end of the airport to the other. As I mentioned earlier, the Amsterdam Airport is broken up into separate zones (Schengen vs non-Schengen). It’s not possible to walk from one to the other without going through passport control at some point.
How long of a layover do you need in Amsterdam for a no-stress connection?
Based on my experience making connections in Amsterdam, a layover of 2 hours would the perfect amount of time. The most significant thing about that statement is that it’s 2 hours is for any type of connection (Schengen or non-Schengen).
This is such an efficient airport to make transfers at, so it doesn’t really matter what type of transfer it is. It’s always going to be fast! I can’t think of any other airport in the world I can say that about.
It’s also worth noting that long layovers (over 2 hours) are very enjoyable at AMS. Not only are there many great restaurants and shops to occupy your time, the KLM Crown Lounge is a fantastic place to get some rest between flights.
Tips for making really short layovers at the Amsterdam Airport
I know the feeling of being worried about a short layover in Amsterdam. I once had a KLM flight from Warsaw to Madrid that left me with a 35 minute connection at AMS after a delay getting out of Warsaw (you can watch the video here). All the panicking I did was pointless. I made my connecting flight to Madrid with plenty of time to spare.
More importantly, I learned a lot from that experience! There are several things you can do to help ease the stress of a short layover at AMS:
- First of all, relax! as I’ve mentioned several times already, the Schiphol Airport is one of the most efficient in all the world (if not the most efficient). It’s a facility built from the ground up to move people through it as quickly and as frictionless as possible.
- Make every effort possible to get your boarding pass for your connecting flight before you arrive. Having to stop at the transfer desk to pick up your boarding pass is going to add lots of time.
- Choosing a seat near the front of the aircraft on your inbound flight can save you a lot of time (as you’ll be one of the first off the aircraft when you arrive in Amsterdam). If you’ve got a tight connection, it’s probably worth paying extra for a seat near the front.
- Don’t worry about getting something to eat in the airport between flights. Decent (somewhat substantial) snacks are still a thing on most European airlines, so you can eat on the plane.
Hi there, thanks for this! I’ve got a connection in Schiphol in a few weeks (24 January 2023) and this is reassuring me – however, do you know if this is still the case nowadays? I’ve heard Schiphol has had a lot of trouble with staff shortage and there are massive queues as a result, including during transfers. We’ve got 2 hours to do the connection (Edinburgh => Amsterdam, Amsterdam => Buenos Aires, so both non-Schengen). Thanks!
Hi Aline – yes, it’s much better now. I recently had a connection through AMS (CDG-AMS-SFO), and it took all of 5 minutes to get through the required passport check. 2 hours will be more than enough time!
Thank you for your answer Scott, that is reassuring!
I am very glad to bump into your post while searching information about flight transfers in Schiphol. May I ask your advice? I have a 55-minute long transfer time from Schengen to a non-Schengen country. I only noticed this once I had made the booking with KLM, and the price to change the flight is ridiculously high. Is it possible to make it if I pay for a seat in front seat and run when doing the transfer? Or is it just better to pay the salty price and have a longer transfer time? Thank you so much for your help in advance.
Hi Anna – 55 minutes will be easy. The only thing you’ll have to do upon arrival is go through a quick passport check, but it’s usually a fast process. Just follow the signs for international connections (which will lead you to the passport verification queue), and then you’re free and clear after that. I’d stick with the 55 minute connection!
Hi Scott. I’m considering booking a flight ZHR-AMS-IAH with a 70 minute layover in AMS. Your post makes me think this may be okay. However, I have heard flights to the US will need to “re check” baggage in AMS. Have you experienced this? Is there additional security?
Hi Amanda – as long as your full itinerary is on the same reservation, 70 minutes will be more than enough time since your bags will automatically transfer to your next flight. You will have to go through a quick passport verification upon arrival at AMS, but it won’t take long.
If you both segments are separate tickets, you will have to retrieve your luggage at AMS and then recheck it to your IAH flight. 70 minutes will be very tight in that scenario.
Thank you for all of your responses to previous questions. This is all very helpful. I have a 2 hour connection through AMS (from US) to Croatia this Summer. I read your comment about “follow the signs for international connections”. My question is “overall is the airport equipped with signs in English”? I had a connection in Frankfurt in 2019 and I felt like that was a difficult airport to maneuver. Thanks again.
Hi Cary – you’re very welcome! You’ll have no issues at AMS. All signage is in English, and it’s basically the same as any large airport in the US. Have a great trip!
Thanks for this very helpful article. Quick question, I will be traveling from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Glasgow and back this summer, connecting in Amsterdam both directions. Will 50 minutes be enough to comfortably make those connections? Will I need to pass through any customs or passport control at AMS for these non-Schengen to non-Schengen transfers?
Hi Brandon – the only thing you’ll need to do at AMS is go through a quick passport verification check (just follow the signs for international connections). It’ll take just a few minutes, so a 50 minute connection will be a piece of cake.
Thank you so much!
Hi. Lyon to AMS to SFO. Checked suitcase (1). Is 2 hours enough? I am 74, in pretty good shape, but… All flights are KLM. What do you do you think? Is this doable. Thanks so much for this.
Hi Judith – 2 hours will be easy! Your bags will be checked all the way through to SFO, so the only thing you will have to do at AMS is to go through a quick passport verification check (it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes). Have a good trip!
I’m flying from Canada to Edinburgh, with my layover in AMS. I’m switching airlines so will have to collect my luggage and check it again. Will 3 hours be enough time to get through passport control and get my luggage checked again?
Hi Rebecca – yeah, that should be enough time. It probably wouldn’t be if they were still having issues at AMS like they were over the summer, but they’ve pretty much got everything sorted now. It should be a fairly quick and easy transfer IMHO. Have a good trip!
I have a 1 hr 20 min layover in Amsterdam, originating in Croatia, destination US. I’m concerned the layover time may be too short. Will I have to go through customs or passport control since it is a layover?
Hi Joanne – assuming that your bags are checked all the way through to your destination (and that you’ll already have a boarding pass for your connecting flight when you arrive in Amsterdam), the only thing that you’ll have to do is go through a quick passport verification checkpoint. That’ll take 10 to 15 minutes tops, so a 1 hour and 20 minute connection will be easy.
Hi Scott, I just wanted to say thank you so much for this super helpful article! I was really freaking out when my airline changed my flight time which now gives me only a one hour 20min layover time at Amsterdam airport. You’ve now reassured me that it’s possible to get through passport control and to my new gate within that time period so thank you! I know just have to hope there’s no delays with my inbound flight
You’re very welcome Lucy! AMS is actually a very easy airport to make a connection at, so yes – an hour and 20 minutes will be more than enough time (even if your inbound flight is delayed slightly). Have a good trip!
Hi Scott, I will be going through AMS in April from the US to Istanbul. On my May return I come from Glasgow and go through AMS on my way back to the US. Do I go through passport control either time? Security? Both flight segments are on one itinirary so luggage should be check straight through, correct? Any thing I should know? Thanks so much. I have 2:55 lay over on the way to Turkey and 1:55 on the way back from Glasgow but that seems to be enough time.
Hi Chava! On the way to Istanbul, you won’t have to do anything at AMS but go through a quick passport verification check (just follow the signs for international connections). You’ll do the full customs and immigration procedure upon arrival in Istanbul.
It’ll be the exact same thing on the way back to the US. Follow the signs for international connections, which will take you to a quick passport verification area (it takes just minutes to get through). Customs and immigration will happen when you arrive back in the US. Have a good trip!
Hi! Fellow stressed and OCD traveller here……I’ll arrive in Amsterdam from JFK with a connecting flight to Stuttgart, Germany. The planned layover is 65 minutes. I have only hand luggage, could 65 minutes be enough to clear customs and passport control?
Hey Alex – no need to be stressed! You won’t have to go through customs at AMS (you’ll do that in Stuttgart), but you will have to do passport control. 65 minutes isn’t a lot of time, but it’s plenty enough to get through passport control and to your connecting gate. You’ll make it!
Hi Scott, great article. What about coming in from UK and onward to Dusseldorf? I assume passport control, and unless the arriving flight has to wait on a bus to terminal, the one hour transfer should be ok? Flying KLM. Many thanks. Gordon
Hey Gordon! Correct – you will have to go though passport control, since both the Netherlands and Germany are part of the Schengen Zone. You’ll then go through German customs when you arrive in Dusseldorf.
An hour is going to be tight! However, I’ve always been amazed at how quick and easy it is to make transfers at AMS. You’ll make it. Have a good trip!
Scott, we arrive into AMS from USA on Delta and then fly to France on Air France with a connecting time of 1:40. My wife will need wheelchair assistance in AMS.
Will this be Ok Thanks Phil
Hi Philip – that is going to be a tight connection with wheelchair assistance (which means that you’ll likely be the last off the plane). The good news is that they will probably get you where you need to go on an electric cart, which is going to be a lot faster than walking.
I think you’ll be ok – especially if you let them know about your connection time. They’ll get you there.
Hi Scott, I am looking at a flight that would arrive at AMS from the US then on to Italy. We will arrive on delta & then on to Italy on KLM. The conncection time is 55 minutes. There is an alternate flight with a connection time of 1h25 minutes and it arrives in to FCO nearly 5 hours later. Which would you suggest?
Hi Teresa – 55 minutes is probably enough. You’ll have to go though passport control at AMS, but not customs (that will happen when you arrive in Italy). If it’s really important that you arrive in Italy as early as possible, then this is probably your best option.
I’m a bit of a worry wart though, so if it were me, I’d go for the option with the 1:25 connection just for the added peace of mind.
Hi Scott, I am traveling from Oregon to CDG with a 90 minute layover in Amsterdam next week. Will that be enough time to make it to my flight to CDG?
Hi Roberta – assuming all flights are part of the same ticket (everything was purchased together), yes. That’ll easily be enough. Note that you will have to go though passport control upon arrival in Amsterdam though, so you won’t have a lot of extra time once you’re clear of that. Have a good trip!
Thank you for your reply, Scott! Hoping for the best. 🙂
Hi Scott, connecting in Amsterdam later this month on 2 separate tickets so I’ll have to clear passport control, collect my bag, and re check in. Is 3 and 1/2 hours enough or should I stick to a longer layover (next shortest option is 7 hours which is definitely too much)
Hi Abdul – I think that’ll be enough time with it only being March (not the busy travel season). If you were going to do this connection during the busy summer months, I’d highly recommend the 7 hour layover instead. Have a good trip!
Hi Scott, I’ll be travelling from Munich, Germany, to Santiago de Chile via Amsterdam in mid-April. Layover time in Amsterdam will be 90 minutes, all flights part of the same ticket (KLM). As it’s Schengen to non-Schengen/intercontinental, what do you think of my chances? 🙂 90 minutes too tight? Thank you! 🙂
Hi Chrissy – 90 minutes will be no problem at all. Just follow the signs for international connections, which will lead you to a passport verification checkpoint. It’ll take just a few minutes to get through, and then it’s simply a matter of walking to your connecting gate. There will be no additional security checks. Have a good trip!
Hi Scott Ill be traveling from Boston to Milan with a stop in AMS 1 hour 20 min layer and on the return Milan to Boston with a stop in Paris (CDG) 1 hour 20 min layover. Are my layovers going to give me enough time to get through passport control? Do you think it would be better to change planes in ATL on the return flight with a 3 hour layover?
Thank you and I have enjoyed reading your blogs
Hi Pam! The layover at AMS on the way there will be tighter than your layover at CDG on the way back.
You will have to go through passport control at AMS (but not customs – that will happen when you arrive in Milan). AMS is pretty efficient most of the time, so an hour and 20 minutes won’t be an issue. But be prepared to stand in line for a bit.
On the way back through CDG, you’ll likely have to go through a quick passport check (not passport control). You won’t have to go through customs either, so you’ll have plenty of time.
Have a good time in Milan!
Hi Scott, I’m looking to travel from the Minneapolis to Malaga, Spain with a 50 min layover in Amsterdam, is that enough time?
Hi Denise! 50 minutes is going to be tight, since you will have to go through passport control before you can you can continue on to your connecting gate. You’ll most likely make it, but it will be a bit stressful, so I’d recommend a longer layover if it’s available.
I’m looking to purchase tickets from LAX to Italy in September. The flight there has a 1:55 hour layover in Paris to Milan. The flight back has a 70 minute layover from Florence to Amsterdam. The airline is Delta partners with Air France. Thoughts? Thanks for your time and reply! Happy travels!
Hi Adriana – 70 minutes to make that connection at AMS will be a piece of cake. Just follow the signs for international connections, go through a quick passport verification checkpoint, and continue on to your connecting gate. There’s no reason not to book that itinerary!
I’m traveling US-AMS-Spain with a 1:45 layover in May (Monday) and June (Wednesday) Delta-KLM (all in one ticket).
Will this be enough time?
Hi Linda! Yes, even with the larger crowds during the summer months, I think you’ll be fine. The efficiency of AMS passport control amazes me every time – they move a LOT of people through in a very short amount of time.
Just wondering if you think an hour and 20 is enough of a layover at AMS, coming from Florence, Italy ( KLM) )and connecting to SFO ( United )??? Thanks in advance for your input!!
Hi Lori! Yes, you’ll have more time than you’ll know what to do with actually (lol). The only thing you’ll have to do is pass through a quick passport verification checkpoint. After that, it’s simply a matter of walking to your connecting gate.
Scott… wow, thanks so much for your prompt reply! Now I get to spend an extra day in Florence!!!
Hi Scott! I am traveling from Mexico City to Copenhagen with a 1-hour layover in Schiphol Airport. I booked a one-ticket trip with KLM and I will be flying with two different airlines (first Aeromexico and then KLM). Do you think I will have enough time to make the connection or should I change my booking to one with a longer connection time? I am specially worried because it is my first time flying and I will be doing it by myself. Thank you very much for your blog, I really enjoyed reading it!
Sounds like a fun trip Mary! AeroMexico and KLM are partner airlines, so the process will be fairly seamless. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, you’ll have to go through passport control to enter the EU. Customs will happen when you arrive in Copenhagen.
An hour is going to be a little tight, but of all the major airports in Europe, AMS is the best for short connections. The lines for passport control usually move quick!
Hi Scott, thanks for such an informative and reassuring article! I’m thinking of getting on a flight in early Sept from Barcelona to Vancouver with a 6 hr 40 layover (midday) in AMS. All via Delta, so I believe I won’t have to recheck bags. This might be an obvious question, but do you think that would be enough time to roam around the city, even if I have to check bags (erring on the side of caution)? Do you have any suggestions for things to do and how to get around during the layover? I appreciate any suggestions, comments, recommendations! Thank you so much!
You’re very welcome Aira! Going into the city or not all depends on how adventurous you’re feeling. You are going to have to clear customs and immigration if you want to exit the airport, so that will take some time. You won’t have to retrieve your luggage though – it will transfer to your next flight automatically.
Getting into central Amsterdam from the airport is relatively easy via the train. It’s been many years since I’ve done it, and from what I remember, it is something you could do with a 7 hour layover. You won’t be able to stay in the city long though.
Definitely keep an eye on what customs / immigration / security lines are like at AMS this summer. Last summer was horrendous, and most airlines have been reporting really strong transatlantic bookings for this summer, so…there is a chance that even 7 hours won’t be enough time go to into the city.
Hello Scott! Thank you for all of your travel guidance. We will be flying from Budapest to AMS early afternoon, then home to Minneapolis/ St. Paul. We have a 1 hour 45 minute connection in AMS. Flying Delta -early June. I have an option to change this to a 3 hour lay over.
You’re very welcome Tiffany! One hour and 45 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a connection like that in my opinion. The only thing you’ll have to do is go through a quick passport check, and from there you can go straight to your gate. No passport control (immigration), no customs, and no additional security checks. It’s easy!
Traveling from Ohio ( through Minneapolis) to BCN with a 70 minute layover at AMS. Delta /Transavia airlines. Doable?
Hi MGW – yes, 70 minutes should be fine under most circumstances. The only thing that you’re going to have to do is to go through passport control. There will be no security checks or customs in Amsterdam.
However, keep in mind that wait times to get through passport control at major European airports could take longer than normal this summer due to all the crowds (just like last summer). Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!
Thinking about connecting from 9:05 AM Arrival on a KLM from SFO on a Saturday (May 13) to an easyJet at 11:30. It will involve passport control, baggage collection and re-check, and security. Do you that is still doable?
Hi Mark! Normally I’d say that it wouldn’t be an issue at all, but we’re getting closer to summer now and passport / security lines at major airports in Europe are only going to get busier. FYI, it took me more than an hour to get through the passport check at CDG last week (flying MUC-CDG-SFO). Almost missed my flight!
AMS is a lot more efficient than CDG though. I think you’ll be fine, but it’s probably a good idea to prepare yourself for the worst…
Scott: We are booked on an AA flight from LAX to Ams that arrives in Ams at 8:40 am. We have a flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia that leaves AMS at 10:25 am on LOT Airlines, that we booked separately. I called American and they said we could not check our baggage through to Ljubljana, but would have to claim our bags from AA at AMS and recheck them with LOT. With this brief amount of time, should we pare down and take only carry on luggage?
Hi Dan – yes, if you can do carryon only, that will certainly help. 2 hours might be possible with checked luggage, but it will be much easier (and faster) without it!
Hi Scott, We are traveling from DAR-AMS-SLC in mid-January all on KLM. Our flight times just changed, shortening our layover in AMS to 90 minutes. Is this enough time? With both flights being international do we have to go through either security or passport control?
Hi Jodie – 90 minutes will be enough time. Yes, you will have to go through a quick passport check, but not security. Have a good trip!
Hi, Scott. My husband and I will be traveling from Basel to Amsterdam then on to Atlanta. One flight option has a layover of 1 hour and 20 minutes. Does that leave enough time to get to our gate?
Hi Nita – yes, that should be enough time. The only thing you’re going to have to do upon arrival in Amsterdam is go through a passport check, which usually moves pretty fast. Just know that lines are going to be longer (and slower) in the summertime – so be prepared if that’s when you’re going. Have a good trip!
I’m thinking of booking a flight from Los Angeles to Cape Town, South Africa, on KLM that transits through Amsterdam Schiphol. My connection time is 1 hr 5 min. Will that be enough time?
Hi Skymyr – yup, that’ll be plenty of time assuming that your inbound flight in on time (or at least close to it). Just follow the sighs for international connections, which will lead you to a passport checkpoint. That’s the only thing you’ll have to do. Have a good trip!
I have a flight BER-AMS with a connecting flight to Dublin. The layover in Amsterdam is 1 hour. Do you think this is doable?
Thanks in advance 🙂
Hi Rose – yeah, that’ll be easy as long as your inbound flight isn’t running very late. Also, crowds will likely be larger in the summertime, so keep in mind that lines to get through passport control might be a little long. AMS is very efficient though, so you aren’t likely to have any issues. Have a good trip!
I am travelling from Budapest to Amsterdam then Amsterdam to Singapore on different reservations. Would 2h 40 min be enough time or should I fly in the day before. I am meant to arrive in Amsterdam at 08:40 on Saturday morning. Do you think 2 hours 40 min is enough time ?
Hi Kirsten! I would personally feel more comfortable flying in the day before. 2 hours and 40 minutes will probably be enough time, but based on what we saw last summer at AMS, you’ll want as much buffer time as possible.
Also, 08:40 is going to be busy. Most flights to AMS from the US arrive in the morning, so the queues for everything are likely to be long.
FWIW, I think your chances of making it will be higher if you aren’t traveling during the summer months. Good luck with whatever you decide!