Our incredibly low-priced Lufthansa flights from Europe to Panama departed from Holland. We therefore needed to find budget flights to get us to Schiphol airport, and spend the night close by before taking our flight the following day. For this we decided to include an Amsterdam layover hotel in our itinerary.
Freezing in February
If you bring enough warm clothing with you, a February visit to Amsterdam ensures you’ll avoid the fair-weather tourists. However, if like us you’re using this as a launchpad to tropical climes, you’ll want to keep the excess warm clothing to a minimum. Weight is everything when you’re lugging an outsized rucksack through the rain forest.
Our Amsterdam Layover Hotel – The Ibis Budget Schiphol
We love Ibis Budget airport hotels. They’re so efficient and cost-effective. For our Amsterdam layover, we chose the Ibis Budget Schiphol, just 5 minutes drive from the airport.
Although compact, the rooms they offer are comfortable, modern and cheap (circa €45 per night if you’re flexible with dates). They offer a good buffet breakfast for €7.50. At any other time of the day, a variety of vending machines offer a selection of hot and cold snacks and drinks.
One big advantage of the the Ibis Budget Schiphol is the free airport shuttle service, which runs regularly from early morning to late night. This makes for a big saving, since a taxi to and from the center of Amsterdam can easily cost €50 each way.
There is a bus stop just 10 minutes walk away from the Ibis. The number 197 bus will take you to Leidseplein near the center of Amsterdam for just €5. Again, for the same journey a taxi would charge you €50.
What to do with a few spare hours?
There’s a great choice of things to do in Amsterdam, above and beyond smoking dope, stealing bikes and visiting the Red Light Area.
The Rijksmuseum has to be high on the agenda. Just €17.50 for entry to one of Europe’s premium museums, including works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and a smorgasbord of Dutch Masters. What’s more, if you’re staying at the Ibis Schiphol, the 197 bus will take you straight to the door.
Another unique visitor attraction is the Heineken Museum. For €17 you’ll get a 1½ hour tour and can enjoy a couple of glasses of beer while discovering the secrets of the Heineken production process. You can even take away a souvenir bottle after designing your own customized label.
Next up, why not try out the Amsterdam Dungeon? Apart from getting you out of the cold, the Dungeon features 80 minutes of macabre sketches and creepy surprises. These are all performed live by a group of actors. An amusing distraction for €19.50 per ticket.
The newest attraction in Amsterdam is the LOOKOUT. Enjoy a 360º bird’s-eye view of Amsterdam from the highest swing in Europe. If you can stand the temperatures, the Over the Edge swing is a challenge for the brave: Participate at your own risk.
Still got some time left? Amsterdam also boasts a 9D cinema (don’t ask, they lost me after 5D), Madame Tussauds and the Ann Frank house.
Finally, if you are planning to visit the Red Light District, do it in the evening. You’ll be sorely disappointed if you visit during the day.
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