Europe's fourth-largest airport has gone high gloss with a world-class art museum, new boutiques, and surprisingly good restaurants.
Where to Eat and Drink
Score a between-flights sugar fix at Multivlaai. The Dutch café serves more than 40 types of Limburgse vlaaien (buttery, flan-like pastries). Strawberry and rice pudding are the biggest crowd-pleasers. For another local favorite, pick up an oliebol, a Dutch doughnut sold at one of the small wooden carts in Schiphol Plaza. Or head to Per Tutti!, a Mediterranean delicatessen serving everything from fresh croissants to tiger-prawn tapas. Longer layovers are better spent sipping a glass of champagne at Bubbles, a modern lounge with a saltwater aquarium centerpiece and an impressive raw bar. Near pier D, you'll find the wood-paneled Grand Café Het Paleis. With its tall ceilings and Art Nouveau flourishes, the bistro is reminiscent of a bustling Amsterdam tavern (albeit with a view of a 747 lifting skyward.) Don't miss the moules frites.
What to Do
Rijksmuseum Annex, conveniently located between piers E and F, is the first airport initiative of its kind. The space has a permanent collection of 10 paintings by Dutch masters such as Jan Steen and Jacob van Ruisdael, plus temporary exhibitions (admission is free). For a less lofty pursuit, try your luck at a game of blackjack or the slots at the Holland Casino (there are two outposts). If jet lag has you beat, get cozy in one of the airport's 400 black reclining "snooze chairs" or—better yet—sneak in a quick Back to Life massage (10 minutes for $20). Aviflora and Fleurtiek flower shops are a welcome break for harried travelers looking to take a garden stroll.
Where to Shop
Schiphol Plaza, located before passport control, houses the majority of the airport's shops: a new Nike store sells the brand's latest sneakers, and the recently opened Suit Supply specializes in same-day tailoring. Beyond security are the standard duty-free outlets, including three Kappe Perfumes locations, glistening one-stop shops for luxury cosmetics. A tip for shopaholics: If you spend at least 20 euros (about $27) at any airport store during a layover, you can leave your purchases at the shop; they will tell you where to pick them up when you pass through Schiphol on your return trip. schiphol.nl.