Airfield Guide
Amsterdam - Schiphol
ICAO Code:EHAM/AMSInfo Last Validated:oct14
City:AmsterdamPosition:52°18'31"N 004°45'50"E
Runway(s):04/22, 06/24, 09/27, 18L/36R, 18C/36C, 18R/36LElevation:-11 ft
Layout

Over the decades, Schiphol has kept on expanding to the west. What is left of the old airport of the fifties is now in use as General Aviation Terminal and technical area and called 'Schiphol East'. The central area, laid out at the end of the sixties, is where four of the five main runways are. Even further to the northwest lies the newest, 'fifth' (main) runway. The airport is close to the city of Amsterdam but surrounded mainly by farmland and roads, creating many opportunities to view air traffic. There is, however, no spot where you can 'catch it all' and the constant changes in runway use (dictated by traffic flows and noise abatement rules) make it virtually impossible to predict what you will get.

Getting There

As with most major airports, public transport is abundant. Trains connect to the city centre many times an hour and to the rest of the country regularly. Buses run to the city too, as well as to neighbouring communities. On the airport itself, these buses stop at nearly every location except for the 'far northwest'. The public has to pay a fee to get on, in accordance with the standard Dutch zoning system. See the 'Public transport' link in the panel on the lower right for detailed information.

When traveling by car, there should be no problem to find the airport, but getting around to the place of your choice could be a different story. Additionally, parking has become a problem near many spots. Study the above map carefully for help and be aware that the motorways are somewhat independent of the local roads, with few connections. As of early 2014, a new road system is in use directly south of the airport. Half way 2014, the huge project of reconstructing motorway A9 to run south of Badhoevedorp started, which will result in roads being changed and sometimes closed for years to come. Finally, Holland cares for cyclists, even at the national airport: there are many shortcuts for those pedaling.

Around The Airport

Apart from these spots there are more possibilities for those who look well or want a specific view, but generally these will suit all needs. For photography, the average lenses will do fine at the mentioned locations.

1
Panorama Terrace

Actually two parts on top of terminals 1 and 2 but connected. The terrace overlooks the aprons from D to F and gives views of runways 24 (limited), 18L and 27. Also, Schiphol East and runway 22 are visible in the distance. Most of the traffic will at least taxi within view here when inbound or outbound, but certainly not all of it. Especially commuters may escape you when staying here. The fence is conveniently low, so good for photography. Entrance is free, with restaurants and toilets adjacent. The true opening hours, despite contradicting info elsewhere, are: 09.00-17.00LT in Winter (starting last Sunday in October) and 07.00-21.00LT in Summer (starting last Sunday in March). The rest of the terminal area offers limited possibilities to those who go looking for them.

2
R-apron

Assuming you travel by car, leave the terminal area but do not enter the motorway. Drive southbound until you pass underneath a taxiway, then take second left. Next to a crash gate, the cargo stands on this apron can be seen, and sometimes aircraft can be photographed provided you bring steps. There are some possibilities for pictures of 06/24 traffic, with acceptable light conditions from halfway in the afternoon. Mind that parking is allowed only in designated spaces, in this whole area.

3
Approach lights 06

Leave spot 2 and carry on to the south, parallel to the motorway. At the end turn left onto the byway of the N196. This goes right underneath final 06, the so-called 'Kaagbaan'. Parking is very limited here so often if you want to stay at spot 3 either walk there from a distant parking, take a bus or ride a bike. The view is good and the excitement of the jet noise can be high. Head-on shots of 24 departures possible.

4
South side 06

As of 27 January 2008, Schiphol's most famous and official 'Spottersplaats' has been declared 'closed'. By early May 2008, it actually became inaccessible. This is very unfortunate, as it was a great viewing area and the access road had a long tradition in aircraft spotting in Amsterdam. Expanding cargo facilities put that to an end. The closest alternative has been found at the newer part of the Beechavenue, the current spot 4. It can be reached from spot 3 and from Schiphol-Rijk, but not directly from the N201.

Please take care where to park, and do not do so in the turn of this road, frequently used by lorries. Runway 06/24 or 'Kaagbaan' has more traffic than any other, and the light is OK until halfway the afternoon. The actual situation is subject to construction works. Reading numbers of 06/24 traffic should be no problem but other (taxiing) traffic is now generally too far away. The magnificent close views on traffic from/to the S-apron are history as well.

5
West side 18L/36R

The best location here is the open field next to the freight handling area. Cars can be left for a while between parked trucks on the road (do leave them enough space please). This spot is rather far from the beginning of 18L so many aircraft are already quite high when passing it. The view is great otherwise, without obstructions for the time being. Good spot for afternoon landing shots on 36R, no steps needed in the field. Be advised: although this is an area accessible to the public, security officials have been sending away airplane enthusiasts.

6
Final 36R pm

The business area next to the approach lights makes legal parking possible and a short walk brings you to spots west of the centreline, more or less suitable for afternoon photography of landing traffic. The construction of the new N201 had a negative effect here, the embankment now blocks the view towards the runway. If you just want the numbers the terminal is probably better. Mind there is no direct connection between the N201 and this spot, one has to use the smaller roads on either side to get here.

7
Final 36R am

Another location for the 'Aalsmeerbaan'. Coming from spot 4, take the N201 towards the new Waterwolftunnel but leave this road just before the tunnel itself. Via the roundabout pick up the Fokkerweg again and turn left at the traffic lights (opposite the petrol station). The spot offers a very good angle on arriving traffic and even heavies departing 18L can be photographed here, obviously with good light in the morning. Lots of parking space available during weekends but very limited on working days.

Should there be no room, an alternative spot is on the dike along the Ringvaart canal, close to the approach lights. It can be reached via the abovementioned roundabout. In this case, leave that roundabout away from the runway (to the south-west), take the first left and left again on the dike. Where to stand is self-explanatory, but the view is more obstructed here, by houses. A bit north from spot 7, at the Anthony Fokker Business Park, a Friendship is preserved nicely above a pond. This is c/n 10449 in the colours worn by the first F27.

8
Schiphol-Oost

Schiphol's general aviaton area, and the technical area where you can see aircraft parked on aprons lower than boats in the adjacent canal! This area is easy to find and accessible from the Fokkerweg (from the south), the Schipholdijk (from the motorway) and the perimeter road (Loevesteinse Randweg, from the central area). Coming from the latter, the first hangar one passes is the police hangar. Photography on the GA apron is possible with steps, fee-less short-term parking should be no problem.

The new GA terminal on the northern edge of the apron has taken out the spot between its location and the Coast Guard (former DDA) hangar, but other spots are largely untouched. Bombardier's activities have been bringing interesting extra visitors since 2010. Aircraft in the maintenance base - actually all of the area between spot 7 and 8 - usually cannot be photographed from outside the fence but some registrations can be read off.

9
Final 27

The abovementioned perimeter road crosses the approach lights of 22 and 27 and has unrestricted access from the designated entries. Parking and even stopping is not allowed here, so to spend some time at spot 9 park at East and walk, or walk from a bus stop (bicycles not allowed here). Again, this is a spot where you can stand right underneath landing heavies, quite a thrill. Runway 27 ('Buitenveldertbaan') is often not in use though, and runway 22 is merely for bizjets and light props of which there will be not too many. However, you may be lucky...

10
McDonald's

Once a wasteland, this is the third official viewing area combined with a fast food restaurant. Often not the best option though due to backlight and lack of traffic (runway 09/27 is the most noise-sensitive one). However, a large part of the central area and East (GAT and maintenance base) are visible from here. With this runway active expect landings on 27 or departures from 09; they are rarely the other way around.

11
Beginning 18L

This spot is reachable by bus, bicycle and on foot, as access by cars is restricted. The bus stop to get off is called 'Elzenhof', see our link to Openbaar Vervoer under More Info on the right. The spot offers a rather close view on traffic departing from the beginning of 18L, and offers good options for photos in the morning.

12
Final 18C

To get here, leave the airport grounds and turn left onto the N232 towards Badhoevedorp from spot 10. Turn left again onto the Sloterweg in Badhoevedorp (Dorint Novotel on the corner) and then right onto the Tweeduizend El. This is the through-road at that point and you will see a VOR (antenna array) near the end. Pick your spot next to the approach lights but stay with the car, as this is no official parking spot. Just around the corner, west of the threshold, a short dead-end road gives some legal parking space. Runway 18C ('Zwanenburgbaan') is often used for landings, simultaneously with 18R. When active, this is a fine viewing place.

13
Vijfhuizerweg

In the old days, before the existence of motorway A5 and the 'fifth' runway, photography and viewing along (then) 19R used to be excellent. At present, the view is more distant and obstructed, but not all is lost. Departures from 36C (often) or 18C (occasionally) usually climb above the fence quickly enough to take pictures of them. Quite a long lens is needed for that though, which is unusual at Schiphol.

A new attraction in this area is Taxiway Victor, connecting 18R/36L with the rest of Schiphol. Aircraft taxiing here do not only cross over the A5 but also over a canal (the Hoofdvaart)! Especially if you bring steps, taking photos along this taxiway is well possible, even near the canal bridges. If you are mainly after numbers, this is probably the best spot with the two western runways in use. Parking is prohibited along the connecting taxiway, which is enforced by police. Use the pull-outs south of the spot, or the cemetary parking facilities.

14
Polderbaan a.m.

This spot is at one of the dead ends of the cut-up IJweg. A small roundabout and the verge offer a great view on 18R/36L. Unfortunately, the municipality of Haarlemmermeer has decided not to accommodate those who want to admire the airplanes, but to restrict their driving to this runway to one single location: the official 'Spottersplaats' at spot 16. Since May 2010, all roads leading to spots 14, 16 and 17 are no-parking zones (and 60 km/h zones too) after leaving the main road. The parts near the spots are even no-stopping zones. Police do enforce this regime by fining motorists.

To reach this spot by road (on pedal cycle, for instance...) from spot 12, turn right onto the Hoofdweg (Oostzijde), then left at the traffic lights and, after passing underneath the A5, left again at the traffic lights in Boesingheliede. When at the spot, do not block the airfield gates please, and stay clear of the farmland! Be aware that departures are always on 36L, landings always on 18R.

15
Final 18R

If you park along the byroad of the N232 in Boesingheliede and walk a little towards the approach lights, traffic on final for 18R can be photographed nicely. Especially in the morning this is a great spot, and gaining popularity. An alternative, for evening light photography, is to find a spot off the road that leads north from the roundabout near the approach lights (Spaarnwouderweg). Do not park in front of the crash gate on the centreline. It is amazing how far away from (the rest of) Schiphol you are here... 7-8 kilometres!

16
Polderbaan p.m. (halfway)

One of two spots not far from each other, but giving different views. From spot 15, take a kind of left at the roundabout and left again at the traffic lights onto the Driemerenweg (N205). At the next lights turn left again and another final left at the junction with the IJweg (unusual situation with a bump). There is a roundabout similar to the one on the opposite side, with a no-parking and no-stopping situation as described under spot 14. Extra here however, is the official 'Spottersplaats' with parking lot, which opened early 2008. This is the only place along the runway where private vehicles will be allowed. The view on the Polderbaan is nearly unobstructed and photography is good for both directions of runway use. With landing traffic, the shots get more interesting by moving north along the cycling track (so riding here by bike is not a bad idea).

17
Polderbaan p.m. (south)

The last spot in this long list and one that, when it became available, quickly gained enough fame to attract many enthusiasts for a day at the newest runway. Initially, it was possible to walk along the ditch, further towards the threshold, for marvelous head-on views of aircraft lining up on 36L. Unfortunately, this option too has been terminated, by a gate some 50 m from the roundabout. What remains is still a good spot to enjoy 36L departures, once you get here. Access is via the last junction described at spot 16, again to one of those small roundabouts and a crash gate. As described under spot 14, this area is also a no-go for aircraft viewers' cars since late 2010.

The current location of spot 4 may not be what it used to be, for photos it still is good. Especially so with landings on 06, as shown by this portrait of KLM's long Skyteam 777. (Kees van Boven)
Each day, lots of heavies arrive at Schiphol in the early hours. This Martinair Cargo MD-11 was seen near spot 16, trailing vapour just before touch-down. (Etienne Jong)
Frequencies
  • 121.975
    Clearance Delivery
  • 121.650
    Start-up Control
  • 121.700
    Ground (south)
  • 121.800
    Ground (north & east)
  • 121.900
    Ground (west, rwy 18R/36L)
  • 122.425
    Ground (alt)
  • 118.100 / 119.225
    Tower
  • 118.275
    Tower (west, rwy 18R/36L)
  • 118.950 / 119.900
    Tower (alt)
  • 362.300
    Tower
  • 119.050
    Approach & Departure (TMA east)
  • 121.200
    Approach & Departure (TMA west)
  • 118.075 / 126.675
    Approach & Departure (alt)
  • 369.300 / 339.475
    Approach & Departure
  • 118.800
    Area Control (SUGOL arrival)
  • 120.550
    Area Control (ARTIP arrival)
  • 130.950
    Area Control (RIVER arrival)
  • 118.400
    Arrival (main landing rwy)
  • 131.150
    Arrival (secundary ldg rwy)
  • 134.875
    Tower (tow traffic)
  • 447.175
    Tower (vehicles)
  • 130.475
    Airport manager to cockpit
  • 121.775 / 121.875
    Apron (south/north)
  • 121.925
    Schiphol East taxi-in
  • 131.625
    KLM Jet Center
  • 122.200 / 132.975
    ATIS departure / arrival
  • 126.200
    MET broadcast
  • 131.350
    'Channel 9': info on runway allocation during peak hours
Based
Preserved
  • F27-500 as 'PH-NIV' north east of spot 7
  • Fokker 100 in KLM c/s, at spot 1
More Info
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