that is all.
The airport is a 15 minute train ride from the city center and the train is directly underneath the main terminal at Schiphol. There are baggage lockers at the airport so you don't have to hump your luggage around. Like any European city, beware of pickpockets at the central train station.
Here's a terminal map. You can locate the luggage lockers, where you buy train tickets, and the escalators down to the trains.
Most of the city is walkable from central station.
What to see & do in maybe 5 hours really depends on the person. A lot of people will want to hit a coffee shop, get stoned, go look in the windows in the red light district, and walk around that part of town having people try to sell you drugs, women, and whatever. Buy a tee shirt at the Hard Rock.
If you're a museum person, I highly recommend the van Gogh museum. It's a long enough walk from the central station that you can take in the sights on the way. You can always take a tram (electric streetcar) back.
Unlike here in the US where it always tastes skunked, Heineken is totally drinkable.
Thank you for the detailed info. I appreciate it.
I definitely want to see more sights. I'm taking my camera, so making the most of it would be great. Any big cathedrals or famous bridges? I'm guessing the channels will be easy to find. Van Gogh museum sounds interesting.
Point taken on the Heineken- I hate it the way it's sold here in the US so I'll have to try it locally there.
8 hours are not enough. Three days would be more like it. Take a walk on Damrak from the train station. Check out Kalverstraat. Get some bakery to snack on; something with almond is good. Try a herring sandwich too. Language is no problem. When we were there I estimated that at least 90% of the people we encountered spoke English. The red light district is not far but is more interesting at night. My wife didn't want to go there but when we got there, we encountered a bus tour group, most of which were elderly women. We liked Rijstaffel (rice table) at an Indonesian restaurant several times. They are all pretty much the same like Chinese buffet restaurants here but are a tasty alternative with the many dishes based on peanut. A ride on a tram is a cheap way to take a city tour but there is a bus guided tour. You can take a canal boat tour too. Have a beer at a brown bar.
We toured Heinken but once you have seen a brewery or two, you have seen it all.
Was just there. What time of day will you be there? All the illicit fun is at night. I really enjoyed the vangoh museum. The most fun we had was touring around the city on bikes. We rented from a place near dam square, but I believe there are companies near centrall station.
It is a very compact city and you can get a good feel for it within a few hours. If at all possible I recommend staying over and having at least 1 rough night.
We were there for a week and the highlight was definitely renting a unguided canal boat and drinking a few bottles of wine while cruising through.
ThAt is definitely better for summertime though as it will be quite cold there by now.