I took a train to Amsterdam before the Netherlands opened to Americans: Here’s what it was like

Jun 25, 2021

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Europe is opening back up, and I was one of the first Americans to experience it. After an interesting journey to Frankfurt, Germany, I hopped on a train to explore what Amsterdam had to offer while we are still in the midst of the pandemic. The Netherlands officially opened on June 24, no test, vaccine or quarantine required for American travelers, but I was able to get in early on June 21 since I arrived after being cleared by Germany.

Here’s what it was like.

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I booked an early morning ticket that left the Frankfurt Central Train Station at 5:29 a.m. and would arrive in Amsterdam at 9:28 a.m. While I knew it would be an early morning, my hotel (Le Méridien Parkhotel Frankfurt) was about a two- to three-minute walk to the train station, so it wasn’t too horrible. I also wanted to arrive early because I wanted to get the most out of my day in Amsterdam. (I had to fly home the next day.)

I bought a croissant (OK, two croissants) at the train station for my journey and boarded my train. I went with a first-class booking because it was only a few euros more expensive than the second-class ticket. All in all, it came out to $161.61. Since it was last minute, it was pretty pricey.

My train ticket to Amsterdam.
My train ticket to Amsterdam. (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

My train car was beautiful and spotless. For the entire journey, there was only one other passenger with me in the car. I love train travel, so it was very peaceful and quiet during my ride to Amsterdam.

First Class train car to Amsterdam from Frankfurt.
First-class train car to Amsterdam from Frankfurt. (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

I didn’t know quite what to expect in terms of border control and COVID-19 restrictions, so I honestly hoped for the best. I was only asked once on the train by one of the train servicers what my purpose was for entering Amsterdam (I can speak German), and he wrote down a few things from my ticket. Otherwise, my ticket was scanned twice in the duration of my trip, and I was able to sleep some of the way. Masks were required for the entire journey.

Related: Europe reopening may come too late to save the summer for airlines and travelers

I arrived in a rainy Amsterdam right on time. I checked into my hotel (DoubleTree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station), which was a close walk from the train station. The front desk had a warm cookie waiting for me, and my room was ready (presumably because there aren’t many tourists at the moment). Everyone wore masks in the hotel. I dropped my things, rested for a little bit and then headed out to tour the town.

A rainy Amsterdam
Amsterdam was beautiful even in the rain. (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

I’ve been to Amsterdam only once before, but it was nice to be back. I met a friend there who was my German exchange partner in 2014. Luckily, she was also able to grab a last-minute train to Amsterdam from Kleve, Germany, to spend some time with me while I was in Europe.

We bought tickets to the Rijksmuseum ($47.71), and it was one of the most beautiful museums I’ve seen. It is full of Rembrandt and Monet and Van Gogh. What more could you ask for? Masks were required in the museum, which is something I am used to at this point.

La Corniche near Monaco, Claude Monet, 1884
La Corniche near Monaco, Claude Monet, 1884. (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

After spending some time in the museum, I ventured to a test clinic to get a rapid COVID-19 test so that I could re-enter the U.S. the following day. I had previously asked the front desk for a recommendation, and the one they recommended was a quick walk from the museum. The test was only $47.71, which is a lot less than the test I paid for to fly to Germany ($400).

It took a few tries to get my credit card to go through (I ended up having to pay for it on my phone instead of at the check-in desk), but after about 12 minutes, it worked. I was the only one in the test center, so the entire test took no more than about 10 minutes. I waited for the results while I was there and had a negative result in another 10 minutes. The woman who tested me also gave me a printout of my negative test result, which was great for when I arrived at the airport the next day to check-in for my flight.

Covid Test Center
The COVID-19 Test Center I visited in Amsterdam. (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

We spent the rest of the day walking around the city and enjoying the beautiful flower markets and canals. This time, it was shocking how quiet it was compared to my previous visit. It’s one of the most stunning cities I’ve ever seen, and I will continue to go back there any chance that I get.

An outdoor flower stall in Amsterdam. (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

We ate a late lunch/early dinner outdoors at a nice little tapas restaurant and had a few drinks later that night at a bar. Masks were a little bit spotty at the bar, but as a fully vaccinated traveler, I wasn’t concerned.

My negative test result from the clinic was accepted, and I was easily able to get through security and fly back to America the next day. It was a wonderful short adventure in Europe and the covid restrictions certainly were easier in Amsterdam than I expected.

Related: Europe reopening may come too late to save the summer for airlines and travelers

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