By far the easiest place to do some spotting at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is on the Panorama Terrace situated atop the terminal building.
Few airports provide such a welcome facility these days, but Amsterdam has invested in their terrace and it’s always popular.
To access the Panorama Terrace, head inside the central area at ground level, which is for arrivals. Behind the rows of shops and cafes at the northern end, you’ll see a staircase and sign for the terrace. It ascends up to the departures/check-in area, and then up again to the floor above. An escalator whisks you to the top level (there is an elevator for all of this if you’d prefer).
Follow signs past the toilets, cafe and bar and you’ll see the rotating doors out onto the terrace ahead of you.
Immediately outside you’ll be confronted with preserved KLM Cityhopper Fokker 100 PH-OFE, which was winched onto the roof a few years ago and is now open to go inside, which the kids love.
Views from the Panorama Terrace
The views you have cover the north eastern portion of Amsterdam’s large terminal.
You’ll see good sections of piers C, D and E, with some aircraft parked right beneath you.
Beyond you have distant views of Schiphol Ooste and the KLM maintenance areas, and off to your right a glimpse of the eastern cargo apron.
Runways 06/24 and 18L/36R are in front of you and within 300mm range.
Runways 09/27 and 04/22 are visible but a little further away.
Depending on the runway patterns in use, traffic from out-of-sight piers will often taxi past the terrace after landing, or before take-off.
Sadly the Schiphol Panorama Terrace used to be much larger, extended around more of the piers, and you can get a fleeting glimpse of this extension beyond a partition fence today. Maybe it will return one day, but for the time being what you have is fine.
Opening Times and Prices
The Amsterdam Schiphol Panorama Terrace is free to use and the Fokker 100 is free to enter.
It opens from 9am-5pm in Winter, and 7am-9pm in the Summer.
Depending on where you stand, it’s possible to pick up the free airport WiFi, enabling you to keep track of aircraft beyond binocular range.
The cafe and bar inside area great for all your sustenance needs, and there are many more downstairs in the terminal.