The largest stadium in the Netherlands, the Johan Cruyff Arena, boasts a seated capacity of over 55,000, making it one of the premier venues for major sporting and musical events in the country and in Europe as a whole. Whether you’re in town for a UEFA Euro match or to see an international superstar in concert, getting a lay of the land is essential to maximize your stay in Amsterdam and your visit to the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Getting to Johan Cruyff Arena
Home of the AFC Ajax football club, the Johan Cruyff Arena is well-connected to other parts of the city. From Amsterdam Centraal station, there are Sprinter trains that run two to four times per hour to the arena, which take just 15 minutes. You can also take an Intercity train from Amsterdam Centraal or Amsterdam South stations, depending on where you are staying.
The metro is also an option as the arena is serviced by metro line 50 and 54. Though Google Maps will probably tell you to get off at Amsterdam Strandvliet station, the main station for the arena is the Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA station, which will leave you right at the heart of the Arena Boulevard. That being said, depending on where you enter and exit the stadium, Strandvliet may be more convenient and will have fewer crowds.
Leaving the arena, the first couple of train cars from Bijlmer ArenA will be packed because they’re closest to the metro entrance. But if you make your way to the back, you’ll be able to get on board with no issues.
Where to stay
Amsterdam is larger than most visitors see, and it’s not all bikes and canals. Indeed, the Johan Cruyff Arena sits in the suburb of Amsterdam-Zuidoost, where there’s fewer coffee shops and sex stores and more supermarkets and IKEA. So does this mean it’s not a good idea to stay near the stadium when you visit? That depends.
The stadium is well-connected to city center by trains and the metro, so both can be accessible regardless of where you stay. If you’re not big on Amsterdam tourism and you’re only in town for a night or two, you might be better off staying at one of the many hotels in the Arena Boulevard area, such as the Holiday Inn Express and easyHotel. The upside of this is that when everyone else is fighting to get on public transportation home, you’ll be walking distance.
However, if you are interested in checking out museums and the nightlife, getting back to your hotel each night might be a hassle, particularly because the metro in Amsterdam stops running at midnight. A late night out in the city means you’d have to catch an inconvenient bus or one of the Intercity trains if they’re available. Your other option is to pay for a very expensive taxi or Uber.
The expense may also be exacerbated by event pricing. Though during any other time, hotels in an Amsterdam suburb would be available at a discount compared to city center prices, when a major event is announced at the Johan Cruyff Arena, the hotels around the arena book up first and their prices skyrocket.
A happy medium would be to stay somewhere that is convenient by public transport to both the venue and city center, such as the area around the Amsterdam Amstel station. This is far enough out of the city that prices are more reasonable and far enough away from the stadium that it won’t have the same event-related price-gouging.
Both before and after a concert or football match, the area around the arena, known as Arena Boulevard, is lively with bars, restaurants, and fast food. So you can eat or have a few drinks right before entering the arena or get a snack on the way out. You can’t go wrong with New York Pizza and Dunkin’ if you just want to eat without having to sit down somewhere.
A great way to avoid the crowds leaving the area is just to stay behind at one of the restaurants or lounges like JinSo or Grolsch Pub. However, if you’re attending an evening event, many of these places will be closing by 11 pm or midnight.
Inside Johan Cruyff Arena
The arena’s main entrance is entrance E, which is typically open 2.5 hours before football matches or events. However, your event ticket will indicate which is the closest entrance to your seat and specify what time doors are. Signage is easy to follow, and event staff are helpful and ensure entry is extremely organized and efficient.
There are food and drink facilities throughout the arena, serving up things like hot dogs, sausage rolls, and fries. And yes, alcohol is served inside the arena, so you don’t need to pre-drink before you enter. In addition to liquor, Heineken is of course on tap. The stadium is cashless, so you need a credit or debit card for all purchases.
If you’re coming all the way to Amsterdam from elsewhere in Europe or the rest of the world, you don’t have to worry about bad weather cancelling your event. Johan Cruyff Arena has a retractable roof.
On non-event days, football fans may be interested in one of the arena’s guided stadium tours, which are in both Dutch and English. They take you behind the scenes to the Ajax dressing room and players tunnel among other spots.
Overall, the arena and staff are well-equipped to host large-scale events that are enjoyable for Dutch and foreigners alike.