Car Hire in Amsterdam
This information is correct as of April 2015
Transport in Amsterdam isn’t all about bicycles and boats. You can get more out of your trip to Amsterdam by hiring a car. Whether you want to explore the famous Dutch countryside, with its windmills and tulip fields, or just need a run-a-round to get you from A to B the easy way, there are plenty of great car rental options to choose from in the ‘Dam.
Where to hire a car in Amsterdam
All of the major car rental companies have bases in Amsterdam, both in the city centre and at the airport. There’s a cluster of pick up spots at Overtoom, a long street near Leidesplein. You can also find some car rental companies near Amsterdam Central Station. If you’re flying into Schiphol Airport you have a choice of six major car hire providers (National, Hertz, Europcar, Enterprise, Budget, and Avis).
Driving in Amsterdam Amsterdam is one of Northern Europe’s most relaxed cities, but unfortunately that laid back attitude doesn’t quite extend to its roads. You really have to keep your wits about you behind the wheel. Amsterdam is chock full of cyclists, and also has an extensive tram network (the trams have right of way). Always check behind you before turning right in case any cyclists are coming up fast on your inside. To add to the drama, many of the streets in the city centre are quite narrow. Like the majority of European countries, traffic in The Netherlands drives on the right hand side of the road. If you hire a car in Amsterdam it’s likely to be a left hand drive. If you’ve never driven an LHD vehicle before it’s worth spending a few moments in the car park getting used to the gear stick and hand brake being on the other side. Rush hour in Amsterdam is similar to other large European cities, with the majority of traffic occurring between 8am-9:30am and again from 5pm-6:30pm. The worst effected rush hour roads are the A2 and the motorway between the city and Schiphol Airport. Traffic is generally calmer on Fridays, as many Dutch people take the day off.
Parking in Amsterdam
There is some bay parking in the city centre, although this is understandably popular. In the very heart of the city (Centrum), bays are in operation from 9am-midnight Monday to Saturday, and from 12pm until midnight on Sundays. These spaces cost €5 (about £3.60) per hour. In the Jordaan and Oud Zuid parking costs €4 (about £2.90) per hour and restrictions vary. Always check the local signage before parking. There’s also a good range of multi-storey car parks. Q-Park operate two car parks in the city centre: one on Marnixstraat (10 minutes walk from Anne Frank House) and one on Tesselschadestraat (near the Vondelpark). There are more than 15 other car parks to choose from in the city centre, as well as a few multi-storeys in Zuidoost and West. If you don’t want to brave driving in Amsterdam city centre, there are seven Park & Rides on the outskirts of town. If you’re parking before 10am on a weekday it costs €8 (about £5.75) for the first 24 hours, and €1 (about 70p) for the next 24 hours. If you enter on a weekday after 10am, or on a weekend, it only costs €1* (about 70p) for 24 hours. Bargain. To get these rates you need to buy a special travel card from the blue machines at the park and ride. Scan them when getting on and off public transport, and when entering and leaving the car park.
*Prices subject to change
Great day trips from Amsterdam
Waterland It takes less than 20 minutes to reach this charming region to the north of Amsterdam. Here you’ll get to see the Dutch countryside in all of its splendour: flat pastures, majestic windmills, canals, and traditional wooden housing. Drive around the region and pop into charming villages like Volendam, Broek in Waterland, and of course Edam: home to the famous cheese.
Gouda Another cheesy day trip from Amsterdam, Gouda takes just over an hour by car. It’s a picturesque city packed with historic buildings, and during the summer the magnificent cheese market is open for business every Thursday morning. As well as the famous cheese you should also pick up some stroopwafels: two wafer cookies with a caramel filling, a traditional Dutch sweet first invented in Gouda.
Zandvoort This popular beach resort is a 50 minute drive from Amsterdam, and is the perfect place to visit when the sun comes out to play. There’s a large beach dotted with shacks selling snacks and drinks, and plenty of magnificent sand dunes to explore.