By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Amsterdam?

Do you need a car in Amsterdam > Should you rent a car in Amsterdam Netherlands > Amsterdam ( AMS )
Do you need a car in 4? Is it worth hiring a car in 4? Should you rent a car in 4? Should you rent a car in 4?

Amsterdam Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all factors, including driving roads, hire and fuel costs, road safety etc. [Full notes - drive rating]


Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Amsterdam but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 739 - of which 51 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Amsterdam public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Amsterdam good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Amsterdam



Take to the waters!

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Amsterdam


Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Amsterdam", "is it worth hiring a car in Amsterdam", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Amsterdam?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Amsterdam?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Amsterdam?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Amsterdam city centre has a reputation as a cyclists’ paradise and a driver’s nightmare. Is that still the case for the area around the city, and for the rest of the Netherlands? Is Amsterdam car hire ever really an option?

Amsterdam is also world-famous as a party city, with its infamous red light district and coffee shops. We presume that you already know this, so we won’t waste much time simply regurgitating the obvious: For a short stay in the centre of Amsterdam, there is absolutely no point whatsoever in even considering hiring a car.

Do you need a car in Amsterdam ? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Amsterdam ?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Amsterdam ? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Amsterdam as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Amsterdam ?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

So, when we look at Amsterdam car hire, we’re looking at a longer trip. This might be using Amsterdam as a base or a start point for exploring not just the local area, but the significant hinterland beyond.

Why should you rent a car in Amsterdam?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Amsterdam?

Do you need a car in Amsterdam? Reasons why you might!

In and around Amsterdam

  • Good roads: Whilst it is true that many more journeys in the Netherlands are made by bike than they are in the UK or the USA, the quality of the roads is still very high. Because public transport is also of a very high standard, there is less congestion. This means there is more space on the roads for those people who do want to drive.
  • The Netherlands also has three times as many miles of motorway per capita as the UK does, so it is easy to get around by any means.
  • Low congestion – it’s actually a great myth to say you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” drive in Amsterdam, especially if you are staying in a suburban location and travelling around the country. Because it has such a well developed cycling and public transport network, Amsterdam is actually one of the least congested major cities in Europe. You will find the same situation in other Dutch cities too. The emphasis is always on encouraging alternatives, and restricting “through” traffic in town centres.
  • Cost of trains: We (in the UK or the USA) might look to the Netherlands as having a high standard of public transport, but the trains are still relatively pricey on a per mile basis. There are no off-peak or advance purchase discounts for visitors. Bring over a family, and a hire car easily works out as better value than going by train.

Driving beyond the Amsterdam area

  • Get out: This isn’t just about the city centre of Amsterdam — Schiphol airport is a gateway for a vast hinterland beyond Amsterdam itself. There are so many flight routes operating here that aren’t available at many of the other nearby airports, or even at major neighbouring cities like Brussels or Dusseldorf.
  • Architecture: Architecture buffs will find that the Netherlands is full of all kinds of interesting historic and modern buildings. These are sometimes in small towns or in the suburbs — even bland industrial units in the Netherlands can often be meticulously put together. The best way to conduct a self-guided architectural tour is to have the flexibility of a car. Of particular note are the unique self built houses in the new city of Almere, the cube houses in Rotterdam. You could also follow the Dudok trail in Hilversum. It’s also worth diverting to look at the three bridges designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in Hoofddorp, near Schiphol Airport.
  • Engineering Polders: The Netherlands has an impressive system of holding back the sea, a feat regarded by many engineers as one of the most impressive pieces of civil engineering in the 20th century. You will find a car useful to drive across Ijsselmeer using the N302 or the A7 Afsluitdijk. Even though this is a motorway crossing, a slow (and cycling) lane is still available – if you can tolerate the wind!
  • Rivers & Islands: To explore the many mouths of the Rhine or the relatively deserted islands of the Waddenzee, a car is essential.
  • Dutch landscapes: A hire car is best to appreciate the typical Dutch springtime landscape of tulips, canals and windmills – but a bike will do as well.

Why not? Visiting Amsterdam without a car

What is public transport like in Amsterdam? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam area without a car

  • Obvious isn’t it? Cities in Netherlands are tightly packed — easy to get between, and even easier to get around.
  • Bike it: Cycle hire facilities are widely available at Amsterdam Centraal and most major NS railway stations, no pre-booking required.
  • Canals: Amsterdam is a city of canals, surely the best way of getting around is to take a boat trip?
  • Public transport is excellent, who needs to even consider a rental car?

Beyond Amsterdam without a car

  • Nationwide Travelcard: To use the public transport network, users can purchase an OV-Chipkaart, which works nationwide. The cost is €7.50 for a pay as you go card.
  • High Speed Trains: The FYRA train takes you direct from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Rotterdam in just 27 minutes. Thalys provides rapid connections to Antwerp and Brussels. Heading in the other direction, regular fast German ICE train services provide links to Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Cologne and beyond. Note that the dedicated FYRA trains have been cancelled due to endless technical problems. A traditional locomotive hauled service currently operates, taking a minute or two longer. FYRA is still fast because it makes very few stops.

Do you need a car in Amsterdam? This might seem like a silly question for a weekend city break, but what about for longer trips?


Do you need a car in Amsterdam? For longer stays with more flexibility for travelling between Dutch cities and enjoying the Dutch landscape, a hire car is certainly useful, but by no means essential.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Would you hire a car in Amsterdam?

Have you driven in Amsterdam? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Amsterdam?

Do you need a car in Amsterdam? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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