Rotterdam

By | 16th January 2018

Is it worth hiring a car in Rotterdam?

Do you need a car in Rotterdam > Should you rent a car in Rotterdam Netherlands > Rotterdam ( RTM ) Do you need a car in Rotterdam? Is it worth hiring a car in Rotterdam? Should you rent a car in Rotterdam?

Rotterdam Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

60%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Rotterdam but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

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

€135

 #152/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Rotterdam during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

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]

 €150

80/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 121 - of which 47 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

39%

#164/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Rotterdam, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Rotterdam public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

60%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

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

80%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

80%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Rotterdam good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Rotterdam because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Rotterdam. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

100%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Rotterdam, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Rotterdam Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Rotterdam", "is it worth hiring a car in Rotterdam", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Rotterdam?

Do you need a car in Rotterdam?

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. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Rotterdam " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Rotterdam?

Is it worth hiring a car in Rotterdam?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Rotterdam" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Rotterdam?

Should you rent a car in Rotterdam?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Rotterdam, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Rotterdam compares with other destinations in  Netherlands or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Rotterdam?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

30%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

5

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Rotterdam if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Rotterdam for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Rotterdam for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Rotterdam if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Rotterdam if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Rotterdam if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Rotterdam, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Rotterdam if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Rotterdam if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Rotterdam if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Rotterdam, or are there good reasons not to?

Dutch cities are well known for being exceptionally friendly to cyclists, and Rotterdam additionally has a very well developed public transport network, but can this also be a good base for getting around by car?

Do you need a car in Rotterdam? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Rotterdam?", 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 Rotterdam? 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 Rotterdam as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Rotterdam?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Rotterdam?

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 Rotterdam?
  1. Because you can – it’s a British myth that cities with lots of bicycles cannot also be car friendly. Rotterdam is an exceptionally car friendly city, with a vast network of motorways and dual carriageways providing easy connection between the airport the city centre, the docks, the suburbs and neighbouring cities. Although a car hire in Rotterdam itself is not especially cheap in the Netherlands, fuel prices are reasonable if you hire a diesel, and parking is usually readily available in most places.=
  2. No direct airport link – if you are previously flown into Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, then Rotterdam The Hague airport is a much smaller affair, with no direct rail link. Although buses are available to both Rotterdam and The Hague, service patterns are nowhere near the vast range of public transport that is available from Schiphol, which is hardly surprisingly given the airport’s compact size. On the other hand, hire cars are readily available outside the airport terminal (as are taxis if you’d prefer that option).
  3. Rotterdam as a base – Rotterdam is a useful base from which to explore the rest of the Netherlands or neighbouring Belgium, and possibly then to continue to Luxembourg. Although a car isn’t really necessary for venturing into the centre Rotterdam (your hotel will probably have some rental bikes for this), it can be very useful for exploring elsewhere, especially if you’re visiting a lot of places which are outside of the main city centres. The Netherlands might have an excellent public transport network, but if you are based in the suburbs and travelling to locations outside city centres, then public transport can still involve a lot of changes.

Why not? Visiting Rotterdam without a car

What is public transport like in Rotterdam? 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 4?
  1. There is still no need – Rotterdam has been extensively redeveloped since World War II, giving it a feeling that might be slightly faded in places, but ultramodern in others. I’ve made 2 or 3 brief trips to Rotterdam in the last decade, and each time I come back I discover somewhere new and exciting to explore, and next time this will include the impressive new indoor market. The bottom line is that Rotterdam has plenty of attractions which are within easy walking distance from the main central station, and even if you do wonder further off, you can easily return back by tram, underground or mainline train, and even that is assuming you haven’t already hired a bike! So within the city and its immediate suburbs, there’s just no need for a hire car in Rotterdam.
  2. Hire a bike – hiring a bike makes obvious sense in Rotterdam, just as it does in any other Dutch city. Just because Rotterdam has superb public transport and is also very easy to drive around, that doesn’t make it any less pleasurable to hire a bike. The only minor barrier is that you will sooner or later need to cross the Rhine River or one of the other various waterways which criss-cross the city. Be prepared to dive down into a cross river tunnel or make a windswept river crossing – but this is all easy stuff compared to cycling on British roads! Many hotels will be able to provide you with a bicycle on site, but if this is not an option, then there are numerous other places around the city where you can hire a bicycle, including at the main Rotterdam Central Station. However, before hiring a bicycle, it is worth noting a couple of points: firstly, there is no equivalent of the “Boris bikes” system in the Netherlands. You will need to pick up a bike from one location and return it to that point. The only automated cycle hire facilities are the ones run by the Dutch Railways (OV-Fiets), and they require local registration and identification. Even these facilities will charge you €10 for a one-way hire. We also do not advise taking a bicycle on Dutch trains – you will have to pay €10 for a day ticket, and even then you cannot take your bike on peaktime trains. Instead, it is much easier to hire a bike at the local railway station each time you need one.
  3. Efficient public transport – Rotterdam really does have an amazing network of public transport, and this expands into neighbouring Delft and The Hague. More locally within the city of Rotterdam, there is also a broad network of trams and of course buses.
  4. Arriving from Amsterdam – whether you are flying into Schiphol airport or just arriving in Rotterdam by train from Amsterdam, it really is very easy to go almost anywhere you need in the city with no more than one connection via Rotterdam Central Station. A is only really useful if you plan on staying out of the suburbs and travelling to locations which aren’t readily accessible by public transport – as per advice above.

Rotterdam without a car – beyond the city:

  1. Visit Amsterdam – the Dutch capital might get the lion’s share of the tourist trade, and many people choose to base themselves in Rotterdam but make at least one trip to Amsterdam. The 2 cities are less than an hour apart by train, and this journey time can be compacted further by taking the fast NS High Speed link and paying a supplement of €3.50 each way. It’s a natural given that there is just no point in driving to Amsterdam – even though there are several fast road options available, these roads tend to get busy at various times of the day, and parking in Amsterdam, whilst cheap by London standards, is still an unnecessary expense. By contrast, the train takes you straight to Amsterdam Centraal station, which does almost as its name suggests, by taking you right to the edge of the city centre, if not quite the heart of it! Even if you want to visit places around Amsterdam, this is easy to do with local public transport connections, so check online first if there is a more direct route to where you’re planning on going without going through the centre of Amsterdam.
  2. Visit Delft – Delft might be famous for its pottery, and that same said pottery is so often based on the type of historical buildings that can easily be seen around the city. Delft isn’t just next door to Rotterdam, it’s part of the same regional transport system. The city is easy enough to walk around, but to enjoy a bit more of it, you might well prefer to pick up a bicycle when you get there.
  3. Visit Utrecht – a no other classically historic Dutch city, Utrecht has an amazingly attractive heart that can be reached just beyond the main station complex. Don’t be fooled by the ugliness that greets you when you first arrive in Utrecht – all the good stuff is just a 10 minute walk away. The centre of Utrecht itself is particularly compact, and you can easily walk round it without even needing to hire a bicycle. Visitors to Utrecht who are fans of Miffy might also want to include a stop in the Dick Bruna house.

Ratings

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.

Verdict

What is our final score for Rotterdam on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

4


Rotterdam is about as close as it gets to a large city which offers residents and visitors a complete choice between the convenience of the private car, the efficiency of public transport and the personal enjoyment of cycling or walking. In this respect, Rotterdam is a complete all-rounder, and although the redevelopment of the city since World War II has of course been meticulously planned, it is as if Rotterdam still allows users a complete balance of options for determining how they get around.

Is it worth hiring a car in Rotterdam?  Given that there is a wide range of flexibility about how to get around, it would be easy to say that the best option is simply to use public transport and then to cycle or walk for more local trips, and anybody visiting Rotterdam who wants to do this will have no problem at all getting around. However, it is equally worth pointing out that getting a hire car in Rotterdam is a perfectly sound choice for people who want to do this, and that if a strict comparison was made between Rotterdam and Amsterdam, given that drivers in Amsterdam face many more restrictions, because of the tight historic city core, it’s perfectly reasonable to lean towards saying that a hire car in Rotterdam is a fair choice.

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