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    Car hire in Amsterdam - Exploring the Netherlands

    Compact and wonderfully cultural, Amsterdam boasts one of the most scenic and appealing storybook settings in the whole of Europe. Millions of visitors fall for the charm of this enthralling city on the Amstel every year to enjoy an authentic and enriching travel experience in the western Netherlands.

    Founded about 900 hundred years ago at the mouth of the River Amstel, the picturesque Dutch capital (Amsterdam is the capital according to the constitution, although the Hague has been the seat of government since 1588) is built on a latticework of concentric circles and boasts more canals than Venice (over 60 miles of them) and more bridges than Paris (400 in total).

    A city for romantics, art enthusiasts and lovers of café culture, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the city’s convivial atmosphere, not to mention its pulsating night-life and first-rate art galleries. An absolute joy to explore, Amsterdam is a compelling city with classic canal vistas and a unique watery setting having been built on over 90 islands; indeed, the whole place seems to have been custom-built for action-packed city sightseeing itineraries and relaxing short-breaks for the whole family.

    Gracious, historical and humorously hedonistic in an old-fashioned way, the city’s Old Town extends south from Central Station along Rokin (downtown Amsterdam’s main thoroughfare), allowing tourists the pleasure of passing dozens of shops, restaurants, cosy cafés and atmospheric bars along the way. With its picturesque waterways and fascinating cultural history, Amsterdam packs enough into its winding, cobbled streets for a city twice its size, and everything in the downtown area is a short walk or quick tram hop away.

    Ranked as one of Europe’s best-preserved 17th-century cities, Amsterdam is an urbanist’s dream come true with a cityscape largely unblemished by the kind of architectural follies or ostentatious monuments found in many of Europe’s other major cities. With more bikes than people, it is also one of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities and its status as a fast-growing street food capital has also boosted its international appeal, particularly among young people.

    The symbolic heart of the city is Dam Square around which many of the city’s top attractions can be found, including the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace), Madame Tussauds and the Amsterdam Diamond Centre. Built in the 13th century to help prevent the Zuiderzee Sea from flooding the area, Dam Square remains one of the liveliest parts of the city where food stalls and street entertainers help to enthral the constant flow of tourists passing through. After that, head down to the laid-back Leidseplein district for a leisurely drink in a friendly family-owned café before taking a stroll around the elegant Spiegelkwartier quarter, an area famous for its fine art and antique shops.

    Amsterdam lies in the heart of a lovely region comprising many picturesque villages surrounded by windmill-dotted pastures lined by rows and rows of daffodils and other brightly-coloured flowers. A notable attraction for visitors to this part of Holland (especially in springtime) is the Keukenhof Flower Garden located in the town of Lisse midway between Amsterdam and the Hague. With 32 hectares of prime land and approximately 10 miles of well-kept footpaths, this beautiful park offers flower shows, themed gardens, artworks, restaurants, boat trips and plenty of fun activities for the kids.

    Auto Europe offers the best deals for your car hire in Amsterdam at many popular locations all over the city. Vehicles can be picked up at the airport, railway stations or city offices throughout Amsterdam as well as many other top pick-up points all over the country, including Rotterdam and the Hague. Book your car in a few quick and easy steps using the Auto Europe booking engine after comparing the prices of the world's leading suppliers like Avis, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt, guaranteeing you the best range of cars at the lowest possible prices. From small-, medium- and large-size cars to luxury vehicles, motorhomes, stylish SUVs and classy convertibles, we cater for all budgets large or small by offering the right car at the right price, whether it’s for a relaxing city break in Amsterdam or a fun trip to the nearby bulb fields. Online reservations can be made through our booking engine or by calling our car rental specialists who are available seven days a week on +44 123 3225 114. For tips on driving around Amsterdam and the rest of the country, please consult our Netherlands driving guide for information about driving distances, road rules, age restrictions, etc. Find out what other travellers think about Auto Europe's wide-ranging vehicle rental services by visiting our Amsterdam car hire reviews page.

    How is the traffic in Amsterdam?

    It's best to avoid driving in the centre of Amsterdam if possible, especially as the local public transport network is so efficient and affordable. Driving is on the right in the Netherlands with speed limits set at 130kph (75mph) on motorways and 50kph (30mph) in towns and cities. Always remember that in Amsterdam and elsewhere in Holland there are always large numbers of cyclists on the roads, even at night, so take care whilst driving and constantly keep an eye out for them. A modern and well-organised system of motorways and main roads covers the whole of the Netherlands, making it possible to visit many of the country's most interesting places with your car rental in Amsterdam. Traffic can be exceptionally busy in and around the city, particularly during the morning and evening rush-hours, as well as on the approaches to the nearby North Sea beaches in the summer months. Thankfully, there are no tolls on any of the roads or motorways in the Netherlands which saves visitors time and money. The main routes in and out of Amsterdam are the E19 from the west of Belgium, the E25 from the east of Belgium and the E22, E30 and E35 from Germany. Electronic message boards on most of the motorways warn drivers of upcoming delays or traffic jams, so make sure you have your GPS switched on or a good map at your disposal.

    Where can I park my car hire in Amsterdam?

    Amsterdam receives over one million visitors with their own cars each year, so make sure you plan your trip well in advance to avoid any frustrations during your stay in this wonderful city. Although it’s quite easy to get around Amsterdam by car, there’s always a great demand for parking spaces, especially in the busy downtown areas. For this reason, we suggest using the many Park+Ride (P+R) car parks in the city’s perimeter where you can park up and travel into the city centre using the city’s excellent public transport system. Although parking spaces in Amsterdam’s city centre are hard to come by, there are plenty of good options close to the city’s top attractions, such as the House of Anne Frank, Rijksmuseum and the NEMO Science Museum, including APCOA Parking Prins & Keizer on Vijzelstraat - Hoek Prinsengracht, ParkBee on Bertrand Russellstraat and Q-Park Weesperplein on Wibautstraat. On-street parking is part of the city’s digital parking system which can get quite expensive but the system is straightforward to use. You just need to enter your licence plate into the meters and pay with an international credit card (cash is not accepted).

    Amsterdam Airport

    Located just 17 kilometres (11 miles) south-west of the city, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is the biggest airport in the Netherlands and the third busiest in the whole of Europe in terms of passenger volume. The main hub of the national carrier KLM, it was designed as a single-terminal airport comprising one large terminal split into three spacious and ultra-modern departure halls where all facilities are located under a single roof. Amsterdam Airport first opened as a military airbase during World War I and today caters for around 70 million passengers a year with over 165 boarding gates and a large shopping area called Schiphol Plaza. The list of the most important airlines operating at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport include Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Delta, easyJet, Emirates, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Transavia, TUI Fly Netherlands, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and Vueling..

    Amsterdam Airport (AMS)
    Telephone: +31 20 794 0800
    Address: Schipholgebouw, Evert van de Beekstraat 202, 1118 CP Schiphol, Netherlands

    What to do in Amsterdam

    Exploring Amsterdam, a place where tradition and innovation are seamlessly intertwined, is a joyful journey through time and history in a watery wonderland simply overflowing with cutting-edge design, artistic masterpieces, ground-breaking architecture and quaintly reflective canals. The city boasts a growing number of must-see attractions, many of which are located in close proximity to Dam Square and the city centre;

    • Rijksmuseum: With one of the world’s most extensive art collections, the vast and recently-renovated Rijksmuseum boasts all the architectural grandeur of its impressive building plus the concentrated brilliance of its famous Old Masters, including Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Besides the paintings, there’s a treasure trove of silverware, Delft pottery and prized furniture to appreciate, as well as rare collections of model ships, rich costumes and Asian art.

    • Van Gogh Museum: Vincent van Gogh was a passionate 19th century painter whose work remains as fresh and inspiring today as it did during his lifetime. Famous for its contrasting colours, he produced his best paintings in the south of France where he lived and completed over 200 paintings and over 100 drawings and watercolours, many of which are on display in this museum.

    • House of Anne Frank: It was in this small terraced house on Prinsengracht that a young Anne Frank wrote an account of her time in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Along with her family, she concealed herself behind a bookcase in the attic for over 2 years. After their capture, she was taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she died, but thankfully her diary was later discovered and published in over 60 different languages.

    • Dam Square: Home to many of the city's top attractions, including the neoclassical Royal Palace, the ever-popular Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the National Monument dedicated to the victims of World War II, Dam Square is conveniently located in Amsterdam's historic centre. Rectangular in shape, the square has been the setting for many events in the country's historic, such as the 1945 shootings and Coronation riots of 1980.

    • NEMO Science Museum: One of Europe's largest family attractions is NEMO, a hands-on science museum that relates the story of technology and how energy has shaped the world in a most compelling manner. Housed in an innovate ship-like building designed by Renzo Piano, the museum explores a diversity of thought-provoking subjects, including life in the universe, shapes, energy, machines and science through the ages.

    Best day trips with my car rental in Amsterdam

    Being such a small and compact country, the Netherlands is the perfect place for people looking to visit the country’s top sights with their rent a car in Amsterdam. Here follows a selection of some of the places worth seeing whilst exploring this wonderful city;

    Hoge Veluwe National Park

    Very much the green lungs of Holland’s hinterland, the magnificent Hoge Veluwe National Park is a rich mix of marshes, lush forests, lakes and dunes just 50 miles south-east of Amsterdam. Once a private hunting ground, this huge expanse of prime land is also home to the Kröller-Müller Museum which boasts one of the best Van Gogh collections in the whole of Holland.


    Approximately 40 miles south-west of Amsterdam lies the evocative old town of Delft, a picturesque place with a canvas of canals, churches and museums in close proximity to the Hague, the country's parliamentary capital. Famous for its blue and white pottery, it was the home town of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer, one of the best painters of the 17th century.

    Keukenhof Gardens

    In spring, no one can resist a trip along the tulip trail to the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens at Lisse (about 20 miles south-west of Amsterdam), the history of which dates back to the 15th century. Some seven million bulbs of over 800 different varieties burst into colour as flower-growers from all over the Netherlands vie for floral recognition from March until late May every year. Other attractions include exhibitions, a treasure hunt, animal farm, maze and playground for the kids.


    Surrounded by hills and forests, medieval Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands and well worth an excursion with your car hire in Amsterdam. Sandwiched between Belgium and Germany some 200 miles south of Amsterdam, the city is notable for its cobbled old town (don’t miss Vrijthof Square) featuring St Servaas Church with its 10th-century crypt containing the tomb of the city’s patron saint.

    Geographic Information & History

    Located in the western Netherlands, Amsterdam is surrounded by very flat land, including a large man-made forest. In the Middle Ages it had a moat called the Singel and today the city has more than 60 miles of canals, most of which are navigable by boat. Served by a large seaport, Amsterdam is strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west which causes both winters and summers to be quite mild despite the prevailing westerly winds.

    Around 50 BC, the Batavians (a Germanic tribe) travelled down the Rhine to found the city's first settlements in the marshy outlets of the Amstel Estuary. For a long time, the principal trade was fishing and the city’s first wooden houses were built around 1200 AD on man-made earth mounds. In 1275, the settlement of 'Amstelredamme' (as it was then known) was authorised to transport goods tax-free on the River Amstel, thus handing the city a monopoly on river trade. Amsterdam was already a thriving trade centre by the year 1300 with plenty of bacon, salt, wine, locally-caught herring and German beer passing through its strategically-located harbour. By 1500 it had become a walled city with a population of more than 12,000 residents before the Netherlands embarked on its golden age of discovery in the 1700s, a period that saw Dutch ships travel to all four corners of the globe, bringing back many goods still unknown to most Europeans at that time. A century later, Amsterdam had grown into one of the world’s foremost financial centres, a status it still retains today.

    How to get around Amsterdam

    Due to its unique location and topographical features, there are many different ways for tourists to see the very best of what Amsterdam has to offer. Many visitors opt to get around on foot, although the opportunity to join the locals and zip around the inner city on a bicycle is equally appealing. Don't forget, also, that the Dutch capital is perfectly navigable by boat on account of the many canals and waterways criss-crossing the city, so make sure you book a cruise while you're in town. Furthermore, four fare-free ferries carry pedestrians and cyclists across the IJ lake to the borough of Amsterdam-Noord, while two fare-charging ferries run east and west along the harbour, providing people with many additional sightseeing possibilities.


    Many bus routes start from Centraal Station, a major transport hub located at the northern end of the city's downtown district. Amsterdam’s bus network is extensive, connecting all neighbourhoods with other city areas and extending outwards into the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. For example, visitors heading to the flower strip in spring, towards the beaches of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal and to the main historic towns and villages north of Amsterdam can often get around easiest by bus.


    Amsterdam’s trams are suitably distinctive, decked out in blue and white and armed with a famous bell that rings out to attract the attention of any pedestrians and cyclists in the vicinity. From Centraal Station to outlying neighbourhoods, the tram is one of the quickest ways to get into and around the city centre.


    Amsterdam's excellent metro system stems from Centraal Station to reach many of the city's outlying areas. Its four routes are often the fastest way to get to some of the city's more interesting suburbs like Bijlmer, Amstelveen and Diemen, plus many of the most popular tourist districts in-between.


    Amsterdam is served by ten stations operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways). Five are intercity stops, namely Sloterdijk, Zuid, Amstel, Bijlmer Arena and Amsterdam Centraal. The stations for the main local train services are Lelylaan, RAI, Holendrecht, Muiderpoort and Science Park. Amsterdam Central is also an international railway station serving a wide range of European destinations such as Austria, Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.


    Taxis are plentiful in Amsterdam due to the fact that many residents don't own a car. Taxis can be handy when travelling to and from the airport, late at night when the trams have stopped running or when you're running late. Depending on the traffic during peak times, however, public transport is often the quickest way of getting to your destination, so be sure to bear that in mind if you are rushing to catch a flight at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

    Water transport

    An abundance of water taxis, water buses, ferries and other modes of canal-based transport cater for tourists, both as public and private enterprises.


    Cycling is one of the best ways to get around Amsterdam, and no visitor should leave without experiencing the city's world famous bike culture. Even if you only pedal around for a few hours, riding a bike is an essential Amsterdam experience. Renting a bike or taking a guided cycle tour is a great way to discover the city and can be quite an adventure. Exploring the city on a bike lets you see more in a day, while blending in with the locals at the same time.

    Can I hire a campervan in Amsterdam?

    Besides car hire, Auto Europe offers an excellent choice of campervan hire in Amsterdam, enabling visitors to avoid the cost of hotels and some meals whilst travelling around the Netherlands. You can book your motorhome in Amsterdam quickly and easily online in just a few steps on the Auto Europe website, or if you require advice on your travel itinerary then feel free to call our reservation specialists on +49 (0) 89 412 072 98 who will be more than happy to give you all the help you need.

    Useful links

    Holland Tourist Info