Amsterdam, the capital city of the Dutch province of North Holland, is a very car-friendly region. Streets are all exceptionally marked, and parking spaces abound. True, the public transportation system (bus, tram, metro, train) is great. However, if you’re traveling with others, that option can turn out to be more expensive than renting a car in Amsterdam. 

Moreover, if you plan to drive outside of Amsterdam (and who can blame you for doing so given that the Netherlands has so much to offer!), traveling whenever it suits you offers the ultimate freedom and luxury. Please continue reading below for suggestions on the best car rental companies and helpful, insider car rental driving tips.

Is it a Good Idea to Rent a Car in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam itself is not a big place. If you’re staying for just a few days and limiting your travels within the city limits, it makes sense to use public transportation or just use a bike! However, the minute you have “other plans”, a car rental in Amsterdam may be better. To help you decide, here’s a PROs and CONs list for you.

PROs of Renting a Car in Amsterdam

  • Save time. Public transportation means having to know and follow a specific timetable. If you self-drive, you go whenever you want to go.
  • Save on money. It’s more cost-effective to rent a car in Amsterdam if you’re traveling with two or more people. It’s possible to rent a budget car for just €50 per day, and that’s cheaper than buying train tickets for 3 or 4 people.
  • Travel flexibility. In Amsterdam, trains, and buses run till 1 AM. After that, there are “night trains” and “night buses,” but they don’t run their normal day schedule, so if you’ve missed your ride, you have to wait. If you’re outside Amsterdam, night train and bus schedules are even more erratic so if you’re not sure of your schedule, renting a car is the better option if you don’t want to be stranded.

CONs of Renting a Car in Amsterdam

  • Potential Traffic. Amsterdam is a very busy, metropolitan city, so traffic jams are not impossible. However, these mostly occur during peak hours, so if you have the flexibility to travel before or after these hours, then it shouldn’t be a problem for you.
  • Parking fees. Amsterdam has one of the most expensive parking fees in the country. However, there are plenty of ways you can go around this. Read our article Amsterdam Parking – All You Need to Know on how to park cheap and smart in Amsterdam.
  • Fuel costs. Different car rental companies have different fueling policies. Usually, the fuel policy depends on the type of car you’re renting and how long you’re renting it for, so please read the fine print so that there are no surprises when you bring the car back.

Car Rental Companies in Amsterdam

We recommend renting a car from one of the better-known car rental companies. This is because the bigger companies have a bigger collection of vehicles from which to choose, clearer rules, and they offer better insurance packages. They are also less likely to cancel trips at the last minute or have other unpleasant surprises.

The best car rental companies are also the internationally known ones. (Note: Each provider has a desk at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, so you can easily rent from there.)

  • Sixt is known for its fleet of high-end car models (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, etc.), so they’re the pricier option. 
  • Hertz also has a large fleet of cars to choose from, including small city cars in the middle price range.
  • Enterprise is known for its customer service. Their prices for car rentals are also pretty good. 
  • Europcar has a decent fleet of cars that even drivers as young as 21 can choose from.
  • Avis Budget, as the name implies, offers renters cars in the budget range.

Alamo and Thrifty are also present in Amsterdam, catering to the more budget-conscious traveler. 

In addition to the above providers, there are plenty of local (Amsterdam-based) car rental companies. Compared to international companies, they offer cheaper car rates, but we advise that you check their customer reviews first online. Some renters complain of bad customer service, hidden extra costs, and bad quality of vehicles. We’re sure that not all local-based companies are like this, but please check online reviews first just the same.

Car Rental in Amsterdam – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to rent a car in Amsterdam?

Legal Age. The minimum age to drive in the Netherlands is 18, but most rental car companies will only rent to a driver at least 21 years of age. (Drivers under 25 may have to pay an extra fee, and some companies will only rent luxury cars to people 25+.)
 
Valid driver’s license. You must have your driver’s license for at least one year. If your driver’s license is not written in the Roman alphabet (Arabic, Chinese, etc.), you will also need an International Driving Permit (IDP). 
 
Passport. You need to show a valid passport to rent a car.
 
Credit or debit card. Credit and debit cards from internationally recognized credit card issuers are usually accepted. 

How much does it cost to rent a car in Amsterdam?

A rental car in Amsterdam can cost you about €50 per day. The daily car rental rate is mostly determined by the car model you want to rent and how long you want to rent the car.
 
Our tip: If a rate seems too good to be true, read the fine print to check for any potential hidden cost. Admin fees, extra mileage fees, deposit requirements, and cleaning costs may be applicable. Further, be sure to check pickup and return times. Some firms may charge you extra for each minute you return the car late, while others may charge you half an hour’s worth of fees.

Where can I rent a car in Amsterdam?

As mentioned above, the better-known car rental companies have a desk at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Sixt and Enterprise also have locations at the Amsterdam Central Station.
 
Our tip: use Google Maps to find the nearest “auto huren amsterdam” (car rental Amsterdam) near you.
 
Our tip: If you’re leaning towards a particular company, do a quick check online for reviews. Reviews can vary across different locations for the same rental companies.

What type of car should I rent?

Amsterdam has a lot of tight streets, and narrow parking spaces are notoriously known to be tight here, so it would be wise to rent a smaller car.

Is it possible to rent an automatic car in Amsterdam?

Yes. Most car rental companies will have automatic cars on offer.

Is it difficult to drive in Amsterdam?

Driving in the city center might need some getting used to. For one, some streets can be narrow. Also, keep in mind that cyclists have the right of way not just in Amsterdam but the whole country.

Do I need to get insurance when I rent a car in Amsterdam?

Most Amsterdam car rental companies provide insurance, but the amount of protection varies greatly from provider to provider. Liability insurance and fire protection insurance are frequently included in car rental rates, but these only cover injuries to other parties, not the rental car itself, so I strongly recommend you get car insurance while renting a car. You can arrange this with the rental car company or arrange it on your own with a 3rd party provider.

How do I find cheap car rental in Amsterdam?

# Compare deals among the many car rental companies.
# Book your car rental early to get the best price.
# Join a car rental company’s loyalty rewards program to earn points that may be redeemed for benefits. (Membership is usually free.)
# If you’re flying into Amsterdam, check with the airline if they have loyalty programs that offer car rental savings.

Can I drive my rental car outside Amsterdam?

Yes. But you may need to return the car to where you picked it up or pay a fee if you return it to a different location within the country. If you want to drive the car outside the Netherlands (cross-border driving), check if the company allows it and if any border crossing fees are involved.

Alternatives to Renting a Car in Amsterdam

In addition to using public transportation, the following are also alternatives to driving in Amsterdam.

Guided Tours

You own your time when you drive yourself. You can go whenever and wherever you want. However, it also entails creating your itinerary. You may waste time driving from one location to another if you’re not careful. If you don’t have the time or simply don’t want the trouble of self-driving, guided excursions are the best option.

Car Sharing

Commercial companies and private individuals can offer cars for sharing. This is usually done via a car-sharing app. It’s a cheaper alternative to renting a car in Amsterdam but depending on your location, car choices can be sparse. Further, many find parking or returning the car to a specific spot limiting.

Electric Scooter Sharing

As of this writing, Amsterdam has granted a license to two electric scooter sharing providers, Felyx and Check, as part of an experiment. You would need to sign up for an account and download the companies’ respective apps. From there, you can pick up any parked e-scooter and ride for about €0.25 per minute.

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