The Netherlands is the perfect country for driving. True, the Dutch public transportation system is excellent but nothing beats the freedom of simply getting in your own vehicle and driving when you want, where you want.
Furthermore, there is so much to see and do in Holland that driving is a great way to explore the country. Read on for a quick rundown of the best car rental companies and locations plus driving tips and car rental tips in the Netherlands. And just in case you don’t want to drive, I’ll provide alternative ways of getting around the country too.
Is it a Good Idea to Rent a Car in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is not a very big country so it actually makes perfect sense to rent a car when traveling instead of using other means of transportation. Why? Let me count the ways.
- Save time. Public transportation is great but you still have to conform to a specific train, tram, metro, and/or bus schedule. Self-driving means you simply go when you want to go. No waiting and no chance of missing any connecting ride.
- Save money. Renting a car in Hollandispretty normal there are plenty of car rental companies from which to choose. Since there’s enough supply to meet demand, that means competitive car rental rates for you! Of course, it all depends on the car make and model you want to drive but it’s definitely possible to rent a car for just around +/-€25 per day. If you’re traveling with family or friends, a car rental is definitely the cheaper option.
- Travel flexibility. For such a small country, Holland has so much to offer. If you self-drive you’ll have the flexibility to visit destinations that may be hard to reach if you use public transportation.
Car Rental Companies in Holland
My advice is to rent a car from one of the better-known car rental companies in the Netherlands, especially if it’s your first time visiting. This is because the bigger operators have a bigger fleet of cars, clearer policies, offer better insurance packages, and the likelihood of sudden cancellations or other unpleasant surprises is less.
The best car rental companies in Holland are the following. (Note: Each of these car rental companies has a desk at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.)
- Sixt offers plenty of high-end car models (e.g., Audi, BMW, Mercedes, etc.) so it’s one of the more expensive options.
- Hertz also offers a big fleet of cars from which to choose, including mid-range small city cars.
- Enterprise has a very good reputation for customer service. Their car rental rates are also quite competitive. They have a good presence in major Dutch cities but you may have a bit of a harder time finding a pick-up and drop-off point for your car in the more remote cities.
- Europcar has a great fleet of cars and has a good range even for drivers aged 21.
- Avis Budget is a world-renowned car rental company. As its name suggests, its fleet offers more cars in the budget range.
Alamo (owned by Enterprise) and Thrifty (owned by Hertz) are also available in the Netherlands and both cater to the budget-conscious traveler.
Requirements for Renting a Car in the Netherlands
There are a few basic requirements to be able to rent a car in Holland.
- Legal Age. The legal age to drive in the Netherlands is 18. However, most rental car companies will only rent to a driver who is at least 21 years of age. (Note: Drivers under the age of 25 may be charged a surcharge, and some rental companies will only rent cars in the luxury segment to those 25 and older.)
- Valid driver’s license. Drivers must hold their license for at least 1 year. (Note: Some rental car companies require a valid driver’s license for at least 2 years.) If your driver’s license is written in an alphabet other than Roman (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Cyrillic, etc.), you will additionally need an International Driving Permit (IDP). To get such a permit, you must present your original driver’s license (photocopies or e-copies are not accepted). Additional rules (or surcharges) may apply when renting a car depending on the country from which you got your license so please make sure you read the small print.
- Passport. You need to present your passport whenever you want to rent a car.
- Credit or debit card. Most car rental companies accept all credit and debit cards from internationally recognized credit card companies. (Note: Luxury segment cars may have specific credit card requirements.)
- Deposit. A deposit will be taken from your payment method as security. The amount of the deposit depends on the car you’re renting and the rental period so it’s wise to check how much this will be before signing any contract.
Costs of Renting a Car in the Netherlands
Daily rates vary depending on the car rental operator, the season, the type of car you want to rent, and the rental period.
As mentioned above, there are deals to be had that start at just €25 per day but, of course, these cars will be in the budget range. On average, expect to spend €40 per day for mid-range cars, and €65 and up per day for luxury cars.
Please also consider how long you’ll be using your rental car and for what purpose. For example, if you’re in Holland to travel and shop, then perhaps you need a bigger car than you think to hold all your purchases.
Car Rental Locations in Holland
Main car rental companies in Holland will have a desk at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which is the country’s main airport. However, since the Netherlands itself is one big tourist destination, almost every major city will have pick-up and drop-off points for their cars.
Rent a Car at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
All vehicles are available for pickup at the Car Rental and Service Desk located in Schiphol Plaza, which is the main lobby of the airport. (Just follow the signs for “Car Rental” to get to the car operators’ desks.) After completing the required paperwork, the front desk staff will lead you to your car’s pick-up point.
Other notable airports in Holland are the Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Groningen Airport Eelde, Eindhoven Airport, and Maastricht Aachen Airport. Not all these airports will have Car Rental desks like Schiphol inside their terminals. However, most car rental companies will have a pick-up and drop-off point nearby so be sure to check what’s available before your travels.
Useful Tips on Renting a Car in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, you have to have liability insurance and fire protection insurance, and these are already built into the price of every rental car. If there is an accident, this covers injuries to people in other cars, but not to the rental car itself so I highly advise you to get car insurance when renting a car.
You can decide if you want rental insurance when you book the car or when you pick it up. You don’t have to do it, and yes, it costs money, but if you don’t, you put yourself and your bank account at risk.
If you don’t want to get car insurance from a car rental company, there are alternatives. For example, your own car insurance may cover you when you rent a car. You could also get rental insurance through your credit card. You can also try to save money by buying insurance from a different company. Do your research so you can find the best way you can cover yourself for international auto rentals.
Beware of Speed Cameras
When driving in the Netherlands, assume that your speed is being monitored because there are plenty of traffic cameras installed throughout the country. If you’re caught speeding, you might not even know it, but your rental car company will find out, and you’ll have to pay a surcharge weeks or months after you’ve gone home.
Read Up on Dutch City Parking Rules
Here’s the general rule of thumb: the closer you are to the city center, the more expensive it is to park. If you’re staying long in one place (e.g., days), the most cost-effective way is to find a public parking garage and see if you can make an online reservation for a spot. If you’re parking for a very short time (e.g., 1-2 hours), then know that there are marked Blue Zones on which you can park for free IF you have a blue parking disc (available for purchase at large department stores and gas stations).
Inspect Your Rental Car
As much as you’d like to hop in and drive as quickly as possible. Take a few minutes to inspect your car before you drive off. Check the car’s surface very carefully for any dings, dents, or scratches, and take pictures of the whole car. If you don’t write down the flaws before you leave, you might end up having to pay for them.
Check the Rules for Cross-Border Driving
It’s fun and easy to check out nearby countries if you’re self-driving. However, please read the small print if you want to take your car rental outside of the Netherlands because not all car rental operators allow that. And even if they do, check if there are any border crossing fees that will be applied. It’s also important to note that in most cases, driving your vehicle into an unauthorized country will invalidate your insurance.
One-Way Car Rentals
You want to pick up your car rental in Location A and drop it off in Location B. That’s possible. Most companies allow domestic one-way car rentals between their car rental stations in the country. In some instances, and usually depending on the car category you’re renting, you can even drop off the car in one of their car stations in another EU country (international one-way car rental). In either case, additional fees may apply so, again, please don’t assume and check the fine print and/or ask the rental company about their rules regarding this.
Fuel policies vary widely between car rental companies in the Netherlands. Often the fuel policy depends on the type of car you’re renting, how long you’re renting it, and where you’re driving (domestic driving only, or are you crossing borders?). Check the small print to avoid surprises when you return the car.
Car rental companies usually give you the option for unlimited mileage (drive as much as you want, or limited mileage (extra charges will apply for additional mileage over a specified limit) and it’s up to you to choose what you want. The mileage limit is based on the car type you’re renting and the length of the rental period.
If you’re driving around the same area, then you can pretty much calculate your mileage usage per day so the limited mileage option might be better for you. On the other hand, if you’re renting the car for excessive travel then the unlimited mileage may be more cost-effective. Note though that for unlimited mileage, certain rules may still apply. For example, a company may state that you cannot drive for x number of hours in one go (without resting).
Alternatives to Car Rental
Self-driving means you own your time. You go when and where you want to go. But it also means planning your own itinerary. If you’re not careful, you may be wasting time driving from one place to another. If you don’t have time to or simply don’t want the hassle, then guided tours are the best alternative to self-driving.
If you plan to stay in just one city, e.g., Amsterdam, then perhaps there’s no need for you to rent a car at all. There’s so much to see and experience in this one area that exploring it by foot, by bike, or by public transportation is enough to meet your travel needs.
Is there Uber?
Uber has been available in the Netherlands since 2012. However, it only has a presence in the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Haarlem, and ‘t Gooi.