Where and What to Hire
When hiring a car in Amsterdam, there are a range of major car rental companies to choose from including Europecar, Hertz, Sixt, Avis and Budget. Car rental offices are located both at Schiphol Airport and around Overtoom which is just a 10 minute drive from the city centre of Amsterdam. Sixt Car Hire is the most central car hire firm, located close to Amsterdam Central Railway Station. Between them, the car hire companies offer a range of vehicles from small around-town hatchbacks to family and luxury cars. More recently, Car 2 Go has introduced a small all-electric Smart car into the market which would be particularly useful in a city such as Amsterdam. More information can be found on the Amsterdam Electric website.
Driving in Amsterdam is usually not recommended. There are not only cyclists and cycle paths to contend with but also trams, buses, canals and very narrow, winding streets. Cyclists, it is assumed, always have priority in Amsterdam city centre. If driving in the city, remember that driving is on the right hand side of the road while overtaking is on the left. Always ensure that the canals are on your right hand side. Often at crossroads with bridges there are limited road signs so extra care should be taken when approaching.
Parking rates are high in the city centre and what parking there is, is limited and expensive. One would expect to pay upwards of 5 Euro per hour between 9am and Midnight. There is no free parking in the centre of Amsterdam. Some ticket machines in Amsterdam require the registration of the car so be sure to have this to hand, particularly with a hire car.
Where to Go and What to See
There are so many interesting places to visit by car from Amsterdam. The north of Holland boasts beautiful old historic towns with quirky sights to see. The little town of Alkmaar, which is only 26 miles from the city and 35 minutes by car, is famous for its wonderful cheese market and historic architecture. During the summer months, the 40 minute journey by car to Zandvoort beach resort is one well worth making. Zandvoort has a huge array of hotels, amusements, beaches and even its own Centreparcs which make it a fantastic holiday destination for the whole family; particularly the younger members of the family who can enjoy playing in the sand and riding the nearby attractions. Alternatively, in just under an hour it is possible to find yourself in the beautiful ancient city of Delft, home to Holland’s most famous export; blue and white ceramics. From hand painted tiles to ornate jugs, this is the ideal place to come for a spot of souvenir shopping. Located 40 miles from Amsterdam, Delft makes a very romantic setting for couples, while the town of Gouda, just one hour’s drive from the centre of Amsterdam, is the place for cheese lover’s. Giant rounds of this delightful cheese can be seen almost everywhere in the town centre with ample opportunity for tastings. For those who don’t mind driving a little bit further, it is worth the 60 mile journey to see the stunning landscapes and traditional windmills in Kinderdijk.