Driving in Amsterdam is not really recommended as the city centre streets are narrow, there is ongoing construction work and parking places are limited and expensive. Most visitors to Amsterdam and Netherlands can get around efficiently by public transport.
That said there may be times when you need to rent a car. All of the major car rental firms have offices at Schiphol airport and also in Amsterdam city - many (including Europcar, Hertz and Avis) are clustered around Overtoom, a long street which is not far from Leidseplein. From Overtoom it's a straight forward drive to reach the A10 Amsterdam ring road which connects on to the Dutch motorway system. Sixt has a location near Amsterdam central station.
Nassaukade 380 T:+31(0)88 2847020|
Europcar/Alamo Overtoom 197 T:+31(0)20 6832123
Hertz Overtoom 333 T:+31(0)20 6122441
Sixt Prins Hendrikkade 20a (P1) T:+31(0)20 6242955
Here are a few things to consider when driving in Netherlands:
Like most of Europe, the Dutch drive on the right-hand side of the road.
The roads and highways in Netherlands are very clearly sign-posted. The Dutch road network is one of the safest in Europe.
Priority is normally given to vehicles coming from the right. Watch out on some roundabouts as this means entering traffic may have priority. A priority road is also marked by a yellow diamond symbol.
Try to avoid using the motorways during rush-hour - especially around the Schiphol airport area and the A2 road - as long traffic jams ("files") are common.
On the motorway keep right unless overtaking. The speed limit can vary between 100 and 130 kph (62-81 mph) and will be marked - lower limits can apply where road maintenance is in progress.
Speed limits are 50 kph (31 mph) in urban areas and 80 kph (50 mph) outside, unless marked otherwise.
In Amsterdam watch out for trams and don't get in their way!
Take extra care with cyclists. When turning right and crossing a cycle lane you must slow down or stop, check behind and give way to any cyclist coming through. Assume that cyclists always have priority.
It is illegal to hold a mobile phone whilst driving.
Unmarked police patrol cars are common. If you are stopped for a traffic infringement and cannot produce a Dutch license you will be given a higher on-the-spot fine than a local. If you are caught speeding 50 kph over the limit your license will be seized (for a period decided by the justice ministry) and you will not be allowed to drive on.
Fuel is not cheap - high taxes mean that the cost of petrol and diesel is amongst the highest in the world. Expect to pay around €1.65 per litre of standard "Euro 95" petrol - that's €6.30 (or about US$6.60) per US gallon. Diesel costs around €1.35 per litre. Prices will vary amongst petrol stations - those on the motorway are more expensive, so try to fill up in town. Be aware that fuel in Belgium can be significantly cheaper as well.
Instead of driving into the city, consider one of Amsterdam's Park+Ride (P+R) schemes. You will find similar car parks outside major cities in Netherlands and they often provide free public transport to the centre.
For residents/expats you could also consider using one of the car sharing schemes such as Greenwheels.