Renting a car in the Netherlands was easy. Picking up the car in Amsterdam was not. I chose a rental car location that I thought was close enough to the edge of the city, but it wasn’t as far out as I thought. Driving Netherlands was a joy because the small country has some of the most pristine roads I have ever driven on. The most challenging part of driving is navigating through their old cobblestone streets amongst cyclists.
I would highly recommend taking a train from Amsterdam to Leiden or Utrecht, or a similar smaller city, and pick up your rental there. Netherlands also has an extensive train system from what I’ve heard, but I never used it. We wanted to enjoy the quieter side of the country, and that’s how we made the decision to rent a car. Deciding whether or not a rental is right for you, is important in the initial planning stages for your trip. We had just a short time there (10 days – you can check out my full itinerary coming soon!) to explore the whole country in depth.
The highway exiting the big city was the stuff of legends. It was five lanes of freedom out past Schiphol Airport. The rest of the country primarily had three lanes for major routes. The speed limits were surprising, at 120 km/h in most places, and even up to 140 in others, you can be sure to get to your destination in a hurry. As a person with a heavy foot, the thrill of the Netherlands “speedway” was amazing!
An important thing to keep in mind is that the Dutch are orderly; they drive very orderly on their well-kept roads. Keeping to the right except to pass is strictly followed. It was so refreshing because Canadians seem to have issues with driving on the left all the time. I found the Dutch way much safer, because it stops road-rage and unsafe right-hand passing.
If you’re driving through cities or towns or villages (which you most-likely will), remember that cyclists are everywhere! Shoulder checking to the right is a must, as more often then not there is someone in the bike lane. Parking can be quite expensive in cities. I found it best to park outside the old town and walk a bit. Sundays and evenings are definitely the cheapest to park (even free)! I think the most important thing to keep in mind in the Netherlands, and probably most places, is to follow their rules. You are a visitor and should respect their driving laws (whether written or unwritten).
Overall, driving in Netherlands was very pleasant and easy. Having a GPS was a bonus because the names of places are a tad complicated for my English-only mind! I would recommend using one just in case you get lost. As always, prepare for your journey before hitting the road. If you are interested in learning more about rental car rules, check out my Driving in Scotland post! Safe driving everyone and happy travels.