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Renting a car vs. Public Transportation in Belgium & Holland

My sister and I will be in Belgium and Holland for 11 nights/12 days (4/19-4/30/2020). We would like to visit touristy places as well as discover smaller towns. Shall we rent a car or stick with public transportation? We’ve been to Europe before but never driven. I know that they have very good roads and they drive on the same side as in the U.S.
What are the necessary paperwork if we decide to rent a car.
Your advice and tips are highly appreciated :)

Posted by
22892 posts

I would only rent a car to go to places that have no public transit or is poorly service. Larger cities tend to have parking problems that just increases the cost of the rental. So your schedule should dictate your need for a car. Second, planning on getting a International Driving Permit from the local AAA. That is about the only additional paper work you will need.

Posted by
6245 posts

It depends entirely on where exactly you want to go. In much of western Europe, most places are easily accessible by public transportation, but some are done more easily/more efficiently (time-wise) by rental car. That said, Belgium and Holland are among the countries where almost every place tourists want to go are easily done by train. I am not shy about renting cars in Europe (it's often the best way for me) but I've never seen any need for a car in these countries.

Paperwork if driving? Basically, get an international driving permit (IDP), and know what your options are for insurance (if planning to use a credit card to cover insurance, do your homework and know the details of the fine print).

Posted by
170 posts

We were in the Netherlands for a month this summer and used the trains. They are great. Modern and clean and easy to figure out. No reservations needed. Trains are so frequent that between most cities you just walk to the station and there is a train in 10-15 minutes. No problem if you want to go to a more remote place. Buses are coordinated with the train schedule and easy to find right outside the train station. Bus stops have electric monitors that tell you how many minutes until the next one arrives. Plus you can rent bicycles at most train stations.
Do as the locals and forget about cars. Parking is a hassle and expensive.

Posted by
487 posts

If you wanted to see some of the WWI battleground areas and cemeteries it might be easier to get a car unless you join a tour group. If you are just traveling between towns the trains work great.

Posted by
6705 posts

Are you over 25? Can you drive a Standard in case they fail to come up with an Automatic? Will you pay extra to rent and return in different countries?

What possible cities and towns are on your research list? We can give better advice with some examples. A car is a huge liability in Amsterdam or Brussels or Bruges or Antwerp.

It is perfectly true that rural battlegrounds and tiny towns make it useful to have a car. But even the Bokrijk open-air museum has its own rail station. A car can help do a death-march of five places in one day! But is it worth it?

Posted by
12 posts

After reading all the comments I decided to just use public transportation in either country.

Thank you everyone for your response :).