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Driving in The Netherlands

Anyone ever drive around the Amsterdam region? We are considering renting a car for one day, probably a weekend day. We'd try to see Zaanse Schans, Leiden, and some fields of flowers near Lisse. This will be in late May. Is traffic likely to be bad on the roads between these towns? Will parking be a problem?Are we being too ambitious? Thanks. Jp

Posted by
613 posts

Compared North America, there are no rural roads in EU. Traffic & parking is always bad, but its manageable. Car trip is the way to go, but you must prepare. The essentials-- a really good map, at least 1:500,000; mastery of the international Road Signs. Use the Internet to find maps of the towns that show the locations of parking garages/lots, print a copy and take it with you. Learn if the Blue Disk applies, and where.

Except on expressways, road travel is slow. With sight seeing, figure 100-150 miles a day is a full day's road trip.

Lightest traffic is between noon & 2:00 PM (the locals & trucks stop for lunch. Eat lunch early or late)

You will save a lot of $$ on a car if you can drive a stick shift.

Posted by
461 posts

Doable. Where is your start point? You do not want to be driving in Amsterdam.
The NL has good highways, but lots of roundabouts with multiple exits. GPS is pretty much mandatory. Drivers can be aggressive.
I would also check out trains and buses, since you plan to be going in opposite directions.

Posted by
5374 posts

A car makes sense for windmills, fields of flowers and or Keukenhof. However, it is not a necessity. It is a burden in Leiden and a horror in Amsterdam city. The Netherlands has well-developed public transportation, far better than the US.

If you post again, please give the month of the year and the city of your hotel.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the responses. We are staying in South Amsterdam near RAI in late May. I found a few car rental places nearby and figured we could avoid any driving in the city center. Jp

Posted by
3024 posts

That means you'll also be a stone's throw from Amsterdam Zuid railway station. So the best way to get to Leiden is by train, a 25 min direct trip from Amsterdam Zuid. Zaanse Schans is also easy to reach by train. As for the flowers near Lisse, depending on where exactly you want to go you can probably reach them by train as well, or bike the last bit. The public transport network in the Netherlands takes you almost anywhere and is easy to use.

As for driving, don't even think about bringing a car to Leiden. Park it somwhere outside the town and take the train or bus into Leiden. E.g. at Sassenheim station. At Zaanse Schans there is parking, not sure if they fill up though. And it costs €10.