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So you have a car and you really want to visit Amsterdam. However the big problem is: Amsterdam is a city where finding a place to park is your first issue and then paying up to 50 euros per day for the privilege is your second.
I would estimate that the lifespan of an unoccupied street parking spot within the central canal ring is around 30 seconds. Parking is then 5 euros per hour from 0900 until 2400. Parking is heavily enforced in Amsterdam and they will normally tow vehicles, especially foreign plated ones, to the pound. That will be prove to be very expensive to recover your car so don’t be tempted to try to get away with not paying. Some of the newer parking meters in the city accept credit and debit cards but not coins anymore. The older ones will only accept coins, not cards (except Chipnik but that will be of very little help to a visitor) and can be a little temperamental if you don’t put in the exact amount of a ticket. If you are parking in the evening you can get an evening or avond ticket. All the meters have an explanation in English printed on them as well as Dutch. Day tickets are also available and the price depends on the area but expect to pay around 30 euro. This only covers up until 1900 so if you want to par in the evening you have to buy an avond ticket also.
Some people recommend parking in Amsterdam North just over the river Ij from Central Station where parking is still free and you can take the free foot ferry back and forth. This is OK but your car is not in a secure area and could get broken into. For peace of mind I would always recommend using a secure, manned P+R or better still leave the car at home.
Online: You can find parking online by searching on this map for Amsterdam parking. The blue bubbles indicate a parking lot or garage. Click on any of them to get more information on that parking structure (rates, hours of operation, payment options, etc.). You can also find the cheapest lot by using the "Compare Rates" box on the left. Just enter the duration of time you are planning to park for and the current rates for all the lots will be updated so that you will know exactly how much it would cost to park at each lot. If the bubble turns grey that means that the lot will be closed or does not allow parking for that amount of time.
Smartphone App: You can also find parking while on the go using your smartphone. You can either download the free ParkMe app for iPhone, for Android, or by visiting www.parkme.com on your smartphone's mobile browser.
The short term rates of each lot can get confusing to calculate (for example: 0.50 euros for every 8 minutes, 1 euro for every 12 minutes), using the Compare Rates function on the map will do all the math for you and help you find the cheapest option.
This link provides lots of info on parking options in and around the city
And you can find the cost of on street parking and zones here
For secure parking there are a number of private car parks (a few operated by Q-Park) dotted around. Although convenient and safe these are also very expensive. Details of these are also on the above link.
Given all this and the fact that driving in the city can be an “adventure” as you try to negotiate tight streets, avoid pedestrians, cyclists, kamikaze scooter wielding pizza delivery drivers and then trams not to mention the traffic and the one way system perhaps it’s better to leave the car outside the city.
How do I do this I hear you say? Well pretty easily actually. There are a number of Park & Ride (P+R) facilities dotted strategically around the edge of the city. You can park securely in one of these for only €8 per day and for a maximum of 96 hours. You can actually park there longer but that is the maximum time limit for the special €8 rate although there is nothing to stop you exiting and then parking again for another 96 hour party cycle. In addition to this they actually give you a return ticket for either the train (only at Sloterdijk & Arena) or the GVB public transport system which is valid for 96 hours (note this is only for one outbound and one return journey to the P+R not for unlimited travel) for up to five people.Since a one way ride on bus/tram/metro is now 2,60 you can see how good a deal this is. At two facilities, Sloterdijk station and the Olympic stadium, you also have the option of borrowing a maximum of two bicycles free of charge instead of using public transport so you can cycle into town.
There are some rules to follow so please read this:-
P+R Parkeren en Reizen (Park and Travel) uses multi-storey car parks on the outskirts Amsterdam. You park your car at a P+R location at the edge of town and travel into town by free public transport. Camping is not allowed.
Rules for P+R.
1. Collect a car park ticket as you go in. Please don't use a credit card at the entrance, it does not provide a P+R deduction.
2. Hand over your parking ticket to the P+R car park attendant and ask for a P+R chip card(s). The car park attendant will code your parking ticket and give you a free P+R chip card to use on public transport.
3. Proceed to the OV hall and check in. For instructions on how to use the P+R chip card see overleaf.
4. Don't forget to check out when exiting the vehicle. When visiting the city, be sure not to lose your P+R chip card. If you do not use your chip card, or use it incorrectly, you will no longer be entitled to a discount and will have to pay the normal parking fee. Please note: The P+R chip card is only valid for travelling to and from the P+R location and not for general use in the city centre. Staying late in the city? Please note: The P+R tickets are not valid on the city’s night busses. On exiting, check what time the last bus, metro, tram or train departs.
1. Use your P+R chip card or NS card for the return journey. Hold your P+R chip card in front of the card reader when entering and exiting the vehicle.
2. Return your parking ticket and the used P+R chip cards to the P+R desk. The attendant will mark your car park ticket for the P+R tariff. You can only pay the attendant with a pin or credit card. Cash payments can be made in a point-of-payment terminal.
3. Use the car park ticket when you drive out. The P+R tariff is good for a maximum of four consecutive days (96 hours). After 96 hours you will have to pay the normal parking tariff. Please note: Different times apply if you are using a P+R chip card for
the train (NS). Your train ticket is valid for one day (from 04:00 to 03:59).
Do not use your credit card upon entering the garage. Only the use of a ticket will give you the P+R discount. (You pay €8,- and receive up to 5 free public transport tickets to go into town with. Hold on to the used tickets: you're required to show them for the discount fee.)
If you are a holder of the I amsterdam Card, you can utilize P+R locations Amsterdam Arena, Zeeburg I + II, Gaasperplas and Sloterdijk for an extra 50% discount with a maximum of 96 hours.
Please note: to receive your discount, please stop by the P+R desk first. Only valid during the time the Card is valid. You do not need the I amsterdam City Card when you enter, only when you exit the parking lot. Maximum parking time 96 hours, one voucher per vehicle.