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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.
The estimated 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 away, especially foreign plated ones to the pound. It will 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 any more. 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 for 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 park 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 use 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.
Online Booking: Another option is to search and book your parking online. You can compare prices and locations, choose the one in accordance to your needs and reserve your parking in advance. In that way, you will save the time of driving around and searching for affordable and secure parking.
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.
Since the 12th February 2014 the P+R rules have substantially changed and the new deal can be found on the Iamsterdam page
Park & Ride (P+R) is the smartest and cheapest way for drivers to park their car and travel into Amsterdam’s city centre. These car parks are located on the outskirts of the city near motorways and have excellent public transport connections. Public transport brings you right into the centre of Amsterdam in no time.
Please note: the P+R information on this page has been updated with new rates, locations and conditions, valid from 12 February 2014.
Using P+R to visit Amsterdam’s city centre
Parking in a P+R car park costs only €1 or €8 per 24 hours – with a maximum parking time of up to 96 hours (subject to exceptions). This is tremendous value for visitors to Amsterdam travelling into the city centre zone.
The P+R rates are calculated as follows:
Public transport chip cards are available for purchase
Park & Ride users must continue their journey into the city centre zone of Amsterdam. You can do so by using your own OV-chipkaart (public transport chip card). However, it is also possible to purchase discounted P+R GVB cards from the blue ticket machine at each site (you require 1 card per person and can purchase up to 5 cards per car). The P+R GVB transport cards can only be used for travel on GVB bus, tram or metro services.
Price of P+R GVB cards:
Please note: after entering the P+R facility, you have one hour to purchase your P+R GVB cards. Each P+R GVB card is then valid for one hour of travel into the city centre and one hour of travel back to your P+R location (including transfers if required).
Condition of P+R: onward travel to city centre zone by public transport
To be eligible for the discounted P+R parking rate you must travel into the city centre zone using your OV-chipkaart or purchased P+R GVB card. Upon return, the P+R payment machines check whether your last check-in on your return journey took place in the city centre zone. You will only be entitled to the discounted P+R parking rate if this is the case. If your last check-in was at a public transport stop outside the city centre zone, then you will not be entitled to the discounted rate and you will pay the regular parking rate. This ranges from €1.40 to €3.50 per hour. Additionally, the discounted P+R parking rate does not apply to journeys by other means of transport (taxi, bike, walking etc.). Click here to download a PDF map that shows the valid city centre zone (stops within the orange boundary are valid). You can also download the complete P+R conditions here.
P+R locations in Amsterdam
Below is a list of Park & Ride locations, in order of likelihood of spaces available. All P+R locations are clearly signposted from major roads and motorway exits (look out for the blue P+R logo).
How to use the Park & Ride (P+R)
1. Collect a car park ticket as you enter the P+R location. Please don't use your credit card at the entrance, it does not provide the P+R discount. Some P+R locations (such as at the RAI) now scan your car’s registration number upon arrival instead of providing paper tickets.
2. If you require public transport tickets, go to the blue ticket machine to purchase P+R GVB card(s). Follow signs to the nearest public transport connection and check in at the transport stop or vehicle by holding your card next to the electronic card reader.
3. Don't forget to check out when exiting the vehicle or transport stop. When visiting the city, be sure not to lose your P+R GVB card or P+R ticket, as 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. In addition, P+R GVB cards are not valid on special night buses, on trains or on Connexxion or Arriva bus services. However, regular OV-chipkaart users can use trains and Connexxion bus services.
1. Use your P+R GVB card or OV-chipkaart for the return journey. Hold your P+R chip card in front of the card reader when entering and exiting the vehicle or transport stop.
2. At the P+R location, go to the nearest P+R payment machine and scan one P+R GVB card or OV-chipkaart to confirm it was used to and from the city centre zone. Then insert your P+R ticket and pay your P+R fee by debit card (pin) or credit card. Cash payments can only be made in some P+R locations.
3. The special P+R rate is valid for a maximum of four consecutive days (96 hours). After 96 hours you will have to pay the normal hourly parking rate.