Home Tips&Tricks Is There Free Parking in Amsterdam?

Is There Free Parking in Amsterdam?

by Rafal Sulowski
Photo by Elliott Brown|| Flickr

Car parking in Amsterdam is considered to be one of the most expensive and complicated parking systems in Europe. Assuming that you find a parking spot, as this is extremely difficult. Very often I am being asked if it is possible to find free parking in Amsterdam, especially in the city center. I have decided to dive deeply into it in order to find out if it is possible to park your car for free. This is what I have found out.

Free parking in the center of Amsterdam doesn’t exist. You have to look for a garage or street parking where parking rates have gotten sky high. You have to pay everywhere within the city borders for parking. Within the city center, you will usually pay between 3 – 5 Euro per hour. A day ticket costs 36 Euro.

So, if you have a car and you really want to visit Amsterdam you will probably face a huge problem. Amsterdam is a historic city with a lot of traffic. Finding a free parking spot is more than challenging. This is why you will see so many bicycles on the streets. But don’t worry.

By reading this article you will learn solutions I use to avoid paying horrendous parking fees. One of them is P+ R, another is free parking on Sunday and the last one is 0.10cent/hour parking. Keep on reading and if you have any question please post them in the comment section below.

Parking in Amsterdam – general information

It is very hard to find a space to park your car in the city center, especially after 5:00 p.m. The estimated lifespan of a free street parking spot within the ring is approximately 30 seconds. Within the Ring, there are different parking zones (Amsterdam Center, Amsterdam South, Amsterdam East, Amsterdam South East, Amsterdam West, Amsterdam New West and Amsterdam North), each of them has its own parking fee. You should know that there are many restrictions on parking time in the busiest shopping streets, cemeteries and sports facilities (for example in some designated shopping streets parking costs just 0,1 Euro – finding a free spot is almost impossible though).

10-cent zones are indicated by road signs (at the start and end of the zone). You can park there for a maximum of three or four hours. You can only park there once per day.

You can find such zones on this map.

Parking on the outskirts of Amsterdam is much cheaper than in the city center. What is more, there is a chance you will find some free parking spots outside the Ring. If you plan to park more often or for a longer period of time, you can consider buying a parking ticket for 24 hours, 7 days, a month or a year.

You can buy such tickets at the on-street parking meters, at one of the City Offices or online at parkeerkaart.amsterdam.nl. They are much cheaper than paying per hour at the parking meter (approximately 40% cheaper).

Park and Ride in Amsterdam

If you are looking for the simplest and the cheapest way to park your car and travel into the city center, Park and Ride is your place to go. P + R parks are located on the outskirts of Amsterdam, very close to motorways and public transport hubs. If you park in P+R and go to the city center with a public transport then parking fee is only 1 euro. The Park and Ride spots are secured, have 24/7 surveillance and have toilets.

How to use Park and Ride?

Using P + R is very easy.

  • First, you need to collect a car park ticket at your chosen Park and Ride location. If you need public transport tickets, you can purchase them at the blue ticket machine (5 Euro for 1 or 2 people). If you are an Amsterdammer, you can also use your own OV-chip card. Do not forget that you must buy the tickets within a maximum of 1 hour of parking.
  • Then, you just go to the nearest public transport connection. While exiting the chosen vehicle or transport stop, make sure you check out. Be aware that the P + R card is only valid for travelling to and from the Park and Ride location. You cannot use it in the city center. What is more, the card can be only used for travel on tram, GVB bus or metro. Each card is valid for one hour of travel into the city center and one hour of travel back. In order to use your card for the return journey hold it in front of the card reader while entering and exiting the vehicle.

How much does it cost?

Amsterdam’s Park and Ride only costs 1 or 8 Euro per 24 hours. The maximum parking time is 96 hours. Here is how rates are calculated:

  • Monday-Friday before 10:00: 8 Euro for the first 24 hours, then 1 Euro for the next 24 hours.
  • Monday-Friday after 10:00: 1 Euro per 24 hours.
  • Saturday-Sunday: 1 Euro per 24 hours.

The rate is valid for 96 hours. After four consecutive days you will have to pay the normal hourly parking rate.

Park and Ride locations are every easy to find (the map). You just need to look out for the blue P + R logo. There are seven Park and Ride locations in Amsterdam. They are all located outside the city center. The most popular locations are the following: P + R Arena, P + R Zeeburg I and II, P + R VUmc and P + R Bose en Lommer. For all locations you can check parking space availability on the Park and Ride website.

Car parks in Amsterdam – garages and parking lots

There are many garages and parking lots in the city. Most of them are about the same rate as parking in the street. However, some of them are even higher. In order to find a car park or a garage, you just need to follow the P-signs. Be aware that while using a garage in the city you pay on exiting so you do not need to worry about time. The most popular Amsterdam parking garages are P1 Parking Amsterdam Center, P1 Parking Waterlooplein, Q Park – Parking Byzantium and Q Park – Parking Museumplein.

Free parking in the city

It is almost impossible to park your car in Amsterdam for free. The only place within the Ring where parking is almost free of charge is in Amsterdam East and Amsterdam North. The best option is Amsterdam North I guess (because there is a ferry all night long). However, leaving a car with a foreign number plate parked outside of the Ring might not be reasonable because of the car thieves. There is a chance your car can get broken into. This is why you should never leave valuables in your car. You can also consider putting a ‘no valuables inside’ warning behind the windows.

However, there are some occasions you can park free of charge in the city center – those are official public holidays and on the Liberation Day (May 5th). Those days you can park free in many of Amsterdam’s streets except for: Central District, South-East Distric, North District (around the NDSM Wharf) and East District (Diemerpark).  What is more, in most suburbs of Amsterdam, you also do not pay for parking on Sundays. However, this is in suburbs only it does not include the Ring area. Outside the Ring, there are many parking lots to be used for free – especially at tram and bus stations: at Spinning Mill and Diemen South. You can use them at any time, but, just as in case of Amsterdam North, make sure you do not leave your valuables in the car.

Blue Zone

In Amsterdam there are some areas where parking is not in force. This is a Blue Zone (click on the map to see where you can park).

Within the zone you can only park for a very short period of time by displaying a blue parking disc. You can buy such discs at filling stations and large department stores. When you park within the Blue Zone you should mark your time of arrival on the disc before leaving the car. Make sure you do not exceed the time specified on the sign. In case you do, you will be fined.

How to find a parking spot

You can search for a parking spot on the online map for Amsterdam parking. On the map there are the blue bubbles that indicate a garage or parking lot. You can click on the bubble to get some more information on the parking structure (rates, opening times etc.). You can also book your parking online on the MobyPark website. It enables you to compare prices and locations or book your parking lot in advance. You can also use the mobile app (ParkMe app for iOS and Android) to find the nearest parking spot and book a parking space in advance.

Some parking tips

To be honest, in general I do not recommend you park your car in the city center or along the canals. It is extremely expensive (around 5 Euro per hour) and it might require excellent driving skills. However, if you decide to leave your car parked in the street, do not forget to pay in advance at the nearest parking meter. If you do not pay on time, your car will probably be towed away, especially if you have foreign number plate. It is very expensive to recover your vehicle. Do not forget that some of the new parking meters do not accept coins anymore. On the other hand, the older ones accept coins only. While using the older machines, make sure you have exact change – the machines do not give change back. If you need a car for transportation within the city, you can consider using Car2go. Car2go is a network of electric cars that can be picked up and dropped off anywhere in the city.

How much does parking in Amsterdam cost?

Parking in the city center costs between 4 and 5 Euro per hour. You pay until midnight. The further you park from the city center, the cheaper parking is. The inner center is the most expensive at 5 Euro per hour (charged Monday-Saturday 9:00-0:00 and Sunday 12:00-0:00). You can buy a day ticket (9:00-19:00) for 30 Euro, an evening ticket (until 21:00) for 36 Euro and a 24-hour ticket (until midnight). Sunday rates are between 21-36 Euro. As mentioned before, there is an option to park for free on Sunday but it only includes the outskirts of time, outside the city center.

How to pay for the parking?

Photo by Erwin Blekkenhorst|| Flickr

The quickest option is to use the machines in the streets. You can pay with your credit/debit card or with coins (at older machines). Using parking meters is a snap. You just need to follow the instruction on the machine in the chosen language. You have to enter your license plate number, choose the type of ticket and pay. At the machine you can choose one of the following: 1-hour, a day, an evening, 24-hour or a Sunday ticket. You do not have to display the ticket in your car – tickets are checked with a scanner.

Parking fines

A standard parking fine in Amsterdam is around 38 Euro. You do not have to be a Dutch to be fined – most of European countries are entitles to obey the parking law in the Netherlands. If you have 5 parking fines, your car will get a wheel clamp and you will have to pay almost 200 Euro to get it back.

The final word

Parking in Amsterdam may be a huge problem, especially for a foreign visitor. There is hardly parking space to find in the city center. If you happen to find a free parking spot, the fee will probably make your jaw drop. Parking in Amsterdam is very expensive, this includes the streets, as well as the car parks and garages. So, if you are planning to visit Amsterdam by car, make sure you are prepared. Parking options are really something you should take into account. Of course, there are many hotels that have parking facilities. However, if this is not the option, you may want to consider using one of the Park and Drive locations. This is probably the cheapest parking option in Amsterdam. P + R spots are located far away from the center but they are located right next to motorways and public transport stops.

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