Parking in this city can be troublesome; working around the parking meters isn’t much fun either. Amsterdam doesn’t encourage driving; our city fathers would rather have you use public transport. Nevertheless, it is possible to find a parking space if you have a little patience and spend a few minutes looking for a suitable spot.
Free parking, however, is a thing of the past; the city finds it to be irresistible an opportunity to generate more revenue. We’re stuck with the parking meters; they’re here to stay. Fortunately, there are a few places and deals that are quite affordable.
Parking in Amsterdam is expensive, not only that, but underground car parks are notoriously dirty, the worst in the world, I’m told. Car park De Bijenkorf has obtained the dubious honour of being proclaimed this kingdom’s filthiest. What’s the Bijenkorf, you may ask? It’s the country’s most exclusive department store on the edge of Dam square.
Another notoriously filthy parking facility not worth mentioning is Euro parking.
As for what’s available and reasonably priced?
Park and ride parking
As I already mentioned, Amsterdam discourages driving, tourists often feel insecure and baffled by the many bicycles that ride this city’s streets. Many roads, canals and alleys are one way only, and in the inner city, you can spend hours circling, trying to get to your hotel or other destination. So, here’s what Amsterdam came up with to make this a win-win situation for both You and them, your car parked out of the city centre and you in it being able to get around on public transport. It’s called “park and ride.” You park your car in one of the five “Park and Ride” car parks on the outskirts of the city. You pay a parking fee of 6 euros per 24 hours; you are then given a free public transport chip card with which you can travel freely throughout the city without paying a cent. You get on a metro, tram or bus at the “Park and Ride” parking lot and let it take you into central Amsterdam; trust me, unless you know your way around the city, you’ll get there a lot quicker. But wait, it gets better; this deal is not only for you, the driver and owner of the vehicle, but goes for your passengers as well. They do limit the number of your companions to 5 per car. The deal is heavily subsidized and cannot be used for more than 4 days in a row. The parking facility is supervised but still do not leave any valuables behind in the vehicle. Look out for the “P + R” traffic signs when you approach the city. Here’s a list of all available Park and Ride car parks.
parking in the city centre
If you decided you’ll drive into town anyway, despite the wonderful opportunity offered in the above and try your luck on your own, you might find that parking during office hours isn’t all that hard. Many residents commute to and from work by car, leaving their parking spots empty. At night or during the weekend you’d better head for the underground car parks. Parking in the inner city costs about 4 euros an hour; if you plan on parking for a longer period of time, you might want to purchase a day ticket for 26.40 euros which is valid from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. throughout the entire city. This does not cover the evening, for those hours you need to buy a “night ticket” valid 7 p.m.-midnight; its price varies, depending on the part of town your in from 4,40 up to 17,60 euros. A day and night ticket costs again depending on the area of town up to 39,60 euros. A week ticket for the entire city costs 158,40 euros. Tickets can be bought at the ticket vending machines available at most intersections; place the ticket near the front window of your vehicle, clearly visible to parking attendants. If you park without a valid ticket, you will be fined, and your car may be towed away. Some hotels also sell tourist parking tickets. Another place to purchase your tickets is the Service centres of Stadstoezicht (city surveillance); these are also the guys you need to call 020 55 30 333 if you suspect your vehicle has been towed away. Amsterdam no longer uses wheel clamps to immobilize vehicles.
There are areas in Amsterdam where on Sundays, you can park your car for free. The Albert Cuyp market is one of them unless the market happens to be open that Sunday. Trams can take you in or out of the city on both sides of the market. Or you may decide to walk to your chosen destination, the museums or the entertainment squares are not that far away.
A day ticket
You may buy day tickets at the street corner vending machines; make sure you have either a chip card or a credit card with you. Paying cash at parking meters is rapidly becoming something of the past.
Mobile phone parking
This is a new service; you pay the same amount but never have to run to the machine again to beat the inspector.
SMS (text messaging parking
It works pretty much the same as mobile phone parking; this service is still in its infancy; you need a subscription from a mobile phone provider; prepaid will not do.
Underground or above-ground car parks
There are several parking facilities available both on the famous Amsterdam canals and on the roads that lead into the city. they all charge pretty much the same.
Locations of large car parks in the inner city:
Bijenkorf (not recommended on Saturdays and shopping nights)
De Stopera/ waterlooplein