Skip navigation guide to driving in Holland

Windmills in Kinderdijk, HollandGetting started

With excellent roads, good signage and courteous drivers, Holland is about as near as you can get to stress-free motoring. Most main roads are lit at night and there are no tolls. As long as you avoid rush hour in cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag you should find driving a breeze.

Hit the road

In keeping with some of their European neighbours, the Dutch give right of way to traffic entering from the right at intersections and roundabouts. Combine this with the fact that bicycles in Holland have right of way and you clearly need to take extra care at junctions.

In cities it’s not uncommon to see dozens of cyclists and skaters appearing from all directions. Be patient, keep your wits about you and don’t use your horn - it’s illegal except in emergencies.

Dutch police like to target speeders with radar traps and on-the-spot fines. In some residential areas the speed limit is just 30kmh. The blood-alcohol limit is 50mg compared with 80mg in Britain. For your first five years behind the wheel the limit is just 20mg - effectively zero.

Star drive

Head north of Amsterdam and you’ll find yourself in an historic Holland as painted by the Old Masters: windmills, dykes, lifting bridges and dairy farms. Drive through the atmospheric fishing villages of Volendam, Muiden and Medembli as far as Den Helder where you can catch a boat out to the sandy shores of Texel Island.

Best of the rest

The Lower Rhine offers gorgeous drives through forests, fens and meadows with great walks to lakes, river dunes and nature reserves. Alternatively, follow the pretty Green Heart route into the eastern province of Overijssel.

Laws of the land

  • All car passengers must wear seatbelts if fitted
  • Children under 3 are not allowed in a car unless it has an approved baby/child seat fitted. They may travel in the front if in a rear-facing child seat only if passenger side airbags are deactivated. Under-13s may only sit in the front in a child/booster seat. Passengers under 18 years old and less than 1.35m tall are not allowed to travel unless using an approved, properly fitting restraint. If there are no seatbelts in the front, a passenger must be at least 1.35m tall
  • A row of white triangular signs on the road means you have to give way
  • You must carry a warning triangle
  • Trams have right of way, as do buses when pulling out of stops in built-up areas
  • It’s illegal to cross a solid white line even when turning
  • Dial 112 in emergencies
  • Motorcyclists are advised to use dipped headlights during the day. Crash helmets must be worn on all motorbikes capable of over 25kmh

Dutch speed limits

Road type

Speed limit

Urban areas

50 kmh

Outside built-up areas

80 kmh/100 kmh (check local signage)


120 kmh


Local knowledge

Many local drivers use dipped headlights in daylight hours – it’s “strongly advised” by the government.

Parking in city centres can be difficult and expensive. To park in a ‘blue zone’ buy a disc at a police station or filling station.

Did you know?

It’s illegal to use full-beam headlights if they’re likely to dazzle other drivers or pedestrians.

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