Planning to tour the Netherlands with a motorhome or campervan? There are some essential things you need to know before your trip, including important paperwork and kit to bring with you. Here’s everything you need to know about campervanning or motorhoming in Holland.
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Motorhoming in Holland- or is it the Netherlands??
Ok, let’s start with the obvious- what’s the difference between calling it ‘Holland’ or calling it ‘the Netherlands’?
It’s a little bit like the difference between the UK and GB- ‘Holland’ only refers to part of the country (and a small part at that), whereas ‘the Netherlands’ refers to the entire Kingdom (yep, it still is Kingdom of the Netherlands)
So, if you’re planning a trip around the country, you’ll need to say ‘the Netherlands’. Having said that, many people (including us at times!) still incorrectly refer to it as Holland, so I’ll use the terms interchangeably throughout this post.
Campervanning in the Netherlands- why you should go!
The Netherlands are known for several things- canals, clogs, tulips, windmills and being flat. Oh, and you’ve probably heard of Amsterdam, especially the red light district. If you follow the news, you’ll definitely have heard of the Hague.
But there’s a lot more to the country than that- it’s full of beautiful countryside, ridiculously pretty towns, delicious food and a lot of history. This is also the place to bring your bicycles- most of the country is perfect for enjoying on 2 wheels.
I have Dutch god-parents, so I grew up visiting the country and exploring it on road trips with my family. I’ll be honest, many of my memories of the country involve Poffertjes (small Dutch pancakes served warm with butter and icing sugar)- we’ll get to those shortly!
It’s also not a big country and it’s easy to see a lot in a week, especially if you’re travelling by motorhome.
Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?
When to go motorhome touring in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has a climate very similar to the UK- it’s on roughly the same latitude as Norwich or Wales. The best time to plan a motorhome trip is from Spring (mid-April) to Autumn (probably around mid-October), but rain can happen at any time.
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On the 27 April, there is a National holiday called King’s Day. Expect a LOT of orange clothing, orange hair and events happening all over the country. The Dutch Royal Family are known for making surprise visits to unexpected places, so keep your eyes peeled! (Although, be honest, would you recognise them??)
July and August are the busiest months for tourists and there can be big queues for the peak attractions, so avoid those if you can. Having said that, it’s the best time to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches along the north coast. There’s a party on ‘Flag Day’ (when the first herring are brought in). There’s also the North Sea Regatta, Holland’s biggest sailboat race, and the Scheveningen International Fireworks Festival, held during August, which is well worth a visit.
In the winter, there’s a lot more rainfall and it can be cold, damp and dreary. Again, much like southern England, there are no mountains (although there are hills), so don’t expect much snow (although it does happen occasionally.) But there are several light festivals which happen around the country, including the Amsterdam Light Festival (one of the largest in the world) and also Glow Eindhoven and Candle Night, Gouda. Also, many of the canals freeze in winter and it’s possible to ice-skate on them (but please only do this with permission in case the ice isn’t as thick as you thought!)
Motorhome Holidays in the Netherlands – Where to go
Before we dive into planning your motorhome or campervan tour, let’s look at some of the best places to visit.
- Giethoorn – the village with no roads. Yes, I know that’s weird for a road trip destination, but it’s magical
- Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulips and hyacinths
- Volendam– one of our favourite villages in Holland (and it’s got a GREAT motorhome aire nearby)
- The Hague
- Nijmegen- the oldest city in the Netherlands
- Amsterdam- but do NOT drive into the city!
- Madurodam– a model village of the Netherlands and well worth a stop
- Windmills in Kinderdjik
Of course, there are plenty of other places to explore too.
If you enjoy reading books before you visit a place, here are some great suggestions:
Planning a driving route from UK to Netherlands
So, how do you get to the Netherlands from the UK with a motorhome, campervan or even a caravan?
Using the Eurotunnel
By far the easiest way is the Eurotunnel. Normally, I’m all about the pros and cons of ferry vs tunnel, but in this instance, no matter where you’re driving from in the UK, the tunnel is the best choice. There is also a ferry from Dover to Calais if you’re unable to use the tunnel, but it takes longer to cross.
Once you’re across to France, you can drive from Calais, through Belgium and to the Netherlands is just 3 hours (it’s about 280km).
Harwich to Holland Ferry
There is also a ferry which goes directly to the Hook of Holland (which I think is where a lot of the name confusion comes from!) from Harwich, with Stena Line. You can take your motorhome or camper on board and it takes about 7 hours. If you’re travelling with a dog or cat, there are kennels on board you can book them into, but they can’t come into your cabin.
Hull to Rotterdam Ferry
For anyone in Scotland of the North of England, there is also a ferry from Hull to Rotterdam with P & O Ferries. This takes about 12 hours and again has cabins and pet kennels onboard.
Other motorhome and campervan routes into Holland
Of course, if you’re not starting in the UK, there are plenty of ways to get to the Netherlands. We’ve entered from Germany several times, and also after exploring Belgium.
There are no border controls if arriving by road- you just drive straight in!
Hiring a motorhome to tour the Netherlands
If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can easily fly into the Netherlands and hire one. Just make sure to ask how to get from the airport to the rental agency- not all of them are at the airport itself and you might need to book a taxi.
Take a list of what is legally required with you and check it off one by one as you are given the handover. Do not drive until you are happy you comply with the local laws.
Make sure you have proof that you can take the vehicle across a border into another country if that’s what you’re planning to do. Read the article below for other things to check as well before you agree to hire.
Want to rent a vehicle for your road trip?
These might help
Parking in the Netherlands for motorhomes and campervans
The Dutch are pretty welcoming and accommodating for motorhomers and campervanners. They have aires around the country for cheap or even free overnight motorhome stopovers.
You’ll find a lot of free daytime parking options outside of the cities, but near attractions you’ll need to pay and display. Make sure you do this- the wardens are vigilant! Be sure to only park in appropriate spots- avoid any kerbs painted black and white or yellow.
Also, you may need to mark the time you parked or use a parking timer. You can often get one free from a Tourist Information Office (VVW).
- Motorhome campsites
- Approved motorhome overnight parking places/ aires
- Free approved overnight parking spots
- Motorhome wild camping spots (not really tolerated)
Motorhome Parking in Amsterdam
There are so many wonderful things to do in Amsterdam and we highly recommend taking the time to visit, but for your sanity, and the sake of those around you, please don’t try to drive your motorhome in Amsterdam. Parking is VERY limited and there are lots of rules and restricted zones. There are plenty of places to park up around the city and use the train system or public transport to get in and out. There are several good motorhome campsites around the city too.
Motorhome Campsites in the Netherlands
Wild camping is not very welcome in the Netherlands, so we prefer to use campsites or aires whenever we visit with our motorhome.
Nearly every pitch has had electric hook-up, a fresh drinkable water tap and often even a TV aerial socket! Read our review about the best 12v motorhome TVs and how to choose.
Our favourite campsite in Giethoorn was technically called an aire, but it had proper toilets and a washing machine (even though I fell out with the machine after it stole all my money!) But the parking by the marina was just beautiful.
Aires in Netherlands
Like much of Europe, the Netherlands provides approved overnight stopover parking for motorhomes and campervans called Aires. If you’re used to motorhoming in France, you might be less impressed with the aires in Holland- many of them were away from the attractions and relied on you having bicycles or an alternative vehicle with you to get anywhere, or using public transport.
READ MORE: Learn how we find and use aires and approved free overnight motorhome stopovers across Europe
One of the things we loved about motorhoming in Holland is how many marinas and waterways there are. As boat owners, we love looking at other boats, and many of the marinas allow you to stay overnight on their car park (you can find them using the link above). Of course, these are just car parks- there are rarely any access to facilities, but it’s a lovely location to spend the evening.
You cannot book motorhome aires in the Netherlands- it’s first-come, first-served, so if you’re visiting at peak time you might feel happier booking a campsite so you’re assured of somewhere to stay.
It’s always worth investing in a book of aires, as well as an online app- just in case you find yourself without internet in your motorhome (or without a wifi signal). Of course, the downside with any book is that it goes out of date, but don’t worry if it’s only a year or two out- most information about aires won’t change too much
Here are some we recommend:
Wild camping in the Netherlands for motorhomes and campers
There are some places in Europe which state that wild camping is not tolerated, and then blindly ignore it if you’re discrete, and others which are more vocal about it not being welcome- like the Netherlands
If you are interested in learning how to wild camp/ stay off-grid with your motorhome or campervan, grab your free checklist and our complete guide below:
Motorhome wild camping guides for the UK & Europe
For information on how to find good wild camping places, WHAT to do when you’re there and how to stay safe, check out our step-by-step guide for motorhome wild camping in the UK and Europe, complete with database of 250+ overnight spots we’ve stayed with our motorhome.
Don’t forget to grab your free wild camping checklist here
Motorhome and campervan service points in Netherlands
There are motorhome service points around the country, but not as many as you might be used to when motorhoming in Spain, France or even Italy. We tended to stay at aires or campsites where we could use their facilities, instead of stopping at designated service points en-route.
Campervanning in the Netherlands- security
We highly recommend paying extra attention to your motorhome security when travelling in the Netherlands. You might even wish to fit an extra camper habitation door lock and never leave your vehicle unattended in an unsecured area.
Motorhoming in Holland- what gear do you need to carry?
Just like motorhoming in France, there are certain things you MUST carry with you in your motorhome or campervan whilst touring the Netherlands.
Things you need to drive in the Netherlands- safety gear
The Netherlands are surprisingly relaxed about safety gear you legally have to carry in your vehicle. However, as you need to drive through France, Belgium and/or Germany to get there, you need to carry these items as a minimum:
- Hi-vis reflective jackets – not as strict as in France, but you must wear them on the side of the road or hard shoulder or risk being fined.
- Warning triangle
- Headlight beam converters– must be fitted before you drive in Europe. Some vehicle allow you to adjust the beam automatically so you won’t need these.
- GB car sticker attached to the back of car or reg plates.
- Crash helmets are compulsory for motorbikers and passengers
TOP TIP: Buy these essentials for driving in the Netherlands in advance. One of the cheapest places is on Amazon. If you wait until you’re at the ferry/ tunnel, you could spend THREE times as much!
Road trip accessories you MIGHT need when campervanning in the Netherlands
The following kit are things you might choose to carry in your car, motorhome, caravan or campervan when you are planning your road trip in the Netherlands
NOTE: There is no rule regarding winter tyres for the Netherlands- the winters don’t get bad enough for that. Of course, if you do happen to be driving in heavy rain or snow, please drive appropriately
- First aid kit – not compulsory in Holland (unlike many countries in Europe). Find out what we carry in our European first aid kit here
- Spare bulbs for all lights in the vehicle
- Fire extinguisher
- Blanket- useful if your passengers get cold! (Did you know you can buy a 12v heated blanket? It’s amazing!)
- Water and snacks- just in case you run into traffic or breakdown somewhere remote.
- Epic road trip and motorhoming logbook to record and remember your epic adventures!
When driving in the Netherlands what documents do you need to carry?
If you’re driving in Holland, you need to carry the following documents:
- Passport (or identity card)
- Valid Driving licence (check it is in date!)
- Motorhome Insurance documents- check you are covered for driving in Europe
- Breakdown cover
- Vehicle V5 logbook (which must show your correct address)
- Vehicle must be legally taxed and MOT’d
- Trailer certification
- Green card (get from your vehicle insurer)
- International Driving Permit if required
- Personal travel insurance
- European Claim Form (from your insurer)
Do I need an international driving permit to drive in the Netherlands?
Most UK citizens do not need an IDP to drive in the Netherlands, as long as you have a card driving licence issued in the UK (in date, of course!)
You might need one if you have:
- a paper driving licence only
- a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
(If you do need an IDP, here’s an in-depth guide on how to get an International Driving Permit and which one(s) you need from a UK post office.
Motorhome touring in the Netherlands- Other useful things you might need
We’ve been touring Europe in our motorhome for several years. We’ve tried all sorts of kit- some useful, some not so much.
Here is a list of things we highly recommend when motorhoming in Holland, but which are NOT essential:
- Motorhome WiFi– learn our favourite way to get internet on the road
- Toll pass (see below)
- TV- If you’d like TV in your motorhome or camper, here’s how to get it.
- Motorhome sat-nav– get one you can enter your motorhome dimensions into, like these
- Motorhome security camera– this thing is GOLD for allowing us to go exploring and leave the van for a short time.
- Solar panel- perfect if you want to wild camp in Spain with your motorhome
- Inverter- a motorhome wild camping essential
- An awesome road trip playlist!
Driving tips for the Netherlands
If you’re planning a Dutch road trip, here are some essential things to know:
- The Netherlands drives on the right, overtakes on the left
- 18 is the minimum age to drive a car, camper or motorhome (and only with a legal licence) You may need to be 25+ before you can hire
- Seatbelts are compulsory for all occupants of a vehicle and pets must be restrained
- Speeds are in km/h, not mph (you might want to change the setting on your sat-nav)
- Road surfaces are generally pretty good
- Avoid cities if you’re driving in a motorhome- many of them are too crowded and the streets are just not cut out for large vehicles. Park outside and use public transport to get in.
- All road signs are in blue (not just the motorways)
- The Netherlands has strict drink driving limits. The legal limit is 0.05% (0.02% for drivers with less than 5 years experience and moped drivers up to 24 years old.)
- Dash-cams are allowed without restriction
One of the biggest differences you will face when driving in the Netherlands compared to the UK and much of Europe are the cyclists.
In the Netherlands, the vast majority of road used are on a bicycle. Cycle paths are everywhere, including part of nearly every road. Do NOT use the cycle lane as an extension of your lane- you will be shouted at and/ or fined. Also, cyclists are allowed to ride two side-by-side.
Trams, cyclists and mopeds have right of way in almost every situation. If you’re not sure, assume that they are and let them go. Expect them to appear from any direction and try to cross the road in front of you, even without a proper pedestrian crossing.
Like much of Europe, traffic lights in the Netherlands have no ‘amber’- they go straight from red to green. Be careful when turning right at traffic lights- pedestrians or cyclists crossing the road have priority over you.
Having said that, at some places a yellow flashing arrow may appear as a warning that it’s about to go red (usually if you’re waiting to turn at a junction.) Flashing yellow means that you should proceed with caution. A red arrow indicates that the driver proceeding in that direction must stop.
Speed Limits in the Netherlands
Road safety is very important in the Netherlands and they take a dim view of speed- especially anyway near residential or school areas. The pace of life is slower and it’s common for many people to drive well below the speed limit.
Cars, motorhomes and campers under 3.5 tonnes:
- 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways (Autosnelweg) (minimum speed 60km/h)
- 100km/h (62mph) on major roads and Expressways (Autoweg)
- 60-80km/h on regional roads (out of town)
- 50 km/h (31 mph) in built-up areas
Motorhomes and Campervans weighing over 3.5 tonnes:
- motorways 80 km/h (50 mph)
- major out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph)
- built-up areas- 50 km/h (31 mph)
Motorhomes or cars with trailers or caravans (over 750kg)
- motorways 80 km/h (50 mph)
- major out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph)
- built-up areas- 50 km/h (31 mph)
Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?
Speed Cameras in the Netherlands
There are many speed cameras in the Netherlands- not all of them signed. Be sure to turn off any radar detector or device which tells you about a camera- they are illegal in Holland.
There are plenty of fuel stations along most routes and unleaded and diesel are widely available. There are fewer options are you go further North and East, so be sure to fill up regularly. Diesel is often cheaper in The Netherlands than in Germany, so fill up before crossing the border.
Diesel is called… diesel
LPG is available at many petrol stations. They use the British connector and are often self-service, although you may need to ask the attendant to turn it on for you.
READ MORE: How we find LPG in Europe
There aren’t either in the Netherlands- all roads are free.
Many cities in the Netherlands have restricted zones, where you can’t drive in without a permit. Our advice is to avoid driving into any cities- park up on the outskirts and use public transport.
Learn more about how to find restricted zones across Europe
Driving in the Netherlands- what to do in the event of a road traffic accident
You should have a European Claim Form provided by your insurer before you leave. In the event of an accident, all parties complete and sign the form at the scene and then send a copy to your insurer for assessment.
What to do at the scene:
- Stop your vehicle immediately but safely- out of the flow of traffic if possible.
- If a vehicle is blocking the road, use hazard lights and put the red warning triangle 30 metres from the scene to warn approaching traffic
- Exchange your details with the other involved parties. Be sure to get:
- Name and address of all the people involved in the accident
- Vehicle registration numbers of all parties
- Insurance company details of all parties
- Take photos of damage using a camera, GoPro or phone
For more details, read our step-by-step guide on dealing with a road traffic accident in Europe
Motorhome Touring in Holland itinerary idea
Here’s a 7 day road trip itinerary we did on one of our first trips to the Netherlands with our motorhome.
- Day One- drove into Holland and stayed at Jachthaven Westergoot in Dordrecht.
- Day Two- Visit the Kinderdjik windmills (although, be warned if you’re towing or a long motorhome- we had serious trouble parking) and then on to Madurodam and the Hague
- Day Three- Explore the Hague and surrounding area. Rotterdam is also worth a visit if you have time but might need its own day
- Day Four- Amsterdam. If you don’t want to go into the city, go to Volendam– we loved it there and the motorhome parking was great and near the beach. Again, if you have time, do both.
- Day Five- drive to Giethoorn Village. We took the bridge over the E22, but honestly, the southern route might have had more to see.
- Day 6- visit Giethoorn- well worth spending a day relaxing here. Don’t miss the ice cream!
- Day 7- drive out and start motorhoming in Germany (or back to the UK, if you must)
More useful things to know when campervanning in Netherlands
Emergency Numbers: 112 will get you everything
Capital City: Amsterdam
Language: Dutch, but English is widely spoken to an excellent standard (as are Flemish and German). The Dutch will love you trying to speak their language, but they are also aware that us mere English mortals can’t make those sounds!
Bank Cards: most major credit and debit cards are accepted. American Express is only taken in large stores (not at tolls and often not at fuel stations)
Timezone: GMT+1 (or one hour ahead in BST)
Mobile Phone and Internet : It’s usually possible to use your UK phone and data in the Netherlands, but do check with your provider. If not, SIM cards are widely available and a cheap option for phone calls.
Shops: Unlike much of Europe, shops in the Netherlands don’t often close for lunch. Most are open every day from around 9 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. On Monday mornings, shops may not open until noon.
Many towns and cities have a shopping night where shops stay open until late, around 9 p.m. This is often on a Thursday. Many big supermarkets are open until 10pm.
Every Dutch city has its own rules for Sunday shopping hours. In most big cities, supermarkets are open until around 5.30 p.m on a Sunday.
Visa requirements: The Netherlands is in the Schengen zone, so you probably have a maximum of 90 days if you are not an EU resident. Learn more about the changes for driving in the EU after BREXIT.
Borders: There are no formal border crossings if you are driving into the Netherlands
Telephone country code: +31
Touring the Netherlands with a dog
The Netherlands is very pet-friendly. They are allowed almost everywhere, including public transport and in many bars, cafes and restaurants. They are not often allowed in museums.
Now that BREXIT has happened and the UK pet passport scheme is no longer valid, you will need to get an Animal Health Certificate before you leave the UK.
You will need to get a worming treatment done by a registered vet before you leave Spain, or between 24 hours and 5 days before re-entering the UK.
Using a drone in the Netherlands
You are allowed to take and fly your drone in the Netherlands, but there are some rules you need to follow.