German (and Dutch) parking rules aren’t always clear when you’re first starting out. I still find parking to be the most frustrating part about driving here, (aside from the slow tractors) but I hope this post will help clarify a few things, especially for those new in town.
What I do beforehand:
If I’m going to a big city that I’m unfamiliar with, I always search for parking garages online. Use the word “parking” for German cities and “parkeren” for cities in the Netherlands. You will almost always find a website listing of parking lots and garages located in and around the city. These listings usually have the address, opening hours, and rates so you can compare between them. I write down 3-4 of the addresses because your first choice might be full and a backup plan is always good to have.
I am a big fan of parking garages because they are usually cheaper than the open-air parking lots within the city and you only pay for the time you spend in the garage. Here is how they work.
- You enter the parking garage, generally by pressing a button at the gate and getting a ticket. Some gates have a slot for a credit card as well. If this works for you, the credit card will act as your ticket. Park and then go have fun, but take your ticket with you.
- Once you’re back at the garage, find a Parkautomat or Kassenautomat (or some similar word). Insert your ticket and your total fee will be displayed on the screen. Pay the amount and you’ll receive your ticket back. Keep in mind that these machines have a maximum bill size they can take. (Most give change) Now you can leave the lot.
Parking Lots with a Parkautomat (usually open air)
- Go into the lot and park, then find the nearest Parkautomat/Kassenautomat.
- Attempt to read the rules for the parking lot. There is usually a time limit for parking there. It’s also possible that the lot is free at certain times or days (for example, after 6pm and on Sundays).
- If the lot is free, you’re done, enjoy the day. If the lot is not free, then insert money for the amount of time you intend to stay. Once you say OK, you’ll get a ticket. Most of these machines only take coins and you must have exact change or it keeps the change and just adds more time onto your parking allowance.
- Place the ticket on the dash of your car and note the time written on it. This is the time that your ticket will expire.
Parking with a Camera gate
- These lots look similar to the lots with a Parkautomat, but there is a camera at the entrance that will register your license plate number and the time you entered.
- Park your car and go about your business. You will pay at the end.
- Once you return, find the Parkautomat and input your license plate number. The Parkautomat will display the amount due.
- You may have an option to pay with coins or card.
- Once you’ve paid, you can leave the lot.
Parking Lots with the Blue Disc Placard
- Park your car and note the time limit on the disc parking sign.
- Note the current time and rotate your disc to the nearest half-hour, then place your placard on your dash. This parking is free, but you might get a ticket if you stay longer than the time limit.
- Note: Parking monitors might mark your tires with chalk to make sure you are not cheating the system.
Watch out for:
- Signs saying Vergunning(houders) in NL. These spots are for cars with parking permits.