Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination in Europe. Thanks to its rich history, open skyline, beautiful brick buildings, and a relaxed vibe, there’s always so much to do. As such, it makes sense why travelers have a soft spot for the capital city of Netherlands. But how do you even explore Amsterdam and get a full overview of the city and its culture?
Amsterdam: A Cycling City
Amsterdam is one of the most sought-after places to visit, especially with European and American travelers. It has a number of impressive museums holding various collections of Old World and modern art, retail streets and open markets as well as a very diverse and vibrant nightlife. While there’s a number of accessible transport options in the city, a local (or a seasoned traveler) will tell you cycling in Amsterdam is the best way to explore the city.
Amsterdam has one of the friendliest and safest bike paths among large cities in the world. Almost all of the routes are flat terrain and are unpassable by automobiles. It’s easy to find a bike rental in the city. Biking facilities like bike racks, bike lanes, and bike storage are everywhere. Moreover, the low percentage of automobile traffic and the high density of open, green spaces makes cycling in Amsterdam an experience worth doing.
Whether you’re into the cycling sport or simply want to commute conveniently, it is very important for you to have the right gear. If you’re staying in Amsterdam for a while, you can consider purchasing your own bike. These city bikes from Bikester are perfect examples of the kind of bike you would need to navigate Amsterdam’s city streets.
If you’re only there for a shorter period of time, you can rent a bike instead. Bicycle rental stops can be found in the following areas for 5-12 euros daily:
- Central Station
- Dam Square
You might be issued with an omafiets (granny bike), which comes with a backpedal and only has one speed. They’re a bit on the heavier side but are great in flat terrains. Otherwise, rent a bike with hand brakes or a good mountain bike, depending on your comfort level.
Popular Rental Shops in Amsterdam Are:
1. MacBike – they lease out Batavus Personal bikes plastered with their recognizable logo to subtly inform locals to assist or be careful around you
2. Yellow Bike – open all year-round, they offer guided tours too
3. Star Bikes – located near Central Station, you can rent a picnic basket along with your black bike rental
4. AmsterBike – they deliver your rental to your hotel!
5. Black Bike – they offer bike models that don’t look touristy
Rental shops will require you to submit a copy of your ID and/or a credit card. It’s best to have a photocopy of these on hand, especially during the shop’s peak hours, for faster processing.
Tip: If you plan to stay for more than a day in Amsterdam, get the multi-day rate instead, which starts as low as 4 euros. You can also inquire the shop’s additional rental days, whichever is cheaper. If you’re traveling with a group, most shops offer discounts.
Important: Always get insurance AND A LOCK. Unfortunately, bike theft is possible in Amsterdam. You wouldn’t want to get your property stolen or not get your deposit back from the rental shop (which could range from 50-200 euros per bike). Although locks are included in the rental or could be rented, it would be wise to invest in a sturdy one. Get theft insurance, which costs an extra 2.50 to 4 euros per day, especially if you are renting an expensive model.
Best Cycling Routes in Amsterdam
Amstel River – Amsterdams Bos
This is a popular route recommended to all visitors who would like to experience the Amsterdam community. From central Amsterdam, you will be biking beside Amstel River, then Amstelpark, then a traditional windmill, until you reach Amsterdams Bos. You’d see locals in all walks of life here either playing sports, having a picnic, or simply enjoying the outdoors.
Locals and tourists alike love cycling around Vondelpark, which also features a rose garden that has 70 flower varieties. There are various street performers in the area, so definitely look forward to a quirky performance (or more). Swap the bike for a pair of rollerskates to explore the rest of Vondelpark.
True to its name, this is the place to go to see what’s new in the city’s evolving, multicultural lifestyle. The 15th-century De Waag building and the Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple or Zeedijk Temple are just one of the various fascinating buildings you should look forward too. Don’t forget to stop by Chinatown and sample authentic East Asian cuisine or visit the nearby Red Light district.
If you’re into the countryside scenery, take this route instead. Cycle north of Amsterdam to this area, which features working fishing towns, picturesque villages, and miles of green land. Don’t miss the 17th and 18th-century wooden houses at Broek and the yacht harbor at Monnickendam.