What could be better than cycling through Amsterdam, passing by canals and cobblestones?
There is perhaps no image of Europe more romantic and relaxing than that of a gentle bike trip across charming, cobblestone streets. Unless you're an anti-adventurist, that is! Your inner chicken will be cringing with every turn, fretting the buses, the cars, even your fellow cyclists. But cycling through Amsterdam is a travel dream, even for those of us who are entirely less adventurous in their travel style. Here's how to survive and thrive while biking in Amsterdam.
Take heart - cyclists are welcome here!
Cycling through Amsterdam on busy streets can be an intimidating experience but there's nowhere on earth more bike-friendly than Amsterdam. Cyclists enjoy unparalleled freedom and respect from cars, streetcars, and pedestrians. Of course, you should always pay attention to safety no matter where you are, but in Amsterdam the anti-adventurist can be reassured of a bike-friendly environment.
Hills? What hills?
See how the road gently slopes upwards at the left of the photo? That's what counts as a hill in Amsterdam. If you are a beginner cyclist or aren't feeling all too confident, take heart in knowing the city is flat and easy to navigate. The most challenging "hills" you'll encounter are nothing more than the bridges over the canal. Yep, you can handle this!
You can have the city entirely to yourself.
How would you like to have all of central Amsterdam entirely to yourself? Grab your bike and hit the streets on a Sunday morning. This party-hard city is absolutely ALIVE on Saturday nights, making for a some memorable moments. But it's worth it to retire early, just for the joy of having the city entirely to yourself on Sunday morning.
Seriously, where is everyone?
You can't ask for better cycling conditions and anti-adventurists will appreciate the absence of cars, bikes, scooters, and pedestrians. The cool morning air is beautifully refreshing and the early morning light is great for photos. (Bonus tip: We found it challenging to find a cafe open early for breakfast - though I am sure they exist - but we were able to refuel with muffins and hot chocolates at the Starbucks in Central Station. Not the most authentic travel experience but it did the job. The washrooms in the station cost about 30 cents to use.)
Enjoy some family time.
Flower boxes filled with lavender and herbs, colorful drawings on the wall, and an ever watchful cat perched in an open window - this is the Amsterdam you'll discover if you cycle just a short distance outside the main attractions of the city centre. The street scenes are utterly charming and anti-adventurists will appreciate the slower pace of life and decreased congestion.
Bikes + IAmsterdam cards = travel bliss!
The IAmsterdam card gives you access to nearly all of the city's famous attractions, as well as plenty that are a little less well known. Get your money's worth and hop on your bike to track down some of these more off-the-beaten track attractions. One of our favourite was the Amsterdam Houseboat Museum - though in true anti-adventurist spirit I did manage to feel a tiny bit queasy while on board! My troublesome stomach aside, it was a fascinating small museum and getting there was just a brief bike ride from our hotel.
So where do you begin?
terdam is filled with bike rental shops, which offer inexpensive short term rentals. If you're only in the city for a day or two and want to maximize your sightseeing, most shops also offer guided cycling tours. Three great rental options include:
MacBike: This 25 year old popular bike hire has five rental shops around the city. Rental costs €7.50 for 3 hours, €9.75 for 24 hours. The company also offers a daily Amsterdam City Bike Tour, with a guide taking you to the city’s biggest sights.
Amsterbike: Rental costs €8.50 for 3 hours and €12.50 for 24 hours. They also offer tours starting from €19.50, so you can experience ‘Historical Amsterdam’ or the ‘Dutch Landscape’ with a guide.
Rentabike: Offers 3-hour hire for €6.75, while 24-hour hire costs €9.40.
It's time to get in touch with Amsterdam's gentle side.
There's all different styles of travel and some of us are anti-adventurists at heart. We want to see the world and embrace local, authentic experiences - just with a little less adrenaline! Amsterdam is the perfect city for that. For sure there are wild times to be had, but this is also the ideal location to explore at a bit of a slower pace. So pack your anti-adventurist tendencies in your pannier, coast off, and explore!
What are your favourite cities for cycling? Would you ever explore Amsterdam by bike?
If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like:
Cycling Through Paris
Inside Amsterdam's Tulip Museum
Amsterdam's Best Eateries
26/7/2015 01:40:43 am
We saved so much with the iAmsterdam card- it was well worth it.
25/7/2015 10:08:21 am
I lived in Amsterdam for a few years and although it is a very cycle friendly city. Locals do get a thrill out of scaring tourists at least the people I hung out with did. Pro tip - remember where you locked your bike, there are often hundreds if not thousands of bikes parked close to central station. It is easier than you think to forget where you parked it!
26/7/2015 03:41:24 am
That is such a good tip - maybe bring along some colorful ribbon to mark it or take a smart phone pic to pinpoint its location.
25/7/2015 11:31:22 am
Fantastic information! I love reading about cities that are bicycle friendly, it's the best way to get around and get some exercise while you're sight seeing. I can't believe you couldn't find anything open early for breaky though?! Weird...
26/7/2015 03:42:25 am
It was weird. I bet if I had done a quick online search before departure we could have found a number of places but we just assumed we'd stumble upon something. Not so!
26/7/2015 03:43:03 am
Every year, hundreds of bikes are fished from the canal, so it DOES happen! I'd stick close to the houses if I were you.
26/7/2015 03:44:20 am
It was lovely. Not very wild, but there are all different sides to Amsterdam.
26/7/2015 01:28:31 am
Calming and charming city :) Just reading a book abut some cyclo-tourists and it seems to be that around the world people do like bikes :) Interesting type of traveling for those who are in love in nature.
26/7/2015 03:47:38 am
There are people who have biked in some fascinating places in the world- but I think I'll stick to Europe.
26/7/2015 01:02:35 pm
I was a little worried about biking around Amsterdam when we were there in June because there were tons of people and traffic and I didn't fully understand the way the streets were integrated with the bike lanes and light rail system. But I can see the benefit probably far outweighs the confusion and hesitation. With that many people riding around there, it has to be pretty easy.
28/7/2015 04:12:19 am
We arrived during rush hour and my first impressions were a bit overwhelming! It definitely helped to try things out when it was quiet to get the hang of it.
26/7/2015 01:23:34 pm
I don't cycle but pictures of Amsterdam make me want to learn. It looks like a lot of fun.
28/7/2015 04:13:05 am
We did see a few people on bikes that were more like 3 or 4 wheelers so for those who don't bike because of balance issues or because they never learned, there are some options out there!
28/7/2015 04:13:23 am
San Diego sounds like a gorgeous biking destination!
26/7/2015 10:02:46 pm
This looks like a great cycling destination !
28/7/2015 04:13:52 am
It really is-great for all levels and abilities.
27/7/2015 05:02:48 pm
The cost of renting bicycles was expensive at all! I think this is a great idea and will only add to the experience of being in Amsterdam.
28/7/2015 04:15:20 am
You can cycle just about anywhere but in Amsterdam it really gives you that 100% local experience.
28/7/2015 08:20:40 am
It really is a great deal.
28/7/2015 07:54:43 am
First of all, beautiful pictures. Makes me want to transport myself to Amsterdam right now.
28/7/2015 08:21:39 am
I hope you get back to Amsterdam soon to try out some biking.
28/7/2015 02:18:04 pm
I love your idea of cycling on a calm and sunny Sunday morning. Wow, I would love to go back and see the city from a new point of view! Great pictures!
3/8/2015 12:58:39 pm
When were you last in Amsterdam? I bet the city has changed a lot since your last visit!
28/7/2015 03:15:26 pm
Oh, how I would love to do that! This is on my bucket list!!
3/8/2015 12:59:35 pm
Hope you get to do it soon!
28/7/2015 03:58:05 pm
To visit Amsterdam alone would be an amazing adventure, but to do so by bike would be incredible! What a fun and memorable trip to have.
3/8/2015 12:59:58 pm
It really was a great trip - have you ever been before?
28/7/2015 04:51:58 pm
I will never forget biking in Germany, on what was supposed to be an outing that a "Grandma could do".... OMG it almost killed me!
3/8/2015 01:01:05 pm
I think it's safe to bet that grannies in Germany are probably a lot more fit and hearty than the average Canadian!! But I do promise - you can easily bike in A'dam without hills!
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