Probably the most famous city in the world for cycling, Amsterdam lives and breathes bikes. Everywhere a visitor turns there are cyclists in this beautiful city, where there are 600,000 bicycles for a population of 750,000. Many of the prominent attractions are within easy cycling distance from the city centre, making it easy to get around, and there are a number of good trails to the outlying areas either by bike or a combination of public transport means. The narrow streets are challenging to negotiate in a car, making a bicycle the preferred form of transport for Amsterdammers. With a city focused on cycling, this is an unmissable destination for anyone who likes to use a bicycle.
Hiring a bike in Amsterdam is very easy as there are outlets in most areas, including places such as the Central Station, Dam Square and Leidseplein. The average rental price is 8 euros a day and there are short term rentals available from three hours. There are also tandems and bikes for children available for hire. Most Dutch bikes have back pedal brakes, which can be a challenge to get used to if you are more accustomed to hand brake systems.
Safety is really important in Amsterdam and no matter what you see other cyclists doing, such as jumping red lights, it is important to maintain some road sense, particularly in an unfamiliar environment. One thing that is particularly hazardous to cyclists in Amsterdam is the many tram rails, which can unseat a cyclist. Locals advise they should be crossed at a sharp angle. Trams always have right of way over a cyclist, regardless of the direction they are coming from, which visitors should be aware of if planning to cycle. It is also recommended that cyclists secure their bike to a rail when not in use as bike theft is very common in Amsterdam. Using bike lanes is highly recommended in Amsterdam and there are also road signs specifically for cyclists.
Taking a guided tour is a great way to orientate oneself to the city of Amsterdam and get a flavour of the top things to see. Some companies offer themed tours of areas such as the Jordaan, the historical sights, and even a picnic tour. There are also tours in different languages. For those who prefer a self guided ride, the visitor bureau sells guides and has cycle maps relating to Amsterdam. Some of the routes have been designed to avoid the hazardous tram tracks in the city.
Amsterdam has a number of good routes to explore on two wheels. Route six, for example, rides from the historic seventeenth century part of Amsterdam through to the twentieth century buildings. Starting at the Central Station, the route follows the Singel Canal and goes down past the Korte Prinsengracht. Cycling past the historic warehouses, the ride takes in more buildings and features from the early twentieth century. With a route that goes in the direction of the Schipol Airport, this bike ride finally ends at the world famous Rijksmuseum, where visitors can see some of the greatest paintings by Dutch Masters. Cycle Route nine is a journey that passes historic villages and sea dikes.
By taking the ferry behind Central Station to Buiksloterweg, there are locks and tow paths to cycle along to the villages of Zunderdorp and Schellingwoude. Nieuwendaam is a medieval settlement on the Nieuwendammerdijk, with beautiful nineteenth century buildings. The North Holland Sea Dike is also in the area at Marken and is very interesting to view on the bike ride. Taking in a circular route, this cycle ends with the ferry and the Central Station. These routes are not tourist ones, but can be used by tourists as they take in some of the scenic areas in Amsterdam. Other routes in the city itself feature the art museums and the many beautiful canal paths as well as the parks. Bikes can be taken on public transport, so a ride in the countryside past windmills or out to Haarlem and Gouda are all options for visitors. Amsterdam has so much to see and explore and doing it by bike is probably the best way to see this famous city.