When it comes to getting around Amsterdam, there’s no better way than by bike. Become acquainted with the ins and outs of cycling there with these handy tips.
Rent a bike
Unless you’re bringing your own bike, start by renting one. Luckily, there are a plethora of options available, from the bright-orange MacBikes that come with a big sign that says ‘LOOK OUT!’ to warn locals, to more discreet options that let you blend in. Remember that Amsterdam is flat so don’t worry about spending extra for a bike with gears. Most companies will ask to see your passport, plus take a credit-card imprint or cash deposit to rent each bike.
Pick up a cycling map
While most rental companies will give you a basic map, by far the best resource is the Amsterdam op de fiets, or Amsterdam cycling map available at tourist offices for €4. Not only will it show you a number of cycling routes throughout the city that take in everything from the big sights to the little-known suburbs, but it will also show you where to fix a flat and which parts of the city you can’t access on your bike.
Stick to your lane
Most of the city has dedicated bike lanes that are easily identifiable by their red colour and a huge picture of a bike printed on the ground. Even in these lanes it’s important to keep to the right to let faster riders pass, and to look over your shoulder before stopping to prevent a pile-up. These lanes are accompanied by their own traffic lights that you need to obey at all times. In the older part of town, or where there’s no dedicated bike lane, remember to ride on the right and follow the road rules to stay safe.
Take a tour
Consider taking a cycling tour led by an expert guide as a great way to see the best of the city. Here you can choose from tours of scenic Amsterdam, complete with leafy canals and picturesque architecture, or opt for a tour that stops by the city’s best galleries and historical spots. My pick is Amsterdam Urban Adventure’s cycle tour that takes in the city’s wealth of alternative neighbourhoods and offers an insider’s perspective.
Lock it up
When hiring a bike you’ll probably be left gobsmacked by the price of theft insurance. Unfortunately, bike theft is rampant and with over 70,000 bikes stolen each year, it’s important to cover yourself from the possibility of losing your wheels. If you choose to forgo the extra cost, consider following the local lead and renting at least two locks to secure your bike.
Get out of town
Renting your own bike is also the best way to see most of the countryside. Try heading to Waterland, either by paying the €6 bike fee to get there by train or by tackling the 30-minute cycle through sprawling fields and along winding dykes. Here you’ll find cute towns full of wooden houses and windmills. At the end of the day, either enjoy the leisurely peddle back to Amsterdam or jump aboard the train with your bike.