Amsterdam is the “Bike Capital of the World”. We love to ride our bikes here and a true Amsterdam experience is nothing without trying it yourself. And yes, be prepared to be a little overwhelmed, but if you follow the next steps, you’ll have a fair chance of survival & I promise you, you’ll love it! In Amsterdam, you can get everywhere by bike, it’s more like a big village than a city.
So here are the things you need to know before you hit the pedals:
1. We don’t wear helmets here. If you feel safer with one, just wear it, we won’t laugh at you.
2. Learn how to use your brakes and gears BEFORE you hit the road. Quite often I see tourists using themselves as their brakes…not very charming…
3. Use your arms if you want to turn left or right. Just stick out your hand and point where you want to go. That’s how we communicate here.
4. Bikers have their own traffic light most of the time, always check if the right one is green!
5. Mind the trams & the tram rails. You hear them coming from a mile away with their bells, but sometimes you just don’t know which direction they’re going. And that damn rails…I have had quite a few incidents that involved getting stuck in the rails and seeing the pavement up close & personal…I have lived here for over 11 years and it still happens. Be careful, especially in the winter when it gets icy.
6. When the bike path gets busy with hasty Amsterdam, willing to kill you in order to get in time for an appointment, do what you would do on a busy London subway escalator: get in one line (on the right side here). Don’t stick to your partner. Leave him or her, at least if you want to live.
7. Bring a map. There are just a few straight roads in Amsterdam, most of them are half circles, because of the canals. So when you think you’re going straight ahead, you could be riding back to where you came from.
8. There are bike paths everywhere, use them.
9. Bikes tend to get stolen quickly here, so use a good lock.
10. The Netherlands may be flat, Amsterdam sure isn’t. Be prepared for a workout while crossing the canals!
11. Just go, don’t overthink, don’t panic, enjoy! ♥
‘Fiets’ means bike in Dutch, so if you have a flat tire, just look for the word ‘Fiets’ and there will probably be someone who can help you out.
Great spots to rent a bike:
• Mike’s Bike Tours & Rentals gets excellent reviews on Tripadvisor.
• MacBike is the biggest bike rental chain in the city.
• Rent a Bike Amsterdam, is another good option, located near Damsquare.
• Bike City, located in the beautiful Jordan.
For more rental spots check: Iamsterdam
If you buy an Iamsterdam City Card you can get a 25% discount on renting a bike at a few rental locations, like Macbike and Amsterdam Bike.