Renting a bike in Amsterdam is, in my opinion, one of the most essential experiences for visitors to the city. The most important hing to remember is that it isn’t nearly as intimidating as it looks. For those who aren’t ready to try and navigate the web of streets and canals, there are many guided bicycle tours available.
For those looking to have a little more freedom, there are multiple shops that will provide you with a bike, a lock (essential in this city), and advice to get you started. My favorite place is Bike City, located east of the main square in a lovely neighborhood known as the Jordaan.
As I mentioned in the post covering this day, The Jordaan is a perfect place to start any biking excursion, as it is far enough away from the main tourist crush to provide some open streets. It doesn’t take to get used to the feel of the bike and the use of handbrakes, for those unfamiliar with these.
Almost all the roads have a bike path or lane next to the road or next to the sidewalk. Side streets that don’t have specific bike lanes are usually have less traffic. Many of the older areas off the main streets are also cobblestone, which isn’t the most comfortable surface to bike on, but also isn’t dangerous (except a little slick after rain or snow).
Another great place to get comfortable with biking is Amsterdam’s massive urban park, Vondelpark. It’s a beautiful wide open space- and auto traffic will not be a concern.
On this visit, my friend Toni and I explored the eastern portion of the city, out by the zoo and docklands, which had a number of excellent bike paths. Only a couple of pieces of additional advice- pay attention to all of the traffic signals and be careful not to let the tires of the bike slip into the metal tram track while riding parallel with them- that’s stop the wheels. There really isn’t any reason to be biking that close to them, just something to keep in mind.
I took a bunch of video during out time biking with my GoPro camera. I’ve edited it down (and then sped it up a little).