While guests of all inclusive river cruise holidays passing through Amsterdam may enjoy the unrivalled views you gain from the river or canal, bike is best when it comes to exploring the city itself. Here we have put together the ultimate guide to cycling in Amsterdam, no Lycra required.
Put the pedal to the metal – Bike Hire Companies
Cycling holidays are immensely popular throughout Europe, but Amsterdam in particular offers its cycling visitors even more. As one of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam, it may come as no surprise that there are numerous bike hire companies across the capital in addition to the great bikes available on board an Emerald Waterways cruise, which are free of charge for guests to use.
Here we have spoken to the best about why guests cruising the river Rhine should explore Amsterdam by bike.
Mike’s Bike Tours are a fantastic bike tour company based in the heart of the capital offering comprehensive tours in full English. Choose from their city, countryside and mini city tours with the latter offering a tour of the best Amsterdam attractions in just two hours.
‘Why should you choose Mike’s Bike Tours when biking in Amsterdam? Well, not only are we highly ranked on internet sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp, but we also have an easy to find shop with super friendly staff that can help make your time in Amsterdam even better.
We offer daily tours into the countryside where you can see how cheese and wooden shoes are made. We also have city tours where each guide shows you some of the classic hits of Amsterdam and then takes you to some of their favourite haunts.
And we have daily bike rentals available where you can explore the city on your own. We have free maps in the garage that can offer some nice tips and ideas to get around town.
Amsterdam is one of the most bike friendly cities in the world and biking is the absolutely best way for exploring all the wonders of Amsterdam. We highly recommend that you jump on a bike and experience our beautiful city on 2 wheels.’
-Mike’s Bike Tours
MacBike offers Dutch bike rental, tours, maps and repairs, and have been hiring out bicycles for more than 25 years. With 2,000 bikes and four branches in Amsterdam city centre, it is the oldest and biggest bike hire shop in the city. They hire out sturdy town bicycles, child seats, child bikes, hybrid bicycles, electric bicycles, tandems and cargo bikes. Every year, some 150,000 tourists explore Amsterdam with a bicycle from MacBike.
‘Amsterdam is the perfect city for exploring by bike. You don't have to wait for a tram or bus, you're not stuck in traffic, and you can park easily, wherever you like. That means you're free to do as you please. Cycling is also healthy, and it's good for the environment. As safety is our priority, we issue a free, multi-language leaflet with all the do’s and don’ts of cycling in Amsterdam.’
Yellow Bike is a great way of seeing all of the things to do in Amsterdam easily and efficiently as their tours visit all of the top attractions with the accessibility of a bike.
‘If you think of the Netherlands, you will probably also think of the many bicycles that ride around in this low country. There are more bicycles than people in the city of Amsterdam! With the bicycle you can reach places which remain inaccessible to boats or motorized traffic. Yellow Bike has put together a safely guided bicycle tour which will give you a fascinating picture of this famous canal city’s rich history. During this tour you will pass all the interesting spots such as the charming Jordaan quarter, the Anne Frank house, the Rijksmuseum, the Vondel Park, the “Skinny Bridge”, Rembrandt’s house and the Red Light District. You will also see undiscovered Amsterdam with its quiet hidden courtyards and photogenic views. Our experienced guides will show you the way and tell the fascinating story of the history and evolution of Amsterdam over the years.
All bike tours include the use of new yellow bicycles. Please make your reservations in advance.’
We Bike Amsterdam offer both group and private tours of the city by bike with tour guides that live for both cycling and Amsterdam.
‘Our 3 hour bike tour in Amsterdam focusses on what we like to call the 'Hidden Gems' of the city. We think our tour answers to the interests of customers of Emerald Waterways because we believe our tour is a bit more sophisticated than others. Different from most other touring operators we like to show our customers the 'real city' and we do not go to the ordinary and common sides of Amsterdam such as the Red Light District and the Coffee Shops.
Our experience with customers of River Cruises (we have had quite a few) is that these people are more interested in the history of Amsterdam and like to experience the quieter parts of the city over the crowded and very touristy areas.
In small groups (max 12 pers, average 8 pers) we visit several courtyards and hidden churches, escaping from the crowds. We have a short break during our tour as well at our favourite little café where we can enjoy a good cup of coffee and make use of the facilities. Besides many of the lesser known sides, we also visit Amsterdam’s largest and most beautiful Vondel-park and the Museum Square.’
-We Bike Amsterdam
Once you get a bit weary
Once the legs get a bit weary or the saddle starts to take its toll, you may want to give the cycling a rest, but there are still other things to do in Amsterdam and modes of transport that help you best see the sights.
Amsterdam Bike Taxi offers the best of both worlds if you are starting to miss the feel of the wind through your hair and the personal appeal of travelling through Amsterdam by bike.
‘Firstly, to introduce you to our company, Amsterdam Bike Taxi is the largest bike taxi operator here in Amsterdam as we have a 25% market share of the licenced company bike taxis in Amsterdam. This means that we are always operating in the city centre day and night, 365 days a year. Furthermore, all of our drivers undergo rigorous selection and training and we believe our drivers to be the most professional here in Amsterdam. As well as these normal bike taxi services we sometimes provide shuttle services for corporate clients with or without branding/advertising on our bike taxis during and after the event.
As most people know, Amsterdam is an extremely bike-friendly city with a superb bike-lane infrastructure which not only permits shorter travelling times - by avoiding traffic jams etc. - but also in many cases enables visitors to the city access to areas which they could not access by car etc. A trip in a bike taxi is really a much more intense and memorable than the same trip by car taxi which to be honest is the same as a car taxi ride anywhere in the world, because the passengers feel that they are taking part in the life of the city rather than seeing it from inside a car. This is why so many tourists from abroad and even from elsewhere in Holland alike prefer the bike taxi over the normal car taxi if they want to enjoy themselves sightseeing.
For cruise passengers our bike taxis are ideal because the walk from the passenger terminal to the city centre is around 15 minutes and not exactly through the most picturesque areas of Amsterdam. And it is especially unappealing after passengers normally tend to have exhausted themselves walking through the city streets for hours and for this reason our drivers frequently take passengers to and from the cruise ship/boat terminals. We can even bring the customers right up to the entrance by riding along the jetties.’
Taxicentrale Amsterdam is one of the most useful taxi companies in all of Amsterdam as it has a useful TCA app and promises 5 minute service offering reliable and fast service. Thanks to the extent of their company, they can guarantee a quality taxi anywhere in Amsterdam within five minutes.
‘Amsterdam is a great city that offers a lot of sightseeing. The famous tourist spots are the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. But Amsterdam offers a lot more. Amsterdam packs tons of variety into a fairly small space. You can find the city’s best art galleries, streets packed with charming boutiques and markets.
For tourists it is always difficult to find their way in unknown city. A TCA-driver can guide you through all the sightseeing and other unique areas in Amsterdam. No big and difficult maps anymore when you can have a personal TCA-guide.
TCA is a full service, ground transportation company designed to meet the needs of the (business) upscale traveller. Strict entry requirements are observed and the TCA fleet, consisting of 1250 vehicles and 1500 certified and professional drivers, complies with the highest quality requirements. In all our 1250 vehicles it is possible to pay with all kinds of credit cards.’
Some advice and inspiration
For a bit of inspiration before your Amsterdam cycle trip we have brought together the best Amsterdam cycle blogs.
Amsterdam Cycle Chic is a blog that looks to promote cycling in cities across the world, just in the way that Amsterdam does. With regular cycling articles and images to really inspire your Amsterdam cycling trip they are a great place to start planning your trip.
‘When in Amsterdam do as the Amsterdammers do and go through the city by bike. Enjoy cycling along the canals, through the Vondelpark or see the typical Dutch countryside just a few minutes out of the city. Windmills, houses on dikes and the flat land below sea level...it doesn't get any more Dutch than that. When cycling through the city, please indicate with your hand when you're going to make a turn and look behind you before you do because Amsterdammers cycle fast! It is not leisure for them, it is simply the fastest way to go to work, to pick up their kids from school or to visit a friend. Visiting Amsterdam by bike is a great way to enjoy the city and see a lot in little time. Neighbourhoods just out of the city centre like De Pijp, de Jordaan and Amsterdam Oost are definitely worth a visit!
Want to see what cycling looks like in Amsterdam? Or want to learn more about Dutch Cycling Culture? Visit the blog, it is a voluntary blog run by four ladies living in Amsterdam who want to inspire the world to become more bike friendly. Because they believe everyone has the right to be able to safely cycle to work, school or friends in their cities.’
The Cycling Dutchman is a fantastic cycling blog. Written by native Dutch cyclist and blogger Eric van der Horst, who is now a UK-based cycling professional, his articles cover a great range of cycling topics to really inspire your cycling trip in the Netherlands.
‘The Cycling Dutchman Blog is primarily set up to promote our Cycling in The Netherlands guidebook and secondarily as a campaigning website with high quality information about Dutch cycling culture, addressing many misconceptions about cycling, alive in primarily the United Kingdom, but also in other countries where cycling cultures are gradually developing. The Cycling in The Netherlands guidebook features various rides you can do from Amsterdam, including our Ultimate Amsterdam Ride, see here. This ride can be completed in either a morning or afternoon or take a full day when taking in all the sites on the way at length. This is probably the best ride we have on offer for river cruises customers.
If you take in Amsterdam by bike you'll see so much more rather than just wandering about in the historic City Centre. By bike, you can cover more distance and can take in beautiful places, away from the regular tourist "trap". It is beautiful riding alongside the Amstel River, in the Amsterdam Forest or Amsterdam Woods (see also no 2 in our Top 12 Dutch Rides here) and in beautiful Vondelpark and of course the canal districts! Most important of all, by bike, you can truly take in the famous Dutch cycling culture and be part of it! For a happy Amsterdam bike ride, you should know a bit more about those special Dutch cycling-friendly traffic rules, typical cycling-friendly road lay-outs and plan your routes! This is all covered by our guidebook, which also makes recommendations on where to rent you bike from!’
The Dutch Cycling Embassy - could there be a better source of inspiration and advice for cycling in Amsterdam than this? As the world’s cycling experts they look to make cycling safe and enjoyable for all.
‘The Dutch Cycling Embassy is a public and private partnership. We represent national and local governments, private companies, NGOs, universities and research institutions. As the world's number one cycling country we facilitate cycling worldwide as the most modern, efficient and sustainable means of transportation by sharing our expertise and technology.
The best way to see Amsterdam is using the bicycle because:
- cycling is seeing more of our beautiful city
- cycling is cheap
- cycling is fun
- cycling is an independent means of transport
- cycling is good for your health
- cycling is good for our health!’
These are just a selection of the great cycling experiences to be had in Amsterdam, and with many other great things to do in Amsterdam covered by the Emerald Waterways river cruise itineraries, you are sure not to miss a thing in this vibrant city. For a great cruise in which you can see Amsterdam by bike, see the 8-day Jewels of Rhine river cruise new for 2015.
Image Credit: James Hindman (flickr.com)
This content was written by Angela Sloan. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.