Riding a bike in Amsterdam is the same as eating tapas in Spain, or sampling snails in France. Until you’ve been to Amsterdam, it’s hard to imagine just how many bikes there are. So when we were in Amsterdam, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hire bikes and explore on 2 wheels.
We were staying at the Westcord City Centre Hotel, and just opposite is a little bike hire place called Yellow Bike. The staff there were absolutely lovely, and even listened to my plea to ignore my boyfriends continued requests for a tandem! At €12 per bike for 24 hours, we hired out two bikes for 24 hours, and were on our way.
Now, we both learnt to ride bikes as kids, but it’s been a long time since either of us has actually ridden a bike. My boyfriend was off like he rode a bike every day, but I was slightly wobbly and it took me a few minutes to feel comfortable on the bike again. Once confident, we headed off.
The plan was to make our way to the ‘Iamsterdam’ sign by the Rijksmuseum, which was a bit further out than we could be bothered to walk. Anything we could fit in on the way was going to be a bonus! So we made our way south down Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, past the Royal Palace, past the Amsterdam museum, past the university and arriving at the floating flower market. I was quite excited about this, as I’d imagined it’d be a number of canal boats you board. Unfortunately for me, it was nothing of the sort, and if you didn’t see it from behind you probably wouldn’t even know the stalls were floating on the river.
We jumped back on our bikes and continued along Singel. I was responsible for map reading, and so we had to stop quite a few times to check we were heading in the right sort of direction, as we didn’t actually know where the sign was. As we continued, we found ourselves in Rembrandtplein. We had no idea what it was, so when we spotted the statues we whipped out the guide book, and realised our luck that we’d just happened to cycle here. Few quick snaps, and we were on our way again.
We carried on cycling until we came to the Amstel River, where we spotted the world’s smallest car! Stopped for a picture (naturally) then continued cycling parallel to the river. One thing I will say – those cute arches that allow you to pass over the smaller rivers…absolute nightmare to ride over. Unless you’ve already got speed, I’d say give up, get off and walk your bike over.
As we reached a dead end, we turned right and followed the road. The traffic lights in Amsterdam have to take cyclists into account because there are just so many of them, but they’re quite tricky to work out. We just stuck with the other cyclists and went when they went. At least a car would see seven of us, and if worst came to worst, I only had a 1 in 7 chance of being the one to get hit.
We finally found ourselves at the Rijksmuseum, and after a bit of searching, found the sign round the back of it. As we locked our bikes up, it started to spit with rain. Brilliant. We’d cycled that far so figured we might as well make the most of being there. As the rain got heavier, everyone else ran for cover, leaving us free to take pictures of the sign with no one else in them. Eventually, it got too much for us, so we took shelter in a nearby cafe to sample some Dutch croquettes.
The rain didn’t relent, so we bit the bullet, jumped back on the bikes and made our way to the Van Gogh Museum, which was housed in the Hermitage Museum at that time. After a couple of hours in there, we decided to call it a day. Cycling back to the hotel, we took the ‘scenic’ route along Damrak before eventually circling back round to our hotel. A full day of cycling (partly in the rain) had well and truly knackered us out, so we secured our bikes ready to return them the next day, and made our way in for a warm shower and bed.
We absolutely loved riding the bikes around Amsterdam, and would definitely recommend it!
Yellow Bike also run organised tours. There needs to be a minimum of 4 people, but they’ll cycle round with you and show you the sights. And if it rains, they’ll even give you a free poncho! But they’re understanding, so if you’re not the kind of person who enjoys a rainy bike ride (who does really?) then they’ll refund your tour.
- Be careful where you ride. There are pedestrian only zones where you need to get off and push your bike, otherwise you could get a hefty fine. Just ask when you hire your bike if you aren’t sure.
- Helmets weren’t provided for us, not sure how it is for other companies. If there’d been one, I think I’d have taken it as we did have to ride on the road.
- Yellow Bike have…you guessed it…yellow bikes! They’re so easy to spot in the mass of bikes when you lock it to a railing. Take a picture of the surroundings if you aren’t sure you’ll remember where you left your bike.
- Our bikes came with 2 locks included – one which locked the back wheel in place, and another to lock the bike to a railing.
- Take care! There are still cars in Amsterdam, as well as coaches and other cyclists.
- It’s not advisable to cycle drunk or high…you don’t want to end up in a canal!