Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Amsterdammers are born on bikes and you’ll see them whizzing by at breakneck speeds. Thanks to the many bike paths in the city, pedal power is all you need to uncover the city’s gems on your own, or as part of a guided bike tour. Make sure to check our safe cycling tips below!
Amsterdam cycling city
The narrow, winding streets of Amsterdam's historic 17th-century city centre are definitely best navigated by bike. Here, pedestrians and cyclists clearly have the upper hand and most locals swear by their bikes as the best - and often their only - means of transport.
And with up to 400 kilometres of bicycle paths leading just about everywhere in town, it's no wonder that Amsterdam is a true cycling city.
Like a local
Nearly every city resident owns a bicycle. With the most recent numbers putting it at 881,000 bicycles in a city of 799,000 residents, there are even more bicycles than people! From couriers to police officers - everyone's on two wheels - and many visitors marvel at the multi-storey bike racks. Hiring a bike or taking an excursion is a great way to discover the city and can be quite an adventure! Faster and cheaper than public transport, seeing the city on the back of a bike lets you see more in a day, while blending in with the locals at the same time.
You can hire a bike from almost anywhere in the city. Bike rental companies abound near main hubs such as Central Station, Leidseplein and Dam Square. Short-term rentals start from three hours and the average price for a full day is 8 euros. Many companies also hire different types of bicycles from touring bikes to tandems and children’s bikes to kick-scooters.
You might want to be adventurous and try a moped or scooter for longer distances. And why not paddle around Amsterdam's tranquil canals in a pedalo or pedal boat? You're sure to see a different side of Amsterdam!
A cycling tour led by an expert guide is also a great way to see the city's top sights from the back of a bike. Or for a more tranquil day excursion, take a tour of the countryside and pedal past windmills through wide, green pastures. Some companies even offer special themed tours, such as a historic city tour, a Jordaan tour or a picnic tour. Learn more about the available Amsterdam excursions and cycling tours.
If you'd rather strike out on your own, many bike rental companies as well as Tourist Information Centers sell cycling guides and maps of Amsterdam and its surroundings. Explore another neighbourhood, like Amsterdam Zuid, for example.
Tips for safe cycling
Cycling in the city can be hectic, especially if you're not used to Amsterdam-style traffic! Here are a few things to keep in mind after you hire a bicycle:
Stay in your lane: Use the bicycle lane on the right-hand side of the road, marked out by white lines and bike symbols.
Follow the rules of the road: Adhere to all traffic lights and signs; don’t cycle on footpaths, shopping streets, pavements and motorways.
Give a sign: Make sure you signal when turning by putting your hand out.
Light at night: It’s required by law to use front and back lights on your bicycle after dark.
Keep an eye on other traffic: Scooters zip down the bike lanes, taxis speed down the tram rails, and large delivery vans might have trouble seeing you if you’re biking in their blind spot.
Watch out for tram rails: It’s easy to get your tires stuck in the rails – cross them at a sharp angle.
Lock it right: Always lock your bike up to something secure and immovable, preferably a bike rack. Bicycle theft is very common in Amsterdam!
Make room for fellow cyclists: Don’t bike more than two people across, keep pace with the other cyclists, and pull over to answer your phone or check the map.
Don’t imitate the Dutch: Amsterdammers are notorious for breaking the rules: cycling through red lights or biking at night without lights. Do not follow their example!
For more information, check MacBike's free multi-lingual leaflet on how to cycle safely in Amsterdam. Or book a cycling tour and learn from the experts.