Amsterdam: a cycling city

The narrow, winding streets of Amsterdam's historic 17th-century city centre are definitely best navigated by bike. 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. Renting a bike or taking a guided cycle tour is a great way to discover the city and can be quite an adventure! Faster and cheaper than public transport, exploring the city on a bike lets you see more in a day, while blending in with the locals at the same time. Plus, if you're inexperienced or nervous about traffic, the expert guides and rental shops can set you up and offer great advice.

Tips for safe cycling in Amsterdam

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: always signal before 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.

  • Park it right: make sure to park your bike in a designated bike parking section, rack or indoor parking facility as bikes that are not parked in the right areas may be removed and stored in the Bicycle Depot. And to avoid theft, lock your bike to something secure and immovable.

  • 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.

  • Avoid rush hour: between 08:00 and 09:00 or 17:00 and 18:00, there are thousands of bikes on the road, often resulting in big queues at junctions. If you don't need to be somewhere, wait until the rush calms down.

  • 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 out the Bike Instructor's guide to safe cycling in Amsterdamthe City of Amsterdam's bike parking guidelines, or MacBike's free multi-lingual leaflet on how to cycle safely. Or alternatively, book a cycling tour and learn from the experts.