Amsterdam is a city best explored by bike and with 78% of the locals over 12 years old owning a bike, it is no surprise that this city has one of the largest cycling cultures in all of Europe. Amsterdam’s narrow and elaborate canal system is flanked by hidden gems which are best accessed on two wheels. Be careful not to fall in! There are between 12,000 and 15,000 bikes fished out of the canals every year!
Travelling by bike will likely get you from A to B faster than by car as the city has a network of dedicated cycle lanes; 240 miles in fact! Many visitors choose to rent a bike, or you could join a guided cycle tour to visit the top landmarks dotted across the city.
By bike, you can take in city attractions like Dam Square, Van Gogh Museum, Vondelpark, Leidseplein and the Rijksmuseum. If you fancy a more challenging cycle, Amsterdam’s surrounding area offers cycling trails into the countryside up to 100 km long. In and around the city there are many features to discover by bike, and below are some essential pit stops on your cycling adventure around Amsterdam.
1 ‘Figure découpée l’Oiseau’ in Vondelpark
Many visitors to Vondelpark pass by this concrete structure without realising it was created by Picasso. This sculpture of a bird was donated to Amsterdam by the world-famous artist to mark the 100th anniversary of Vondelpark. Pack a picnic for the park and take in the natural beauty; lush grassy lawns, sculpted gardens and lakes. Vondelpark is a car- and moped-free zone, so feel the wind rush through your spokes as you take in the 120 acres.
2 Hortus Botanicus
This 17th-Century botanical garden was planted to grow herbs for the city’s doctors and apothecaries. Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Today there are over 6,000 tropical plants cultivated here. A single coffee plant – coffee arabica – in the Hortus collection, is the parent for the entire coffee culture in South and Central America.
3 Sweet Treats at Albert Cuyp Markt
The bohemian neighbourhood of De Pijp revolves around Albert Cuyp Markt, with 260 stalls drawing in hundreds of visitors every single day. Eat your way around the market, tasting traditional stroopwaffles and poffertjes. Wash these sweet treats down with a coffee at one of the many cafe-esque market stalls – a perfect way to refuel during your pedal-powered day.
4 De Gooyer Windmill
Standing at 26.6 meters high, De Gooyer is the tallest windmill in Amsterdam. Registered as a national monument, the windmill is not open to visitors but worth a visit to see its stone foundation and wooden octagonal body. The windmill is a short and pleasant cycle from Amsterdam Central, passing through the beautiful Botanical Gardens.
5 Beach Side Vibes at Roest
Although this popular hangout is open all year round, the canal side beach terrace is unsurprisingly most popular during the summer months, so make sure to cycle out there early to grab a spot. Unwind from the pedalling by burying your feet in the sand and cooling down with a refreshing drink or a swim in the canal. With an adult-sized jungle gym, restaurant and bar, you can easily whittle away a whole afternoon at Roest.
6 Bridge of 15 Bridges
One bridge in Amsterdam city gives a fantastic view of no less than 15 bridges along the canals. This sight can be found at the bridge crossing between Reguliersgracht and Herengracht. To take in all 15 bridges, dismount off your bike and stand on the bridge with your back to Thorbeckeplein, where you will see six arched bridges in a row. Turn to the left where you can find six more over the Herengracht, and on the right you will see the remaining two. The last one will be the bridge you are standing on – a perfect time for a selfie!
7 Buddhist temple Fo Guang Shan
In the heart of Amsterdam, flanked by traditional Dutch architecture, this majestic Buddhist temple will be a welcome retreat after cycling in the sun. The building’s traditional Buddhist style wall and roof tiles represent the Chinese zodiac. The dragon symbolises protection of the entire temple grounds and all materials for the build were brought in from China. Visitors can take a guided tour to explore the temple with some tours even including a mediation session.
8 Over The Edge Swing
Amsterdam’s northern dockland offers many cycling routes taking in landmarks such as the EYE Film Institute, but a highlight of this area has to be the location of Europe’s tallest swing! Over 80 meters above sea level, the swing is part of the A’DAM Toren, a building that boasts two restaurants, a rooftop terrace and a panoramic observation deck. Get a bird’s-eye view of the city and size up some new landmarks to visit from this awe-inspiring spot.
9 Magere Brug
Often described as the most photogenic city in the world, Amsterdam offers many picture-perfect postcard views. Pack your camera and bring your squeeze to the last pit stop of the day: Magere Brug. Connecting the banks of the River Amstel, this bridge is jewelled with charming lights that switch on when darkness falls. Be sure to get a romantic snap between its arches.
Amsterdam is a cyclist’s delight with dedicated cycle lanes and exciting spots dotted across the city, ready to be explored. If you are renting a bike in Amsterdam, make sure you pay attention to the safety briefing, which will tell you not to cycle more than two cyclists abreast. Also, even though you may be on your bike, the traffic lights and road signs still apply, so be careful!
Interested in discovering more of Amsterdam? Check out our Hidden Travel website for some lesser-known spots in the city.
Find the latest hotel deals in Amsterdam and get ready for a fantastic few days discovering the city on two wheels.