Amsterdam may be well known for its outrageous nightlife, but there’s more to this pretty city than coffee shops and the red light district. After disembarking your flights to Amsterdam, the best way to find your way around the city is almost jumping on your bike and getting ready to explore.
The majority of cheap flights airlines (for example Easyjet, Ryanair, Thomson or others) require that you pay extra to bring hold luggage: so unless you can fit your bike into an overhead locker, you will have to pay up or leave it at home. Budget travellers needn’t worry: Amsterdam is chock full of bicycle rental facilities, so you can easily rent one once you arrive. Most rental shops will charge per 24 hours, and this is usually in the region of €13 plus deposit.
Bear in mind that bike rental is very popular, especially on sunny days. If you want to avoid disappointment, arrive early in the morning whilst other tourists are recovering from the night before.
Amsterdam is very friendly for cyclists: even if you’re a novice you’re unlikely to feel stressed or threatened. Most people favour cycling as a way to get about as the roads are very flat. If you’re concerned about looking like a tourist on your rental bike, there are some companies that sell camouflaged bikes so that you can blend right in (head down to the Jordaan area to find some).
One important thing to remember to look out for is the tram tracks which can be a danger to cyclists. The cycle tyres can be quite thing and if you’re not careful can easily get caught in the tracks. Although tram drivers are used to tourists doing silly things like this, do watch out for this problem as at the end of the day, you’re always better safe than sorry.
Once you’re on your bike, there are a couple of things to remember: if you’re British remember to keep to the right side of the road, and no matter where you’re from remember to stay out of the tram lane. Getting your tire caught in a tram track is no laughing matter, especially when twenty tonnes of public transport is bearing down behind you.
Consider what you want to see in Amsterdam. If the weather is sunny, I recommend cycling to the supermarket to load up on supplies for a picnic in the Vondelpark. Work off the bread, cheese, and potato chips with a cycle around the park.
If the weather is cooler you can spend your cycle time exploring local attractions. There is one windmill near the center of Amsterdam called De Gooyer. There is a small café/pub underneath with a terrace and free wifi: a perfect place for a pit stop. Amsterdam zoo is also a short cycle away from the city center, as is the famous Bloemenmarkt. Although it’s possible to walk to both from Dam Square, having a bike makes things a lot quicker.
If you’re cycling to the Heineken Museum (or the local nightspot) remember that drink driving is never a good idea: even in Amsterdam. You’ll need to keep your wits about you if you don’t want to end up crashing into the famous canal: a fate famously reserved for Red Light District paparazzi.