Biking in Amsterdam is unlike biking anywhere else. Amsterdam is a city made for bikes which is why there are more bikes than people! Biking is the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to get around the city you will find bike paths and bikers on every street in every part of Amsterdam. Although it looks easy, there are some things you need to know when you think about whether you should go biking in Amsterdam.
Use this post to guide your adventures with biking in Amsterdam. And be sure to take biking with some seriousness. It is a very fun and unique way to get around but it can get pretty hectic in busy areas and knowing all the rules and situations before you get on the bike is the best way to prevent any accidents or injuries.
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In This Post
Where to rent a bike in Amsterdam
There are a ton of bike rental shops in Amsterdam. Where you decide to rent a bike from depends strongly on your own preferences/accessibility. Below are some great options.
- Albert Cuyp Bikes – This is a bike shop located right in Albert Cuyp street market. The great thing about this bike rental shop is that the bikes don’t have any branding on them that screams “I am a tourist”. A lot of tourists find the bike rental spots with huge branding tickets on them to be kind of embarrassing when they are just trying to blend in. Albert Cuyp market is closed on Sunday so you cannot return the bikes on this day.
- MacBike Rentals – This is one of the most popular bike rental companies. These are 3 shops around the city which make them easy to pick up and drop off. However, they do have a large plaque on the front of the bikes that show you are a tourist renting a bike.
How much it costs to rent a bike in Amsterdam
Most people rent bikes in Amsterdam on a daily basis which works out to be around €8-10 per day. If you are just in Amsterdam for the day you can also rent the bike for a set amount of hours.
Should I rent a bike in Amsterdam?
Do not rent a bike in Amsterdam if you are nervous or feel uncomfortable on a bike. If you can’t bike at home or feel like you are not at a good enough level, please do not get on a bike here. In Amsterdam you will be biking on small roads with only a few inches between cars, people walking in front of you, and other bikers all around. To ensure your safety be sure you are ready to rent a bike.
If you are comfortable on a bike and know you can handle the streets, then all the power to you! Renting a bike in Amsterdam is the best way to get around and see the city. Which is why biking in Amsterdam is so very popular.
Read More: The Ultimate Amsterdam Bucket List
Tips for Biking in Amsterdam
Helmets aren’t required
Many people find it very strange that helmets aren’t required by law in Amsterdam. This means you can bike without having to wear one, and it is actually quite uncommon to see people in helmets. If you feel more comfortable with a helmet you can ask the bike rental shop if they have one too. Biking in Amsterdam doesn’t have many rules, but whatever makes you feel more safe and secure can be arranged.
Be Careful of People
When you rent a bike in Amsterdam and are biking around the city you will quickly notice how many people suddenly step onto the bike paths and walk right in front of you. It is very common for people to be walking in the middle of the street or across a bike path and you have to be prepared and ensure you don’t hit them.
Amsterdam welcomes a lot of tourists and many are unaware of the bikers and the dangers of walking whenever they please causes. When you rent a bike be sure to always have an eye out just in case. And when you are walking take extra care to make the biker’s lives a little easier.
Bells are used as a warning
In Amsterdam bells are used sparingly and as a warning or notice that you are in the way. If you are biking in the middle of the bike path you may hear a bell behind you and this means move to the right side. In like manner, if you need to pass someone you can give your bell a small ring to give notice you are passing.
Bells are also used to warn pedestrians. As mentioned, people often walk into the middle of the street without notice or think the bike path is the walkway. When this happens ring you bell to make them move. Sometimes you will have to ring it a lot before they notice. But be sure you practice with your bell, while biking in Amsterdam you will surely be using it at least once.
Read More: Amsterdam in April – Travel Guide
Stay on the Bike Paths
Almost all of Amsterdam has clearly marked bike paths for bikers to follow. In the city center, there is not enough room on the narrow streets for a bike path so you share the road with the cars. However, when bike paths are available be sure to ride on these and not the road.
When looking for bike paths you will notice they are often a different color than the road. And sometimes marked with a bike painting on the ground. When in doubt just follow all the other bikers.
Know the signs on the bike paths
Much like driving a car, there are specific rules and signs to follow when you are biking. One of the most important signs you will need to look out for is the markings on the ground, especially at intersections.
At intersections, you will notice triangles on the ground (as pictured below). When the arrows are facing with the point towards you that means you have to yield. It is very important to yield and look in all directions when biking to avoid any accidents. This is a crucial tip for anyone looking to go biking in Amsterdam.
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Follow the bike lights not the cars traffic lights
In Amsterdam, there are both bike lights and car lights. At every intersection, the bike lights are depicted with a bike symbol so they are easy to follow. Plus, the bike lights are right in front of the biking lane so you don’t have to crane your neck in odd angles. At stoplights, there are also buttons to press to ensure the bike lights change. This makes biking in Amsterdam a lot easier than in other cities that are not as bike-friendly.
Use hand signals when you turn
Using hand signals to indicate when you are turning is very important in Amsterdam. People bike quite close to each other and signaling properly can prevent accidents of people running into you. Luckily, the hand signals are very simple – you only have to point in the direction you will be turning. If you are turning right you will extend your right arm out and point in that direction. Do not forget to do this, and be on the lookout for the signals of the people in front of you to prevent hitting them.
Only park your bike in designated spots
You will find bikes on every street and every corner in Amsterdam, however, you can’t always park your bike wherever you please. In very busy places like Central station and other metro stops you will find huge bike parking lots where you can park wherever you want.
There are also designated spots on the city streets – these can be found by looking for the bike racks or signs. If there is a sign with a bike crossed out this means you cannot park here. Also, if you decide to park on the street be sure to lock your bike securely to a bridge, pole, or sign to ensure it isn’t stolen.
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Be sure to lock your bike
Bike theft is the most common crime in Amsterdam, and as a resident myself I’ve had my bike stolen and everyone I know has had their bike stolen one time or another! It is very common. Through all of our mistakes, it is important to learn how essential it is to lock your bike.
Most locals have two locks on their bikes to ensure they are secure. However, most rental companies will give you one lock – which makes these next rules very important. To secure your bike be sure to lock it to something – loop it through the bike rack, attach it to a bridge, bike rack, etc so that it can’t be carried away. If you are traveling with another person it is also a good idea to lock your bikes together so that they are stuck as a unit.
Bikes cost around 200€ so you really don’t want to have yours stolen and have this added cost put on to your travel bill.
Walk your bike in no bike zones
There are some areas in Amsterdam where bikes have to be walked. If you see a blue sign with two people walking hand in hand, that means it is a walking zone. Or if you are in an area with no bike paths or roads and just sidewalks, you can safely assume it is only a walking zone. It is important when biking in Amsterdam to always be on the lookout for signs depicting where you can and cannot bike.
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Do not text and bike
Texting, and being on your phone, while biking is illegal. Not only will you get a fine for doing this, but it is also very dangerous. It might seem like a fun idea to take a picture while biking but the 100€ fine is definitely not worth it.
Do not bike under the influence
Biking under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Amsterdam. It is called riding under the influence (RUI) and you can get a €140 fine for it! You will most likely notice that most Dutchies will bike under the influence but this does not make it okay. If you go biking in Amsterdam under the influence you can get seriously injured or hurt someone else.
Read More: Things to do in Amsterdam at night
Biking in the rain is normal
If you think rain stops people from biking, then you thought wrong! Rain, snow, wind, Dutch people bike in all kinds of weather conditions. Most people who visit are quite shocked to see how dedicated dutch people are to biking but it is in everyone’s nature. Rain is very common in Amsterdam so if you notice is on the forecast and think you can’t bike, think again.
Be sure to have the proper rain gear like a jacket and other waterproof items. Biking in the rain is not the most enjoyable, but if you really want to experience it, the opportunity is still there.
Watch out for tram tracks
There are tram tracks embedded into the streets all around the city of Amsterdam. These can be very dangerous for bikers when there are no bike paths and the bikes share the same roads as cars and trams. The tram tracks are the exact size of a bike tire and if you bike into one you will become stuck in the track! If you have to bike over a tram track be sure to go diagonally so that you don’t get stuck.
Stay to the right of bike paths
Sticking to the right side of bike paths and roads is the best way to avoid bells and angry Dutch bikers. On paths and streets, there is always enough room for two bikers so when you bike too far in the middle it makes passing more difficult. If you do veer off into the middle you will hear a bell, which means “please move to the right so I can pass”.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
I have an entire post dedicated to information on the different areas in Amsterdam and the best places to stay. Read this post here. Below is also a map with some accommodation options!
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There you have it! Everything you need to know about biking in Amsterdam all in one convenient place. I hope you feel ready to take the plunge and go biking in Amsterdam!
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