Europe,  Netherlands

Everything you need to know about Cycling in Amsterdam!

The Netherlands has a population of 17.1 million, and about a quarter of those (4.25 million) cycle daily. There are more bikes than people – 22.8 million bikes or about 1.33 per person. Amsterdam is the world’s 2nd most bike-friendly city behind Copenhagen. Cycling in Amsterdam is so much fun, and a great experience to feel like a Dutch!

While getting physical activity and staying fit during your trip, it’s also a great way to explore the areas that you would have not been able to go to otherwise! Amsterdam is quite a small city, so you can end up seeing a lot of what Amsterdam has to offer. I rented my bicycle on my third day in Amsterdam for 24 and had such a wonderful experience. Cycling in Amsterdam is a must-do if you know how to cycle already!

Disclaimer: If you have biked or aren’t comfortable with biking, you should not rent a bike. For the Dutch, biking isn’t a hobby, but a form of transportation. If you don’t know how to bike, you will more like be a reason for an accident, so please for your own safety, rent a bike if you know what you are doing, and can ride a bike at a normal speed without being wobbly. Even though you may see tourists who do not know how to cycle cycling in Amsterdam, doesn’t make it okay for more people who don’t know to be on the road.

Amsterdam bikes
Bicycle by the canal

Best and Cheapest Cycling in Amsterdam: A Bike Rental And Tours

There are multiple bike shops all around town to rent bikes from. Some are more geared towards tourists, while others have more local looking bicycles. I will be showing the bike shop where I got my bike.

I had a great experience using Groupon in the United Kingdom, so I decided to look at the Dutch’s Groupon. Through Groupon, I found a rental store called A Bike Rental And Tours, which is open every day from 09:00 to 21:00 in the Tesselschadestraat in Oud-West. After my research to finding the cheapest and best bicycle rental shop, this was the best option. I have never seen any other blog talk about this, but its because you have to access this through the dutch Groupon. It doesn’t show up in regular American search engines, or the American Groupon!

bike rented from A Bike Rental And Tours
My bike rented from A Bike Rental And Tours (on the right)

Their Groupon page was very straightforward (change the language to English if it keeps presenting in dutch). Once booked, a reservation is needed of time you are going to the rental shop to pick it up. The reservation needs to be made at least two hours prior. All you have to do is show up during that time, and show the Groupon voucher and you get the bicycle!

I will also be listing some other popular bicycle shops with the prices in this post in case you want to know other options, but I have found this to be the cheapest and the best for city bikes. While others are over € 10 for a bike for a day, this Groupon is € 7.50 for 1-day bike rental for 1 person. The Actual value is € 14.95! This is definitely the best way to save a few euros to go towards something else!

One really great part about this Groupon is that you can have the bike for 24 hours from the moment you pick it up. We picked it up around noon, and the lady in charge said we can return the next day before noon. We didn’t end up using it the next day but returned it after a good 7 hours of biking. The store clerk was very nice and let us know all the information needed including additional insurance, basic safety, and how to use the bicycle. I am 5 feet (150cm), and Dutch women are an average about 5 feet 6 inches (~168cm) tall, so I was scared that there wouldn’t be any bikes for short people, but there was a bike that allowed me to touch the floor and was perfect for me, and I was able to have a successful day of Cycling in Amsterdam!

Types of Rental bikes for Cycling in Amsterdam

There are two kinds of basic bikes that a person can rent. Dutch shops usually write them as Coaster Brake and City Bikes. The difference between the two kinds are:

Coaster Brake: a brake on the hub of rear-wheel. Braking is applied by rotating the pedals in reverse until the brake engages. This kind of bike is very hard to use if you aren’t used it before, and sudden backpedals can cause an accident. Cheaper then City Bikes, but not recommended, but I’m adding it to this list in case anyone wants to know.

City Bikes: has hand brakes and allows the pedals to be rotated backward without breaking. This is the basic bike that is usually used worldwide. While using bicycles with hand brakes, you can control your stop more smoothly. These bicycles also have 3 gears for adjusted cycling.
If you want to know more information about these two kinds of bicycles, here a website that explains the two in detail.

Rental Shops:

A Bike Rental And Tours – Cheapest and my favorite. The bikes don’t have anything that looks too touristy, only a little sticker on the side, so it is easy to blend with locals.

  • € 7.50 for 1 day bike rental for 1 person (on Groupon)

MacBike The largest bike rental chain in Amsterdam. Deposit of €50 is needed to rent the bike. The bikes are bright red so it is easy to find when parked, but screams tourist when biking on it.

Bicycle with coaster brake

  • €7 for 3 hours for 1 person
  • €9.50 for 24 hours for 1 person

Bicycle with gears

  • €11 for 3 hours for 1 person
  • €14.74 for 24 hours for 1 person

Rent A Bike Amsterdam Another popular shop in Amsterdam, their website is in English and is easy to navigate. If you show them the website on your phone, you can get 10% off, and I will list the discounted prices. Also has a big logo on the front of the bicycle which makes it very touristy, but easier to find.

Bicycle with coaster brake

  • €6.25 for 3 hours for 1 person
  • €8.50 for 24 hours for 1 person

Bicycle with gears

  • €9.25 for 3 hours for 1 person
  • €12.50 for 24 hours for 1 person

Tips on cycling in Amsterdam

  1. To park, there are rails and bike rack everywhere around the city, just find an empty spot, and chain up your bike on the rails.
  2. Make sure to properly chain up your bike, bike theft is apparently common, but as long as you chain up your bike, it should be fine. If you are afraid of something happening to your bike, you can buy insurance from the bike shop you rent it from.
  3. when you lock up your bike, remember the exact spot you parked. Amsterdam streets tend to look very similar, and it can be very easy to get confused. Also, there are multiple bikes that look very similar and it can get confusing with one is yours, so be sure to really know which one your bike is.
  4. There are dedicated cycle lanes. Always be on it. When there aren’t cycle lanes, bike on the street where the cars run. You are not allowed to cycle on the pavement or through pedestrian areas. A lot of the main shopping areas are pedestrian areas with no bicycle access. Before shopping in areas like this, be sure to park your bike before heading to these locations.
  5. I recommend not biking the first day of your arrival. Use your first day to walk around to get familiar with the atmosphere of the city and the main areas. While biking, you can not use your phone, and looking up directions is hard to do.
  6. Follow cycling manners and laws, Use hand signals when turning, and keep to the right side of the road.
    Right turn – extend your right arm straight out to the right, horizontally.
    Left turn – extend your left arm straight out to the left, horizontally. Remember to look over your shoulder to check if any other traffic is coming from behind.
  7. Watch out for the trams! They are railroads in the middle of the road in the street, so make sure there isn’t one coming in your direction.
  8. You can go on the ferry with your bike to go across the main river to the other side. This is a great way to discover the North part of Amsterdam
  9. A lot of the bikers in Amsterdam are actually tourists, and most of them do not know how to bike well. Be sure you are making sure you are safe by looking at others and being aware of others.
  10. No one weres Helmets while cycling. But if you feel uncomfortable without one, feel free to put one on.
Hand signals used when cycling in amsterdam
Hand signals used when cycling.

I had a great time cycling in Amsterdam but that night, my body was so sore and I was barely able to move. This is probably due to my lack of fitness in general, but my Dutch friend felt nothing. If you exercise and is generally a fit person you’ll be fine though. Even though all my muscles were aching, it was better after a night’s sleep and I don’t regret doing it all, and I hope everyone tries to do this fun activity while visiting Amsterdam!

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