If you ask someone who has visited, did they hire bikes and do any cycling in Amsterdam, very often the answer is no. But why? We were a little wary at first, but with a push, we were off and away. If you’re planning a visit, take the plunge and hire a bike, it transforms and opens up the way you can experience the city.

Even when it’s scary, it isn’t too scary

For my first experience of cycling in Amsterdam I was thrown into the deep end, so I understand the fear. I was with a typically no-nonsense dutch friend, who had little time for me being nervous having not rode a bicycle since my early teens. We hired the cheaper bike option too, usually used by locals, so there would be no helpful indicator to other cyclists that I might not be so experienced. It also meant I would be using the locally preferred coaster brakes instead of handlebar ones. On these bikes you pedal backwards to brake. A scary addition to an already shaky start!

Even after these complaints, I was away in no time and soon confident on the cycle lanes. If you do visit however, I would definitely recommend hiring tourist bikes to ease yourself in more gently.

A cycle friendly city and country

The Netherlands is famously bicycle friendly. Cycle lanes are everywhere, and are usually separate from the road for extra safety. A good tip, and something you’ll soon pick up on is that it’s best to keep over to the right, cycling single file if there’s more than one of you. This means that other cyclists can overtake. You don’t want to be tasting the floor on your first day! There are safe, designated places to park the bikes literally everywhere too, so you don’t need to worry about parking up. All you have to do is remember where it is you’ve parked, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do! Distinguishing one street from the next can be tricky in Amsterdam (you could always drop a pin on google maps just in case).

So much extra freedom

The biggest reason to take advantage of the bike hire is the amount of freedom cycling affords. You can see much more of the city and surrounding areas, go back and forth with little effort, and waste no time between spots.

MacBike Centraal Station

MacBike Oosterdok

MacBike Waterlooplein

MacBike Leidseplein

MacBike Vondelpark

  • MacBike Centraal Station
  • MacBike Oosterdok
  • MacBike Waterlooplein
  • MacBike Leidseplein
  • MacBike Vondelpark

We hired our bikes from the Mac Bike bicycle hire next to Centraal Station (they also have locations in Oosterdok, Waterlooplein, Ledsplein, and Vondelpark). We hired bikes for 24 hours and because we then didn’t pick them up until early afternoon, it meant that we got them until the same time the next day. This was especially perfect for us because our hotel was a little way outside the city centre, so we were able to park our bikes at the hotel overnight and save ourselves the walk in and out of the city!

There are lovely parks dotted around Amsterdam that are easily reachable by bicycle. Daisy and I visited one called Vondelpark, took a leisurely ride around it’s winding paths, and stopped at a cute café in the middle for a snack and drink.

The more I do it, the more I’m convinced European cities as a whole are best enjoyed by bicycle. Amsterdam is perfect for cycling! On our trip to Copenhagen our AirBnB had two bikes included, and in London the ‘Boris bikes’ available for hire are too good an opportunity to pass up. Here’s to more two wheeled european adventures!