An adventure on two wheels is part and parcel of the true Amsterdam experience. Leave the heaving city behind you and head deep into the Dutch countryside with these 6 biking trips around Amsterdam.
No trip to the Netherlands is complete without popping over to its capital Amsterdam. Chances are high however you will be sharing the romantic canals and gabled houses with throngs of like-minded tourists and the ever-present clickety-clack of locals whizzing by on their bicycles.
Living in Brussels I have had the pleasure of visiting our neighboring capital on numerous occasions, yet have only ventured biking in Amsterdam once. I prefer renting a bicycle and taking a bike trip around Amsterdam to explore the quieter, dare I say it, more authentic, Dutch countryside.
These six cycling trips from Amsterdam can all be done in half a day or a day (depending on how many pitstops you make) they include a smattering of windmills, little ferry crossings, and quaint villages.
Biking Trips Around Amsterdam: Quick Guide
WHERE TO STAY – BIKE-FRIENDLY HOTELS
USEFUL APP: The routes indicated in this article can all be found in Komoot.
GETTING TO AMSTERDAM: Hop on the high-speed Eurostar. Book your tickets in advance.
MONEY SAVER: The iAmsterdam Card includes bicycle rental for a day
READ MORE: I went on this trip with my friend Jonathan, who writes wonderful self-deprecating articles filled with tips on places you had no idea existed, but you will soon add to your list.
Bike Tours Around Amsterdam
On my very first trip to Amsterdam, I was admittedly a little overwhelmed at the thought of cycling in and around Amsterdam without a guide. The good news is there are a lot of super affordable guided cycling trips available ranging from US$35 to US$150.
- Top-Rated Bike Tour Around Amsterdam
- E-bike Tour to Zaandam & Zaans Schans
- Amsterdam North Bike Tour
- Find more on GetYourGuide or Viator
WHAT WE DID | We did not book a tour, instead, we opted to make use of the free cycling routes in the Komoot app. By typing in iAmsterdam in the search box a host of different routes appear. Accommodating all fitness levels, and completely free of charge. A word of caution, however, the app is great on desktop but rather lackluster on one’s phone.
Where & How to Rent a Bicycle in Amsterdam
Finding a place that rents bicycles in Amsterdam is breathtakingly easy. If it is your first time in the city and your trip happens to include popping into various museums too, consider purchasing the iAmsterdam Card which provides free one-day rental of (regular) bicycles in select stores.
PRICES: Average hourly price €8 (US$9)/hour regular bike and €18 (US$19)/ 3-hours for an electric bicycle. If you are considering a day trip, book a bicycle for 24 hours it will come out cheaper than booking per hour.
WHAT TO BRING ALONG: A copy of a valid identity card (passport, official ID card, driving license). One ID card is valid for a maximum of two bikes.
TYPES OF BICYCLES: City Bike (comes with the option of a handbrake or a footbrake); Electrical City Bikes; Tandem; Cargo Bike
ELECTRIC OR NOT: A lot of the bikes in and around the city are electric these days. We ended up having strong winds, so I was pretty chuffed to have chosen the electric bike.
6 Bike Rides Around Amsterdam
HALF DAY VS FULL DAY: Each of the below-mentioned cycling itineraries could easily fill a full day, depending on how much time you spend exploring the surroundings. The proposed half-day itineraries can of course also be extended, I added in a few options for you to help in the planning.
3 Day Cycle Trips From Amsterdam
1. BIKE FROM AMSTERDAM TO WEESP
Route: Find route on Komoot
Distance Covered: 32 miles // 51.8 kilometers
Potential Extensions: You can add in Bijmer and Gaasperplas to make it a full-day bike ride
Located in the southeastern corner of Amsterdam along the river Vecht lies the quaint village of Weesp. The town boasts a rich history tied to trade along the river, porcelain production, and, surprisingly, the brewing of beer and gin.
To pay homage to this beer legacy, visit the former church, now transformed into the Wispe Brewery, where you can savor a variety of contemporary local beers and enjoy a delicious meal. One standout is the Wispe Blonde, a perfect choice for a balmy summer evening.
Where to eat and drink: Craft brewery Wispe Brouwery
2. CYCLE FROM AMSTERDAM TO NAARDEN
Route: This one is not on Komoot and will require you to use Google Maps
Distance Covered: 31 miles // 50 kilometers
Potential extensions: Make sure to visit Amsterdam Castle along the way
One of the most interesting short trips from Amsterdam I took in recent years was to the village of Naarden. The picturesque town, with its modest 17,000 residents, often goes unnoticed amid the region’s other attractions.
What lured me to the village was in fact its intriguing geographical layout. In a bid to safeguard local residents, Naarden encircled itself with two moats and an array of defensive bastions, upon which a formidable arsenal of cannons stood guard. These bastions bestowed upon the town its renowned star-shaped design, a feature best admired from the top of the Grote Kerk.
Admittedly it does require a set of fit legs to get to Naarden on a bicycle. Time permitting add on a visit to Amsterdam Castle (Muiderslot) and nearby Fort Pampus to make it into a full-day trip.
Where to eat and drink: Grab a cozy bite to eat in Cosa Cucina & Wine Bar
READ MORE | 17 Places to visit near Amsterdam
3. BIKE TRIP FROM AMSTERDAM TO ZAANDAM & ZAANS SCHANS
One of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam is to nearby Zaans Schans just north of the city. While many choose to take a tour, it is actually very straightforward to reach by bicycle. This route includes a ferry ride, check the schedule (NL) before you depart.
As we got off the ferry and cycled in the direction of Zaandam, I started seeing little smatterings of dark green gabled wooden houses. These cookie-cutter houses date back to the 19th century, some of them are original others were moved here for preservation in the late sixties of the 20th century.
While Zaans Schans itself is undeniably picture-perfect, it is also bursting at the seams. If you are not a fan of crowds try and make it here relatively early during the day.
TAKE A TOUR | One of the most popular cycling tours is the electric bike tour to Zaans Schans & Zaandam. It is noteworthy to mention it is slightly more expensive than other bike tours.
3 Full Day Cycling Trips from Amsterdam
1. BIKE TO HAARLEM FROM AMSTERDAM
Route: Find route on Komoot
Distance Covered: 34.7 miles // 56 kilometers
Potential Extensions: Extend by cycling to Amsterdam Beach (Zandvoort)
Haarlem is the mirror image of Amsterdam, without the tourists. I spent a delightful weekend in the city one cold December. The roads were glistening with the first frost of the season making bike day trips from Amsterdam impossible, so I took the train instead.
Make sure to schedule in a full day for this excursion as the little city packs a punch. From the beautiful gabled houses on the Grote Markt, the jaw-dropping Teylers Museum and the very cool former prison now turned bar & meeting center, one can simply not get bored.
Should your bike trip coincide with an unprecedented heat wave – granted, chances are slim – you can carry on in the directions of Zandvoort or Ijmuiden which have been baptized “Amsterdam Beach” in a feat of genius marking.
READ MORE | Explore Haarlem as a day trip from Amsterdam
2. HEAD TO THE DUTCH COUNTRYSIDE IN BIJLMER & GAASPERPLAS
This cycling route around Amsterdam takes you down to the southwestern area of the city. If you happen to be visiting the city during a hot summer day this is the perfect excursion! The many lakes along the path offer a welcome reprieve from the heat. Pack a towel, swimming gear, and a picnic, and make a day out of it.
Before we hit the lakes we cycled past the Nelson Mandela Park, a surprisingly tranquil oasis on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Next came the colorful Heesterveld Creative Community, built to provide affordable housing to up-and-coming local artists.
3. BIKE AROUND WATERLAND
Route: Find route on Komoot
Distance Covered: 25.3 // 40.8 kilometers
Potential Extensions: N/A
If you really want to delve into the Dutch countryside, this is the cycle route for you! Far removed from the tourist hotspots, we encountered some beautiful nature, friendly locals, and an utterly photogenic windmill along our route just North of Amsterdam.
This route includes a small ferry ride, which you need to pay cash (€0.9/person). As you head into the village of Watergang, make sure to veer off the indicated bike path a little to spend time exploring the village. It has little canals snaking right between the houses.
Both Waterland and the Zaans Schans bike trips from Amsterdam end in NDSM. Time permitting prolong your trip with a visit to the very cool STRAAT Museum, dedicated entirely to street art. The iAmsterdam Card has a discount for the entrance to the museum.
FLEA MARKETS | The Ijhallen by NDSM hosts the largest flea market in Europe. The indoor market is held once a month. Check the calendar to see the dates.
Bike-Friendly Hotels in Amsterdam
If you are looking to take one of the bicycle day trips from Amsterdam, you might consider staying in a hotel that has on-site bike rental and/or dedicated parking space to store your bikes.
WHERE WE STAYED: Conscious Hotel Westerpark ($$)
This beautiful hotel is located within walking distance of the historical center in a tranquil park. It also happens to be very well geared towards bike tourists! Bikes are available for their guests and a spot to safely stow away your bike.
BUDGET PICK: Amsterdam Teleport Hotel ($$)
The Teleport Hotel has a variety of different rooms ranging from shared to private apartments. On-site bike rental is available. Perfect pick for budget-conscious travelers.
LUXURY PICK: The Manor Amsterdam ($$$)
Located slightly outside of the historical center, this 4-star stately hotel offers on-site bike rental and dedicated parking for your bikes. Guests particularly like the location and the breakfast.
Rules and Regulations for Biking in Amsterdam
When bike riding in Amsterdam it might seem like it is a free for all. Surprisingly enough this little ecosphere runs with a tight set of rules, and you are best to familiarise yourself with them before hopping on two wheels.
- ACCESSORIES: Bicycle bells are compulsory, but helmets are not. Lights and reflectors are required when cycling in dark or low-visibility conditions.
- SIGNALING: Hand signals for turning (right or left) are mandatory
- RED LIGHTS: Cyclists must stop for red traffic lights, except at specific “Rechtsaf voor fietsers vrij” lights allowing right turns (there will be a blue sign with those exact words in white)
- WHERE TO CYCLE: Right side of the road, on the biking path not the pavement
- USE OF GPS: Use of mobile phone or GPS while cycling is illegal
- CYCLING UNDER THE INFLUENCE: Cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited
Be assertive when cycling in Amsterdam. Rules mentioned above are generally respected and cars are more than used to keeping an eye out for cyclists. Keep in mind your fellow bikers have probably been whizzing around since they could walk, add to that the general assertive nature locals are known for and you have the world’s most confident population, on two wheels.
Tips for a Successful Cycling Trip
Packing essentials: What to carry on your cycling adventure
The weather in the Netherlands can be fickle, so make sure to always pack a raincoat. Aside from that bring a pair of functional shoes with which you can navigate the cobblestones and easily jump on and off the bike.
Unfortunately the use of a cellphone, even for navigational purposes, is illegal. Therefore it might be worthwhile asking the bike rental company if they have a small clip-on device that you can attach to your steering wheel. This will allow you to pop your cell phone in the holder and navigate the various cycling routes around Amsterdam without using your hands.
To know before renting a bicycle
Theft of bicycles is a relatively common occurrence in the city. Most bike rental companies will provide you with two locks for the bike. If they do not, ask them for a second lock.
Should you be renting an electric bicycle, make sure to bring the battery with you when locking the bike. The battery weighs a few kilos and tends to be clunky, best to carry a bag with you that can accommodate the battery.
Final Thoughts on Bike Rides Near Amsterdam & the Dutch Countryside
Amsterdam is a city I keep coming back to. Every time I head back, the city shows me a different facet of its personality. This time around I decided it was time to do as the locals do: Get myself a pair of clickety-clackety wheels in the form of an electric bicycle.
Cycling around Amsterdam does require a fair amount of confidence, but once you have a taste, you will not go back to walking.
The added benefit of having a bicycle is you can easily head out of the city and discover the surprisingly green surroundings, a mere 15-minute bike ride away. Leave the crowded canals behind and instead find quaint villages, unassuming windmills, and amiable locals who have not been completely inundated by inebriated tourists.
MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR VISITING THE NETHERLANDS
Amsterdam: Guide to taking public transport in Amsterdam
Amsterdam: 16 Castles near Amsterdam to visit
Amsterdam: 17 Places to visit near Amsterdam by train
Amsterdam: 15 Weekend trips from Amsterdam
Amsterdam: Day trip from Amsterdam to Brussels
Haarlem: One day guide to Haarlem
North Brabant: Walking in the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh