The easiest and favourite mode of transport in Amsterdam is the old trusty bike. The cycling infrastructure is exceptional thanks to the extensive cycle routes. With the flat landscape and with the beautiful views of Amsterdam, a bike ride around the city is a must!
However, taking a seat behind the wheel and in the saddle in the busy city of Amsterdam can be overwhelming. The slightly chaotic nature of cyclists coming from all sides, the narrow streets and tourists in your path... It might take some time to get used to. Either way, a bike tour in Amsterdam to explore the city is very much worth it.
There are two options for your bike tour. Do you go for a tour with a guide or do you rent a bike and set off on your own? We weigh up the options to see which suits your trip best!
- Flexibility: When you rent your own bike, you have the bike for a certain number of hours and you get to decide where to go. Do you cycle from park to park or make a long stop at a restaurant to find that one pub? It's all possible.
- Economical: It is usually cheaper to rent a separate bike than to join a tour. You also own the bike for longer than the duration of such a tour.
- Personal experience: If you rent your own bike, you choose the route. So with that, you can look up which areas of Amsterdam you want to see yourself. You are now the guide!
- Navigating: Even though Amsterdam is not big, it is easy to get lost. There are many streets that look alike, or roadworks that block your route. Navigating the city is tricky - especially with the obstacles we will discuss in a moment.
Make sure you roughly understand the route in advance. If you need Google Maps, stop cycling for a while, apart from it being dangerous to use your phone in traffic, you can also get a hefty fine for it.
- Obstacles (cycling in Amsterdam): Tourists who don't understand what bike lanes are, cyclists to whom no traffic rules apply, and trams and tram rails - a lot happens in Amsterdam traffic. Without a guide, taking part in this chaos can be a bit overwhelming.
- No local tips: On a tour, you will learn insider tips. What are neighbourhoods that normal tourists don't go to? What legends go around about certain buildings? That's how you discover the city in more depth.
- Local knowledge: On your cycling tour you learn more from what you see along the way. When you go out with a guide, you enjoy stories from the local area, hear insights and can ask endlessly for tips.
- Planned route: A guide knows what to see! Don't worry about navigating or which areas are worth your visit; this has all already been tested and figured out for you! Discover the hidden gems that only Amsterdammers know about. All that's left for you to do is follow the guide and enjoy the view. And to pedal, of course.
- Safety: You are in good hands, ride your bike without worry. That chaotic Amsterdam traffic we were just talking about? With a guided tour, you are safe! You will learn all the do's and don'ts so you know what to expect. Your guide will communicate well during the tour so you know what to do.
- Choice of bikes: If you want cool pictures on your bike in Amsterdam, you probably want cool bikes too. Rental bikes in Amsterdam are often the standard granny bikes (read our blog on what kind of bikes you'll come across in Amsterdam) with blatant branding.
Opt for a cool bike, maybe an electrical bike to make the pedaling easier!
- More expensive: A guided tour often costs more than renting a bike for a few hours. This is because apart from the bike, you also have to pay an expert to guide you.
- Less flexible: A guided tour often has a fixed route from which there is little or no deviation. This is not necessarily the case, you can ask about the options prior to your activity.
Weigh the options and see what are the most important factors for you. Plot your own route or follow the guide, it will be a special adventure either way. Do you already know more or less what you want to see, or are you an adventurer who likes to get lost and explore without an itinerary? Then renting a bike is more your style. Choose a guided tour if you want to learn more about the city you are visiting and easily discover special places.
The third option is to go for both! Start with a guided tour to get familiar with the traffic and infrastructure. Learn about the history and culture while asking all your tips from your guide.
With the guides advice, you will soon be able to set off on your own. Ask your guide for advice on a follow-up route. You have had part of the city, what is a nice route to explore next?
Our tip for bike rental in Amsterdam would be yellow bike. For a guided bike tour in Amsterdam, we suggest Fat bike tours ;)