Don’t be afraid to get lost, because you definitely will

Photo by Carly Peil
Photo by Carly Peil

I remember my jaw hitting the floor when I first laid eyes on the biking utopia that is Amsterdam. I blinked hard, knowing I had to be seeing things. I shook my head in true cartoon disbelief fashion and continued to stare, mouth agape, at such a wonder. Mind you, I arrived in Amsterdam around 6am and was entirely amazed by the handfuls of people cycling the bike lanes speeding to work or home or school–I had no idea what I was in for come mid afternoon the next day.

I’ve always loved biking. Growing up in a rural area of Michigan I understood biking as riding around the country block no handed in the middle of the road at sunset, no cars in sight. You can imagine how I felt arriving in one of the most bike friendly cities in the world: Amsterdam. Fun fact: there are approximately 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam and nearly 63% of Amsterdammers use their bikes on a daily basis! Wow. Once, while on a walking tour in Amsterdam, my tour guide e told me that there are some 7,000 bikes fished from the canals each year, too! Double wow.

Fear not, because you don’t have to be a native Amsterdammer to experience this magnificent biking city for yourself. There are over 35 bike rental companies in Amsterdam– so for a relatively inexpensive price, you can feel like a local for a few days!

I highly recommend Green Budget Bikes. I rented a Dutch bike ( of course! ) for 24 hours and it was only 9euro–entirely reasonable. Make sure you get the most for your money and spend the entire day just biking around–it really is the best way to explore Amsterdam.

Of course, you should always be careful and cautious when biking in a new place–especially Amsterdam. Pay attention to where you’re going ( no texting and biking! ), stay on the road, obey traffic signals, look both ways ( always ) and mind your fellow bikers. Pro tip: warn people when you’re passing, especially if they don’t seem to be paying attention; and always be prepared for people to speed by you, because they probably will.

Another huge tip I wish someone would have told me–don’t be afraid to get lost, because you definitely will. Especially in Amsterdam. Look left, look right…wait…it looks exactly the same! Yeah, that’s Amsterdam for you. Canal after canal after charming bridge after canal after cobblestoned street. Just roam around for a while, you’ll probably start to recognize where you are. I remember being so proud that I didn’t have to look at a map when I went to return my bike! So long as you make a few stops at Vondel Park, the I AMsterdam sign, and the VanGogh Museum on your biking adventures, you’re doing Amsterdam right.

If you’re not so into biking, I still highly recommend biking in Amsterdam–it is a huge part of their culture! There are tandem and baby carrier biking options, too. Or you could pay to just be a rider and go on a bike tour ( sounds fun! ). No worries, though, Amsterdam is a walking friendly city as well! A bit of walking ( Heineken in hand, of course ), biking ( go get yourself some cheese and stop at the flower market! ), and boating through the canals ( Heineken in hand again..? ) and you are living like a true Amsterdammer. Happy travels!

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