Amsterdam bike tour
See the city as it was meant to be seen atop two wheels. From the center of the old town to the picturesque canals and beyond, this tour provides a great overview of the city and a little taste of what it feels like to be Dutch.
Start: Central Station
Bike Time: 1-2 hours at a nice leisurely pace
1. Central Station - take note of the 3-storey bike garage just outside the station. The garage can hold over 2,500 bikes. Watch out for the traffic as this can be very hectic area.
With your back to the station, turn left and ride along the waterfront.
2. Waterfront – As you begin to ride you will pass the Saint Nicholas Church on your right. The small tower just beyond is the Tower of Tears, part of the old wall defenses. The huge, weird building at the next canal is the old Shipping Headquarters. Visible on your left along the waterfront are the Floating Place Chinese Restaurant, the NEMO Science Center shaped like a big green ship, and the Maritime Museum with its replica of a Golden Age sail ship. Up ahead you can also catch a glimpse of the last remaining windmill in the city, now a brewery.
Take a right onto Schippersgracht, just opposite the Maritime Museum.
3. Plantage – This area known as the Plantage is known for its gardens and quiet streets. After you pass the park running along the left side of the canal, cross under busy Muiderstraat via the underpass on the left side of the canal. You will now be in the old Jewish District. The huge brown Portugese Synagogue is visible to your right.
Continue riding straight until you reach the Amstel River.
4. Amstel River – Take a left at the river and begin riding. You can see the Magere Brug drawbridge or “skinny bridge” to your right, the oldest in Amsterdam. Beyond is the Sluice Gates, which control shipping and the flow of water into the city.
Ride down to the next bridge and lap back to the head of the Prinsengracht canal.
5. Prinsengracht – As you take a left and ride down the canal, you will pass a number of interesting streets including Utrechtstraat with its quaint boutiques, and Reguliersgracht, known for its seven bridges all in a row. As you continue to ride, be sure to notice the house boats and interesting architecture all along the route.
Continue riding for about 1.5 km until you reach the busy cross street Rosengracht just before the incredibly tall spire of Westerkerk Church.
6. Jordaan – Cross and continue riding down Prinsengracht. You will now be entering the area known as the ‘Jordaan’, based on the French word for ‘garden’. The area was originally built for the working class living on the outskirts of the city, but is now a gentrified artist neighborhood with many cafes. The Noorderkerk marking the end of Prinsengracht, is a major neighborhood gathering place.
Take a right past the church onto Brouwersgracht and ride two blocks to Herengracht.
7. Herengracht – Turn ride and ride down Herengracht. This is the inner most canal ring, known as the “Gentlemen’s Canal”, and was considered the most prestigious. The largest and most impressive houses are on this street and many are decorated with unique carvings once used to identify the houses back before house numbers were used. The Golden Bend is the most famous section of the canal and can be found at the intersection of Nieuw Spiegelstraat about 1.5 km ahead.
8. Nieuw Spiegelstraat – Turn right onto Nieuw Spiegelstraat at the Golden Bend and ride toward the Rijks Museum. This street is famous for its antiques and provides a great view of the museum.
Take a right in front of the Rijks Museum and ride two blocks along the canal to the entrance of Vondelpark.
9. Vondelpark – Take a spin around the park and enjoy the scenery. This park was dedicated to the city by a rich patron on the one condition that dogs who visited the park would never be required to wear a lease. The Film Museum in the park has a gorgeous outdoor café and is a great place to wind down after a long ride.