The number of bikes in Amsterdam is overwhelming to say the least. Even as a tourist, it doesn’t take long to notice that it’s not cars, buses or pedestrians that own the road – it’s bikes that dominate the streets. They’re coming at you from every direction and I found myself looking both ways about five times before I was brave enough to even cross the road. So how is it that an Amsterdam bike ride came to be my favourite part of our visit?
We headed to MacBike Amsterdam and opted for a 3 hour rental. In my opinion, this was more than enough time for the experience and I think a full day would have been too much for me (and my bum). After chatting with our free walking tour guide, we followed her advice and completely avoided the city center. I’m so glad we did because I definitely would not have enjoyed our Amsterdam bike ride if we were in the city with herds of locals and tourists.
We followed the bike path along the west side of the Amstel river and we just kept heading south, following the river bend. As you move away from the city, the bike paths start to get more narrow and gradually everything becomes quiet. We had the freedom to stop and take photos whenever we wanted and had some fun along the way. Before long, it was just Wes and I cruising along at our own pace with hardly any other cars or bikes around.
After passing the windmill at Amstelpark, we took a break and recharged with some fresh bread and cheese that we had picked up earlier that day. I remember wondering how long it would be until we were officially in the countryside and that’s right around the time I started smelling the manuer and seeing fields of sheep.
We rode all the way down to where the river meets the N522, about 9km away from the city. As time was running out, we crossed the bridge and rode up the river enjoying a completely different view and route on the way back.
I’m no bike rider but even for me the entire ride seemed effortless. No sweaty palms, no traffic lights, no one even honked at me once! Three hours later, I felt like I had really accomplished something. The thought of an Amsterdam bike ride had initially seemed so crazy to me because of the chaos and stress that comes with riding on busy streets. In the end, it ended up being the most enjoyable and relaxing part of our visit. And all we had to do was follow the river.