You don’t need to be an experienced or professional peddler to cruise around this quaint city. Have you noticed the men in business attire on grandma bikes or the mothers on cargo bikes filled with 6 children? To them, riding a bike is the normal way of getting from A to B rather than weekend recreation or sports.
Amsterdam is made for bikers and almost every must-see is concentrated in the city center. You may be visiting Amsterdam with a large bustour or with that relative from Nijmegen who has planned out an itinerary for you, but if you do have a day to spare and you are looking for more than Madame Tussauds or the Canal boats, why not explore the city the way the natives do?
There are a bunch of rental stores in Amsterdam center. I personally like the Black Bikes because of their simple black bicycles, and not glaring red or psycho green with rental signage on the steer, screaming ‘oh hello watch out here comes the tourist’.
The bike rentals recommend routes on their website, which are very useful and fun. The costs are about 6 euro per 3 hours or 15 euro per 24 hours. The insurance is approximately 2,5 euro – 5 euro per bike and you need to show your credit card + identity.
For small children under 6 years old I would recommend the front seater bobikes (for the little ones under 3) and the back seater bobikes (for 3 – 6 year old), which is an additional 5 euro. You could also be super native and hip and try the cargo bike at 25 euros per 24 hours. I would NOT recommend the tandem, because it only looks fun for pictures but it gets very uncomfortable after a 10 minutes ride.
Another bike rental you can click this link.
Some biking rules
- Always double lock your bike. Yes, no kidding here. The small lock at the back wheel and the huge chain through your front.
- The traffic on your right has right of way over all other road travellers. The Dutch are pretty fixed on this rule, so always take a good look to your right. Vice versa, if somebody on your left stops, then you know he or she stopped to give you way.
- Stick out your hand as a sign when you want to turn left or right.
Okay, enough about rules and start peddling!
Pick a route from the rental’s website or set out your own route. I discovered the following route to be most fun for the kids and not too extensive for the rookie biking families.
The Zoo and Ships Route
Imagine a Ragunan in the heart of the city with monumental buildings and exhibits scattered beautifully around it. That’s what the ARTIS ROYAL ZOO is about! Start out early and ride through the following locations before parking your bike at the entrance of the Artis:
- Staalstraat with its famous staalmeester bridge and renown chocolatier Puccini
- Waterlooplein and its fleamarket
- Henri Polak laan, known as the most beautiful residential street in Amsterdam
My must-sees in Artis = The Planetarium and Wolf House
My must-eat in Artis = Kip sate + frites (the belanda version of sate ayam)
After your dose of Artis, head out to the Nijlpaarden bridge on your far right of Artis. also known as the jembatan kuda nil. A whole complex of restored warehouses from 1708 – 1829 called the Entrepotdok make a fantastic view. These are now used as expensive lofts and apartments, but way back then, they were used to store the loot from our own beautiful Indonesia. Ride past the gate building poortgebouw and right in front of you is what used to be the important admiralty, or the Arsenal building, now known as the naval museum SCHEEPVAARTMUSEUM.
The museum has awesome programs for kids, and this year it is the See You in The Golden Age & The Tale of the Wale. For the kids younger than 6 yo, there is Sal & Lori and the Circus at Sea. I am not too happy about the food selection and service at the restaurant, but there are plenty of other eating options outside the museum.
Finish the day with a short ride along the IJ tunnel and the NEMO science center. If your kids are up for it, make a stop at the NEMO for refreshment at the famous roof terrace. If you opt for something more chic, ride a little bit further towards the newly built Double Tree by Hilton for a portion of Dutch bitterballen and the awesome Amsterdam view at the Sky lounge.
Where to stay
No doubt airbnb is one of the most recommended options for a longer than 5 days stay with a family. Another great site is easy to book for a comparison of prices and locations in Amsterdam. Are you in doubt whether a certain location in Amsterdam is child friendly or not? Share those doubts with us!
What to eat
For the ultimate pancake and poffertjes experience, I haven’t found any place better than :
When you can’t miss ‘makan nasi’ while you are abroad, Amsterdam has a gazillion op options:
- Wagamama at the leidseplein
- Oriental City at the corner of Oudezijds Voorburgwal and the Damstraat (AMAZING dim sum)
- Nam Kee at the Zeedijk
- Birdie Thai food at the Zeedijk
- Spang Makandra Javanese Surinam food at the Albert Cuyp area
Fast food options aside from McD and BK:
- Maoz falafel and its limitless salad bar. They serve dutch fries too
- Vlemincks on the Voetboogsteeg. The best Vlaamse Frites is located in a small shop in the alley right next to the H&M on the Kalverstraat (yes, the Kalverstraat, not the Kalvertoren). Try it with the satesaus, garlic saus or the more exotic Andalouse and Piccalilly.
- Bagels & Beans. I admit, not really fast food, but more of a healthy recharger. Choose your bagel and your cheese, or go for their specials. My kids love the energy drink, a combination of yoghurt, strawberry, banana, lecithin and bran.
Lots of hotels and eateries have a rack with free mini cards. These cards provide details about museums, shopping, nightlife, accommodation and many other things in Amsterdam. You can take these cards and use it for discount or freebies when you get to the place mentioned on the card. For example:
Go to minicards for more information.