When the city of Amsterdam comes to mind the first image that comes with it isn’t likely to be a bicycle. Windmills maybe, cafés perhaps or even the famous Red Lit De Wallen district – but surely not a bike? Much to its detriment, many will assume that travellers to Amsterdam are mostly bleary eyed teenagers traipsing from one coffee shop to the next, but those after something livelier than a stroll down the canal or a visit to a cafés will be in for a pleasant surprise. How better to experience the heart of the Netherlands than the way the locals do?
In spite of an astonishing reputation for vice, Amsterdammers are a healthier bunch than us Brits – in part because of their love of the humble push-bike. Read on to find out why cycling on a Amsterdam holiday will be good for more than just your health:
Everywhere you look
Readily available everywhere within the city, and something of a cultural emblem, there are an astonishing estimated six hundred thousand bikes in Amsterdam. Between 6,000 and 10,000 of these bikes are dredged out of the city’s famous canals every year by the city’s municipal service. Many a local will stress the importance of locking up one’s bike wherever you are in the city!
The fastest way to get around
Compared to cyclists and motorists in the UK, who live in uneasy coexistence, as many as 40% of Amsterdam’s city dwellers cycle on a daily basis. A visit to the ‘Venice of the north’ will show any motorist that getting about in the city’s charming historic infrastructure is in fact made far easier (not to mention quicker) with the use of a bike.
Make a statement
All year long around this city you will likely see cyclists whizzing by, not a cycling pant or (regrettable in some cases) a helmet in sight. An international fashion capital since 2004, the locals take being seen on bike very seriously, so get into fashion mode when you’re cycling around. A bold statement colour or patterned winter coat will ensure pedestrians see you coming, and decorating one’s bike accordingly is a must too. In Amsterdam the style is casual, but still eye catching – no lycra here. Save that for the clubs.
See it all
Renting a bike in this wonderful city you’ll find you get around see more of it. Within the inner city area (centrum) Amsterdam is dominated by her beautiful UNESCO-listed canals, meaning cars are not afforded much room at all. In fact getting around by car takes twice as long on average as it would do by bike, and parking a car in this city of hardy cyclists doesn’t even bear thinking about.
You can expect a few titillating shocks on a holiday to Amsterdam, though one thing you definitely won’t see in Amsterdam are a single pair of cycling shorts. Relaxed though the Dutch may be on the contentious issues of drugs and prostitution, when it comes to style they more than hold their own. At any given moment at least half of the city’s population are peddling around, negating the need for the outlandish high vis uniform normally associated with UK cyclists.
With cycling so commonplace in this city of mad peddlers, you not only feel like part of the fold as soon as you get on the bike, but the semi-embarrassment of adult cycling (as well as any need for ugly cycling shorts) falls away in Amsterdam. Cycle to your heart’s content, and look fantastic whilst you whizz through the Red light district, across the canals and even through the park in eveningwear, heels and all.