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Amsterdam by Bike

Cycle through a museum tunnel and check out waterfront views.

The first thing you’ll notice once you touch down in the capital of the Netherlands is the stunning network of 17th-century canals that informs the city’s infrastructure and charm. The second thing you’ll notice is the quantity of bicycles. The narrow, mostly cobblestone streets that line the Golden Age waterways lend themselves not to modern cars, but to nimble two-wheelers. Cycling is so ingrained in Amsterdam’s culture that the city is home to more bikes than humans and the tourism board offers an in-depth guide to rental company locations.

Whether you’re eager to delve into the rich European art scene, shop the iconic Nine Streets, or immerse your palate in hyper-local flavors, there is a bike lane and ample parking to facilitate your journey. Here, three ways to experience Amsterdam as the locals do.

Tour 1: For the art-inclined

Start the day with a loop around Vondelpark, an urban nature haven that spans 116 acres. Exit the park on the northeast side and make your way to Museumplein, an expansive, grassy square that harbors the city’s three major art museums. The massive Rijksmuseum offers over 8,000 pieces from notable artists like Rembrandt, while the Stedelijk exhibits modern and contemporary art, and the Van Gogh Museum displays a collection of the namesake painter’s post-impressionism works. Once you’ve finished perusing the galleries, take the Rijksmuseum tunnel (an underpass that goes directly through the building’s atrium) to head to lunch in the trendy neighborhood De Pijp. Try a healthy organic salad from SLA.

Tour 2: For the souvenir-seeking foodie

On a Saturday morning, you'll want to bike to the Farmer’s Market on Noordermarkt, a square right on the border of the quaint Jordaan neighborhood packed with stylish boutiques. It’s worth waiting in line for the classic Dutch apple pie at Winkel 43, the shop whose owner established this very market in 1987. Located nearby, you can cycle to the Anne Frank House, a poignant biographical museum. Then, head to Negen Straatjes, or Nine Streets, where you can find some of Amsterdam’s most curated concept stores. Check out Ace & Tate for locally-made eyewear and Property Of… for signature leather goods. Refuel at one of two Pluk locations in the area with a smoothie bowl or poke salmon avocado toast.


Tour 3: For the wanderluster

For an off-the-beaten-path view, you should spend the day cycling around Amsterdam-Noord. Separated from the rest of the city by the body of water behind Central Station called the IJ, this borough has transformed from an industrial shipyard neighborhood into a vibrant community of art galleries, quirky cafés, and cool concert venues. To get there, you can bring your bike over on the free ferry. After working up an appetite biking, pause for lunch at Pllek, a cafe and live stage that is a cozy hangout in the winter and a lively outdoor venue in the summer. Try the falafel wrap or steamed mackerel. With waterfront views and yoga on Sundays, this multipurpose space located inside a shipping container is a must-visit. Then, cycle over to the futuristic EYE Filmmuseum building where you can check out the current film exhibit.