Amsterdam Bike Rental – A First-Timer’s Guide

Essential tips to stay safe and have a great time cycling in Amsterdam

renting a bike in amsterdam

This post covers everything you need to know before your first Amsterdam bike rental. Get safety tips, cost of rental, best bike rental companies, and bike routes too. Read this post before you rent your bike in Amsterdam!

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The truth is, renting a bike in Amsterdam is almost as easy as getting a cup of coffee in Seattle. There are bike shops everywhere, your hotel might have a rental station or offer free bikes. If you’re staying in an Airbnb, your host will tell you where to rent a bike.

Below, we share a few recommendations for where to rent a bike in Amsterdam. But, more importantly, we share essential tips and advice on everything that comes after the bike rental – namely riding a bike in Amsterdam. That’s where things can quickly get tricky!

Cycling in Amsterdam is not easy!

The sheer number of bikes on the road makes it a crazy experience!

bike parking lot in amsterdam
There are so many bikes in Amsterdam, it can make riding a little scary!

But that’s not all that sets cycling in Amsterdam apart from other cities. There are unique hazards, specific rules of the road, and a very tricky city layout.

Before you hop on that bike, take a few minutes to get familiar with the quirks of riding a bike in Amsterdam – so you can have a great (and safe) ride!

Keep reading to learn…

Everything you Need to Know Before Renting a Bike in Amsterdam

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Cost of Renting a Bike in Amsterdam

Given the saturation of Amsterdam bike hire shops, I was surprised to see a pretty wide range of rental prices. You’ll get the cheapest bike rentals in Amsterdam city centre, near Central Station and Dam Square. As you venture further out, and the options thin out, prices tend to rise.

Average rental prices for Amsterdam bikes are:

  • €6–9 for 3 hours
  • €10–12 for 24 hours

The experience of riding a bike in Amsterdam is totally priceless!

Best Places to Rent a Bike in Amsterdam

As I said earlier, it’s totally easy to find a place for bike rental in Amsterdam. If you like to plan ahead, these are three of the most popular rental spots.

Bike City Amsterdam

If you want to blend in with the crowd while you’re on your bike, opt for bike rental from Bike City in the Jordaan, where they rent “inconspicuous bikes”.

We like Bike City because they are a small business and say on their website that they make an effort to keep their business environmentally friendly. At €17 per day, they are more expensive than some of the bigger games in town but you’ll probably end up on a much better bike!

Yellow Bike Amsterdam

With two locations just a couple of minutes’ walk from Central Station, Yellow Bike charges €12 for a 24-hour rental. In addition to renting bikes, they also lead daily bicycle tours in the city and in the countryside around Amsterdam.

Riding one of these bright yellow bikes will identify you as a tourist, which can be a good thing, because it lets locals know to steer well clear of you!

MacBike Amsterdam

MacBike has locations all over Amsterdam and rents a range of bikes, including hand-brake bikes, kids’ bikes, and electric bikes. Price for a basic bike is €10 for a day. MacBikes are bright red, so no one will mistake you for a local on one of these bikes.

For an extra Euro, you can grab one of MacBikes’ self-guided tour maps to the art, architecture, canals, and many more features that make Amsterdam so special. I totally regret missing out on this while I was in the city!

red bicycle on the streets of amsterdam
Riding a bright red bike in Amsterdam will set you apart as a tourist, which can be a good thing in this case!

What Types of Bikes Can You Rent in Amsterdam?

Bike rental prices can also vary based on the type of bike you want to rent. Most bike rental shops in Amsterdam offer a few types of bikes.

Bike with Foot Brakes

Foot-brake bikes are the typical bikes in Amsterdam and are also the cheapest to rent. Instead of hand levers that initiate the front and back brake, you stop these bikes by pedalling backwards. The catch is, if you haven’t ridden a foot-brake bike since you were a little kid (we certainly hadn’t) then it takes a while to get used to it.

They are tricky because you can’t brake if you take your feet off the pedals for balance. There were a couple of times when I almost rolled out into traffic because of it! So if you opt for a foot brake bike, take it slow until you get used to the mechanism.

Bike with Hand Brakes

Hand-brake bikes usually cost a little more to rent but might be worth it for the extra control they give you — especially if this is the type of bike you’re used to riding.

Kids’ Bikes

Some shops rent smaller bikes for your kids — which is only recommended if you have very responsible children with lots of cycling experience. If you want to brave the streets with a tiny toddler (again, not recommended unless you’re a very experienced rider), you can even rent a bike with a child seat.


Since Amsterdam is totally flat, an e-bike isn’t much of a benefit on a short in-city ride. But, if you want to see the Dutch countryside by bike — which we totally recommend — then hopping on an e-bike might be a great idea.

It will give you a bigger range and allow you to go a little faster on Amsterdam’s wide, well-paved bike lanes. It’s also a blessing if The Netherlands infamous wind decides to start blowing in your face.

Unless you’re a confident cyclist, be cautious with your speed. Faster means more damage if you come off the bike.

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Long-Term Bike Rental

If you’re going to be in Amsterdam for a week or more, check out Swapfiets. For €15/month, you get your own bicycle provided by Swapfiets.

The best part? If anything breaks, they will deliver a working bike to you within one day! If the repair is minor, they will fix the bike on the spot for you.

What an incredible deal!

Rules of the Road in Amsterdam

If you’re not a confident cyclist or haven’t been on a bike for a few years, it’s probably not the best idea to rent a bike to ride around the centre of Amsterdam. Yes, there are some wide separated bike lanes but they are crowded with other cyclists, electric motor-scooters, pigeons, trams, and frequently by errant pedestrians.

Cycling through the city is by no means a relaxing experience. Heck, I’ve cycled almost all the way around the world, on the streets of cities such as Jakarta, Beijing, and Kuala Lumpur, and I had a few scary moments on my bike in Amsterdam.

cyclists riding by the rijksmuseum in amsterdam
Make your Amsterdam bike ride a little more enjoyable by learning the rules of the road before you ride.

So, before your ride in Amsterdam, make sure you know these rules of the road.

Use Hand Signals

While many cyclists in Amsterdam do use hand signals, many don’t. Do yourself a favour and use them, no matter what. Local cyclists move fast and if you turn or stop without signalling, they might just plow right into you.

You don’t need to know the fancy official hand signals either. Just use your right-hand to point right when you’re turning right and your left hand to point left. If you’re going to stop, point your left hand towards the ground with your palm facing towards the back of your bike.

Always avoid sudden stops in the bike lane – getting rear-ended by another bike is never fun.

Stop at Crosswalks

Since Amsterdam’s bike lanes are like mini roads, complete with traffic lights, stop lines and turning lanes, usually the rules are similar to those for driving.

The most difficult one to remember is that you’re supposed to stop at crosswalks when people are waiting to cross. Lots of cyclists don’t stop, so don’t forget to signal!

Ride on the Right

This is another rule that is variably followed.

As a visitor, you will probably be slower than most local cyclists. Riding to the far right of the bike lane lets faster bikes pass easily – and also leaves room for those annoying motor-scooters to pass.

There is one exception. If the bike lane has a row of cars parked to the right, then ride in the centre of the lane to give yourself some clearance if a car door should suddenly be flung open.

Don’t Ride the Wrong Way on Bike Paths

In many cities, it’s kind of OK to ride in the wrong direction on a bike path. In Amsterdam, don’t even think about it. The bike lanes are too busy to have traffic coming from the wrong direction.

Crossing Where Streets Meet

In Amsterdam, there are lots of places where two roads cross and there is no yield sign or stop sign. If you’re on a side road and crossing a larger road, then the main road has the right of way.

If the two roads are equal size, technically the traffic on your left is supposed to yield if you’re going straight through. But never count on this, as many people don’t know and don’t follow the rules.

Instead, make eye contact with anyone crossing your path. If you’re still not sure, yield to the crossing traffic and wave them through.

Don’t Ride in Squares or Pedestrian Areas

If you don’t see any locals riding their bikes in a certain space, you can safely assume that’s because you’re not allowed to ride there. Don’t ride in the pedestrianized shopping streets or big squares like the Dam and Leidseplein.

Don’t Drink and Ride

Alcohol and drugs do not mix well with bicycles. Period. You need 100% of your senses alive and active to stay safe while riding a bike in Amsterdam.

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Dangers of Cycling in Amsterdam

Remember what I said? Renting a bike in Amsterdam is easy — while riding a bike in Amsterdam can be terrifying!

Surprisingly, cars are the least of your worries while cycling in Amsterdam. Here’s what you should look out for:

Tram tracks

We love riding the tram but as cyclists, we hate tram tracks.

Not only can you catch your front wheel in one but they are slippery little devils, too. Luckily, most rental bikes in Amsterdam have tires that are too wide to get caught in the narrow tram tracks.

Still, keep an eye out for them and take it slow, especially if you have to turn across a set of tracks in the rain.


While trams are pretty good about stopping at crosswalks, they can be a hazard when you’re crossing at an unmarked intersection. Remember to look out for trams as well as cars when you cross the road or make a turn.


If there’s one thing that is threatening to completely ruin Amsterdam, it’s motor scooters. Having been in many cities (like Hanoi) where scooters make walking and cycling unplesant and dangerous, I’d hate to see the same happen to such a pedestrian– and cycle–friendly city!

At the moment, for some crazy reason, Dutch law allows scooters going less than 25kph to ride in the bike lanes. Unfortunately, they often driven by young speedsters who don’t abide by the rules. Even the slow scooters are so wide they have to pass uncomfortably close.

The good news is, it looks like there will soon be a ban on all scooters in Amsterdam’s bikes lanes. Until then, always triple check for scooters before you turn, pass, or enter any bike lane.

Tourists on Foot

Ah yes, tourists are the number two thing that is ruining Amsterdam, of course! Everyone hates a tourist, right?

(Personally, I’m rather fond of tourists, unless they happen to be straying into the bike lane I’m using.)

Especially in the city centre, don’t expect pedestrians to behave well – they are either too wasted or too busy admiring the tall skinny houses to notice such trifling details as a bicycle bearing down on them.

tourists at the i amsterdam sign
Other tourists can be one of the biggest hazards when you’re cycling in Amsterdam.


As if my regular pigeon-phobia wasn’t enough, I really don’t need them flapping in my face when I’m operating a vehicle! Both Stephen and I had more than one close encounter with pigeons while we were cycling in Amsterdam. So watch out for their icky, flappy little wings.

Dutch Cyclists

Though I wouldn’t say Dutch cyclists are aggressive, they are certainly not shy when it comes to passing, cutting you off, or entering a bike lane already full of bikes. I’ve never seen an Amsterdam cyclist actually run anybody down but it can be nerve-wracking to find yourself in a pack of them.

Just breathe deeply and let them pass!

Your Own Stupid Self

The biggest hazard on the roads of Amsterdam is your own stupid self.

You know who I’m talking about!

We all have that person inside of us who acts first and regrets it later. While you’re on two wheels in Amsterdam, always keep your full attention on your bike and the hazards around you. Just because local cyclists roll along texting, drinking a coffee, or doing their make-up, doesn’t mean you should!

Where to Ride a Bike in Amsterdam

Unless you’re very comfortable on a bike – we’re talking daily commute to work or have ridden a bike around the world comfortable – don’t try to ride your rental bike through Amsterdam city centre. At best, it will be stressful and exhausting, at worst, you will get hurt.

But you can have a great time exploring the outer reaches of Amsterdam where the bike trails are wide and the crowds are thin.

cyclists on the bike path outside central train station in amsterdam
Head west on the wide bike paths from Centraal for a low-stress ride in Amsterdam.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • If you hop on a ferry from Amsterdam Centraal, you can take your bike to North Amsterdam and follow the coastline along to the spectacular Uitdammerdijk.
  • For a short, pleasant ride, head west out of Central Station. The bike paths here are wide and well-marked and will soon lead you to Westerpark, where you can enjoy the greenery and browse the indie shop, cafes, and market stalls.
  • To escape the city completely, cycle south along the Amstel River all the way to the charming village of Ouderkerk.

How to Navigate While Cycling in Amsterdam

Five years after leaving home on our two-year cycle tour around the world, we finally discovered, on this last trip to Amsterdam, the perfect combination of equipment and software for cycling in a strange city.

You will need:

Before you set off, create a route in Grab your silicone Finn bike phone mount, then strap your smart phone to the bike’s handlebars and press start on the route. The interface and map is easily readable while you’re on your bike and it gives you clear instructions on where to turn.

We used this set-up all over Amsterdam on our last visit — it made it so easy to get around by bike!

Bikes on Public Transport in Amsterdam

If you get stuck or ride to far, it can be convenient to hop on public transport with your bike. Unfortunately, bikes are not allowed on all public transport in Amsterdam at all times.

Here’s what you need to know:

Trams & Metro

Bikes are allowed on all metro trains and one tram — the IJtram 26 — on the GVB public transport system. Make sure to follow these rules:

  • Only bring a bike outside of rush hours — not Monday to Friday 7am–9am & 4pm–6:30pm
  • Be sure to buy a ticket for your bike
  • Look for the carriage with the blue bicycle stickers and put your bike in the reserved area of that car

Bicycles on Dutch Trains

On Dutch NS trains, you are allowed to bring your bike, with some restrictions:

  • Only bring a bike outside of rush hours — not Monday to Friday 6:30am–9am & 4pm–6:30pm
  • In July and August, bikes are allowed all day every day
  • Be sure to buy a Fietskaart Dal ticket for your bike
  • Look for the bicycle carriage or ask the station staff where to put your bike

More Amsterdam Travel Tips

I hope you found this guide useful. Our goal is to make your travels more transformational and renting a bike in Amsterdam will do it! Shout via email or on Instagram if you have any questions.

♥  Happy transformational travels, Jane & Stephen

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