Amsterdam on a Bicycle

Amsterdam on a Bicycle

With a rented #bicycle I made my way through #Amsterdam to discover the everyday life of the locals. My aim was to tick a few tourist must-dos without the rush, and look, of a tourist. More than canals and beautiful facades I discovered the city’s heartbeat; world-class #museums, good #coffee, relaxing #parks and exciting culinary treats #foodanddrink.


I arrived at Schiphol airport a little unsure of what to expect. All the talk about the ‘coffee shops’, red light district and the Sex Museum didn’t really interest me, and I wanted to return home with a different story. I studied the city map before I arrived, this always helps me to orientate myself and get an idea of where I’ll stay, and how to get around.

Transport can be a headache when travelling, especially if language is a barrier, but Amsterdam is small enough to not get lost. From the airport you can take a train to Amsterdam Centraal railway station, from where you can either take a tram or a cab to the hotel. Without the hazards of extreme traffic, overpopulated sidewalks and touristic congestion Amsterdam is a manageable city for a first-timer, and I found the Dutch to be friendly and willing to help whenever I asked for help.

I found the Dutch to be friendly and willing to help whenever I asked for help

Travelling, for me, always includes the ordinary. I try to imagine what it must feel like to live in the city. My goal is to fit in, not stand out, and enjoy a mix of tourist locations, together with a few local and ordinary day-to-day activities.

My hotel, Bilderberg Jan Luyken, is located right in the heart of the Museum District. 

from  $167.65

Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken

 Jan Luykenstraat 58, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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I loved the boutique style and the convenient location . After I settled in, I decided to find a bicycle to rent. Bicycles are as common as canals in Amsterdam and Rent a Bike, was recommended by my hotel. 

Bicycles are as common as canals in Amsterdam

If you prefer to join a guided tour, make sure to book in advance through Amsterdam Bike Tours. With choices like culinary or architectural tours they offer something for everyone.

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Bike Tours in Amsterdam

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 Amsterdam, Netherlands
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When travelling I do everything I can to avoid looking like a tourist. There’s nothing like an odd pair of shoes and a K-way backpack that shouts “I’m foreign”. With my walked-in brogues and India-bought leather backpack I avoided the unflattering tourist look and felt just like a local. Onto the bike and into the streets I went.

First on my tourist-list was the Van Gogh Museum. I’ve been a fan since school, and wanted to see the sunflowers in real life. 

... wanted to see the sunflowers in real life

It’s easy to spend a whole day there, and I did. 

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 Paulus Potterstraat 7, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Another must-see for art-lovers is Rembrandt’s most famous Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum, which is only a minute away from the Van Gogh Museum. Here I literally just went straight to the Night Watch, and viewed a few other artworks in passing. If you are anything like me, there’s a limit to the amount of art you can really appreciate in one day. For those with a higher capacity the Stedelijk Museum is located in the same district and offers a modern and contemporary art collection.

To slow-down and change the scenery from art to people, I decided to visit one of the local coffee shops. They’re literally all over the city, and not hard to find. Sit outside if you can, always best for soaking in the atmosphere and watching people. Make sure to try Amsterdam’s apple pie, or appeltaart as they call it, with a koffie verkeerd (what you’ll know as a caffe latte). Other must-have treats include the famous frites (with mayonnaise), poffertjies, bitterballen and stroopwafels. You don’t have to cycle far to find these culinary treats, they’re easily available in coffee shops, street food stalls and restaurants, but if you’re pressed for time I’d recommend that you book a food tour with Hungry Birds. 

Make sure to try Amsterdam’s apple pie, or appeltaart as they call it

It’s a great way to meet like-minded travellers and taste and see some of Amsterdam’s best treats.

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For a feel of the ordinary Vondelpark is right in the heart of the museum district. The trails through the park offer an enjoyable ride and you can stop at any point to take a break. I enjoyed cycling around and watching the locals relax. It made me feel part of the city and gave me time to write a few postcards to send home. If Vondelpark is jammed you can ride to Westerpark for a quieter experience.

As with many other cities, I fell in love with Amsterdam. It offers world-class art, enjoyable food and excellent coffee in a not-so-overwhelming environment. If you’re tired of cycling, museums and coffee, there’s plenty of interesting shops with books, design and delft pottery. Just jump on your bicycle and follow the canals.

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