I bike in and around Amsterdam all the time. After many years of living in the Dutch capital, I feel like I blend right in with the locals. I hop on my old, black bike (called an oma fiets in Dutch) and travel the city. I’m usually so focused on getting to my destination as quickly as possible, I often forget to look around and admire my surroundings.
In mid-May, my partner, Matthijs, and I had the opportunity to take a half-day excursion with We Bike Amsterdam. The company offers two different routes: one through Amsterdam’s city center and the other through the Dutch countryside. Considering I had never toured the north side of Amsterdam and its surrounding villages, I thought that would be a fun trip.
The tour left from Prins Hendrikkade 14, across the street from Centraal Station. We Bike Amsterdam provides the bikes and ensures you feel comfortable before setting out. Fortunately for us, the sun was shining – it was an absolutely beautiful day – but the tours typically go rain or shine (just like the Dutch). I appreciated the fact we were placed in a small group. It turns out the max is 12 persons, which is good, because too many would make the experience much less personal and more difficult to maneuver.
We biked only a short stint through the bustling downtown to reach the back of the main train station. The free ferry transported us to the other side of the IJ, allowing us to cross the sparkling, blue river. Within minutes, we were removed from the madness of buses, cars, locals hustling to work, and tourists gazing at the canals and architecture that surround Centraal Station. We kept a decent pace as we biked down cute cobblestone streets with traditional Dutch homes. Our knowledgeable and passionate guide, Charlotte, stopped frequently, pausing for brief moments to share the area’s history with us.
As we moved farther and farther away from Amsterdam, we eventually found ourselves biking down a long dike. Green plants lined the narrow path, and water surrounded us on both sides. The sun was intense, but the gentle warm winds refreshed us. Civilization seemed so far away. Alone with my thoughts, contemplating life, I relished in the peace and quiet of the isolated location.
The dike stretched on, but we veered down a small path to make our way inland. About halfway through our ride, we stopped in Holysloot for a short break. We received ample time to relax and grab a bite to eat, rehydrate, or use the facilities. Back on our bikes, after applying another layer of sunscreen, we rolled through wide-open green spaces speckled with grazing cows . We even crossed a few bridges. We stopped in picturesque villages like Ransdorp, and it felt like we were playing a game of connect the dots, by passing from village to village via rustic farmland paths. Toward the end of the afternoon, we admired a windmill that dates to 1792.
The entire circuit is about 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) and lasts four hours. I enjoyed this tour, because you escape city life and immerse yourself in nature. You can also learn more about the history of the Netherlands and get a glimpse into the more everyday Dutch lifestyle. The tour is suitable for all biking levels. For those who may not feel comfortable in the middle of Amsterdam, this is a perfect middle-ground ride.
Be sure to visit their website for more information, including pricing and departure times, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Looking for more advice on how to bike like the Dutch? Check out my guide. For more things to see and do in Amsterdam, read my tips.