14 Cycle Tips & Tricks in Amsterdam

Useful and free cycling in Amsterdam tips. Here’s a useful handbook on how to cycle around in Amsterdam including turning, passing, parking, laws, signs, trams, etc.

Cycling in Amsterdam: Rules

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The cycling-basics; let’s start off with the rules. Safety first!

Did you know that the Netherlands has the most cycling lanes of whole Europe?

1 | Cycling Paths Amsterdam

We can cycle almost everywhere, on every road. But we do prefer to do it on the cycle paths. These paths are not red, not orange. It’s somewhere in between. Most cycle paths have a big, white image of a bicycle on it.

How to Cycle in Amsterdam
Cycle paths are not red, not orange but somewhere in between.

Always use the cycle path on the right side of the road. If the picture of the bicycle is upside down, then you are on the wrong side of the road.

Cycling in Amsterdam Rules Signs
You’re on the wrong side of the road!

Do not ride in the middle of the road. Always ride on the side. Otherwise you’ll block the whole street.

2 | How to Cycle Around in Amsterdam: Trams

Never ride in front of a tram. Because the tram is your enemy. Pay attention for the tramrails, because when you want to cross them, cross them like this:

If you don’t cross the tramrail, you’ll get stuck in the rail and then you will become a tram yourself.

How to Cycle in Amsterdam Tram Rails
Don’t become a trammie!

3 | How to Cycle Around in Amsterdam: Pedestrians

If you reach a pedestrian crossing, you have to stop when someone is crossing. Most locals do not do this for some reason. Please do not follow the rest of the locals, but stop at at pedestrian crossing. Then you’ll see that Amsterdammers will stop as well.

Cycling in Amsterdam Rules
Stop! Pedestrians have the right of way at crossings.

Never stop on a cycling path in Amsterdam without a reason. If you do this, you create an unsafe situation because other cyclists can possibly not pass.

Cycling in Amsterdam: 3 Tips

How to cycle around in Amsterdam think-like-this tip: Everybody on the road is crazy. Except: you! 🙂

1 | Turning

If you turn, use your hand and arm to indicate the direction you’re going in.

2 | Passing

If you want to pass someone, use your bell. Pass them, and say: Thank you! (or in Dutch: bedankt!)

3 | Cycling

If you are a slow cyclist, stay on the right side of the cycle path as much as possible. By doing so, faster cyclists can still pass.

Always stay on the right-side of the cycling paths.

Always keep your hands on your steer. Only Dutchies and pro’s can cycle without hands on their steer.

4 | Rotlichtviertel

Don’t cycle in Amsterdam Red Light District in the evenings or at night. Especially not during the high season. Usually it’s too busy to cycle. People walk on the car-free streets too.

red light district

Be wise and park your bike outside the Red Light District and go by foot. Also, there are a couple of places within the Red Light District that are forbidden for cyclist. Like the Oudekerksplein – the square in the middle of the area.

Amsterdam Rotlichtviertel Straße

Cycling Laws Amsterdam

1 | Helmets

bicycle rules in Amsterdam
Dutch people do not wear helmets when cycling.

In the Netherlands it’s not mandatory and definitely not common to wear a helmet on a bicycle. Of course you are free to wear a helmet. Locals will probably recognize you as a tourist though.

2 | Alcohol or Cannabis

Do not cycle drunk or stoned in Amsterdam. Not only is it very unsafe in a city with so many cyclists, it’s also illegal. You will get a fine of 100 euro when you’d do this.

red light district
A bike in Red Light District Amsterdam.

3 | Phone use

Never use your mobile phone during cycling in the Netherlands. It’s unsafe and illegal. Since July 1st, 2019, it’s not allowed anymore to hold your mobile phone while cycling. This means that it’s also illegal to make pictures while cycling, to use Google Maps or GPS or to put on another song. The fine is 95 euro for all these things.

Amsterdam countryside bike tours

If a mobile device is in a holder or in your jacket, you can use it. For example, to navigate or to make hands-free calls. The prohibition only applies if you are cycling. For example, if you are standing still by bike at the traffic light, you may hold your phone.

4 | Bicycle lights

In the Netherlands it is mandatory to switch on your bicycle light when it is dark. If you cycle on the street in the dark, your bike must have proper lighting. If you do not have any lights or you cycle without lighting, you can get a fine. The fine for bicycles without light is € 55.

How to Cycle Around in Amsterdam: Parking

cycling culture in netherlands parking
This is a parking space for bicycles.

When you’ve finished cycling, you’ll have to find a nice parking spot for you bicycle. Always lock you bicycle in Amsterdam. Preferably with two locks. The most important one is a chain lock. Use that one to lock your bike to a bicycle parking pole.

Dutch sign
This sign means that it’s not allowed to park here.

It is not allowed to park your bike against trees, street lights, road signs, traffic lights and emergency exists. Also pay attention to the signs where you are not allowed to park your bike. If you ignore these signs, you take the risk that your bike will be towed away. More information on rules for bicycle parking can be found here on the website of the City of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Cycling Tours

It’s really great to discover Amsterdam by bike. When you have a bicycle you can see so much more of this beautiful city. Amsterdam is not too big. If you know the directions, you can be pretty much anywhere within half an hour with a bike.

If you are insecure to cycle in Amsterdam by yourself, then it’s really recommend to take a cycle tour with a local guide. He or she will show you around in some of the best parts in town and you’ll also get some good tips on how to cycle around in Amsterdam. And, it’s fun too!


Cycling in Amsterdam Quotes

Cycling in Amsterdam Quotes
One of those quotes about cycling in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is like the Tour de France. Just a lot of people on drugs riding bikes 😉


Cycling through Amsterdam is lots of fun. It’s THE way how locals get around. Within 30 minutes you can be anyway in Amsterdam, if you have a bike. It’s a great method of transportation. Alone or with someone else. Renting a bike with your date is fun to do in Amsterdam. However, be careful! Amsterdam cycle fast and often don’t follow the rules. And, helmets are not worn here.


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1 Kommentar

  1. Avatar
    Posted by Barbara A Malley| July 21, 2022 |Reply

    I have been an avid bicyclist in New York and other parts of the U>S> for MANY years, including a 100-mile ride when i was 0ver 60. BUT during C OVID I stopped riding because of the MANY riders who were not obeying the rules of the road . They were actually dangerous. Now I want to go on the BIKE/Barge trip led by Road Scholar starting in early June 2023. I hope there won’t be too many bikes in that lovely season.

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