Taking local transport always adds another dimension to a holiday, and while we are big fans of public transport, in Amsterdam there is another good option beyond the buses, trams and trains. Cycling in Amsterdam is the most popular form of transport here – and if you are considering cycling in Amsterdam with a baby or toddler, you’re not excluded.
You’ll see babies on bikes all over the city. Some are in bike seats at the front of the bike, while others have a baby seat specially fitted into the big wooden cargo bike carriers you’ll see all over the city. (We once saw a cargo bike carrying five kids aged about 7 years old – lucky it’s flat or that would be a fair weight to push!).
Cycling in Amsterdam as a tourist
Cycling in Amsterdam is hugely popular, and in our opinion, you MUST do it; it’s such a fabulous way to see the city. A few things to remember:
- You can rent bikes from places like Mac Bike or Bike City. Both have baby/child bike seats. We found it hard to find a cargo bike to rent, so went with a trailer behind the bike. (For a semi-confident rider who was new to carrying her baby on a bike, this felt safer and easier than carrying them on a bike seat up front.)
- Lock your bike everywhere. It’s a busy tourist city so that means petty theft can be commonplace. Most bike hire companies will provide you with really strong locks to do this.
- Mostly, you can park your bike anywhere. There are some exceptions, like the main train station where bikes far outnumber bicycle parking spots. (We believe they are building more to cope.) If you don’t park in a designated spot here, you’ll get fined. But mostly in Amsterdam, you just park wherever you like: there are bikes all over the place.
- Riding changes your travel experience. One of the reasons it’s so fabulous because you really feel ‘part’ of the city. Amsterdam is flat, so cycling in Amsterdam is really the best way to get around. Once you are on your bike, you’ll get an instant ‘holiday’ feeling that’s hard to match, even in their undeniably good public transport.
5 things to know when you are cycling in Amsterdam with kids or babies
- They ride on the right!
- While there are specially designated bike paths, for some reason they are also shared with mopeds (i.e.: small motorbikes). Everyone seems to obey the rules and share the path nicely, but it’s still a bit of a shock the first time you hear one whizzing up behind you.
- Nobody seems to use bike helmets. For Australians, who are indoctrinated since childhood about the dangers of riding without a helmet, this seems a little scary. It’s one reason we preferred a bike trailer to a bike seat at the front of the bike. Of course, you could always take your own bike helmet – at least for your child. Or ask the rental company in advance if they have one.
- Kids still can fall asleep in a bike trailer – so if you have a baby or toddler who is likely to do that, maybe plan your trip accordingly so they stay awake.
- It might take your baby or toddler a day or so to get used to being on a bike and strapped into a bike seat or bike trailer. If you’ve tried it at home first you’ll both be more confident, but if you’re like us and hadn’t, just take it really easy for the first day.
Looking for great rides? Try short day trips to the towns outside Amsterdam, jaunts along areas like the Jordaan (beautifully scenic), or make like a local and head on your bike to one of the dozen or so Kinderboerderij playgrounds (a kids petting zoo/playground run by volunteers – part of the local culture!).