Amsterdam – Bike Town

Bicycle with Wooden crate - Amsterdam


I’ve returned from my first journey overseas. While technically my first stop was Frankfurt, Germany for my layover and also my first passport stamp, Amsterdam was the first city in which I got a view of more than just a runway.



The weather in the spring can be fickle, and it proved so on our journey. Amsterdam was a little wetter and cold than we had originally thought that it might be.

It worked out well for my photo of the I Amsterdam sign. I don’t know anyone in this photo, but it was the only occasion on my 2 1/2 days there that the sign wasn’t swarmed with tons of people.

That is the Rijksmuseum in the background.



In case you missed it, we did not take only carry-ons. However, that decision was made 45 minutes before we got in the car to drive to D.C. and included dashing to the store to buy two medium suitcases and rapidly moving our clothing from two of the carry-ons…which meant I did not actually get to take more clothes, only that my camera traveled in its padded case.

Priorities, people!


Getting around.

The view of the Earth from the sky was beautiful.

We watched the sun set and rise again, over the ocean.

After weΒ landed at the airport and collected our luggage, we decided to take the train and then tram toward our hotel.

Amsterdam has a good public transport system.

We purchased a 3-day travel ticket.

This was good for trains, trams, ferries, metros, and buses operated by GVB.

I will note that this is 3 physical days, not 72 hours.

We were there for 2 1/2 days and did try to see if it was valid to take the tram to the train station our final day, at less than 72 hours.

It was not.



We stayed at the Hotel City Garden, which is located on P.C. Hoofstraat. Finding accommodations for a family of five is never easy.

Add to that fact that we were traveling during prime tulip and spring bloom season, wanted a hotel that made the city walkable, and did not want to stumble into the red light district (which we did anyway…you can read that here) and this hotel worked well for us.

We had the room listed as Souterrain family 5 person.

It has 5 single beds, although 2 are pushed together, so if it’s a group of friends going, you should make sure you don’t mind feeling like you’re in a king bed together.

Our room was located in the basement, with a window opening into an enclosed garden.

Since it didn’t appear that there was air conditioning, the window came in handy.



Right at the end of these buildings is an entrance to Vondelpark, which is a beautiful 120-acre park that we spent a lot of time strolling through.

I will tell you that this was the location where we most encountered the scent of marijuana, so if you are hoping to avoid that smell, this probably wouldn’t be a lovely stroll for you.

But then again, Amsterdam may not be for you if you think you will avoid the smell. We smelled it here… we smelled it near the I Amsterdam sign…. we smelled it down at the fun fair in Dam Square… and probably tons of other places.

Personally, I think it smells better than cigarette smoke, the scent of which seems to be more prevalent in Europe than it does in the parts of the U.S. that I frequent.

And yes, Amsterdam is known for its legality of pot and prostitution.

But I went there for its tulips, its architecture, its canals, and its friendly reputation.


Google Maps.

On the train from Schipol Airport to Zuid station, we were trying to make sure that we were going to get off at the right stop and this lovely girl informed us that this was the correct stop. Β When we got off the train, we were looking at the map that came with our ticket. The girl had walked toward her destination, and she turned around and came back to us and told us how to get to the tram station.

It was a welcome experience upon my first interaction with a foreign country.

We made it to the tram and were trying to figure out how far until the stop listed on the directions to our hotel. A gentleman offered to look it up on his google maps (and yes, I had this app downloaded, but was so overwhelmed that I hadn’t thought to use it yet. It would prove to be a lifesaver throughout Paris and extremely helpful in Amsterdam).


Another thing that Amsterdam is well known for is…

Its bikes.


And there were bikes everywhere.

They have their own lane and lights.


Parking Garages of Bikes.

I took the photo above while on the canal cruise. Β It had just stopped raining so there were still raindrops on the windows.

That’s an entire parking garage of bikes!


More Bikes.

The kids really wanted to rent bikes and go for a ride, but the weather was mostly drizzly and our time there brief.

What I found most surprising was how many children just rode behind a parent on the little metal piece over the back fender. I don’t tend to take pictures of strangers unless they happen to be in my shot. Because of this, I don’t have any examples of how it appeared. One child was toddler age and the mother rode along with her arm behind as a backrest holding the child in place.


Efficient Transportation.

Quite often there are baskets attached to the bikes so that they can carry the groceries or other purchases.

I have read that bikers get irritated if you are in their way. I don’t know if this is sometimes true. We had accidental moments of stepping onto the bike path because it seems like a sidewalk. They would ring their bell as they approached and you would realize your mistake and move. Never once did I see anyone angry about anything.


Most bikes are purely functional. But there were quite a few that put time into making their mode of transportation unique.

I did not even capture a fraction of the amazing bikes or multitude of bikes around the city.


Another sight that seemed so romantic were the girls who were probably in their early 20’s riding sidesaddle behind what I assume was their significant other. Β They were just sitting on the metal plates over the back fender. I wondered how in the world they could stay up there. However, given the fact that the girls had probably been on a bike since infancy, it was probably deeply ingrained into their being.


Amsterdam definitely stole a piece of my heart.

I’m only just beginning to process through my pictures and have so many more to share.


I hope that you’ll check back as I share more about my excursions in Amsterdam and then over to Paris!

update: you can find more of my posts in the Europe category under destinations, but here are few more from Amsterdam to get you started.

Visiting Anne Frank House

Canal Tour of Houseboats of Amsterdam

Wandering Around the Street Corners of Amsterdam

Let your light shine!


30 thoughts on “Amsterdam – Bike Town

  1. We loved our visit to Amsterdam two years ago. Loved every thing about it. Your photos are great, and that Amsterdam sign was packed with people when we were there too. I have never seen so many bicycles in my entire life. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you. I could not believe the amount of bicycles! I’ve heard Copenhagen has quite a few as well. We loved Amsterdam. Each of my kids are convinced this will be their next living location. πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, I will just have to have a headache for days. Cause TULIPS, Amy! πŸ™‚
    What a wonderful experience. I think the bikes are great, and I’m sure you’re right — if you’ve ridden on that metal slat much of your life, it’s probably second nature.

  3. Great report, Amy, love your selection of photos and the stories to go with it. I’ve never been to Amsterdam apart from the airport and this is really valuable tips here, thanks for sharing. So glad you had a great time! As for bad (inconsistent) spring weather and the smell of weed on the streets: try Portland πŸ˜‰

  4. Wonderful images, and insights. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but He-Man has, and he says I’ll love it. In the meantime I’m looking forward to seeing more of your images, and reading about your adventures in Europe.

  5. Thank u for sharing your visit to Amsterdam, I have only visited the Amsterdam airport 2 or 3 times while flying to India. I have always thought how it would look to explore outside.
    While at the Amsterdam airport did you all check out the video Wall clock were a man will be wiping and painting every minute hand.

    1. Amsterdam is a lovely city.
      I did not check out the clock as I didn’t know about it beforehand Thank you for sharing about it. I looked it up and it looks like it would be amazing to see! πŸ™‚

  6. I love your photos of Amsterdam and the ubiquitous bicycle πŸ™‚
    I haven’t been back to Amsterdam since my visit at 17 years of age to meet all my mother’s family for the first time. My photos are all faded, dark, and grainy … unlike your gorgeous colourful images.

    I’m sure you are enjoying the chance to relive your trip through your photos. Looking forward to the next installment!

  7. A fab post about a great city – I haven’t been to Amsterdam in years and you’ve reminded me I need to go back. And lol about the suitcases – I did wonder how you’d go with just carryons. Still an impressively small amount of luggage for a family of five πŸ™‚ I’m really enjoying these posts about your trip, looking forward to reading more

    1. Thank you. We loved it there and hope to go back again.
      I wish we’d decided about the carryons sooner as I may have added more clothing or shoes! πŸ™‚

  8. Great post and photos! I visited Amsterdam last year and absolutely loved everything about it! I’ve never seen that much bikes in my whole life!

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚ I had never seen so many bikes either!! I’ve heard Copenhagen has close to the same amount, but I haven’t been there. It’s on my list though. We thought Amsterdam was amazing!

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