six people on bikes in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Cycling in The Netherlands: Why the Dutch love their bikes

When you think of the Netherlands the first things that might come to mind are tulips, windmills, cheese, and canals. But the moment you set foot in our little country there is no way to miss out on seeing bikes… EVERYWHERE! Cycling is a deep-rooted habit that most of us learn from the moment we can walk. As a Dutchie myself, and a big fan of cycling, I thought it would be nice to put together some fun information on this topic.

Here you can find everything you want to know about the Dutch and their special bond with their bikes. Find out how cycling has become part of our culture and why it is so popular in The Netherlands. Learn some bike-related stats and fun facts. Know all about the do’s and don’ts when you hop on a bike yourself. And get some tips on the best cycling routes in the Netherlands.

Why the Dutch love cycling? and image with this text on it showing the canals in Amsterdam and bikes

The Dutch cycling habit

A little bit of history about cycling in The Netherlands

You might have never thought about it, but the Netherlands has not always been a ‘cycling country’. Actually, in the 1970’s the vast majority of people preferred to travel by car, and city councils considered to build all infrastructure around cars as the leading way of transport. The rapid adoption of cars led to an increasing number of car accidents and cycling became rapidly more dangerous. People started protesting and demanded the city councils would focus more on the ‘human scale’. They wanted more cycling lanes and fewer cars. And oh my, I think we can say they have been successful.

Amsterdam is a great example where the council listened to its citizens and kept the city center compact and easily accessible to bikes. Today there are over 35,000 km / nearly 22,000 miles of cycling lanes in the Netherlands. They connect villages, cities, and national parks. Altogether they cover almost the same length as it would be to go around the world!

Why do the Dutch love cycling so much?

There are several reasons why we prefer to travel by bike whenever we go to school, work, friends and family. The main reasons that keep us going are listed below.


First of all, it is often a lot quicker to get somewhere. Like anywhere in the world, when traveling by car in the city you will get stuck in traffic. Many of our cities and villages have old centers which means everything is within reasonable distance. Why waste your time waiting when you can hop on a bike instead?

Flat as a pancake

I might be stating the obvious here, but it does help our country does not have any mountains or steep hills. We say our country is ‘flat as a pancake’ which makes it very easy to cross any distance without getting fatigued. With that said, pancakes are a local delicacy, make sure you try some during your next visit!

Photo of a pancake and a cup of tea to show what we mean in the blog when saying the Netherlands is flat as a pancake

Cost effective

And yes, it is cheap. No easier way to save money than not having to spend it on fuel, public transport tickets, or high maintenance. All you need is your bike and you are good to go.

Great exercise

It is a very healthy way of transportation. Staying active whilst out in the fresh air is one of the best things you can do. It avoids weight gain, and the risk of cardiovascular disease and even increases your aerobic base. Cycling is also a great way to clear your head and to enjoy some fresh air.

Good vibes

Finally, it makes us really happy. For years on end, studies show Dutch children are amongst the happiest in the world. One of the factors that contribute to this is their independence, given to them from your age onwards. Most kids in the Netherlands will go to school by bike. From quite early on, they will start to do so on their own or with their peers. They can go and see their friends, visit their sports club, or travel to other activities without having to rely on their parents.

Some fun cycling stats

So let’s talk about some numbers to have a better view of the impact bikes have on our country and on our lives:

  • We think (but how can you possibly be sure) that there are about 23.5 million bikes in our country. Bearing in mind we have only 17.5 million people in the Netherlands it seems the bikes are winning!
  • A Dutch person cycles on average 979 km a year which takes, on average, a total of 92 hours according to the ‘Dutch Bureau of Statistics’. Most of us don’t care about the weather. Whether it rains, storms, or snows, if you have to go somewhere the bike is the way to go.
  • Dutch teenagers spend the most time on bikes every year. On average just over 5 km every day. No wonder we love our cheese sandwiches so much, the travel makes us hungry!
  • Every year about 6,000 bikes are taken out of the Amsterdam canals.
  • With the rise of electric bikes, about a third of the Dutch population swapped their original bikes for electric ones.
  • Cycling is for everyone, even our prime minister goes to work by bike!

Do’s and don’ts when cycling in The Netherlands

Because there are so many cyclists in our traffic there are a few things to keep in mind. Whether you are a pedestrian, driving a car, or when you decide to hop on a bike yourself, these tips might be helpful.


  • First of all, look around! Whenever you are in Amsterdam or any other crowded city in the Netherlands cyclists will come from everywhere. They usually do not enjoy having to stop for pedestrians who are randomly crossing the streets. Look left and right even if you don’t see any cars and make sure you walk on the pavement. Cycling lanes often have a burgundy color, or they are a separate lane between de pavement and the main road. So keep an eye out where you walk, especially when you want to cross.
  • When you get on a bike yourself make sure to cycle on the right side of the cycling lanes. When you want to get passed someone, ring your little bell and look behind you before you go to avoid any accidents.
  • When turning right or left, make sure to use your arm. Extend your arm horizontally to show you are turning left or right so the people around you are aware of your next move 🙂
  • Make sure to switch on the lights on your bike when it gets dark so people can see you.
  • Lock your bike! Especially in the bigger cities use a chain lock to be sure you can find back your bike where you left it!
  • Last but not least, enjoy the ride! Exploring the Netherlands by bike is probably the best way to do so. YOu will be able to see so much more of the places you are visiting and feel what it is like to be Dutch for a moment.


  • For a little while it is prohibited to use your phone when on your bike (for obvious reasons). Put your phone in your bag or a pocket when cycling. The police can fine you when they see you cycling whilst using your phone.
  • Avoid crossing the tram tracks when you can. Especially in Amsterdam, there is an extensive rail network for the trams across the city. Don’t get your wheels stuck in there and pay extra attention when you see trams approaching you.
  • Stay in the right lane. Most roads have cycling lanes on both sides and cyclists go in the same direction as the cars next to them. Alternatively, if there is only one lane on one side of the road, there is a line in the middle and you should always be on the right side of it. Cycling in the wrong cycling lane can cause really dangerous situations and cause confusion so make sure to stay on the right side.
  • Don’t cycle on the pavement. they are meant exclusively for pedestrians so make sure to steer clear of them.

Cycling routes in The Netherlands:

Of course there are endless options to choose from when you are planning your cycling trips in the Netherlands.

If you are new to the country and would like a guided experience these are some great options:

❇️ Biking tour across Amsterdam to explore its highlights and hidden gems ❇️

❇️ Explore the countryside of Amsterdam with its windmills, canals and tulip fields ❇️

Some of my personal favorites areas to explore on your own include:

  • Cycling at National Park the Hoge Veluwe – the largest national park in the Netherlands where you can pick up bikes at the entrance and hop on and hop off wherever you like to explore the stunning landscape the park has to offer
  • The Gooise Heide: This is not too far from Amsterdam, only twenty minutes by train. The heathland is a beautiful piece of local nature and a wonderful area to discover by bike.
Image of National park de Hoge Veluwe in the Netherlands which is one of the recommended areas to go cycling


All in all now you know a bit more about the Dutch cycling tradition, why we love our bikes so much and what you need to do if you decide to go cycling in the Netherlands yourself. Don’t let anyhting stop you, the next time you are visiting make sure you go for the full Dutch experience and rent a bike to make unforgettable memories!

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