Travelling in & around bike-friendly Holland
Weather & climate
The Netherlands are known for mild winters and moderate, warm summers - a climate mainly determined by being so close to the sea. The prevailing wind direction is west / south-west and it never really rains for a long time at a stretch.
It's a climate which is cyclist-friendly for most of the year, except perhaps winter, if you tog up in appropriate clothing. As rain tends to come in short showers, getting dry quickly is not usually much of a problem - just see it as a good excuse to take a short break in a café, before continuing your journey!
It's nice, useful and appreciated if you set out on your trip around Holland with some Dutch words up your sleeve (or on the tip of your tongue even), but to be fair, most Dutch people and nearly all younger Dutch people speak English. So don't worry - communication really won't be a problem during your stay. As long as you enjoy and respect our Dutch ways and culture, you'll generally find people nice and friendly and interested in meeting you...
And that goes for any visits you might need to bicycle repair shops („Fietsenmaker“) too! Because the Dutch love to cycle - we even mostly own more than one bike per person! - there are countless shops where you can purchase cycling accessories, spare parts for repairs, cycling gear, helmets and all sorts of other cycling kit imaginable. If there's a problem with your bike (a 'fietspech'), then just make a friendly request for help and it will be yours! Repair shops often even have bicycle pumps in front of the shop, so you can help yourself to pumping up those tyres.
Tourist Information Centres: 'VVV' offices
Dutch tourist information offices can be found located in the city centres of most of our medium and larger cities and are often to be found on the market square. For tourist information centres / facilities in Holland, look for the VVV signs (our equivalent of TIC in the UK - VVV = Vereiniging voor vreemdelingen verkeer).
The VVV offices have information about things to see and do in the area, plus events and accommodation etc. Please note that some information material - particularly maps - are charged for. The VVV offices are open until 5/5.30 pm during the summer months.
Taking your bike on a train
If the weather just isn't on side, or if you're just not in the mood to cycle, it's generally easy to skip a few miles on the bike by taking the train. You can travel with your bike on board on almost all Dutch train connections and getting on and off with your bicycle doesn't usually create any problems, as the carriages have good entry points. Bicycle trailers may be also taken on trains.
In July and August, bicycle transport is possible on almost all trains without exclusion periods, although space for bikes can sometimes be hard to come as it is so popular. Outside of these months, there are some restrictions to taking your bike on the train. At weekends, you can take your bike on the train at any time of day, but on weekdays, the following restrictions apply: no bike transport on any regional train from Mon-Fri between 6.30 - 9.00 am and 4.30 - 6.00 pm. The restriction does not apply to international traffic.
Travelling by bus (sorry, no bikes allowed!)
Bus tickets can be bought directly on the bus from the driver. This is the easiest way for visitors to buy a ticket. If you plan to travel frequently by bus, then a OV-Chipkaart is a good option. It is a special ticket which is valid on trains, trams, buses and on the underground (metro).It's important to know that you must always check in and out with an OV-chipkaart by holding your card against the screen on a gate or card reader.
In Holland it is usually not possible to take your bicycle with you in buses.
Setting out on arrival - from Amsterdam Airport (Schipol)
Trains depart regularly from the on-site train station platform beneath the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and you can be in the city centre of Amsterdam in just 15-20 minutes. (Single ticket € 3.30)
Buses for central Amsterdam depart every 15 minutes from the Schiphol Plaza in front of the arrival/departure halls. (Tickets available on the bus, € 4.00 ).
Taxi ranks are located on the Schiphol Plaza. (Fare to the city center € 40- 50)
Setting out on arrival at Amsterdam Centraal (Main Railway Station)
Amsterdam Centraal railway station is situated right alongside the historic canal quarter of the city.
Buses depart from outside the front or rear (Uitgang / Exit Noord) of the station. There are big signs for the different bus directions and friendly staff to help you, if you have any questions.
Taxi ranks are located at the front of the station building.
There is an Amsterdam Tourist Information facility directly in front of the station, on the other side of the road (keep left, when you leave the station building) - and a nice café by the waterside next to the Tourist Information point.