The Netherlands is perfect for cycling, as more than 100,000 kilometres of trails and road networks are available (including many cycle paths). The Netherlands has a nationwide network of cycle paths totalling approximately 30,000 kilometres in length.
Wherever using cycle paths is mandatory, this is indicated by a blue sign with a white bicycle symbol. Furthermore, cycle paths can be recognised by a red surface on which a white bicycle is printed. In any isolated locations without marked cycle paths, you may rest assured that drivers are generally very aware of cyclists.
Cycling to get around
One of the most common ways of moving around in the Netherlands is by bicycle. The Netherlands has more bicycles than people. Many people ride a bicycle and then take a train to travel to work or university, as you will see from the large numbers of bicycles parked at smaller railway stations. Larger railway stations have special bicycle parking garages. In the city centre, you will find places where you can park your bicycle. In some cases, such bicycle parking areas are guarded and in some locations, you will be obliged to pay a fee for parking your bicycle. In the centre, all of the guarded parking areas for bicycles are free of charge. It is important to ensure that you park your bicycle in an appropriate location, or you may return from a nice evening out and discover that your bicycle has been removed by the municipal services.
The mild climate, short distances and excellent cycling infrastructure make cycling in the Netherlands not only practical, but also fun! Cycling is a good way to discover the Netherlands. You can hire a bicycle and if you are travelling by rail, you can take your bicycle with you. Just do not forget to purchase a special ticket for your bicycle for the train journey. When you go to another city for a day, you can also opt for renting a NS OV-fiets on a train station.
In the southern part of the Netherlands, there is a multitude of challenging routes through hilly terrain, whereas in the western part of the Netherlands, you can cycle through the dunes. If you like mountain biking, there are also plenty of mountain biking routes in the Netherlands.
Getting a bicycle
Buying a new bicycle will cost between EUR 150 and EUR 500, whereas second-hand bicycles are readily available at much lower prices (e.g. as from approximately EUR 60). It is worth asking someone at the university to suggest a shop, to make enquiries at the ‘fietsenstalling’ (bicycle parking area) at the railway station and/or to regularly check the Notice Board at your university. For second-hand bicycles you can also check Facebook Marketplace or Marktplaats. You should be able to purchase a bicycle for a fair price. It is also important to purchase a good lock and/or chain for your bicycle. Some people secure their bicycles to immovable objects with steel chains to prevent theft. Please note that riding a bicycle without operational lights at night is illegal in the Netherlands, so make sure your bicycle has operational lights.
Instead of buying a bicycle, you can also opt for a subscription with Swapfiets, which includes repairs for a set rate a month.