If you truly want to sample Dutch life, then start cycling in the Netherlands! A traditional Dutch bike is sturdy and no-nonsense. Plus, it is not difficult to find a fairly inexpensive or second hand one in Holland. This page will give you a rundown of the benefits of cycling in NL, and help you to decide which type of bike is right for you.

If a stranger offers to sell you a bicycle for less than € 40, don’t buy it. It’s probably stolen, and you too are violating the law if you take possession of it.

Why Use a Bike in NL?

There are endless perks to owning and cycling a bike in the Netherlands. It is one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world, and is covered with well-kept ‘fietspaden’ (cycle paths). This enables you to:

  • Enjoy regular fresh air and exercise
  • Embrace a quintessential element of Dutch culture
  • Save money on petrol and lower your carbon foot print
  • Avoid sitting in traffic

Travelling by Bike in NL

More importantly perhaps, cycle paths run through areas that cannot be reached by motorized vehicles:

  • This makes it extremely easy to access the many remote areas of natural beauty that can be found in Netherlands
  • You can pick up great cycling guide books and maps at the VVV or the ANWB
  • These will enable you to plan long or short trips anywhere you like
  • What is more, trains have special bicycle compartments
  • This means you can travel to different areas of the country in a carriage with your bike, and take off from there

For more information on cycling tours, check out the fietsnetwork, or download their app.

Where to Buy your Dutch Bike

1. Second Hand

Most students and foreign visitors buy second-hand bicycles, known as ‘tweedehands fietsen’ or ‘tweedehands rijwielen’. A reasonably good quality one will cost you between € 75 and € 175. You can find them at:

  • Second-hand bicycle shops
  • Bicycle parking facilities near railway stations
  • On Marktplaats
  • Advertised in the small ads at the back of your local newspaper, under ‘Rijwielen’
  • On the notice board at the supermarket
  • Anywhere students congregate!


Ask for Advice

  • The nature of the second-hand bicycle market varies from town to town. Therefore, you should ask a local for advice about it. They may know of an especially good second hand shop. If you’re lucky, they may even help you pick out your bicycle and negotiate the price!
  • A woman’s bike is called a ‘damesfiets’ and a man’s bike is called a ‘herenfiets’. Dutch men are not embarrassed to ride women’s bicycles, and vice versa

2. Brand new

Some expats are keen to get a new bicycle, made by one of the well-known manufacturers. If you are interested in going down this (cycle) path, here’s what you need to do:

  • Unsurprisingly, you will need to visit a bicycle shop
  • A new bicycle will probably cost between € 275 and € 500
  • A discount store will sell you a new, imported bike for as little as €175
  • If you choose to go for one of these, be sure you examine it thoroughly. You need to make sure that its quality is sufficient, before handing over your money


Keep your Bike Safe

When you buy a bicycle, make sure that its lights work and that it has a sturdy lock (‘slot’). Or, to be extra safe, why not buy a chain and padlock? With these, you can fasten your bicycle to something when you park it. Secure parking for bicycles is available at most railway stations and in some city centers across the Netherlands. Just look for signs reading: ‘rijwielstalling’ or ‘fietsenstalling’.

3. Bike Rental

If you are traveling to a region of the Netherlands without your own bike, you can simply rent one:

  • There are usually bicycle rentals in the parking facilities of railway stations
  • Bicycle rentals will loan you a bike for the day, under payment of a deposit
  • It is wise to telephone in advance to make a reservation and to ask at the railway station for a free booklet about this
  • In certain places, such as Veluwe National Park, bicycles are available free of charge, to help you roam the beautiful woods at your leisure

4. OV-Fiets

Many Dutch people also make use of the Public Transportation Bicycle: the ‘OV-fiets’. If you do not work in your city of residence in the Netherlands, and need to travel by train for a significant leg of the journey, this is the service for you. You can rent an OV-fiets from the station nearest to your work, and cycle the rest of the way.

Some OV-fiets facts:

  • To rent an OV-fiets, you pay € 4.15 per 24 hours
  • If you keep the bicycle for 72 hours, you will pay 3 x € 3.35
  • After keeping your bicycle for 72 hours, you will start to pay € 5 per 24 hours
  • If you hand your OV-fiets in at a different location, you will incur an extra charge
  • You can request a public transportation bicycle pass (OV-fietspas)
  • You can get your own public transportation pass, or Studenten OV-chipkaart, registered.  This will enable you to pick up an OV-fiets at any time. Payments for this are made later, at an automatic payment machine (‘automatische incasso’)
  • Bicycles are available at more than 275 locations throughout the country (approximately 100 towns/cities), including various locations within the bigger cities of Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam


Rent a Bike from a Train Station

More than 150 train stations also offer the possibility of renting a bicycle, on a non-public transportation basis. The bike will cost between €7.50 and €15 a day, on top of a security deposit of €50.
More information on this can be found at: ‘Nederlandfietsland’

Traffic rules for cyclists

As a cyclist, you must adhere to Dutch traffic signs and obey the rules of the road. Here are some important pointers:

  • It is essential that you stay within the bicycle lanes marked on the street
  • As a rule, cars that are turning across your path are supposed to stop for you, but it is wize to watch out nonetheless
  • You should signal with your arm, if you are planning to turn
  • You can be fined for riding at night without lights, for drunken cycling and for reckless endangerment when using your mobile phone whilst on a bike
  • Unlike in many other countries, you may not ride your bicycle on the sidewalk in the Netherlands

A Phone on a Fiets

The legislation forbidding car drivers from using their phones whilst driving does not apply to cyclists, yet! However, a new law is in the making. What is more, if your behavior has contributed to an accident or a (potentially) dangerous situation in traffic, you run the risk of being prosecuted.

Side Note

Mopeds in NL

You need a moped license, or an ‘AM license’, if you ride:

  • A moped (brommer or bromfiets)
  • A motorized bicycle (snorfiets)
  • A light vehicle (brommobiel)
  • A quad (vierwielige brommobiel)

Driving License

If you have a driver’s license for automobiles or motorcycles, you do not need to get a separate AM-license. You can take the theoretical exam for driving an automobile or a motorcycle from the age of 15-and-a-half, and the practical exam from age 16. If, for medical reasons, your driver’s license is no longer valid, you can still obtain or retain an AM-license for the purpose of driving a light vehicle.

Recommended reading

Feeling a little nervous about hitting the Dutch streets on only two wheels? These books contain everything you need to know about how to survive and enjoy cycling in a Dutch city:

The Cycling Paradise

Learn to cycle in Amsterdam

In The City of Bikes by Pete Jordan

The Dutch & Their Bikes – Scenes from a Nation of Cyclists

Recently Posted on XPat.nl

If you’re an expat living and looking for work in the Netherlands then there are some vital differences you should know about in regards to your job applications. In the Netherlands, as with most places in Europe, the norm is a CV rather than the resume which is commonly used in the United States amongst … Continue reading "The Difference Between a Resume and a CV"
Birthdays If you feel like skipping your birthday, you may be in for a challenge when relocating to the Netherlands, as birthdays are being held in high regard for children and adults alike. Most companies even keep a register of their employees’ birthdays so that none are forgotten and other companies even have a special … Continue reading "Gift giving in the Netherlands-all you need to know for those special moments"
Rain management With the Netherlands being a very rainy country, you will automatically have the title of ‘Rain Project Manager’ bestowed upon you when settling in this land. Rain boots and rain gear should be on top of your shopping list when relocating here. Furthermore, always carry a role of bin liner and a pair … Continue reading "Tips and tricks for Daily Life in the Netherlands"
House plants The Dutch are very fond of houseplants, the more the merrier! You will find the typical Dutch home filled with a large amount of house plants in all shapes, sizes and colours. Walking the average street, you will spot window sills with many houseplants on display. Placing two identical house plants next to … Continue reading "10 things you will find in every Dutch home"
Obtaining a mortgage as an expat in the Netherlands can be a complex process, as the requirements and regulations for obtaining a mortgage can vary depending on your citizenship and the type of residence you are looking to purchase. However, with the right preparation and understanding of the process, it is possible for expats to … Continue reading "Obtaining a Mortgage as an Expat in the Netherlands"
It is that time of year again; the new and annually-updated version of The Holland Handbook is here and ready to be enjoyed! Not only that, but this is the 23rd edition! More than twenty years ago, a modest group of three people sat around a table to discuss the possibility of creating a handbook … Continue reading "The Holland Handbook 2023"