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The Netherlands: By Bicycle or Boat?


The Netherlands: By Bicycle or Boat?

story by: Anna Sarjeant

Venture to the Netherlands and choose your mode of transport.

By Bike…
In a city where cars are the minority, and bikes mirror the inhabitants sometimes two for one, follow the lead and peddle your way from one intriguing borough to the next.

Streets are narrow and jostling with crooked 17th century architecture; their multi-storey facades looming – somewhat precariously – roof-first into alleyways, all vying for an extra inch of space. Street music, especially in and around Rembrandt Square, adds to the city’s ambience, with ditties ringing out like Amsterdam’s very own theme tune. Cycle through the passageway under the Rijksmuseum. You’ll glide into Museumplein, where tourists flit amongst the locals and the call of Van Gogh resonates in the air; his museum’s just a five minute cycle away. Head towards The Nieuwmarkt for gabled buildings, quaint cafés and a gateway to the Red Light District. With unique boutiques and some of the city’s prettiest canals, Amsterdam’s most notorious neighbourhood isn’t solely about gawking at its legal taboos, nor is it about ignoring them altogether. Discover its every lure, which is as much about the sightseeing as it is about the all-embracing culture; high-brow, low-brow, outlawed or otherwise. Avoid at your own regret.

Addicted to pedal? Why stop at Amsterdam? In a country where the highest point barely breaks 320m, Holland’s notoriously flat terrain makes long-distance pedalling highly plausible. Saddle up!

By Boat…
Envy is never pretty. Not like Amsterdam, which is always pretty. Stunning in summer, when golden sunshine spills across its canals, and breath-taking in winter, which brings steel skies and water aglow with street lamps. Thus fuelling a growing jealousy towards all those lucky enough to live here.

This is a city where stacks of photogenic bicycles lean beside bumper bouquets of flowers, where European cars flank tree lined canals and delicate stone bridges connect one bonnie residence to another. From the water, you’ll absorb Amsterdam from its most enchanting vantage point; slightly lower than street level, gazing longingly at sleek house boats and three-storey townhouses where front lawns don’t exist but narrow canals do. Boat trips run daily, skimming the city’s most majestic waterways, while those who miss their bicycle can try Canal Biking, Amsterdam’s top canal attraction since 1984. Similar to a pedalo, these 4-seater paddle boats are human-powered and depart from Leidseplein, Rijksmuseum and Westerkerk (Anne Frank House).

One day in Amsterdam and you’ll be compelled to stay forever. Call the boss and fabricate a good reason to stay on; in a city of forgivable sins, stranger things have happened.

Keen to leave the city? Dutch waterways are by no means limited to the capital. With 6,000km of accessible water routes, navigate a journey from the city to the countryside, hamlet to township and all the way back again.

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