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Bike Tour: Along the Amstel River

Start: Waterlooplein.

Finish: Amstel Station.

Time: Allow between 3 and 4 hours, not including rest stops.

Best Times: May to September, outside of rush hour (rush hour is around 8-10am and 5-7pm).

Worst Times: A cold winter's day won't suit sensible folks -- but the Dutch don't mind.

This biking route begins in the city center and follows a scenic, relatively quiet way through the city, emerging into the countryside alongside the Amstel River for a short but glorious hop out to the pretty village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.

The starting point is Waterlooplein and the:

1. Amstel River

The Amstel is likely to be fairly busy with waterborne traffic, and has houseboats moored along both banks.

Continue to the:

2. Magere Brug

Known as the Amstel's "Skinny Bridge," the Magere Brug is actually an 18th-century replacement for the original 17th-century bridge. Cross over to the west (left) bank and cycle south along the Amstel. On the river's other side, you can see the Koninklijk Theater Carré. Continue over Sarphatistraat, which you'll easily recognize by its tram lines.

Detour around a break in the road, cross busy Stadhouderskade, and get back to the river at:

3. Amsteldijk

Keep pedaling south on this road, enjoying the riverside views, until you reach the Berlagebrug (Berlage Bridge), where you need to be careful, as the traffic gets noticeably busier at this point.

Stay on Amsteldijk until you arrive at:

4. Martin Luther Kingpark

Most of the road traffic swings away to the right on President Kennedylaan at this park, but stay on Amsteldijk, which gradually becomes almost rural, though with houseboats alongside the road in place of country cottages. Up ahead, you'll hear a noise like a substantial storm; it means you're getting closer to the highway bridge that carries the city's A10 ring road (beltway) across the river.

Go under the bridge and finally you're out in the country, passing:

5. Amstelpark

The riverside stays tranquil and scenic from now on. Continue past the statue of Rembrandt and a windmill at the park's end. Around this characteristic old Dutch scene, there'll likely be busloads of tourists photographing Rembrandt, the windmill, themselves, and everything in sight, probably including you as you pedal past.

Beyond this is:

6. Klein Kalfje

Amsteldijk 355 (tel. 020/644-5338), a small atmospheric Dutch cafe with a riverside terrace and canal barges moored alongside. A road separates the terrace from the cafe. There used to be an unofficial traffic sign here that indicated CAUTION: WAITER CROSSING.

You pass cottages and villas all the way to:

7. Ouderkerk aan de Amstel

The idyllically sited village has an abundance of cafes and restaurants with riverside or outdoor terraces. If you've still got energy, explore the village before settling down at one of the terraces for something restorative.

To return, switch to the right bank of the river, on:

8. Ouderkerkerdijk

Narrower than Amsteldijk, this road has almost no traffic. Along the way, you'll pass a windmill and several tiny hamlets.

Recross the Amstel at the:

9. Utrechtsebrug

Now you return to Amsteldijk and busy city streets. At Berlagebrug, recross the river and pedal the short distance to Amstel Station, where you, your bike, and your weary legs can board a Metro train back to Waterlooplein. Or you can bike back along either bank.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.