Friday, Aug. 07, 2009


Route: Museumplein, Vondelpark, Jordaan and Western canal ring
Distance: 9 miles (14.5 km)

Cyclists rule the roads in Amsterdam, which has a well-deserved reputation as the world's best — and most beautiful — biking city. Every route is a scenic one, lined with elegant Dutch townhouses and festive street cafés, and the only hills are those over the historic canal bridges. Start by picking up an upright bike, just like the locals, for $14 per day at Mike's Bike Tours, near Leidseplein in the southwest section of the central city. Bike through the square, then cross the Singelgracht canal into Museumplein, a lovely park that is home to three of Amsterdam's major museums: the Van Gogh Museum; the Rijksmuseum, the national museum that houses a major collection of Dutch masters; and the city's museum of modern art, the Stedelijk Museum. From here, it's just a few blocks north to Vondelpark, Amsterdam's largest and most popular park. Ride the lovely, 3-mile (5 km) loop around the park, then head north back into the central canal district along the Prinsegracht canal. It's an especially beautiful one, which takes you past the Anne Frank House and the Westerkerk, the tallest church tower in Amsterdam. Take a left on Westerstraat to the Jordaan, a former working-class neighborhood that has become an artists' (and diners') enclave. Locals love Toscanini or, for outdoor dining, Café de Jordaan. Head south on the Keizergracht to return to Mike's.