Bicycling with Kids in the Netherlands

Bicycles are everywhere in the Netherlands. I mean, everywhere! In fact, bikes are the most popular form of transportation in the country. From young children to elderly grandparents, you’ll find them riding bicycles in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and in the countryside. As an American expat living in the Netherlands, my family has fully embraced this Dutch tradition. If you want to live like the locals during a vacation here, then you must rent bicycles and hit the bike paths. Learn about bicycling with kids in the Netherlands.

Bicycles parked by a canal in Amsterdam
Bicycles parked by a canal in Amsterdam (Photo credit: toxawww,

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The Dutch love of bicycles

Bicycling is a way of life here, not just a form of recreation. It is how everyone gets around. With a country as flat as the Netherlands, biking to and fro is a delight. My family has found that warm summer weather brings out even the most novice of riders.

My husband and I love bicycling with our kids in the Netherlands. Every chance we get we’ll helmet up and hit the nicely paved bike paths. We love pedaling through the woods on an immaculate bike path, passing walkers, equestrians and even ice cream carts along the way.

A Dutch bicycle path through the woods
A Dutch bicycle path through the woods (Photo credit: pikselstock,

Venturing further as a family

Our newest love is going for longer family bike rides on Sundays. During the week I shuttle my three young sons to school and run errands in our town’s small center, all via bicycle. We enjoy the peddling-lifestyle so much, we like to give ourselves a more of a challenge on the weekends.

Bicyclists in Ameland, the Netherlands
Bicyclists in Ameland, the Netherlands (Photo credit: Tasfoto,

Dutch cargo bikes

Cargo bikes are a great option for parents cycling with young children. The most popular cargo bike here is the Bakfiets, which you will see all over the Netherlands and Germany. Ours is an American import. We bought a Madsen cargo bicycle with a back bucket seat for the kids. Our bike gets quite a bit of attention here, simply because it looks different from the front-bucket bikes that everyone else has. We have seat belts in ours, just like the Dutch versions. It’s also got benches for our children to sit on and enough room for a few packages to boot.

Cargo bicycle in the Netherlands
Cargo bicycle in the Netherlands (Photo credit: Nicknick_ko,

Bicycle safety in the Netherlands

Our American family gets some strange looks riding around with helmets since helmet-less heads are the standard in the Netherlands. However, I won’t compromise on safety even if we do look odd to locals. Interestingly enough, right next door in Germany, my friends have told me that helmets are required. Still, it’s important to note that the Dutch have created an environment where bicycling is typically safer than it is in the U.S. with plentiful well-marked, bike-only paths. Most serious bike injuries are caused by cars and other vehicles striking bicyclists.

Dutch love of bicycles
I wasn’t kidding when I said the Dutch love their bicycles! (Photo credit: megashurik,

Rent bicycles in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, we have the luxury of well-maintained bike paths, car drivers who are used to sharing the roads with bicyclists, and no hills (for the most part). We’re lucky to be here and travel using such a healthy, environmentally friendly and fun way. It’s easy to rent bicycles of all sorts in the Netherlands. Take a look at Netherlands bike rental options here.

A family bicycling past tulip fields in the Netherlands
A mom and her kids bicycling past tulip fields in the Netherlands (Photo credit: shalamov,

Bicycling on vacation

Next time you go on vacation in the Netherlands or elsewhere, I encourage you to rent some bikes. Try out a tandem or maybe even get a cargo bike if they have one! You might be surprised by how much your family enjoys exploring the world via bicycle together.

Parents and their child riding bikes near the famous windmills of Kinderdijk in the Netherlands
Parents and their children riding bikes near the famous windmills of Kinderdijk in the Netherlands (Photo credit: shotsstudio,

Explore more of the Netherlands

Most visitors to the Netherlands will spend some time in the country’s beautiful capital city. Read about all there is to do in Amsterdam with kids from another expat mom!

Learn about the Dutch windmills in Kinderdijk, one of the symbols of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is also famous for its beautiful tulips. Take a tour of the Keukenhof Gardens Near Amsterdam.

Discover my family’s favorite kid-friendly attractions in the Netherlands.

Bicycling in the Netherlands with Kids

Save these tips for bicycling in the Netherlands

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Have you ever rented bicycles on vacation? Would you like to experience bicycling with kids in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Hi Farah,

    I stumbled upon your expat interview when I was googling for schools for my lil boy in Oisterwijk. Great blog by the way….We moved to NL 4 yrs back and been a year in OIS…. My son turns 2 in Jan 🙂 gosh time flies ….. . If you’d like I’d love to catch up with you for a cuppa tea in ‘our little village’ Oisterwijk.

    Shalini Wood

  2. I’m impressed, too, by the bike racks. Even more impressive than the vast number of them, are the ‘long term’ storage sheds at many train stations…for bikes!!

  3. I love that your family is embracing bike culture in the Netherlands! We haven’t been to the Netherlands but our first family trip to Europe started in Copenhagen and it was all the bicycles that made the biggest impression on my kids. We were staying across the street from the train station and they could not get over the racks and racks of bikes lined up outside. Personally, I was very impressed by the women riding to work in their business suits with take-out coffee cup in hand!

    1. I will never cease to be impressed by those women- when I see them in their high heels I think, ‘And I won’t even wear those just on a regular walk!!!’ It’s something to see for sure 🙂 And those bike racks- oh wow. They’re like nothing I have ever seen. I hope against hope that when we return to the States we can keep this up and I don’t wimp out just because there are hills 🙂

  4. Great post, Farrah. I love the bike culture in the Netherlands. Even harsh weather doesn’t stop the Dutch from ‘fietsen’. I like seeing families out together, teens on dates, and even little children all on their bikes. I’ve noticed how parents ride closest to traffic as a buffer for the kids riding along. I often wonder if the children attend bike lessons to learn how to negotiate roundabouts and such, or do they learn from parental instruction. An amazing society, either way!
    p.s. Sharing this post with friends back home 🙂

    1. Thanks Gayla! It’s really funny as I never thought we would do this until they got older. And in rain, ice and snow? You got it 🙂 I’ve noticed that too with parents- often keeping their hand on a child’s back. I was thinking the other day that it might be time I read some general traffic rules with biking because I have been in a few situations where I don’t know if I did the right thing.