Please help this rookie traveller.
I am trying to convince my buddy to go biking, camping and touring around Amsterdam. We will be there within the last two weeks of May (I heard tulips season is great).
My buddy has a few reservations, I on the other hand, feel compelled to just pack and go. We will be travelling with two bikes, 1 backpacking tent, sleeping pads and bag, all lightweight (though not the 40 pounder bikes).
I would appreciate your help and comments to any of the following questions. As I may need it to convince my buddy!!!
1) We will be there for a week and I will only have a maximum of $500-600 Canadian dollars/300-370 euro to spend(Mr. Plastic will come as insurance yikes!).
--is a week possible on that budget?
2) Can you take your bike on the train/subway? Or any other forms of transportation? Is there a fee? How much is the train from the airport to the train station in Amsterdam?
3) We may also book hotels and hostel, aside the FLYING PIG any other cheapo or cheaper suggestions?
4) I'm thinking about just renting a bike (they say its around 40 euros per week, depending on season). The problem is, do these bikes have carrier racks on the front or the back? How good are the bikes? Anyone ever rented them? Do they have lights?
Are there any helmet laws? (why does this questions sound stupid?)
5) We will be leaving our tent and camping gear during the day to tour around the city, is this a security issue, will our gear be there if we just leave it?
6) What is the terrain around Amsterdam like? Is it rolly polly or flat? How much traffic should I expect to encounter biking from the train station in Amsterdam to the nearest campsite (zeeburg) 15 kms away.
7) How much is food, per meal?
8) Any lockers around the tourist area?
Any help or suggestions would be very much appreciated.
Thanks for your interest in visiting the Netherlands. I will try to answer your questions as good as possible.
1: 300-370 is not a lot of money. It also depends on what you're planning to do with it. If yo need to pay the campsite, food and beverages, entrances to musea, it is not a lot of money but it also depends on how much you want to spend on like food and the campsite.
2: Yes, you can take your bike on the train. It costs 6 euro for a full day, it doesn't matter if you need to switch trains. You can only take your bike on the train outside rush hour which is from 6.30am - 9.00am and 16.30pm - 18.00pm. Bikes need to be placed in the correct part of the train, you can recognize it on the stickers on the outside of the train or you can simple ask a service employee at the station. You can not take your bike on busses, subways and trams.
You can go by train van Schiphol Amsterdam Airport to Amsterdam Central Station, it takes around 20 minutes and a one-way ticket costs 3,40 euro.
3: A hostel and trying the campsite are probably the best places to stay. If you're certain of a few days to stay on a campsite, make reservations in advance because campsites are packed in the summer season.
4: The bikes probably do not have racks on the front and end because most renting companies are renting bikes for daily and cruisin' use, not for touring. There are companies where you can rent bikes for long-term-use. Mostly these bikes are good. Me personally have never rented a bike there. It would sound normal that they have lights .
There are no helmet laws here.
5: Well, that is hard to answer. I personally do not have any experience with campsites here in Holland because we mostly go out of the country. Just take your valuables I can suggest.
6: The terrain around Amsterdam is flat. You will encounter a lot of traffic in the city, when you're getting out of the city it will get less busy.
7: The price of food depends on what you eat, how much, where and what you want to spend.
8: Lockers are available at Amsterdam Central Station.
1- a week is possible on that budget in Amsterdam. It does sort of depend on your season, so you might need that insurance a bit! Though you should be fine.
2- you could take a taxi in Amsterdam- lots of people do, but I don't know if they take bikes.
3- I can recommend another 'cheapo' hostel in the centre parts. It is The Shelter's. The Shelter City and The Shelter Jordaan are both quite nice, cheap, but both fill up fast, so you'll need to book in advance, and follow their instructions. http://www.shelter.nl/ The Shelter City, in the Red Light District, is less money than the other.
Have a good trip!
Thanks so much Jeroen and Steph...
I've almost convinced my buddy, I will be going no matter the decision.
It will actually be 5 days 4 nights, since I'll be camping I think the budget together with the insurance will do!
Some last questions pertaining to cycling:
1) Can I take my bike on the ferry to go from the Central Train Station the North Amsterdam Island??
2)Can I use the underground tunnel or bridge to get to the North Section of Amsterdam, is there a biking lane under the tunnel or on the bridge?
Looking forward to the trip, thanks for your help!!!
What do you mean with the first question? I don't quite understand what you mean with it.
2) If you want to cross the "IJ" water/river you can go on a ferry boat, leaving on the northern entrance at Amsterdam Central Station.
There are two main campsites in Amsterdam.
The first is "vliegenbos" Which is actually in the North of Amsterdam. (this is not an island, but there is water between the norht and the rest of Amsterdam). Vliegenbos is pretty near the ferry. This ferry is free and it's mainly used by bikers and pedestrians, no cars allowed. After 21:00 this ferry doesn't run anymore, so you'll need to take another, wich is not much further away.
The other is "zeeburg" which is on an island in the middle of that water that seperates north, from the rest of Amsterdam. It is near a bridge connecting the parts.
I'm pretty sure that both camping sites have lockers. But you can contact them to ask. Both are also very popular. Vliegenbos is a little bit more convenient, since the ferry takes you right to the central station. Zeeburg is much more to the east, so you need to bike further to reach the centre. Vliegenbos is also near to "waterland", the area to the north of Amsterdam, where it is very beautiful to bike/skate/walk.
With Waterland, do you mean IJburg?
1. Definitely possible, don't let the others scare you. Eat from supermarkets rather than out, choose minimal-comfort campsites, you know the drill. It's easy, even though the period is high season. You might have trouble finding an empty spot, and this might raise your expenses.
2. Trains schiphol-amsterdam cost around 7 euro's; a bike ticket is 6, valid for a full day, irrespective of the number of trains/distance. Bikes cannot be taken in trams, and why should they; biking is easier and faster. You can take them with you in subways, but you have to treat them as if they were persons; make sure to stamp a ticket/strips for them.
3. The campsites around Amsterdam are excellent, but bear in mind what I said about it being high season. Other cheap hostels include Brinker's, which is said to be REALLY HORRIBLE; the tourist information on the central station should be able to help you out for more addresses.
4. Rental bikes are usually good, but rather expensive when rented in Amsterdam. It is worth taking a train to one of the nearby towns and try to rent it there, or try a regular bike shop rather than an official renter. There's usually 2 kinds; daybikes without racks, and tourbikes that have everything. The latter kind of course is more expensive; also prepare to pay a deposit. No helmet laws.
5.Security depends on what you have with you. Travel light, don't take items anyone would be interested in; in that case, you will be fine.
6. Holland is flat all over. the bridges in Amsterdam is all the humps we have. Amsterdam and surroundings is paved with bikeways, so other traffic won't bother you. Btw, Zeeburg is 6 km at most...
7. There is no sensible answer to this question; depends on your style. If you cook yourself, you can easily spend less than 5 euro's on a two-person meal. Most campsites have cooking facilities.
8. see under 5; there are lockers (expensive!!) on central station.
have fun; be sure to pay a visit to the Wandelwinkel (Singel 393, Amsterdam), they have a huge selection of biker maps, plus tons of tips on nice routes.