I'll be visiting Amsterdam with my mom and niece at the beginning of June. Even at 73, my mom is very active, but she doesn't do much bike riding. I've ridden in Amsterdam, and am worried about my mom being overwhelmed. I'm thinking Haarlem will be a much better place for us to ride. Anyone ride bikes in Haarlem? Any recommendations?
I haven't ridden a bike there, but we visited both Amsterdam and Haarlem last summer, and I think bike riding in Haarlem would be much less stressful. Have fun!
I've done quite a bit of biking in Europe, but I wouldn't dare bike "in" Amsterdam. I would think Haarlem would be much better. The only biking I've done anywhere near that though is in Brugge which was very fun.
Definitely Haarlem. You can have a nice ride along the Spaarne river. Going south, there is a bicycle path on the east bank, going to the majestic mid-19th-century pumping station Cruquius. Following the same water north from the city centre, you get to the not less iconic Spaarndam, of Hans Brinkers fame. The OpenStreet map is the most clear. Both are maybe some 5 kilometers away.
Bicycles can be rented at the railway station or at Rent a Bike.
Another option would be to rent bikes at the central train station in Amsterdam and then just walk or ride them the short distance to the free bicycle ferry behind the station. The bike trails in the rural Waterland area are all flat, scenic, and generally much more mellow than riding in the city. Depending upon your interest (and stamina) you could ride all the way up to Monikendam and Marken for lunch, then have a leisurely pedal back to the ferry and return the bikes when you're finished - thus avoiding having to ride in the congested city center.
Thanks for the responses, and the tips on how to rent in Haarlem. My mom and niece need about an hour on bikes so they can say they did it. Haarlem seems like the best choice.
Here is another idea that is a little more friendly to inexperienced bike riders.
Take the train to Zandvoort ann Zee from Haarlem. It is a pretty short trip and takes you right to this lovely beach town. There are lots of bicycle rentals near the station that allow you to ride along the paths at the beach without having to deal with quite as much traffic. It will be easier on those who haven't ridden for awhile or who are unfamiliar with riding in traffic, let alone traffic in the Netherlands.
Carol - what a great idea! I'll certainly consider that as I put together the plan for our week in Amsterdam. Thanks for the suggestion.