The best feature about Amsterdam is the water. On this bike tour around the IJ -the water behind Amsterdam Central Station- you will cycle along the water. The views over the water, looking towards Amsterdam are amazing. The boats, small and large, the seagulls and pigeons, the remains of ship wharfs and 19th century industrial buildings, the wide open sky are spectacular. Great about this bike ride route is that you will find fantastic new bars, cafés and restaurants along the way, always with a great open air terrace. The bike ride is about 25 kilometer long, but you can take a ferry back to Amsterdam Central Station whenever you get tired. This means you can also do this route walking and just stop when you had enough. The bike route is suited for all bikers, as there is hardly any traffic and almost all bike lanes.
It is very easy to follow the directions of this bike tour. Whenever you are in doubt, stay as close to the water as possible and you will nog loose your way. Below you will find a map with the route. Below the map there are photos to get a sense of the beauty of the sights and to help you find your way by finding the landmarks.
One warning: you will cycle along the open water most of the time. It’s beautiful, but it’s also windy. If there is a lot of wind and cold, it’s best not to do this tour.
Bike tour along the IJ
The tour starts from behind Central Station and ends at Central Station. You start in the back of the station, where the ferry’s go. You will cycle to the West along the water until you encounter the blue/white ferry (it’s free). Take this ferry to NDSM. Enjoy the great views from the ferry. Optionally, you can take the ferry to NDSM directly from Central Station. You can also take the ferry to Buiksloterweg. You will then skip a part of the tour.
From NDSM to Eye
With the ferry (photo 1) you arrive on Amsterdam NDSM, an old ship wharf (photo 2). This area has turned into a popular cultural hotspot and hip hangout. There are several bars and restaurants here. From NDSM you will cycle in a rather desolate area (3) where it’s easy to get lost. Just continue going in the South/East direction. You will then arrive back at the park at Eye Film Museum (4). You will see Amsterdam Central Station on the other side of the water. Pass by the Eye and Tolhuistuin (café restaurant). If you are (already!) tired, you can take the ferry back.
From Tolhuistuin to IJ-plein
We can’t continue along the water. Follow the bikers left and at the crossing, go right (5). Cross the enchanting sluices by foot (6). Again we loose sight of the water. Just follow the road and turn right to go back to the water when you can. Here is another ferry that can take you back to Central Station.
From IJ-plein to Kromhouthal
Continuing, you will cycle along the foot path, passing the restaurant Il Pecorino (great terrace, good food). Just keep cycling along the water (7). Eventually you will have to turn left at a small harbour and turn around the supermarket. Hungry? Don’t go to the Jumbo, but cycle around it to the huge Kromhouthal.
Next to the Kromhouthal will find beer brewery Oedipus (8) and inside the Kromhouthal there is an excellent market with all kinds of delicacies you need to have a great picknick. A little later, we will encounter many locations to have a picknick.
From Kromhouthal to ferry Zamenhofstraat
After the Kromhouthal, we are sidetracked from our lake again. Just follow the road around the industrial areas and turn right again in direction of Hotel The Goudfazant (9). This is not a hotel, but a restaurant. Great views! You can have you picknick here (8). Now you have to go back the way you came, because there is a dead end here. Just go back, turn right and cycle on. On your right you will see an charming old gas plant (10), a garage (11) and a hipster kinda bar. Go straight and right when you can to get back to the water. Got drunk at Oedipus? You will find a cute little ferry (12) here that will take you back to Central Station. This is you last chance! No more ferries from now on, only bridges, and it’s still quite a while away!
The forest (Vliegenbos)
From the ferry we have to continue in left direction, we can’t follow the water because of large industrial happenings. Instead, head for the forest! Follow the road on you right and continue until you see the water. The road turn left, the forest on your left and the water on your right. It’s not really a forest actually, it’s a park called Vliegenbos and there is a camping here as well. Keep following the road (13). Turn right when you can. You will end up on Nieuwendammerdijk(14).
Nieuwdammerdijk and Orange Sluices
Now the route is easy. Just keep following this small street, lined with century old fisherman’s houses. It’s a museum here! It’s a favorite place for people to cycle. Have coffee and apple pie or a Dutch gin at traditional Dutch café ‘t Sluisje (‘the little sluice’). There is one tricky moment when you have to turn right to continue on the dyke. Just keep to your right as much as you can.
You are now on Schellingwouderdijk (15), going towards another village named Schellingwoude, towards the bridge across the IJ-water, also called Schellingwoudebrug. Halfway you can go out to the water to look at the huge sluices Oranjesluizen. These are very important sluices, because the controle the water level in Amsterdam. All boat entering to Amsterdam need to pass these sluices.
Cross the red Schellingwoudebrug (16). On the other side you will need to cross another bridge (17), because you are now on another island, the island of Zeeburg: Zeeburgerisland. This a rather new island, created by Amsterdam to expand the city.
Just continue to the next bridge. Immediately go off the bridge on your right hand side when you can. There is stairs with a section for bikes on the side of the bridge. Now you are in Amsterdam East, in a neighbourhood called the Indische Buurt (Indian Neighbourhood). There is a little hidden charm of street below the bridge, a little old dyke, quite pittoresque. It’s called Zeeburgerdijk. Follow this street and join the large road at the end.
On the right you will encounter a couple of bridges to another island. You can take any and explore this island, but you can also take the 3rd bridge (18). Straight ahead is another bridge (19). Cross again. Now go straight ahead, search for the bike path north. You should hit the water again. We’re back at the IJ. These are the old docks. The Veemkade is beautiful to bike. Just head straight on and follow the road. The impressive Bimhuis and Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ are on your right (20). Continue this road and you will find Central Station (21) in front of you. Have fun with this IJ-lake bike tour!