The Amstel River flows through the center of Amsterdam to the IJ and is an iconic symbol amongst the many waterways and canals throughout the city. South of Amsterdam, the Amstel River narrows and weaves through the scenic Dutch polders, land that has been reclaimed and would normally be flooded by rivers or even sea. The area offers a unique bicycle route that combines the bustling streets of Amsterdam with the beautiful countryside of North Holland.
The Amstel Ronde Hoeproute starts from Amsterdam Central train station and takes you through the city center before following the Amstel southeast. Riding across the river at Berlagebrug, the first portion explores the west side of the Amtel, passing the Riekermolen Windmill, riding through Middelpolder Nature and Recreation Park, before arriving at the town of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. The route then does a large circle around the Ronde Hoep, a polder and peaceful area located south of Amsterdam. For the final section, the route returns to Amstel on the east side of the Amstel River, passing De Zwaan Windmill and lots more beautiful scenery.
From the front of Amsterdam Central Station, ride out to the busy street that passes in front of the station called Prins Hendrikkade. Cross Prins Hendrikkade, then turn left and ride along this street on the bike path, passing Schreierstoren, a cafe in an old 15th century monument. Next to the canal, turn right onto Geldersekade and ride through the city next to the canal. Just before Nieuwmarkt Square and the spectacular looking architecture of De Waag ("The Weighing Building"), turn right and ride around De Waag but then turn back in the direction you were riding. Now you will be riding on the other side of the same canal heading in the same direction along Kloveniersburgwal Street. At the 3rd bridge, turn left and cross the bridge riding onto Staalstraat. This street passes over two canals before veering right, then left where you will then be next to the Amstel River.
Follow the road next to the Amstel River as you quickly make your way southeast through Amsterdam. At the busy Sarphatistraat, turn left and ride for a few meters before crossing the street and riding in front of the famous Amstel Hotel. Continue straight through a tunnel and back along a road next to the river, carefully crossing at busy cross-streets until you reach the traffic lights next to the bridge Berlagebrug. Turn right and cross the Amstel, over the Berlagebrug. On the west side of the Amstel, turn left onto the first street, Amsteldijk. After riding for about 500 meters and just as the street begins to veer to the right away from the Amstel River, look for a crossing to a street on the left (if you reach a traffic light, you've gone too far). Cross the street following signs that point to Amstelveen and continue on this new road with the same name, Amsteldijk, as it follows alongside the Amstel River.
You will quickly leave the bustling streets of Amsterdam behind as you pass by several small parks and neighbourhoods before riding under the busy A10 Highway overpass. Just after the highway on your right lies Amstel Park, a green space with cafes, galleries, a petting zoo, a mini-golf course, and a number of paths for hiking and biking. Continue riding south on the path next to the Amstel River until you arrive at a roundabout. Just on the other side of the roundabout on the right is the Riekermolen Windmill. Built in 1636, the windmill was used to pump water from the town of Buitenveldert.
After passing the windmill, ride about 200 meters south to the Het Kalfje cafe and turn right onto Kalfjeslaan. At the first street on your left, turn left onto Kostverlorenkade, ride for about 100 meters, then go right down a small hill onto Aanloop. The small roadway called Aanloop slowly veers away from the dike before veering to the right. About 200 meters after Aanloop veers to the right, watch for a bike path on your left, just before a soccer field, with a sign that says "Natuur En Recreatiegebied Middelpolder". Middelpolder is a recreation area that has a number of biking and hiking trails and is a popular place to watch grassland birds such as the black-tailed godwit or the northern lapwing. RIde along the bike path next to the soccer fields and at the 3-way junction, go left and continue. Stay on the main path as the route goes left then right before reaching a road called Machineweg Middelpolder. Turn right and ride along the bike path next to the road as it heads west. After riding next to the road for about 600 meters, the bike path arrives at an intersection. Turn left onto Bankrasweg and follow this road for roughly the next 2km as it weaves its way along a raised dike above the polders.
As you ride south along Bankrasweg and after passing several turns in the road, watch for a street on your left that passes over a small bridge called Oostermeerweg. Turn left onto Oostermeerweg, cross the bridge, and ride past the houses until you reach the end of the road, arriving back at the Amstel River having completed your excursion through Middelpolder. Turn right onto Amsteldijk and follow the road along the river until you reach the intersection with Oranjebaan and a bridge on your left. Turn left and ride across the bridge and stop at the traffic light at the first intersection after the bridge. From here, you will turn right and head south as you begin a loop through the Ronde Hoep before returning to this intersection and heading back to Amsterdam along the east shore of the Amstel River.
Ride into the town of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel along the street called Hoger Einde-Zuid, which will quickly turn into a street called Dorpsstraat. Turn right at a 4-way intersection onto Korendragerstraat and ride straight until you cross a small, white bridge. Stop on the other side of the bridge and take another note of this bridge as this is where the loop through Ronde Hoep begins and ends as you will be starting the loop to the left and returning from your right. Go left on Rondehoep Oost and follow the road next to De Bullewijk River. At a 4-way intersection with a bridge, ride straight through and continue riding along Rondehoep Oost with the river on your left as you eventually pass under the noisy A9 Highway overpass.
After riding for several kilometers, Rondehoep Oost reaches another bridge on the left and Restaurant de Voetangel on the right. Again, do not cross the bridge and continue riding south as you are now riding along the street named Waver and the river to your left is the narrower De Waver River. After riding along this section for 1.3km, you reach the very small town of Stokkelaarsbrug and a 3rd bridge crossing on your left, which is next to the to a restaurant called the Stokkelaer. This time, turn left and cross the bridge, then immediately go right, past a building, and turn right, crossing over a second bridge and onto Botschol. After crossing the second bridge, you will turn right on Botschol and ride along the route marked for bikes only.
The next 5km is a peaceful ride following the Botschol as it passes through the southern section of the Ronde Hoep, giving you a good feel for what the quiet grassland area is. The route along the raised dike is a far cry from the busy streets of Amsterdam where you began your bike ride just a few hours earlier. In 2010, an application was submitted to have the Ronde Hoep region added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, however this attempted did not pass but the polder still remains an important part of North Holland today.
Eventually, you will reach a 4-way intersection with Hoofdweg and a bridge on your right. Do not cross this bridge, instead choosing to continue riding straight along Waverdijk on the southside of the canal, which has very little vehicle traffic. The route winds its way along the canal until reaching a second bridge on the right that is meant for bikes and hikers. This time, turn right and cross the bridge and immediately go left onto the road Waver.
For the next 600 meters, follow the road Waver until it reaches the Amstel River and veers to the right on the same road, heading north along, what is now called, Rondehoep West. From here, you will follow along the east side of the Amstel River all the way back into Amsterdam. Continue riding northward along the Rondehoep West road as it weaves its way along next to the Amstel. When you reach the noisy A9 Highway, turn left and ride underneath the overpass as you begin to make your way back into the town of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. At a 3-way intersection, turn left onto Achterdijk where a sign points in the direction to the "Amstel Route". Just another 150 meters further and you reach the white bridge where you began your loop around Ronde Hoep. Cross the bridge and ride to the 4-way intersection, turning left onto Dorpsstraat. Follow Dorpsstraat as you pass through the town until you reach the traffic lights by the bridge at Oranjebaan. This time, ride straight through the traffic lights and stay on the east side of the Amstel River as you continue riding north to Amsterdam.
Not long after leaving the town of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, you reach the windmill called De Zwaan. The historic windmill was built in 1638 and was originally built for internal turning where the windmill blades at the top would have to be manually turned towards the wind. However, the windmill was converted to external turning in 1888. At first, water was pumped out of the polders but after the soil settled, the water level came back up, so the windmill was used to continuously pump and keep the water level down.
After enjoying the De Zwaan windmill, continue riding north, following the eastern side of the Amstel River as it eventually passes under the A10 Highway. Another 1km beyond the highway overpass, the route meets a 3-way junction. Go left and ride under a 2nd overpass and follow the bike path as you ride up a ramp to a bridge on the left (do not follow the road to the right). Cross the bridge and ride down the small hill and cross another small bridge as you continue riding along the road called Korte Ouderkerkerdijk.
When you reach the busy street called Spaklerweg, with train tracks located on the other side, turn left onto a bike path and ride across a bridge. There is no need to cross the street, Spaklerweg, as cyclists are allowed to ride on the bike path in either direction. After 300 meters, you reach a roundabout. Ride straight through the roundabout and immediately veer slightly left onto a red-coloured bike path that passes between the large office tower buildings. Once you have passed the buildings, the path merges with a road next to the Amstel and 150 meters further, you arrive at the traffic lights next to the bridge, Berlagebrug, that you crossed earlier when you begin your bike ride south along the Amstel.
Ride straight through the traffic lights, staying on the east side of the Amstel and follow the river back towards central Amsterdam. Carefully make your way across the busy cross-streets, ride through the tunnel, past the Amstel Hotel, then a slight left back to the road along the river. When you reach a point where you can no longer follow the river, the bike path veers to the right, then quickly back to the left, crossing a bridge and onto Staalstraat. Just before crossing the 3rd bridge, turn right onto Kloveniersburgwal Street and ride along the canal towards Nieuwmarkt. At Nieuwmarkt square, the street makes a slight right, then left onto Geldersekade as you ride past De Waag building on your left. Continue riding along the bike path with the canal on your left until you turn left onto Prins Hendrikkade. Ride to the next traffic light and turn right, crossing the street back towards Amsterdam Central Station.