Bijlmer en Gaasperplas – Cycleseeing in the neighbourhoods of Amsterdam
Bike Touring Highlight
I amsterdam planned a bike ride.
June 10, 2021
Bijlmer is the neighbourhood of neighbourhoods. The official name is Amsterdam-Zuidoost and Bijlmermeer, but the people who live here call the neighbourhood 'Bijlmer' for short. The neighbourhood has a turbulent history. In the 1970s, people dreamed of 'green living' but in the 1980s decay set in followed by the terrible air disaster in 1992 involving a Boeing 747. Now, the neighbourhood is finally getting a positive return as a young, colourful living environment.
Intriguingly, it is perhaps the only place in the Netherlands where you can experience the positive vibes of 130 nationalities. How about a Syrian lunch, a handmade West African dress or the best roti in Amsterdam?
You can easily reach the start of the route via the station Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA. Bijlmer ArenA station is only 15 minutes away from the city centre and is used by no less than 23 million travellers annually!
You start off with a relaxing ride through the park with its modern mix of culture and nature. Then, you cycle to the H neighbourhood where you can see the once 'new housing vision': large flats rising out of the green with colourful murals on the side walls created by various contemporary artists.
Park your bike at the strikingly coloured building of HCC, a living and working place for artists and other creative people. Don't forget to plan a pit stop at Oma Ietje, a colourful eaterie. It is also worth making a small detour to Brouwerij Kleiburg, half a kilometre from HCC. This social enterprise uses Belgian monastery beers as its inspiration for its own homemade brews. Further on in Bijlmer, in a flat once listed for demolition, you will find the monks dedicated to a spiritual and hospitable life.
From the Bullewijk, you can cycle to the Gaasperplas next to the Gaasperpark. On the way, explore the greenspace around the Gaasperdammertunnel. This green connection between the Nelson Mandelapark and the Gaasperpark is a sprawling oasis of parkland surrounding the tunnel beneath. The Gaasperpark itself was described by the architects as a 360-degree arena of nature. It symbolises the increasing quality of life in the area. While you’re here, take a look at the largest school garden in Amsterdam. It has two teaching areas, nature trails, a large greenhouse, a herb garden, a small animal garden and a bee corner.
The Gaasperplas is a nice setting for a long break. The large artificial lake was created for recreational purposes, such as sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, sunbathing and swimming. If you feel like something typically Dutch, go to the other side of the Weespertrekvaart canal for the old Gaaspermolen windmill dating from 1707.
Gaasperpark was developed in 1977 in preparation for the 1982 Floriade international exhibition and garden festival. Now it is home to the Gaasper campsite. You can also stop for a pit stop at the Planetarium, built especially for the World Horticultural Expo. Today, it is a striking dome with three restaurants, one of which has a lovely terrace on the water.
After, cycle to Bijlmerweide park. There you will find a children's farm and a shelter for animals. Every year, more than 500 small animals are brought here by Amsterdam residents and animal ambulances.
The route also passes the monument for the Bijlmer disaster. On the evening of Sunday, 4 October 1992, a Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into flats in the Bijlmer neighbourhood. Forty-three people died in the disaster. A tree that survived the destruction became a monument: "The tree that saw everything".
Take a short detour to the Mi Oso housing project. The nickname has everything to do with the tropical look of the houses. It is also a popular area for the Surinamese people who have lived here since the 1970s, because of the close ties between the Netherlands and the former colony.
Are you hungry from all this cycling? Finding something to eat here is difficult purely because there’s so much choice at the World of Food! This is the most delicious stop on your route: street food from all over the world in a former car park. Culinary delights from Mexico, Peru, Ghana, Syria, Thailand, Indonesia and many more. Work off those calories by cycling down Darling Street towards the sports and entertainment area.
You will first pass by the Golfclub Amsterdam Old Course, the oldest golf club in the city. Then, the route takes you past the iconic Johan Cruijff ArenA. Further along is the Ziggo Dome where the world's biggest stars perform, the fifth busiest concert venue in the world. The exterior is completely covered with 840,000 LED lights. There is also a gigantic furniture boulevard and the largest cinema in the Netherlands.
Then, it's time to cycle back to the station. But before you get on the train to the centre of Amsterdam, take a walk around Hoekenrodeplein and Bijlmerplein.