Swapfiets – is it worth it? Or where to get a bike in the Netherlands?

bike parking in Groningen

I’ve never ever seen before in my life as many bikes as in the Netherlands. Huge parking lots, racks and thousands of paths – and everything for biking. They’re literally everywhere and when you’re crossing the street you rather watch out for a bike than a car. Since I moved here, I had to get used to this cycling culture and bikes which are left everywhere on the streets which makes it sometimes hard to walk.

But if you are about to move to the Netherlands no wonder you will need a bike. It’s the cheapest way to move, most convenient and simply cool  So where to get these beauties? Keep reading and I’ll guide you through everything.

It’s hard to say if your bike is from a reliable source. Of course, it would be better not to buy it from a stealer because this is what makes this whole black-market works. But I’m not sure if I can tell you how to check which bike is not stolen. But I can tell you instead, how Saskia, my very Italian friend who whenever there’s an occasion to use Italian word instead of English will do it, because there’s no better language than Italian, everything sounds better when you say it in Italian and you will never express yourself with such a passion as in Italian, so Saskia, she needed a bike. And she wanted to be fair with life by not buying a stolen one. But unfortunately, life didn’t want to be fair with Saskia. She went for a super long trip, almost that long that she had to take a passport, on the other corner of Rotterdam, or maybe it was suburbs already, and there she got her not-stolen-bike (I have no clue how she knew it though). This precious thing broke literally in half while she was riding. The left part of the handlebar just stayed in her hand while the rest remained on its place. Thus Saskia gave back her bike and got another one in the shop behind the corner. But I’m not telling this story to tell you if you should try to find a reliable source. I’m just telling it because it’s funny.

But this post is called where to buy a bike so let’s get back to the story. And let’s begin this that there’re two options: you can either buy or rent. What is better? I checked both options. After calculating it I decided that eventually, I’m staying here for two years so it will pay back to buy a bike. It didn’t. After 4 months of usage, I invested double the price in my bike and I decided to sell it and rent.

If you are a bike enthusiast who loves spending hours on repairing your vehicle and making it shiny, glossy and lit then you should probably just buy one. There are a few options where to purchase it and obviously, Facebook is one of them.

Commodity Market Rotterdam – an online market offering not only bikes but any kind of goods. Sometimes you can be lucky and pick up a bargain. Sometimes you can even get something completely for free when people are moving out and organizing a giveaway (not a bike though!)

Room renting & good markets Rotterdam – apart for rooms you can also get a bike here or occasionally some other things like furniture.

Marktplaas is another online option and a Dutch version of E-buy. You can find a whole gamut of possibilities – from dog-cheap bikes to some pricey options.

The other option is simply a bike shop. I don’t really have any advice about where you should go as such stores are on each corner so it’s really easy to find them even if you’re not looking for.

– a big choice so you choose between many bikes and compare them
– usually better quality,
– you can see the bikes in real life, not only on the photo
– it’s not stolen (most probably…)

– Might be more expensive but not necessarily

The last option is the Market which opens from 7 a.m. till 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Saturday in front of the Rotterdam Markthal. There’re always two counters with cycling accessories and sometimes they also have bikes. I’m a bit suspicious about their origin though…

But maybe you have two left hands and have no clue how to fix your vehicle when it suddenly gets broken? Or you are staying in the Netherlands only for 6 months and you don’t see a point of buying it for such a tiny amount of time? Or maybe you are simply lazy and you don’t want to waste your life on any repairs? Thousands of rentals are waiting for you!

After all, the struggle with my bike and neverending repairs I decided to rent and I chose Swapfiets because of two, maybe not most reasonable, reasons:

1. Everybody has is.
2. They are pretty.

Actually, I believe that the first reason is quite good because if everybody has it then it has to be good, no? Later on, it turned out it has more advantages.

1. The bike is fully equipped and you don’t have to buy anything extra. Lights, lock, bell – everything included.
2. It’s cheap – if you are a student you pay only 12 euros per month which I consider as a fair deal
3. If anything breaks the rental will fix it for you – ofc for free! And you can either leave the bike at their place and ask them to pick it up.
4. You can give it back anytime you want – but you should inform them one month in advance.
5. It’s available in every big city in the Netherlands and also in a few other European cities.
6. You have two options: Original – cheaper – and Deluxe – for 19 euros per month.
7. The front tyre is blue and I love it!  But basically, the whole design is very nice.

I’m really satisfied with my bike now and I would recommend it to everybody

But apart for Swapfiets, you can choose between a few more rentals:

  • OV – fiets – just because I see it all the time everywhere (but definitely not that often as Swapfiets…)
  • Donkey Republic
  • BimBim Bikes – I like the stupid name. But apart from this, you can compare the price of the rentals here.

So get a bike, discover the city and don’t bike drunk (it doesn’t work, at least for me…)


*  if you are looking for a more detailed post dedicated especially to Swapfiets, check also here

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Marcin BWZ says:

    Hello Julia,
    for me would be easier to read in Polish, but English is also not big problem 🙂
    It’s really nice blog, I hope it reaches readers.
    Let me know when you’re around Nijmegen… I think it’s a good idea to know each other and talk. Don’t you think so 😛


    1. Thank you for your advice:) It’s actually the only post (or one of the onliest ;)) that has no polish translation. I will work on that though 🙂
      I will let you know if I’m ever in Nijmegen! dzięki i pozdrawiam ;))


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