“I want to ride my bicycle! I want to ride my bike!” The late, great Freddie Mercury may have made those words famous, but more and more people are discovering the joy of getting around on two wheels. After all, it’s great exercise, environmentally friendly, you get lots of fresh air, and you can zip from A to B while missing so much of the traffic, congestion, or stress. Cycling is a win-win and there are few cities in the world better for cyclists than London, especially with the city’s self-service bikes so widely available and the recent introduction of Cycle Superhighways (basically main roads for cyclists) and Quietways (quieter alternatives) to make it even safer.
Bikes are a great way to see the city if you’re a visitor staying in the capital too. Rather than braving public transport, you’ll have plenty of space and fresh air, plus you’ll get to experience a unique side of this historic city and its famous landmarks. But where do you start, especially if you’re a beginner? Never fear, even if you haven’t been on a bike since the paper round we’ve got the perfect bike routes in London to help you get back in the saddle.
A predominantly flat route from the capital’s busiest train station to picturesque Portobello Market, this is an ideal 6.2 mile bike ride for beginners. Head along Regent’s Canal towpath past Trellick Tower and through Camden Lock, passing Regent’s Park and London Zoo close by. You can even stop for a tipple at one of the pubs or cafes near Little Venice - so named because of the many barges docked up and down the waterways - before arriving in quaint Notting Hill. Although Regent’s Canal can get busy, it’s extremely beautiful and intersects with a number of different (and highly recommended) bike routes, such as this one above, Angel to Victoria Park, Limehouse to London Fields and Broadway Market, and more. Regent’s Canal may be busy, but it’s a gift to cyclists that keeps on giving.
When it comes to sightseeing, this might be one of the best cycle routes in the whole world (and not just London) thanks to the huge number of iconic landmarks along the trail. Riding along this route is literally like ticking off a checklist of London’s most famous buildings, and it’s super safe too, as the entire route is essentially a single cycle lane. Beginning at the Tower of London, you’ll see The Shard, The Globe Theatre, and Tate Modern just over the river on your left before the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben greets you as a reward for reaching the (imaginary) finish line! For an alternate journey utilising London’s new Cycle Superhighways, start at Westminster and head to Wandsworth via Battersea Park using this cycle friendly route.
Did you know London is filled with amazing green spaces and parks? It might have a reputation for being a concrete jungle, but more than 40% of the city is actually green space. The capital’s parks are ideal for cyclists and Hyde Park is particularly popular. The Hyde Park loop - essentially a loop of the park’s traffic-free lanes - is a perfect way to build up your confidence on a bike before taking on more adventurous cycle routes, or heading out on the roads. Hyde Park is the largest of the four Royal Parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens and Green Park, past the entrance of Buckingham Palace. If it’s good enough for the Royal family, it’s good enough for you and your bike!
One of the shortest of our recommended routes, this chilled-out bike ride starts at trendy and picturesque Islington Green, takes you along Essex Road and Northchurch Road, and ends up at the equally hip London Fields. You can also continue on to Hackney Marshes if you want to stay out longer.
Starting from the Olympic Village, this route goes from the contemporary to a taste of the countryside. The Olympic Park is a great place to cycle with plenty of room and lots of smooth, bike-friendly tarmac surfaces. It’s shiny, modern, and the adjoining roads all have clear cycle lanes. From here, cycle past the VeloPark and east towards Stratford, arriving at Cann Hall Road before finishing up in the scenic expanse of rural Wanstead Flats.
Although primarily a walk, this 4.5 mile trail is ideal for cyclists too as the path is a disused railway line, which is extra wide and free from traffic - just be mindful of pedestrians as it can get busy at weekends. Look out for the stunning view from the hill at Alexandra Palace - it’s easily worth the 4.5 miles of pedalling!
This gentle 7.5 mile bike route through Richmond Park is ideal for beginners and those less confident on two wheels since it’s a relatively straightforward loop and entirely car-free. It also has the upside of taking you through one of London’s most beautiful parks with a view that’s literally protected by an Act of Parliament (yes, really!).
During your ride, you’ll also see sights like the historic Ham House, a 17th Century stately home and gardens, Isabella Plantation’s woodland garden and flowers, the Grade-II listed Pembroke Lodge, and if you’re really lucky, royal deer roaming the fields. And of course, there’s the aforementioned view from Richmond Hill over the Thames, Marble Hill Park, and St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance - one look and you’ll understand why it’s protected. Don’t miss the ice-cream stops along the Tamsin Trail too - they’re ideal for giving you a sugary boost and cooling you down on hot days!
After all that cycling, it will be time to kick back, relax, and recharge at your base for the night. The Leonardo Royal Hotel London City is centrally located close to Tower Bridge and the iconic Tower of London. It features a spa and a pool to unwind those leg muscles after a day exploring the city on two wheels. Guests have full use of the Health Club and pool facilities free of charge, including the fully equipped 25 metre Romanesque-style pool, and the Rena Spa, offering a spa pool, dry heat sauna, and steam room. Once you’ve rested, grab a bite at The Forum restaurant before embarking on your next cycle adventure.
From culinary extravaganzas to classical music concerts, there’s an endles...MORE +
There’s no denying that spending time in the great outdoors is good for yo...MORE +