8 Scenic Cycling Routes in London for Every Ability

Whether you want to pedal around iconic landmarks or tackle an Olympic-level hill, check out the best bike rides in London for beginner, intermediate and seasoned cyclists.

Kit surf/Barcelona

London may not be as bike-friendly as European cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, but it’s on the right track. A campaign to boost biking has brought more than 150 miles of enhanced cycle routes to London in less than 10 years. Thanks to the city’s bike-share scheme, Santander Cycles, you can rent a bike for less than £2 for half an hour. Download the app to find hundreds of docking stations near top attractions and hotels across London. Navigating the busy streets isn’t for the faint-hearted, but finding safe cycling routes all over London has become considerably simpler in the past decade.

Safe cycling routes in London

With the introduction of Cycleways, you can now bike around most areas of London safely. These designated cycle paths are designed to link neighbourhoods for seamless two-wheel commuting. Looking for a cycling-in-London planner? An official map shows all the Cycleways in London. Also take note of these tips for safe cycling:

  • Stop at red traffic lights – you may face a £50 fine if you don't!
  • Give way to pedestrians.
  • Some Cycleways have two-way lanes, so be ready to stop if someone tries to cross without looking both ways.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Don't use your phone while biking.
  • Always keep in mind – we drive on the left in the UK.

Easy bike rides in London

East–West parks and sights

Starting point: St Paul's Cathedral

Approximate distance: 6 miles/10 kilometres

Closest tube station: St Paul’s or Mansion House

If you have limited time for sightseeing, take a whirlwind two-wheel tour of the city's iconic sights. After marvelling at St Paul's majestic dome, head west on the Cycleway along the Victoria Embankment. You’ll pass south-of-the-river landmarks including the London Eye before coming face to face with Big Ben. Here, the route continues northwest, past Horse Guards Parade and the magnificent Edwardian Old War Office Building, which has been transformed into Raffles London at The OWO. Stop for sustenance at one of several restaurants or bars. Once fortified, you’ll skirt St James’s Park along Birdcage Walk, which gets its name from the royal aviaries once located here. Bike racks are available in the park if you want to visit the resident pelicans for a few minutes. Wave to King Charles as you whizz between Buckingham Palace and Green Park and through the vast expanse of Hyde Park, where you can check out contemporary art at the two Serpentine Galleries.

Regent's Canal towpath to Camden Lock

Starting point: Regent's Park

Approximate distance: 4.6 miles/7.5 kilometres

Closest tube station: Great Portland Street

A fun ride for families, this cycling route runs alongside London Zoo in Regent’s Park and the picturesque Regent’s Canal. Entering the park at Chester Road, head straight up The Broad Walk. You’ll pass the ornate marble Ready Money Drinking Fountain, gifted to the park by a wealthy Bombay businessman in the 19th century (if you’re thirsty, there’s a working fountain nearby). Listen out for roars from the lion habitat to your left. After crossing the footbridge, descend to the canal towpath and head west. Passing the soaring mid-century former Snowdon Aviary, you might glimpse some of the current residents, a colony of Colobus monkeys, as they jump from tree to tree. Admire the colourful houseboats moored at Lisson Grove, and then double back along the canal to Camden Lock Market, where you’ll find a variety of global food stalls.

Parkland Walk to Alexandra Palace

Starting point: Finsbury Park

Approximate distance: 6 miles/10 kilometres

Closest tube station: Finsbury Park

Leave the urban bustle behind for a few hours when you take a spin along the Parkland Walk, a verdant cycling route in London that follows a section of a disused 19th-century railway line. Look out for atmospheric remnants such as a viaduct in Muswell Hill and tunnels near Highgate Station, now a haven for roosting bats. The path is divided into two parts, and since cycling is not permitted in Highgate Wood, you’ll need to scoot around it to join the shorter Parkland Walk North. A public pleasure ground since the Victorian era, Alexandra Palace Park offers panoramic skyline views and varied activities, including concerts in its stately entertainment venue. There are bike racks in the East Court car park if you want to take a pedalo out on the boating lake or soar through the trees on a zip wire at the Go Ape Treetop Adventure.

Look out for atmospheric railway remnants such as tunnels near Highgate Station, now a haven for roosting bats. 

Intermediate bike routes


East End highlights loop

Starting point: Tower Bridge Piazza

Approximate distance: 8 miles/13 kilometres

Closest tube station: Tower Hill

Before you head west on the C3 Cycleway, gaze out at the turrets of the centuries-old Tower of London, where three English queens lost their heads. Join the C11 cycling route at Queen Street, and continue north, passing Guildhall, London's mediaeval government seat, to another Cycleway at Sun Street. Take a breather at Spitalfields Market, where you can browse locally designed fashion and get a curry at the Mr Bombay food truck. Head up Elder and Quaker Streets, then north through the railway arch to Braithwaite Street. You can stop for a swift coffee or something stronger at one of the many trendy cafés and bars around Shoreditch High Street. Make your way up Chance Street and around leafy Boundary Gardens to join the C13 Cycleway at Virginia Road. You'll cruise through Columbia Road, known for its fragrant Sunday flower market, and alongside the Hackney City Farm to Regent’s Canal. Head east along the towpath, passing quaint narrowboats and the grassy expanse of Victoria Park, until you emerge at Limehouse Basin. Duck into The Grapes on Narrow Street, once frequented by Dickens, for pub grub and a pint before rejoining the C3 Cycleway back to your starting point.

Hackney Marshes to Walthamstow Wetlands

Starting point: Hackney Marshes Centre

Approximate distance: 4 miles/6.5 kilometres

Closest tube station: Hackney Central

Pedal straight up the path alongside the River Lea, passing riverside parks and pubs along the way. As you approach the 10 reservoirs that make up the Walthamstow Wetlands, keep your eyes peeled for some of the huge variety of birdlife that pass through the nature reserve, from ospreys to Mandarin ducks. Cross the river at Springfield Park and bike through the reserve’s Coppermill Lane entrance if you want a closer look. The restored engine house that pumped water in Victorian times is now home to a café with outdoor seating. To extend the ride, loop back on the other side of the river.

Chelsea Harbour to Greenwich

Starting point: Chelsea Harbour

Approximate distance: 9 miles/14.5 kilometres

Closest tube station: Imperial Wharf

Tackle part of the epic National Cycle Network’s Route 4, which runs all the way to west Wales. Ogle the yachts at Chelsea Harbour before joining the path along the Thames. You’ll pass the picturesque waterfront townhouses of Cheyne Walk, where Mick Jagger had a pad in the 1960s and ’70s. As you head east, you can’t miss the hulking Battersea Power Station, now a vast residential and commercial complex. The London cycling route crosses the river at Lambeth Bridge and skirts landmarks old and new – from the Gothic Southwark Cathedral to the gleaming Shard – and passes close to foodie hub Borough Market if you want to stop for a bite. As you follow the twists of the river, you’ll glimpse iconic sights on the opposite bank, from the Houses of Parliament to St Paul’s Cathedral. After crossing Deptford Creek via the Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge,  the 19th-century tea clipper Cutty Sark will come into view.

The route skirts landmarks old and new – from the Gothic Southwark Cathedral to the gleaming Shard – and passes close to foodie hub Borough Market if you want to stop for a bite.

Challenging cycling routes


Westminster to Richmond Park

Starting point: Westminster Bridge

Approximate distance: 16 miles/26 kilometres

Closest tube station: Westminster

Earn bragging rights by racing around Richmond Park's paved perimeter loop, one of the best cycling routes in southwest London for serious bikers. The circuit includes steep Broomfield Hill, which has a top incline of 12%. Getting there from Central London is easy – after paying your respects to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, follow the C8 Cycleway south along the Thames. Skirt Battersea Park and head south to Wandsworth, where your experience will come in handy as you navigate the South Circular. Once you reach Roehampton Gate, turning left will take you on the more challenging clockwise route. Look out for some of the park's hundreds of free-roaming deer as you ride. You can recover from your exertions afterwards with gastropub fare at the parkside Lass O’Richmond Hill.

Central London to Box Hill

Starting point: The Mall

Approximate distance: 25 miles/40 kilometres

Closest tube station: Charing Cross

Follow in the wheel tracks of the world’s top cyclists on a day trip to the Surrey Hills. The 2012 Olympic cycling road race dashed from The Mall to bucolic Box Hill. From Westminster Bridge, you can follow the river and then head north to cruise along the King’s Road, through villagey Parsons Green, across Putney Bridge and on to Hampton Court. Cycling is not allowed in the palace gardens, but you can bike through Bushy Park to get a glimpse of the magnificent Tudor palace before heading south. Once you’ve tackled Box Hill's infamous Zig Zag Road, replenish your calories with a meal at the elegant Mercure Box Hill Burford Bridge Hotel, where Emlyn Restaurant offers picturesque garden seating.

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