A guide to the best bicycle-friendly cities in Europe.
If the weather is right, cycling can be a fun, efficient and easy way of getting around many cities. By getting on a bike you can see much more of a city than you would by walking. While being on two wheels you can also access harder to reach places that you wouldn’t be able to in a car.
Whether you join an organized tour, hire a bike for the day or you are using your own bike, cycling makes for a great way to move away from the tourist trail. Here we suggest some of the best cities pedals around:
The self-proclaimed most bicycle-friendly capital city in the world, in Amsterdam over 60% of trips within the city center are made by bike.
With a flat landscape, special bicycle traffic lights and an extensive network of cycle paths, Amsterdam is a perfect city to explore on two wheels.
For the perfect Amsterdam cycle, perhaps avoid the extremely well-used thoroughfares in the city center and instead follow the route of the Amsterdam-Brussels long-distance cycle route which will allow you to take in sights such as Nieumarkt Square, the Amstel River, the Magere Brug, the Stopera concert hall and the Royal Carré Theatre.
Cycling is also a great way to see Amsterdam’s surrounding countryside – castles, tulip fields, and windmills can all be found just a simple bike ride away from the city center.
Another city that claims to be one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, Copenhagen is indeed a city that loves cycling. Every day, 1.2 million kilometers are cycled by the city’s citizens with 36% of journeys to work, school or university made by bike.
Hardly seen anywhere else, Copenhagen features 350 kilometers of segregated cycle tracks. The tracks are one-directional, with one cycle track on each side of the street flowing the same way as other vehicles and segregated from the road by curbs 7-9cm in height.
For a scenic trip just south-east of the city, head to Amager Beach. Here, you will see white sandy beaches, parkland, and dunes.
For a less conventional touristy cycle, head to Madrid’s Anillo Verde. With 60km of dedicated cycle path circumnavigating the city, the route will take you alongside the Manzanares river and through the parkland of Casa de Campo.
Cycling along the Anillo Verde will take you on paths through both urban and parkland environments, all of which feature unique views and are completely segregated from other vehicles.
For those who prefer to cycle through a city as part of a tour, Berlin makes the perfect location. The city is home to many cycle tour companies which will allow you to cycle as part of a group and see the sights. One such tour company, Fat Tire Bike Tours will take you past key areas such as Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, the watchtower and the Victory Column.
With wide pavements with bike paths built into them, a flat landscape and a multitude of parks you can cycle through, Berlin is a great place to get on your bike.
Points to consider:
Safety – As you will be in a foreign city you may not be used to its traffic regulations. Be sure to read up on these before you get on the bike. While most of the cities featured here have dedicated cycle lanes there will be areas where you could be faced with other vehicles.
Bike security – With bicycle-friendly cities comes cycle thieves, unfortunately. In Amsterdam bicycle theft is widespread; in 2005 around 54,000 bikes were stolen from the city. With this in mind ensure your cycling kit list includes a heavy –duty dependable lock and that you leave your bike in areas where it can be seen by all.