This post explores some well known and lesser known locales.
Consider exploring a city by bike next time you are on a trip. It is a wonderful way to slow things down and take it all in. Plus, you don’t have to battle parking!
Check out this truly global list!
Tel Aviv, Israel
Siargao Island, Philippines
Roneth Politud of The Fickle Feet and a resident of the Philippines, says: “I don’t really ride bikes in the city, but I always enjoy riding them on an island. I had a lovely experience riding bikes on Siargao Island in the Philippines. Siargao is the surfing capital of the country but it offers more than its waves. There are good restaurants nearby, which makes it pleasant to go to.
Another beautiful spot to check out — but is harder to get to by bike — is the boardwalk, where you can witness the sunset. In the same location, you can surf as a beginner in Jacking Horse or, if you dare, in Cloudnine Spot.
Riding a bike on an island makes the whole stay more laid back yet adventurous at the same time.”
“Bangkok really isn’t well known as a bike-friendly city,” writes Allan Wilson of Live Less Ordinary, “and while locally they have introduced a smart card bike sharing scheme in the busy city districts (Pun Pun Bike Share) the city centre areas will always be hard, and to some extent dangerous, to find bike-friendly cycle routes. Therefore most cyclists are found in the various parks of the city, such as Benjakiti Queen’s Park, which has a 2km cycle path which circles the central Lake Rajada (Queen Sirikit MRT Station).
But cycling has otherwise taken off in the more amiable, and less busy, old city areas of Rattanakhosin Island, where bike lanes have paved the way for cyclists along the Chao Phraya Riverside (Phra Athit Road), with a number of leisurely cycle routes alongside some rather fantastic views of Bangkok’s serene river scenes. It is also an easy area to rent bikes now, if needed, and bike clubs are common, along with more off-the-beaten-track bike tours which would start from this area.
Otherwise my own favourite stops would be at the old white fort of Santicha Prakan Park, where there are some great people watching scenes, beneath the backdrop of the famous Rama VIII Bridge. And then there are lots of old-school boat noodle shops along Phra Athit Road. It’s just a really nice area to explore. Evenings are always best and busier on this side of the city, after work hours and the unrelenting heats of Thailand’s daytimes.”
“In the beginning, I did not like riding a bike in Barcelona. The traffic is busy and there are not many bike lines. A scooter was the better option. However, I got used to it. Now that I know where the bike lanes are, it’s actually great. Once you figured this out, it is fun and easy to get around.
That being said, Barcelona has the mountain and the beach. So you can imagine, Barcelona is not flat, it actually goes up or down. When you plan to go up to the famous, beautiful Park Güell, you have to cycle up the hill. That’s not really appealing, is it?
Therefore, my best recommendation and actually my favorite route by bike in Barcelona is along the beach. You can take this road almost all the way up to Costa Brava, which is around 120km North of Barcelona. I like to ride along the promenade in Barcelona. Starting at the W Hotel in Barceloneta, this road takes you along the beach. On the right hand-side in Barceloneta you have the tourists getting sunburned and bothered by the many street sellers selling massages, cheap beer in cans and awful cocktails. Fun to watch though.
The more beautiful part and more expat-local-kind-of-beach starts from Bogatell on. Here you see the locals and expats playing beach volleyball and hang out. This is where you pass as well a skater parkour. Stop here for a bit and get blown away by the young, international kids doing their tricks on the skateboard.”
All great ideas from Matt, who writes at One Week In about slow travel. Check out his guide to getting around Barcelona.
Bristol to Bath Cycle Path, England
Cory Varga, founder of You Could Travel, speaks highly of the Bristol, England: “One of the main reasons I moved to Bristol back in 2011, was because of it was voted as Britain’s best cycling city. It was around that time I started cycling and I wanted to be in a city which accommodated my needs and I feel relatively safe on the road.
Soon after I moved to Bristol, I discovered the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path. This is literally a cycling and pedestrian-only road which takes us from one city to another. For commuters and cycling enthusiasts alike, this is an epic road which takes you through residential areas, forests and rolling hills.
There is a café I particularly like on the way and a really good pub, which makes the perfect stop for a quick pint before continuing.
The path is well paved and marked and it’s 16.4 miles.”
Brenda Tolentino of Dish Our Town writes: “Being environmentally conscious is part of Umbria’s DNA. The region’s greatest asset is its lush landscape. Hence, bearing the title, “The Green Heart of Italy”. (Keeping with the ecologically friendly theme is a bicycle tour and rental company, appropriately named, EcoBike.)
Pedal through the greenest valleys, steep hills, passing vineyards that produce some of the country’s best wines, and groves that olives that make the most unique oil in all the world.
Get to know some of the smaller towns, by biking right up to its town centers and enjoy people watching while sipping your coffee or wine.
Sounds tiring, don’t worry this is not the Tour de France. The rental company we used offered bikes that are powered electrically. No fumes and no heavy breathing either.
For a family like us, that enjoys lots of leisure while taking in nature and sites, it’s the perfect bike tour.”
Lisa at Penguin and Pia jumped at the chance to share the well-known biking city of Copenhagen.
“Copenhagen,” she writes, “is one of the bike friendliest cities in the world! I’ve always enjoyed riding my bike in the Danish capital because it is so easy, fast and — most importantly — very safe. Riding a bike here is so much easier than in many other cities I have lived in the past.
Cyclists usually have their own bike lanes as well as traffic lights. Since bikes are so common, cars are used to watching for passing cyclists before turning. This reduces the likelihood of being caught up in an accident while you’re riding along. There are a few unwritten rules among cyclists in Copenhagen, such as raising your hand before stopping. If you follow them closely, you’ll have no problem riding around the city. Often, you will reach your destination faster than if you were to take a bus or car!
While the whole city is great for biking, one of my favorite routes passes the Nyhavn harbor and leads you across the Inderhavnsbroen, a bridge connecting Nyhavn and Christianshavn across Copenhagen’s inner harbor. On the way, you could grab an ice cream cone at ‘Vaffelbageren’ or head across the bridge and stop for a coffee and snack at ‘Parterre Christianshavn’.”
Nana Hm of Patagonia Dreaming recommends taking a bike for a ride in another part of Denmark: Aarhus. “Aarhus is Denmark’s second biggest city, a university city with a lot of young people. It is a small city and if you live in the center you will have only a 15 minute bike ride to the nearest beach or forest. Maybe that is one reason people prefer to bike around here — it is actually faster than taking the car or a bus!
My favourite ‘escape the city’ bike tour is from the center of the city, along the coast, heading north of Aarhus. The busy harbor is on your right side where you can watch impressive buildings being built, plus you can look at ships of various sizes, from containerships to small sailboats. You can continue along the coast to you get to Riiskov, a beautiful city where you will find more beaches.
Another idea is to start in Riis Skov (Riis Forest) where you can bike around and enjoy some peaceful silence. When you enter the forest you will probably not be alone — this small forest is a popular place for everybody living in Aarhus. People go here for a walk, to run, or with the bike to get some fresh air. There are several lookouts where you can get off the bike and enjoy the view of the water. It’s my favourite route because you go from city life to a small natural oasis in just 20 minutes.”
NYC’s Central Park, USA
Anisa Alhilali of Two Travelling Texans exclaims, “Many people don’t realize how big Central Park is – 843 acres! That’s a lot of ground to cover, so biking is a great way to see more of the park’s beauty. You don’t even need to own a bike since there are bike rental places nearby. All ages and ability levels will enjoy a bike ride in Central Park.”
She goes on to advise that she likes biking the 6-mile loop around Central Park, “it’s such a peaceful place in the middle of the Manhattan. During the weekends and off-peak times during the week, it is closed to cars, but you will still have to watch out for pedestrians. Also, make sure you ride in the counter-clockwise direction around the loop and riders under 14 wear a helmet.
On the 6-mile loop, you pass by famous landmarks like Cleopatra’s Needle, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Harlem Meer, and the Sheep Meadow to name a few. The ride is mostly gently rolling hills but there are a few challenging inclines at the northern end of the park. You can always just walk your bike on those parts if necessary.
Central Park can be crowded, especially if the weather is nice, so go early if you can.”
Christchurch, New Zealand
“My favourite place to ride is in my home city of Christchurch in New Zealand,” writes Emma Healey of Little House Lovely Home. “In 2010-2011, Christchurch experienced devastating earthquakes which took lives and destroyed infrastructure. From a hard place, an opportunity was born to build back better, and cycleways have been a major part of the rebuild plan. Christchurch is a flat city with a temperate climate and little rain. We are a city made for cycling. The major cycleways project has completed several cross-city cycle routes and more are in the pipeline.
My absolute favourite place to ride is the new Christchurch Coastal Pathway. This separated pathway sits on reclaimed land and allows a casual ride from the beginning of the estuary at Ferrymead to its eventual end at Scarborough beach in Sumner. The final stage is still under construction, but if you’re in the area it’s definitely worth the ride to Moncks Bay. From the city bus exchange, take the Metro P line to Woolston Village where you can hire bikes from Around Again cycles. From there, follow the Heathcote Towpath (offroad trail) along the Heathcote River until you meet the beginning of the Coastal Pathway at the Ferrymead bridge. Don’t miss an ice cream from Redcliffs Dairy – they are the best in Christchurch.”
Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is a fantastic city for cyclists. Not only does it have over 600 kilometres of paved, multi-use pathways, but it also closes several major roads to motorized traffic on summer Sunday mornings, to give cyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users and inline skaters free rein.
One of my favourite Ottawa bike routes is short but sweet. Start at Lansdowne Park, a stadium and retail complex on the Rideau Canal at Bank Street. Cycle west along the recreational path on the north side of the canal through the Glebe neighbourhood to Dows Lake. (In spring, the gardens fringing the lake are bright with thousands of tulips.) At the Dows Lake Pavilion, turn left into the Dominion Arboretum, home to more than 2,000 types of trees, where the bike paths meander over ornamental bridges and up a few small hills. If you’d like a longer ride, turn right and explore the quiet roads of the Central Experimental Farm, an unusual working farm in the heart of the city.
When you’re done, head back toward the canal and walk your bike across the Hartwell Locks at Carleton University. Turn left and take the path on the canal’s south side to Leonard Avenue in the Old Ottawa South neighbourhood. Turn right and ride four blocks to Hopewell Avenue. Turn left and ride two blocks to Bank Street. Lock up your bike and head to Life of Pie bakery/café, where you can treat yourself to a tasty scone.
–Laura Byrne Paquet, https://ottawaroadtrips.com/
Last, but not least, my current hometown: Calgary, Alberta. The heart of big oil & gas in Western Canada, home to over 850 km of maintained off-road pathways, plus a growing network of protected cycle tracks in the downtown core. Exploring Calgary by bike is the absolute best way to see the city and be able to appreciate the greenspaces that it has to offer, not to mention some stunning landscape architecture along the Bow River in the downtown core, and good eats!
Highlights, for me, would be riding along the Bow and Elbow Rivers, stopping at St. Patrick’s Island, grabbing a coffee and pastry at the old Simmons Building in East Village, and wrapping up the day with some ice cream from Village.
With all of these pathways being separate from traffic, you will have little to worry about exploring our great city! Be sure to ride on the right side of the yellow line and yield to pedestrians.
Have a wonderful time! –Lindsay at This Mom Bikes.