Biking across Europe: The best cities to visit on two wheels
Europe is home to some of the best cities in the world for cyclists. With fresh air and exercise both high on travelers’ agendas, time spent in the saddle is a great option this summer. Whether it’s a two-wheeled adventure that takes in Copenhagen and Malmo on the same trip, or a spin around the quiet streets of Ljubljana, these are Europe’s best cycling cities.
With 515km of dedicated cycle lanes, the bike is king in Amsterdam. The Netherlands is said to be home to almost 23 million bikes, more than one for each of its 17 million citizens. Cycling is undoubtedly the best way to see the city, whether you want to take a slow ride along the Amstel on a self-guided ride or go on an expert-led tour of the UNESCO-protected Canal Ring and Jordaan neighborhood. The locals here take cycling seriously, but remember to stick to the rules, stopping at lights and keeping an eye out for trams too. Don’t be tempted to buy a cheap bike from a street vendor, as it’ll likely be stolen. Instead use official hire companies which have offices close to Centraal station and other major sights.
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Copenhagen and Malmo
Bikes outnumber cars by five-to-one in Copenhagen. Its excellent, easy-to-navigate cycle lanes make getting around on two wheels a breeze, whether you’re hopping between foodie hotspots in the Meatpacking District and Vesterbro or using the dedicated bike bridges to explore the harbor. Visit Copenhagen has some great, self-guided tours exploring the city’s architecture, history and even the route of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, which takes place here in 2021. Across the Øresund Bridge in Malmo, Sweden, you’ll find another great cycling city. With hundreds of kilometers of lanes, you can take an easygoing ride through Ribersborg park to the beach or head to Limhamn Harbor.
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Slovenia’s capital has over 230km of bike lanes, its small size making it ripe for exploration. Bicikelj self-service bike hire stations can be found across the city, with themed routes identifiable by blue markings. Take a loop from Fužine Castle along the riverbank and through the old town, before finishing at Spica Park or follow the forest route for a quieter, nature-focused ride. If you want to get a closer look at the city’s cultural heritage, Ljubljana Tourism runs guided tours for all abilities. Alternatively, just grab a bike and take a slow ride through the cycle-friendly pedestrian zone in the centre.
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With 1,182km of bike lanes stretching from the city into the surrounding countryside, Bordeaux is the ultimate destination for bike mad travelers. No matter your ability, there are lots of great routes to try. For those who want to stay close to the centre, the loop along the Garonne, over the city’s famous stone bridge, through the Chartons district before stopping for a break in the Jardin Public is a must. For a longer ride, the Roger Lapébie cycle path, which passes along an old railway track, is ideal. Follow it to the spectacular Abbey at La Sauve Majeure. Other out-of-town routes take in Bordeaux’s beautiful parks, including the excellent Barails ecological reserve.
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Oslo has invested heavily in cycling in recent years, the result being a city that now has excellent bike routes to suit all kinds of riders. There are easy routes along the harbor promenade, taking in the famous Oslo Opera House and the Astrup Fearnley Museum, and around the Bygdøy peninsula. The latter is great for mixing culture at the Viking Museum with a swim from one of the beaches which dot the shoreline. Oslo’s close proximity to the great outdoors also means you can easily cycle to some of Norway’s most picturesque countryside. The route around Maridalsvannet lake is perfect for nature lovers and those who like a slightly more challenging ride.
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And, of course, Helsinki
Sure, you can go all over Europe to find some amazing cycling cities. But Helsinki is right up there with the very best. There’s a 1,200km network of paths that connect the city with its surrounding areas, making getting around by bike easy. Check out the Baana, a disused railway track that runs from the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma to Ruoholahti. Alternatively, hop on and ride along the shoreline to Kaivopuisto. Or, best of all, follow the archipelago route from a proper workout on two wheels while breathing in some extra fresh air. Sometimes, the best routes are closest to home.