Getting from place to place in London is one of the most important parts of life in the capital. And of course, bonus points if getting from A to B is both fun and healthy too.
London cycle routes take advantage of the historic side streets, riverside paths and less congested thoroughfares that thread through the city. Not only that, but hidden sights and sounds await the curious when you pedal through many of the forgotten nooks and crannies of London.
Curious where best to saddle up and start riding? Luckily, there are countless London cycle routes for you to take advantage of – whether you’re commuting, exercising or finding your feet in the big city.
Here are our top London cycling route recommendations.
1. Olympic Park to Wanstead Flats
It’s easy to forget what a big positive impact the London 2012 Olympic Games had on the nation’s pride – so why not pick a London cycling route that jumpstarts some nostalgia?
Begin your ride weaving around the traffic-free tarmac of the Olympic Park, past the iconic stadium and the striking Orbit structure. From there, the intention is to trace your way through Stratford towards Cann Hall Road.
As you make your way out of the city hubbub, you’ll soon see why this is one of the most beloved London cycle routes. Shortly, Cann Hall Road will open out to you into the scenic rolling meadows and waterways of Wanstead Flats.
These idyllic surroundings are so tranquil that they almost feel as though they shouldn’t be part of London at all – yet here they are, free for you to blaze your own trail among the greenery, scenery and curious wildlife.
2. Stonebridge Lock to Olympic Park
We’d be doing all our readers a disservice if we moved on from Olympic Park before mentioning one of our favourite East London cycle routes. While our last suggestion focused on cycling from Olympic Park out through Stratford to the countryside, this time Olympic Park is the destination of choice.
So, where to begin your ride? Up north five miles at Stonebridge Lock in the Tottenham marshland. This cycling route comes highly recommended for tracing the River Lea, taking in both historic corners of the capital as much as areas of lovely natural beauty.
Weave past Walthamstow Wetlands as you soak in some of London’s most underrated architecture – many of the buildings you’ll be passing by are listed. Before too long you’ll be heading through the Hackney Marshes en route to your destination.
Fancy a change of pace from ending your cycle at Olympic Park? Swing right instead of left as you reach Fish Island and you’ll end up in the gorgeous Victoria Park instead.
3. Regent’s Park – Outer Circle
Sometimes a circular route is a better option for a hectic day or to avoid the traffic of the city. One of the most beloved London cycle routes for getting in a healthy ride while sticking to a scenic circular route is found in Regent’s Park.
Naturally, the well-maintained flowerbeds, grand old trees and lovely surrounding properties make Regent’s Park a treat to visit for any reason. However, the outer circle of the park is a wide open and well-kept path that lets you get up to a decent speed – as long as there aren’t too many pedestrians around.
You’re free to have your fill of as many laps as you like – each circuit of the outer circle of Regent’s Park is around four kilometres. That means this is a great London cycle route to choose for something simple that you can easily dial up or down to meet your daily goals for distance covered.
4. Crystal Palace Park
If you’re seeking the best London cycle routes, why not head back to where it all began? A century and a half ago, Crystal Palace Park was the first dedicated cycling route in the capital – and it’s become one of our favourite South East London cycling routes for that reason.
Well, that and plenty of others! Crystal Palace Park takes its commitment to keeping London’s cyclists satisfied very seriously, making it as much a great place to meet fellow enthusiasts as it is a destination to tour in its own right.
With tree branches that arch overhead to shelter your pedalling from the hot summer sun, Crystal Palace Park’s dedicated cycling route features breezy straights and satisfying turns that keep you engaged.
Of course, once you’ve had your fill of exercising, you’re in a prime spot for sightseeing too. Where else can you find dinosaurs, historic exhibits and a pleasingly puzzling maze, all in one place?
5. Big Ben to the Tower of London
Why would anyone savour living in one of the world’s most iconic and beloved cities without taking in all of its most definitive sights? Luckily for you, one of the best London cycle routes has been designed to do just that.
Even if you’ve been a Londoner all your life and it’s all a bit old hat, there’s something to be said for weaving through people taking in your hometown’s highlights for the first time. Take this riverside route from the world’s most famous clock tower to the hiding place of the Crown Jewels.
Head off from Big Ben before the bickering politicians inside ruin your mood, and you’re soon off past the South Bank and the London Eye. This dedicated cycling lane sweeps you past Somerset House and the historic Globe, cruising Victoria Embankment and swooping by The Shard before you reach the Tower of London itself.
Pose for a selfie when you get there? Maybe too kitschy.
Alright… maybe just one.
6. Tamsin Trail, Richmond Park
Alright, we’ve been teasing ourselves with a few London cycle routes so far that promise to let you get back in touch with nature – but let’s go all the way now. As any Londoner knows, Richmond Park is home to much of the capital’s most unspoilt nature, as those dear old deer wandering around so often make obvious.
The jewel in this beautiful park’s crown, however, is the Tamsin Trail. Taking up to an hour to fully follow the whole circuit of this London cycle route, you’ll pass fellow bike lovers and a fair few joggers as you zip through tree canopies and wheel past the undergrowth.
There’s an easy link to a nearby riverside route if you prefer your cycling with a touch of rippling water to spark up your senses – but however you savour the Tamsin Trail, it’s definitely one of the most satisfying London cycle routes when you feel the countryside calling.
7. Swain’s Lane
Any experienced cyclist knows the thrilling joy of taming a hill or two that’s tested their mettle. If you need a London cycle route that features plenty of steep climbs that’ll get you feeling the burn, Swain’s Lane comes well recommended.
It’s certainly one of our favourite North London cycle routes, and takes in plenty of local history while you’re on your way too. A decent circuit of the Highgate neighbourhood here will pit you against some of the capital’s most imposing inclines, but rewards riders with the sights of Waterlow Park while they cycle.
If you’re only treating this route as a warm up, you’re in a decent part of the city to go the extra mile too – zipping around the block and back to Swain’s Lane puts you right on the doorstep of Hampstead Heath.
8. Regent’s Canal
One of London’s most underrated and beloved waterways, Regent’s Canal has long been the retreat of houseboat lovers and artistic eccentrics. Whether you’re a creative spirit or a lover of logic, there’s plenty of aesthetic appeal in cycling the waterside of an early evening.
Dusklight dapples on the water as you ride past King’s Cross Station and on towards Canary Wharf, with the sights, sounds and foodie smells of Camden teasing your senses every few turns of the pedals.
The boats and barges here seem to get ever more colourful every year, making this a great way to liven yourself up if the humdrum of city life has got you feeling grey.
9. The Battersea Park Loop
There isn’t a single soul in London who’d say no to seeing a little less traffic – and it’s safe to say it can interfere with cycling, even if you try and time your outings for a quieter time of the day.
Look no further than the loop at Battersea Park for a London cycle route where you can leave all those four-wheeled fiends behind. Surrounded by lovingly tended trees and gardens – and a few cheeky monkeys at the Battersea Children’s Zoo – this easy, breezy circuit is built for bikes.
Letting loose and dropping that heightened sense of vigilance you so often have to maintain during a city cycling session makes your bike trip that much more satisfying. It’s definitely one of our favourite South London cycle routes, and you’ll quickly learn it’s a favourite for Londoners who love to use their bike rides as a way to relax.
10. Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace
When you live in one of the world’s most historically rich cities, it stands to reason that there are more ways of getting from place to place than you might first imagine. This London cycle route is a superb example of that.
What makes this cycling route so special is that it feels as though you’ve discovered a cheeky shortcut between two of London’s best patches of parkland. Beginning in Finsbury Park, you’ll follow the dusty Parkland Walk past an abandoned railway line, surrounded by leafy trees all the while.
Soon enough, you’ll be tucking through town towards Muswell Hill, and from there follow the forgotten thoroughfare that ushers you up to Alexandra Palace’s hilltop views.
11. The Hyde Park Loop
London’s most famous park has become beloved by bicycle fans for good reason. At Marble Arch, visitors are free to grab and go with the city’s provided bikes but bringing your own is always more fun.
This is another great London cycle route for times when you just can’t tolerate any traffic. Hyde Park’s dedicated biking loop takes in all the best sights of the area, from the abundant greenery and wide-open spaces to Kensington Palace and the Diana Memorial Fountain.
Soak in the culture and savour the air of sovereignty as you nip around Park Lane and back up towards Marble Arch to finish the trip. Still not had your fill? Take a brief break for a gulp or two of water, and you can do it all again.
12. The Wandle Trail
See some landmarks other Londoners miss when you take a trip down The Wandle Trail. Named for the river it hugs along National Cycle Route 20, this is a fantastic London cycle route for meeting some Great British wildlife.
Aquatic birds and amphibians aplenty make their homes among much of the lush green Wandle Trail, although we won’t blame you if you’re making too pacy progress on your bike to notice.
Besides, there’s so much else to see round this way – from Merton Abbey Mills to Morden Hall Park.
London cycle routes for every kind of cyclist
Whether you’re an avid cyclist, someone who enjoys a Sunday saunter on two wheels to see the sights or are picking up your bike again after a few years to get in shape, London is a city where sitting on your saddle is almost always rewarded.
It’s easy to think there'll be noise and traffic all the way when touring London cycle routes, but you can rest easy – the city’s been designed for two wheeled travellers in some surprisingly thoughtful ways.
Whether it’s a park loop or two to wind down after a hard day at work, or a secret sweep through the side streets and picturesque pathways of the London that so many of us forget, you need never feel shy about getting on your bike to see the Great British capital.
The experiences you’ll enjoy may just surprise you!