Cycling is a cheap, healthy and fun way for visitors to see London, and it’s also one of the greenest ways to travel. What’s more, the capital has a wealth of scenic routes that take in some of London’s finest sights, as well as some lesser-known gems, along the way. Why not liven up your London break with a cycle through the prettiest places in the city? We take a look at some of the best places in the capital for an afternoon ride.
Richmond Bridge to Hampton Court
This flat and family-friendly route takes in the palatial sights of south-west London, including the elegant villas of Marble Hill and the stately Stuart mansion of Ham House, as you breeze along the Thames Path towards Hampton Court Palace. It’s a jolly jaunt of just eight miles along the tree-lined river banks and winding gravel paths, passing Eel Pie Island, the legendary sixties jazz venue, and cruising into the countryside at Teddington Lock and Weir. When you finally reach Hampton Court Palace, King Henry VIII’s opulent residence, you can enjoy a refreshing picnic on the lawn, or have a lazy wander through the famous maze.
Limehouse to Little Venice
This leisurely ride takes in the delights of Regent’s Canal, starting at the swanky waterfront high-rises of Limehouse Basin, where you can enjoy a bit of yacht-spotting, before heading off northwards towards Mile End. Victoria Park provides a charming detour or picnic place before braving the less pretty stretch of Dalston and De Beauvoir Town. Don’t forget to look out for wild boars and tropical birds as you whistle past London Zoo — you can usually spot them for free — before following Regent’s Park round towards Little Venice, a picturesque pocket of Maida Vale, where you can stop off for a spot of lunch.
Lee Valley Regional Park
There are forty routes available through the 10,000 acres of country park, or you can create your own from the network of riverside paths, nature reserves and scenic parks. The River Lee Country Park stretches up into the countryside of Hertfordshire, with stunning scenery all the way to Waltham Abbey. You could head up to Tottenham through the marshes, grasslands and wildflower meadows, or check out the beautiful bee orchids of Rammey Marsh. Why not try cormorant-spotting at Glen Faba, or watch out for kingfishers at Rye Meads?
London City Farms cycle route
A thirty mile circular route that runs between eight of London’s city farms, this scenic circuit is great to do in sections if you have small kids. There’s lots of animals to see on the way, including sheep who sleep under the railway arches at Kentish Town or the goats, pigs, turkeys and bees at Surrey Docks. Mudchute Park and Farm is the biggest of its kind in Europe and boasts a wealth of rare breeds, including llamas. Why not stop off and see Larry the Donkey at Hackney City Farm, or Bramble the Goat at Spitalfields?
Tower Bridge to Greenwich
This meandering cycle will take you from the majesty of Tower Bridge to the impressive Maritime Greenwich, taking in the scenic green spaces and docks in between. Spin through the narrow backstreets and historic alleyways on this five mile downhill cycle which weaves through the brick-built wharfs and waterfront apartments along the Thames Path. There are plenty of quaint little pubs to discover on your adventure, and Greenwich makes a great destination, with its bustling markets, extraordinary boutiques and old-fashioned drinkeries.
Navigate a medley of peaceful lanes and traffic-free cycleways on this seven-mile ride from Greenwich to New Beckenham. Following the Ravensbourne and Pool waterways, this gentle journey is perfect for families. Threading through popular parkland including the wildflower meadows of South Norwood Country Park and the grassy expanses of Ladywell Fields, you’ll forget you’re in the midst of an industrious metropolis. Listen out for the parakeets in Cator Park, or take a detour through the wonderful woodlands of Beckenham Place Park Garden.
Buckingham Palace to Kensington Palace
Enjoy a laid-back outing from palace to palace on this three-mile royal route, ideal for Sunday cycling. Start by soaking up the splendour of the official regal residence, before venturing through the leafy laneways of Green Park and along Constitution Hill. Cruise along Rotten Row through Hyde Park, with its momentous memorials and glorious gardens. Why not stop off for a refresher by the Serpentine before heading towards the Round Pond in Kensington gardens, beyond which is Kensington Palace, a historic hotspot with sunken garden and elegant Orangery tea rooms.
Bikeminded Cake and Coffee Cruise
What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than cycling through Kensington and Chelsea sampling some of the best coffee and cake that the capital has to offer? Join in this marshalled ride through the side streets and boulevards of the Royal Borough, stopping at some charming little cafes for confectionery delights. You’ll need to book a place, but tickets cost just £5, and you can either bring your own bike, or hire a Boris bike for the afternoon. It’s an enchanting ride, and a lovely way to make a few new friends, as you’re bound to get chatting to your fellow cyclists.
Finsbury Park to Highgate Parkland Walk
Follow the four miles of disused railway line from Finsbury Park all the way to Alexandra Palace for a surprisingly serene cycle. This off-road ride includes shaded sections and a viaduct that affords some spellbinding views of the city. Be sure to go during summer months when the daylight hours are longer, as some segments are not lit, and watch out for wildlife, with hedgehogs, foxes, birds and butterflies all at large along the way. Why not make a day of it, diverting south to pass Highgate Cemetery or the rolling grasslands of Hampstead Heath?
Brakeaway Sins of City London Tour
Looking for a scenic cycle with a difference? Join one of Brakeaway’s evening tours to view London’s sights by night, and learn about the city’s macabre histories and mysteries as you go. Through the alleys and passageways, the city’s darkest nooks and niches are rich in gruesome stories, both true and legend, and this 2.5 hour trip takes you on a journey through them all, from Jack the Ripper to Sweeney Todd, Queen Rat to Mary Queen of Scots, you’ll encounter all the ghosts and ghouls from London’s past and the enduring myths that they have created.
These ideas are brought to you by Show & Stay – the provider of West End shows and hotel deals.