Best Cycling Routes in London
Discover the UK capital by bike with our guide to London’s best cycling routes.
London is an amazing city for so many reasons. It’s home to historic monuments, some of the world’s best architecture and arguably the best cycling infrastructure in the UK. Getting around London by bike is the best way to see everything this city has to offer. If you’re looking for some of the best cycling routes in London then you’ve come to the right place.
Where can I go cycling in London?
London has an abundance of traffic-free cycle paths, cycle superhighways and quietways on which you can discover the city. No matter where you live or where you’re staying during your visit to London, you should have good access to any and many of these routes.
London is home to a wealth of history alongside an abundance of modern attractions. Cycle past Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London before stopping for lunch at one of the many artisan eateries offering cuisine from around the world.
We’ve included some of our favourite places to cycle to further down in this article.
Is London safe for cycling?
London is a very busy city both in terms of population and traffic. That said, cycling is one of the main methods people choose to get around and it’s not unusual to see queues of bikes along the cycle superhighways during rush hour.
It pays to have your wits about you when cycling among traffic particularly at busier times of the day. Make sure you study your route before leaving and take it slowly if you’re unsure.
As always, we recommend wearing a bicycle helmet and using bike lights if the light levels are low (lights are a legal requirement between sunset and sunrise). A bell is useful if you cycle along shared paths where there are pedestrians.
London’s best cycling routes
London is a huge city and we could be here for days highlighting some of the best spots. We’ve collated just a few of our favourites which will give you a flavour of the city and its bustling atmosphere.
Beginning at St Johns station in south east London, this route captures some of London’s most famous attractions via a series of cycle superhighways and riverside bike paths. You’ll cycle over Tower Bridge, see the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, River Thames, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and Regents Park in one 50 km ride. Split it up throughout the whole day and it can be fun for all the family.
The London 2012 Olympic Games were pivotal to the city’s sporting landscape. As a result, many stadiums were erected ahead of the Games and are still in use today. Make your way to Lea Valley VeloPark (Stratford and Hackney Wick are the nearest stations) and ride the traffic-free paths along the River Lea until you reach the A110 just after the Lea Valley Golf Course. Follow the road for a short time before ducking left into one of London’s best mountain bike spots. Fear not, the gravel trails around Epping Forest are also popular.
Expect to get muddy and finish with a wide grin on your face before heading back into the big smoke. Bring a few mates to make it an extra fun day out.
The Thames Path is a 294 km national trail from the source of the River Thames to the Thames Barrier near Woolwich. Of course, we’re not recommending the full distance as part of a weekend (although if you’re into riding long distances, perhaps you’d like to try that someday) but there’s a lovely section near Greenwich which forms part of a ride to Gravesend.
Grab your bike and start riding along National Cycle Route 1 from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich in East London. Follow the River Thames with the river to your left and marvel at the London skyline as you pedal. Just before you reach Dartford, you’ll come inland but still follow signs for NCN1. Eventually, you’ll reach Gravesend on the River Thames once more. Trains back to London are frequent and you’ll have memories of a great day out.
For cyclists who would like to challenge themselves to something a little longer and hillier, the London to Brighton route is the one for you. Held every year as a charity event, the route departs Clapham Common and heads directly south through Tooting, Mitcham and Carshalton. You’ll cross the M25 (London Orbital Motorway) just north of Redhill, which is where the roads start to ramp up a little.
Once you pass Crawley, you’ll enter the North Downs towards Haywards Heath. A breather here is no bad thing as you’ll need some extra energy for the last climb: Ditchling Beacon. Once you’ve crested that, it’s downhill all the way to the seaside (or more specifically Brighton Pier). Catch the train back to London from Brighton or stay over and ride back the next day. The choice is yours!
One of the iconic climbs of the Surrey Hills is Box Hill. It’s a rite of passage for all London road cycling fans and was featured as part of the 2012 Olympic Road Race course. You’ll also find this course on Zwift, so you can do a practice run at home.
The route begins at Buckingham Palace, but feel free to pick up the route from wherever you live or are staying. Starting in Richmond Park is a good idea if you want to avoid much of the city centre.
After a lap of Richmond Park (recommended as one of the best places to ride gravel in London) you’ll head out to Surrey where the quaint villages and quieter roads are ideal for riding your bike. After passing Denbies Wine Estate, Box Hill is on your right. The Zig Zag Road will make you feel like you’re riding an Alpine switchback. Stop for refreshments at Box Hill Village before heading back to London via Leatherhead and Esher.
Enjoy London by bike
There really is no better way to see the City of London than by bike. With so much infrastructure being added to the network every year, there’s always somewhere new to explore. A lot of cafés are cycle-friendly and you’ll find hire bike docking stations all over the city. Let us know where you end up on your London cycling travels using #mycanyon.