See the capital from a bike on these best London cycle routes, from riding along the river to exploring the city's hidden corners. Get tips on the capital's bicycle hire scheme and London cycling essentials.
Cycling along the river Thames
- The banks of London's river Thames offer long stretches of traffic-free cycling. Most of London's Thames-side cycle route is on the Thames Path National Trail. This path is one of the 19 designated national trails in the UK. It runs from the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier east of Greenwich.
Be aware that some sections of the Thames Path have public footpath status. This excludes cyclists from riding there unless they have permission from the landowner. Cycling on a public footpath without permission is trespassing.
Other waterside bike routes in London
- The Thames Cultural Cycling Tour is a 27km (17 mile) route that takes in London's maritime history. Download a map before you travel and read about the sites as you go.
- London has miles of canal towpaths north of the river Thames, and cycling is allowed along these stretches. Find more information on the Canal & River Trust website.
- Long routes stretch along two tributaries of the Thames. In the north-east is the Lee Valley, offering 42km (26 miles) of traffic-free cycling. For more information, visit the Lee Valley Park website.
- In the south-west is the once heavily industrialised river Wandle. The largely traffic-free route running alongside the river links Wandsworth, Merton, Croydon and Sutton. See Merton Council's Wandle Trail page for more inspiration.
- Transport for London has mapped out a variety of leisure routes. Using pedal power, you can get away from the tourist hotspots and explore quirky London.
- You can also choose cycle routes that take you to London's best Saturday markets.
- Another cycle route that takes sports fans to the best sporting sights in the city.
- Explore London's secret gardens on two wheels.
- Discover another side of London on your bike, from ancient burial grounds to creepy museums, creative coffee shops and colourful squares. Check out TfL's fun routes on its cycle network.
London bike tours and cycle hire
Several operators in London offer cycling tours to suit all levels. For serious cyclists, Audax UK lists major rides of around 100km (62 miles) all over the UK. A few London-based rides take place during the year. You can rent a cycle from a bike hire company or use London's cycle hire scheme, Santander Cycles.
London cycling essentials
- A helmet is essential anywhere you cycle.
- A bell is useful as cyclists often share paths with pedestrians.
- If you're cycling after dark, use lights and wear reflective clothing.
- Make sure the bicycle is in good condition with working brakes and good tyres before you ride.
- Complete TfL's Cycle Skills course to prepare for your ride and for a discount on cycle locks, lights and helmets.