The Best Cycling Cities in Europe
In many European cities, cycling is a part of the culture. Riding a bike is an easy, affordable and healthy way of life that is both accepted and encouraged. Infrastructure has been planned to cater to those on two wheels, with city planners realising the benefits of this environmentally-friendly pastime. Providing safe bike-only cycle paths, plentiful cycle parking facilities and access to bike-friendly public transport has become increasingly important.
We love this considerate approach to city cycling which, combined with cycle routes that effortlessly link towns and cities, makes it easy to understand why Europe is best explored by bike! With this in mind, we sat down to pick our five favourite cities for cycling in Europe.
Copenhagen, a city designed for cycling
Copenhagen is a safe, friendly city that is exceptionally well designed with bikes in mind. From traffic lights that are timed for bicycle speeds, through to the famous ‘Cykelslangen’ (bike snake), an elevated cycle path which takes riders over a busy shopping area, this city is a cycling paradise. In fact, bikes outnumber cars in Copenhagen and the city consistently leads the way in terms of city cycling standards. It was no surprise to hear that in 2015 it was named the most bike friendly city in the world.
We have three tours which feature this Danish city, but if you're looking for an excellent introduction then try our new Copenhagen & Beyond tour which includes three optional self-guided cycle rides to historic towns beyond Copenhagen, returning each evening by bike or train to see more of this exciting city.
View tour: Copenhagen & Beyond
Amsterdam has more bikes than cars
As a nation, Holland is streets ahead of most other countries when it comes to being bike friendly. The archetypal cycling city, Amsterdam has long promoted the benefits of pedal power. This is obvious to see, with so many of the city’s residents regularly using their bikes to get to work or for leisure. It’s an easy place to cycle for tourists too and in our opinion it is the best way to get around this fascinating city. Nothing much beats ambling around Vondelpark, except a ride along a canal with plenty of stops for coffee and maybe raw herring if you’re feeling brave!
We have a range of tours that begin/end in Amsterdam, but our current favourite is the ‘Spring Flowers in Holland’ holiday, where Amsterdam serves as the start and end point for a lovely four day tour of The Netherlands gorgeous bulb growing region.
View tour: Spring Flowers in Holland
Ghent & Bruges, Belgium
The historic streets of Ghent
Alongside its Dutch neighbour, Belgium also has a very strong setup for cycling. In Ghent, cyclists have right of way on the roads and bike paths connect almost the entire city. There are also bicycle tunnels and bridges which make getting around this compact city very easy on two wheels. Ghent was also the first city in Belgium to establish a bike-only street.
Ghent is the final leg of our ‘Holland Meets Belgium’ tour and on the last day there is the chance to visit Bruges, another famous Belgian city where you can relax with a waffle and a beer, perfect for replenishing those calories you’ve burned over this seven day tour!
View tour: Holland Meets Belgium
The emerald green streets of Ljubljana
The beautiful Slovenian city of Ljubljana is no stranger to cycling, with dedicated cycle paths first built in the 60s and 70s. Europe’s Green Capital of 2016 has 133 km of bike lanes and 73 km of cycle tracks, impressive by any standard, but especially so considering the city has a population of fewer than 300,000 people! A ride around the peaceful streets, where car traffic is restricted, almost always leads to a quiet break, taking in the sights and sounds of the city from a riverside terrace café.
The city also makes the perfect starting point for our ‘Ljubljana to Piran’ tour, where mountain scenery and green valleys are peppered with castles and waterfalls, as you ride to Croatia's west coast town of Piran.
View tour: Ljubljana to Piran - Self-Guided
Bordeaux at night
The gem of southern France’s famous wine growing region, Bordeaux is number 8 on the previously mentioned list of the most bike friendly cities in the world and cycling is actively promoted to all. With car-free boulevards and a host of riverside routes, this UNESCO World Heritage City is a refreshing antidote to other French cities, which perhaps suffer from a reputation for being crowded and car-centric.
The city is a brilliant centre point for our ‘Wine, Rivers & Chateaux’ tour, which explores this illustrious region. Enjoy wine tasting as you cruise the Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde rivers.
View tour: Bordeaux - Wine, Rivers & Chateaux