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Cycling routes in London – the best scenic rides

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‘I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…’ is generally the way most of my weekends start when I’m back in London. If the weather is pleasant (not always the case in the UK), there is better way to explore than on two wheels on some of the best cycling routes in London.

Based on my last few months exploring, these are the ‘best London bike rides’ I would consider as scenic with little or no road cycling and easy to do (I’m not a hardcore cyclist – no lycra for me!) Given some of the relatively short distances, these are not aimed at professional cyclists (more so weekend cyclists or families) and are also routes which you may want to combine with other adventures. These also aren’t detailed itineraries and are more ideas and suggestions for your own cycling routes in London… which you can then possibly end with a cold pint with nice views, also included below (the best bit of my research!)

Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides

Cycling routes in London:

Hammersmith to Putney

This terrific Thames path trail (around 2.5 miles) is really flat and has a heady mix of history and culture – starting in Hammersmith, head towards the Thames  – if you are feeling thirsty at the start, the bars around Furnival Gardens are fantastic, particularly the Dove, one of London’s oldest boozers with an incredible outdoor deck overlooking the Thames and reputedly where ‘Rule Britannia’ was written.

Turn left once you see the newly restored Hammersmith Studios (where they used to film the likes of TFI Fridays, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and also Doctor Who in the 1960s), and cycle along the Thames Path – apart from the section by Craven Cottage, Fulham FC’s riverside football ground, the entire cycling route is directly parallel to the Thames with lovely views all the way – you’ll also likely see lots of rowers.

Towards the end of your cycle, check out ancient Fulham Palace, the former home of the Bishop’s of London – as well as exploring London’s second oldest botanical garden, the palace is also free to visit and has an incredible recently restored Tudor Courtyard and Great Hall – just park up your bike as you enter – afternoon teas are also available in the cafe. Finish your journey by cycling to Putney Bridge.

Start and end transport

Start at Hammersmith Underground station, and finish at Putney Bridge underground station or Putney rail station (or the Putney Bridge ferry service).

Best pub to end your journey in

The Rocket (a Wetherspoons) as it overlooks the river and is on the cycle path so there is good bike parking – or if you aren’t a Wetherspoons fan, try the Eight Bells near Putney Bridge station, a traditional London boozer, or the massive beer garden at The Golden Lion (plus cheap as beer!)

Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Fulham Palace

Greenway – Beckton to Fish Island via Olympic Park

Covering 4.3 miles in length, this is a totally flat, shared cycle and pathway that is most notable for some of its historic buildings such as the Abbey Mills Pump House (a Victorian gem). What sets this apart is that some of the views towards this city are pretty sweet, including the Docklands area and Canary Wharf (one option is to alight at the midway point and finish in Docklands instead). Randomly, it is also said that part of this route was Gandhi’s daily walk, when he visited London in the 1930s.

There are a few additional ‘attractions’ along the way like a human sun-dial (you become the pointer) and a colourful converted snail-shell (once a piece of machinery). Probably the ‘least’ pretty of all the cycle routes included in this blog, it should also be said that there is some crime on the Greenway – quite a few cyclists have been robbed along the Greenway in the dark winter months so it is best to only cycle here in the daytime.

Start and end transport

Start at Beckton Light Rail station, and finish at Bow Road or Bow Church underground stations.

Best pub to end your journey in

The Lighthouse Bar & Kitchen (there is not much else in the way of pubs around here) – alternatively, head to one of the brewery bars in nearby Hackney Wick.

Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Memorial Recreation Ground
Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Abbey Mills Pump House

Tottenham Hale to Limehouse

Canal cycling can get busy at the weekends (or during covid19!) but this 7.5 mile cycling route takes in numerous sights and doesn’t involve any road cycling (so it is perfect for families). Highlights of this cycling route in London include views of the London Olympic Stadium and park and Mittel Orbit structure from afar, watching narrowboat life up close (there are a few barge businesses like hairdressers and bakeries), lots of street art around Hackney Wick and a quick side trip into leafy Victoria Park (if you want to escape the canal for a while).

Start and end transport

Start at Tottenham Hale underground or train station, and finish at Limehouse DLR station.

Best pub to end your journey in

The Grapes, a historic boozer owned by none other than Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen, with a small deck looking out directly onto the Thames.

Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Olympic Stadium and Mittel Orbit
Hackney Wick street art
Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Old Ford Lock
Limehouse Basin

The Line London Sculpture Trail – Stratford to North Greenwich

The Line is London’s first dedicated public art route (around 7 miles in length), envisaged as an outdoor art exhibition (some installations are permanent, some temporary) and as such, very popular with cyclists, joggers and walkers alike. Starting in Stratford, the route broadly follows the actual Greenwich Meridian ‘line’ finishing in North Greenwich between the Greenwich Peninsula (the O2 centre) and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As well as excellent exhibits, there is also a lot of history along the trail including one of my favourite London waterway spots, Three Mills Island. There have been mills here since the saxon times – originally nine in number – and one you can still see today is the world’s biggest tidal mill. You’ll also find the Grade I listed House Mill and the whole area backs onto a film studios of the same name which hosts productions such as Masterchef (you’ll recognise the canal towpath as where the Masterchef contestants always do their weird introduction walk). The end is obviously slightly less historic, as the 02 area was primarily constructed as the Millennium Dome area. Check out our detailed line sculpture trail guide >

Start and end transport

Start at Stratford underground/DLR/train station or Pudding Mill Lane DLR station, and finish at North Greenwich underground station

Best pub to end your journey in

As this finishes at the 02, which is mainly chain bars like All Bar One or hotel bars, your best bet is the quirky Pilot Pub (which is also a Fuller’s Pub, so you know the selection on draft will be excellent).

Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Three Mills Island – Grade I listed House Mill
Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Danes Yard Tower
Sculpture of shopping trolleys called DNA DL90
Bow Locks

Hammersmith or Chiswick to Richmond via Strand on the Green

Back when I used to live in West London, this used to be one of my regular weekend cycle routes, as it is so scenic and also quite a level track (no need to use all those bike gears!) – depending on how much you want to cycle, you can either start in the busy Hammersmith area (just head straight to the Thames Path from Hammersmith Tube station) or if you fancy something a little more sedate, start in leafy Chiswick. The route stays along the Thames river all the way – if you want to make a day of it, this route also runs parallel to Kew Gardens (admission fees apply) or you can grab lunch at one of the lovely pubs overlooking Kew Green.

As well as cycling in Chiswick, the route takes you through the Strand on the Green, one of my favourite riverside areas in London and possibly West London’s best kept tourist secret – there are several riverside pubs here directly on the Thames (no road blocking the way) and it is so picturesque around here – you may also recognise it as a key filming location for The Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night. The cycle route finishes at Richmond Bridge – if you still fancy more exercise, you can hire a boat or punt here, or carry on cycling along the Thames all the way to Twickenham.

Start and end transport

Start at Hammersmith Underground or Chiswick train station, and finish at Richmond underground and train station.

Best pub to end your journey in

The White Cross – smack bang on the Thames with incredible views and a nice beer garden.

Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Hammersmith
Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides
Strand on the Green
Richmond

Victoria Park

An obvious choice but still a goody – arguably one of London’s most characterful public parks (and definitely one of the most visited), Victoria Park has heaps of open space and cycle paths / roadways all around (you can easily do cycle circuit training if that is your preference). As well as the boating lake and two cute cafes, Victoria Park is also particularly proud of its pergola, moved here from Hyde Park after the Chinese Exhibition in 1842.

If you visit on a Sunday, your cycle will coincide with the Victoria Park Farmer’s Market, selling the very best seasonal fruit and veg, cakes, baked goods galore and a wide selection of street food vendors. At the end, you can also easily explore and cycle into Victoria Park Village, with its range of arts and crafts stores, gastro pubs and restaurants. Check out our guide to Victoria Park Village and Park >

Start and end transport

Start and end at either Mile End or Bethnal Green underground stations, or Cambridge Heath overground station.

Best pub to end your journey in

A tough call between the Royal Inn on the Park (as it overlooks directly onto Victoria Park), or The Empress gastropub just a little up the road.


Hackney Marshes to Hackney Wick

Although Hackney Marshes may not be on your hit-list as it is more synonymous with sports and recreation, the cycling path and walkway is a windy and wonderful waterside trail that follows the River Lea and is brimming with nature and conservation areas. Follow the trail to North Marsh and the Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve (a relic from the water treatment days).

Once you hit the River Lee Navigation, bear left and cycle along the canal towpath past all the beautiful barges until you hit Hackney Wick-ed. If you want to extend your cycling route, you could also head towards Walthamstow Wetlands – Europe’s largest urban wetlands (free entry and cycle friendly on most trails in there) and then loop back to the Wick.

Start and end transport

Start at Leyton underground station or Lea Bridge railway station, and end at Hackney Wick overground Station.

Best pub to end your journey in

Crate Brewery for the outside beer garden overlooking the canal, or Howling Hops, for its incredible selection of beers (and the UK’s first tank bar).

Walthamstow Wetlands

Westminster Bridge to Greenwich

A cycle through the heart of the city, along the banks of the Thames, taking in numerous historical sights including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the reconstructed Globe Theatre and a mysterious bridge that was never completed.

This is a very flat cycle ride – around 8 miles long that starts at Westminster Bridge, overlooking the Houses of Parliament and finishes in Greenwich at the Cutty Sark (with minimal traffic as you are essentially using shared pathways pretty much all the way). You simply follow the Thames Path all the way, with an option to either stay on the South Bank or the way, or cross over to the other bank at Tower Bridge and go via Wapping and Docklands (this is our preferred route as it is quite easy to go astray in the Rotherhithe and Deptford).

If you’d prefer to walk it instead, we have a more detailed Southbank to Southwark walking itinerary with 25 key stops.

Start and end transport

Begin at Westminster or Waterloo stations, finish at Cutty Sark DLR station.

Best pub to end your journey in

Either The Gypsy Moth pub overlooking the Cutty Sark or itself or at the Trafalgar Tavern just down the road, with views overlooking the Thames – both have ample outdoor space for bicycles. Read our full guide to all the things to do in Greenwich here >

Things to do in the Square Mile London
Tower of London
Tower Bridge
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Cutty Sark

Parkland Walk – from Muswell Hill to Finsbury Park

Despite its name, this woodland track is also popular with cyclists – a former railway line that used to run between Alexandra Palace and Finsbury Park, this 3 mile pathway is totally free of traffic and also has lots of street art (well, cool graffiti). Given it is quite a short trail, you may want to combine this with some street cycling or a side-trip to Crouch End, a cute and creative London suburb with loads of good bars and restaurants. If you still have energy at the end, Finsbury Park itself is rather pleasant to cycle around, with its boating lake and numerous tracks and roadways.

Start and end transport

Start at Highgate underground Station, and finish at Finsbury Park tube and train station or Manor House underground station.

Best pub to end your journey in

The Faltering Fullback – literally a 30 second cycle from the end of the Parkland Walk with an incredible beer garden and some of the most tasty Thai food in whole of London.

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The Faltering Fullback

Cycling routes in London – related blog posts


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