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Exploring Britain’s cities by bike

From iconic sights to touring the flavours of Britain’s cities, hop on a cycle for a fun and eco-friendly way to explore our cultural hubs. With docking stations dotted around city centres, electric cycles for some extra pedal power and even party bikes – it’s never been easier to ride round Britain’s cities on two wheels.

To celebrate World Bicycle Day on 3 June 2022, here’s some tours and pedal-powered adventures which allow you to discover a different perspective of Britain’s cities…

London

 Tally Ho! Gin Safari experience tour guides and tourists cycling around London

Whether you’re zipping past London’s iconic sights or venturing further into its wild nature – Britain’s capital city has a wealth of trails and tours to explore. Take to the Thames Path for landmark spotting along the largely traffic free route. For a jolly time on two wheels, take to the streets of London with ice and a slice on a gin safari, or find your inner artist while trying your hand at graffiti on the Landmarks and Gems tour. Discover the city’s streets at dusk, or uncover London’s hidden spots for a tour with a difference. 

You can grab one of 12,000 Santander Cycles from around 800 docking stations across London, with rental rates starting at £2. For some more pedal power, hop on an electric Lime bike, accessible through an app with a variable cost tariff.

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London

Birmingham

With its vast waterways and flourishing nature – Birmingham is best explored by bike. Sweet smelling aromas of chocolate and the vibrant gardens of Cannon Hill Park make up Birmingham’s chocolate trail. The route travels through the city’s iconic home of Cadbury’s chocolate, following part of the Rea Valley Cycle route and the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. Or venture to the places that inspired J.R.R Tolkien on a self-guided tour – keep an eye out for events across the city for shared fun on two wheels. For a popping party, take to Downtown Birmingham aboard a party bike or join a social mixer for a tour of the city’s pubs and bars.

There are 50 docks conveniently located across the city with West Midlands cycle hire. You can pick up a cycle using your smart phone, charged at 5p per minute with a £1 unlocking fee. 

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Birmingham

Brighton

Look no further than Brighton for a cruising journey along pebbled shorelines and cliff top paths. Staying in the city, you can jump on a tandem from Brighton Beach bikes for a shared ride past the iconic pier and colourful beach huts. Or glide past the city’s sights on the Grand Coastal tour – there’s even a stop at international DJ FatBoy Slim’s Big Beach Café! Avid cyclists can take to Sussex’s rolling countryside: with a climb once attempted during the Tour de France, Ditchling Beacon provides stunning panoramic views of the ancient Weald, and beyond.

You can cycle Brighton’s streets on a BTN Bike, located at docking stations around the city and charged at 4p per minute with a £1 unlocking fee.

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Brighton

Bristol

As Britain’s first cycling city, Bristol has plenty of routes explore by bike. Following the Bristol Docks Loop will lead you through the vibrant city centre to the Cumberland Basin, boasting a jaw-dropping perspective of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. Pick up the adrenaline with the Avon Timberland cycling trail – starting from Ashton Court Estate you can hire a mountain bike and find your wild side zipping through historic woodlands. 

Bristol Cycle Shack offers bike hire starting from £15 per day, with the option to pick up a tandem for a two-person journey through the city. You can glide through Bristol’s sights with some added power on an electric bike, prices starting at £45.

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Bristol

Manchester

Take to Manchester’s 55 miles of protected cycleway for an eco-friendly way to explore the city’s diverse food scene and cultural hotspots. For a leisurely canal-side cycle with some big attractions, join the Ashton Canal Cycleway – starting at Piccadilly Gardens, the route passes Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and the National Cycling Centre, Britain’s first indoor cycling track. Adventurers can pick up part of the Trans Pennine Trail: spanning the width of England, it passes through Manchester, and you can cycle alongside the River Mersey to Chorlton Water Park for woodlands and water sports.

You can expect to find more than 200 stations, 1,200 pedal bikes and 300 e-bikes in Manchester, Salford and Trafford from summer 2022 with Bee Network Cycle hire – prices start at 50p to unlock and 5p per minute to ride. 

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Manchester

Liverpool

Take in the home of The Beatles from a different perspective on a music-themed ride past Liverpool’s famous Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and John Lennon’s house. Aboard an e-bike, the places that inspired the band that rocked the 1960s. For a saddle-based experience touring Liverpool’s taprooms, you can join the Pub Crawl Tour. The Liverpool Loop Line is ideal for families or those seeking a tranquil adventure in the city’s countryside. For a peek at a world-class football stadium,  glide past Liverpool’s Anfield following the Liverpool City Centre to Walton route.

Liverpool’s citybike scheme offers bike hire from stations across the city, priced at a £1 unlocking fee and 25p per minute. With a choice of pedal bikes and e-bikes, you can pick the most convenient way to see the city sights.

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Liverpool

Cardiff

For a ride that leads visitors past historic castles, blooming parks and alongside Cardiff’s waterfront, explore the Taff Trail. Zip past Wales’ largest theatre or stop off to see a performance, as well as gliding past the home of Welsh football and rugby – the Principality Stadium. For a traffic free waterside route, follow the circular Cardiff Bay Trail and pick up an ice-cream along the way.

Over 200 OVO bikes fill Cardiff’s streets to rent via an app – with both pedal and e-bikes available. Prices for hire start at £1 per half an hour. Accessible bikes can be picked up from Cardiff Bay and Pontcanna Fields via Pedal Power.

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Cardiff

Edinburgh

From city to coast, Edinburgh has cycle routes for all abilities. You can pick up National Cycle Network’s Route 75 from St Andrew’s Square, travelling down the Union Canal and stopping at Colinton Tunnel – Britain’s longest continuous mural full of colourful creative vibes. For a peaceful venture out into nature, join A Wee Pedal for a mindful cycle, or taste the flavours of Edinburgh’s hops on a Bikes, Beers and Brewery tour. Ricky’s Bicycle Tours take you to the heights of Arthur’s Seat and the shores of Leith. Or discover city centre adventures on two wheels with Edinburgh Bike Tours for hidden trails and city icons.

You can also choose to hire a road, electric or mountain bike from Cycle Scotland with prices starting from £25 per day.

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Edinburgh

Glasgow

A city with more than 185 miles of cycleways and an abundance of cycling tours, getting out on two wheels provides an alternative perspective of Glasgow. A ride along the River Clyde takes you on the National Cycle Network’s Route 75 – found just a stone’s throw away from Glasgow Central train station. Or for an inner-city journey, follow Route 756 leading to Kelvingrove Park – swing by the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum for unique exhibitions and art collections. Glasgow Bike Tours host a wealth of cycle adventures, from a city-wide sightseeing tour to dipping into the malty flavours of Glaswegian whisky.

Starting at £1 per hour with a £10-day rate – you can hop on a pedal or e-bike from OVO bikes to explore the city centre.

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Glasgow
26 May 2022(last updated)

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