Our countdown of the friendliest cities for urban cycling continues! Utilizing the expert analysis of urban planners, anthropologists and cycling enthusiasts from the urban design and communications consultancy Copenhagenize, these 10 cities might not be re-inventing the wheel, but they excel in encouraging locals and travelers alike to get out, hop on a bike and ride, ride, ride!
Missed numbers 20-11? Make a U-Turn and check them out here.
10. Seville, Spain
Hop on the green bike lanes of Seville to get the most out of this southern Andalusian gem. After snapping a couple of pictures standing over the canals of Plaza de España, take the safe two-lane cycle paths along the Guadalquivir River to enjoy the tranquility of Seville.
You can’t miss the Torre Del Oro as you pass by its imposing base, and make your way to the Royal Alcazar. The UNESCO World Heritage site will blow you away with its intricate motifs and architecture from the 1300’s. You’ve only begun to discover the beauty of Seville!
9. Antwerp, Belgium
Famous for fashion, diamonds, and art, the Flemish city of Antwerp is also great for urban cycling! Witness the city’s history on the impressive facades, from the medieval Grote Markt (Great Market Square) with City Hall and the Brabo Fountain, to the ultra-modern MAS museum. Ride around the Het Eilandje district, an old port and the city’s economic pride in the success in the 1800s, in transition to becoming a fashionable area. As you cycle back towards the city center, you’ll regret not stopping into the Cathedral of Our Lady to admire the massive Rubens masterpieces. Afterwards make sure you stock up on beer, Belgian frites, and chocolate, and then head for the diamond district, perhaps for a souvenir that lasts forever. Big-spender or not, you’ll enjoy the charm of the small alleys and the company of Orthodox Jews on bikes.
8. Bordeaux, France
If you’re looking for a French city with good cycling, good sights, and good wine, then visit Bordeaux. Thanks to the new tram networks, the city benefits from calmer traffic making it agreeable to cycle from point A to point B – especially if you use the city’s bike share system VCub.
Experience one of France’s bike friendly cities on two wheels, from the shores of the Garonne, splashing through the Miroir d’Eau fountain, and getting lost in the ghostly Submarine Base where art meets heritage.
If rolling in wine sounds like your kind of thing, you’ve come to the right place. The Ecole des Vins will help you brush up on your wine knowledge just enough to feel like a know-it-all during a wine tasting at one of the many vineyards in the Bordelais region. Just remember to not drink and ride!
7. Nantes, France
Cycling is a great way of exploring Nantes, with large bike lanes smack dab in the center of boulevards. Feel like the king of the road rolling down the Cours des 50 Otages, straying only to cut left past the old 18th century neighborhood, inevitably drawn towards the castle Château des Ducs de Bretagne.
If you follow the Erdre River, you’ll probably be tempted to sneak a peek at the Lieu Unique, the reconverted LU biscuit factory that now houses cultural events and a hammam.
On the other side of the Loire, on the île de Nantes, ride your bike to the fantastical world of the Machines de l’île, a workshop playground/exhibit of giant mechanical animals. You’ll forget your bike for a moment while taking a ride on the giant wooden Elephant.
6. Malmö, Sweden
It comes as no surprise that Malmö is Sweden’s leading bicycle city, benefiting from the success of urban cycling leader Copenhagen just over the Öresund strait. A cycle along the beach at Scaniaparken will give you the sea air fix you need in the winter, and you can catch those much needed sun rays while sitting on the Scaniabadet stairs.
A craving for something fishy? Head on your bike in direction of Malmöhus Slott castle, stopping at the Fiskehoddorna where fisherman’s huts display the catch of the day. Window shop on the pedestrian streets like Södergatan where you can park your bike and warm up with a coffee at Solde Kafferosteri. Coffee, bikes, and sea air – it doesn’t get much better than this!
5. Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Eindhoven has the best intentions for cyclists in mind, and it deserves its ranking as one of the most bike friendly cities – streets with dangerous “car door zone” bike lanes are being modified to give cyclists their own safe space. A bird’s eye view of the Hovenring floating cycle roundabout shows how urban cycling has found its rightful place in the city.
If you’re cycling around come nightfall, head east for a wide-eyed dream – Van Gogh’s Starry Night takes a whole new dimension on the unique Van Gogh Roosengarde bike path with its twinkling stones that light up like a starlit sky.
4. Strasbourg, France
In a constant initiative to reduce the presence of cars in the city center, Strasbourg city has set up numerous bike lines and an efficient city bike rental system. For a ride through time, rent a Vélhop and stride through the Grande Ile, Strasbourg’s historic center recognized as UNESCO World Heritage. The multi-colored half-timbered houses in Petite France neighborhood will give you a charm overload, but don’t fall off your bike quite yet, you still have things to do in Strasbourg: see the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral and its remarkable Astronomical clock – don’t miss its performance at 12:30.
As you’re virtually on the French door towards Germany, take a day trip along the Piste des Forts bike trail to the nearby neighbor, enjoying the cool forest atmosphere on the way.
3. Utrecht, the Netherlands
Once you’ve seen Amsterdam over and under, then try Utrecht, one of our favorite EU city break destinations of 2016. Watch the perfectly choreographed dance of cyclists at rush hour or partake in the organised chaos by doing your own tour of Utrecht.
Follow the Domtoren (Dom Tower) that points like an arrow at the end of the bricked Zadelstraat Street to discover the historic heart of the city or grab an Utrecht Strong Ale at the new Beers & Barrels on the under-street-level Oudegracht promenade. Bikes are on the rise in Utrecht – soon to see the light is the world’s largest bike garage. A solution to house 12,500 bikes until now being reluctantly (or ironically) parked by frustrated (or humorous) cyclists on “do not park your bike here” signposts!
2. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam is ideal for urban cycling with its flat terrain and 400 kilometers of bike path around the city. Just a look at the sea of bicycles at Fietsflat bike garage gives you an idea of how many people you’ll be pedaling alongside. On the banks of the historic canals, or on the grassy Museumplein, you can see cyclists catching a few rays of sunshine with their loyal steed.
To enjoy a leisurely stroll, push past the dinging bells of the commuters on the main streets and wander from Nieuwmarket Square towards the Amstel River that gives the city its name. On the Magere Bridge, literally translated as the Skinny Bridge, watch the ebb and flow of life on the water. As the sun sets and the bridge’s little yellow bulbs light up, venture into the hip De Pijp neighborhood where you can stumble upon bars like Mash or Boelen & Boelen serving up local charm in every cup.
Want to know Amsterdam inside and out? Download our free offline momondo places city guide to Amsterdam for local tips.
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
The bike city to dethrone all bike friendly cities is Copenhagen – the most bike friendly city in the world, as outlined in the Copenhagenize Cycling Index.
In a city where close to half of the working and studying population uses bikes as a form of transport, it’s only logical that the city evolves to adapt to their needs. First thing, rent a bike. If you grab one at social enterprise Baisikeli whose mission is to collect used bikes and send them to disfavored African communities, you can dive right into cycle mode by rolling along Cykelslangen (The Cycle Snake) over the modern south harbor towards the wild fields of Amager.
Once you’ve gained a bit of practice and have become an intrepid cyclist, you’re ready to roll the streets of the vibrant Nørrebro neighbourhood. Bike traffic is at its peak on the Nørrebrogade axis – join if you dare and blend in with the Danes on two wheels. If you need to tap out, hop on the bike path Nørrebroruten (that becomes Den Gronne Sti), from conceptual park Superkilen to posh Frederiksberg to the west of the city. Riding with company? Gear up with a cargo bike and take your hot ride around town.
Looking for more tips? Download the momondo places city guide for Copenhagen with more than 200 recommendations from locals.