Best of British cycling cities

Bike Touring Collection by komoot

Britain has every kind of cycling you could dream of. From gentle riversides to mountain climbs, rocky bridleways to smooth lanes, city centres to national park adventures, and everything in between, you truly are spoiled for choice.

In a recent Komoot poll the UK voted Cardiff as their favourite cycling city followed by Newcastle, Plymouth, Birmingham, London, Leeds, Edinburgh, Bristol, Glasgow, and Norwich, respectively.

In this Collection we take a closer look at our top 10 and suggest one red-hot ride to try in every city. Starting from a central train station, every Tour follows cycle paths or bike-friendly roads for the most part and, where possible, sticks to traffic-free trails. The Highlights come thick-and-fast, too.

The routes in this Collection are suitable for any type of bike. However, if you have thin road tyres, it might be worth changing to a 37mm-40mm gravel tyre. Whilst some of these rides are challenging, if you have average fitness, you will be fine. None of these Tours take you into the back-and-beyond and food-and-drink opportunities are plentiful.

Ultimately, there is no better way to explore your city and its surroundings than on a bike. Hopefully, this Collection inspires you to get outside and discover.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Intermediate
    03:25
    33.2 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,400 ft
    1,400 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Expect mighty castle views, beautiful riverside riding, and a flavour of urban, rural, and coastal Wales on this stunning stage.

    With 33.2 miles of distance and 1,400 feet of elevation gain, this is a fairly challenging ride.

    However, as the Tour follows well-maintained cycleways and country lanes for the most part, with only a handful of short climbs, you should find it leisurely enough.

    From Cardiff Central Train Station, you ride straight to the gates of Cardiff Castle, a stunning medieval fortress. You cross the River Taff, descend to the water and join Lon Las Cymru, aka National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 8.

    You follow the cycleway on a gentle upwards trajectory through Pontcanna Fields and Hailey Park, past Radyr Weir, and underneath the M4 and A470 to join Merthyr Road.

    At the Lewis Arms pub, turn onto Mill Road. Upon heading into the trees, turn left and make a short-but-steep ascent to Castell Coch, a beautiful 19th-century castle overlooking Tongwynlais.

    You descend through Fforest Fawr on the Taff Trail and rejoin the cycleway near Caerphilly Road. Here, you leave Lon Las Cymru and take NCN Route 4 into the heart of Caerphilly, where you are afforded a spellbinding view of Caerphilly Castle.

    On the outskirts of town, the cycleway crosses the Rhymney River and follows it to Riverside Park, where you peel-off along tree-lined paths to Machen village. You cross the river once again and take country lanes through the glorious Glamorgan countryside.

    Leave NCN route 4 at Lower Michealstone and ascend a quiet lane to Michaelston-y-Fedw, where the Cefn Mably Arms pub is perfectly-placed for a pit-stop.

    It is then a long and undulating descent on country lanes to St Edeyrn’s village, where you join a sublime section of gravel along the Rhymney River. You then take cycle lanes and shared-use paths along the A1461 into the heart of Cardiff.

    The final section takes you along Bute Dock to Cardiff Bay, where you find hundreds of shops, restaurants, and attractions.

    For more great rides in Cardiff, visit: komoot.com/guide/17434/cycling-around-cardiff.

    Intermediate
    02:13
    22.5 mi
    10.1 mph
    600 ft
    725 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    This terrific Tyneside Tour explores both sides of the mighty River Tyne on its way to the North Sea and visits some of Newcastle’s most iconic attractions.

    Following well-surfaced cycle routes for the most part, and with no hills of note, this 22.5-mile ride is leisurely and packed with interest. The majority of the Tour is traffic-free, too.

    From Newcastle Central Station, head right along Neville Street, right along St Nicholas Street, and left onto Castle Garth, where you find Newcastle Castle, a striking medieval fortress that gave the city its name. Soon after you pass the Black Gate, the last part of the castle to be built.

    You descend to Hadrian’s Cycleway on the River Tyne, where you find another defining symbol of Newcastle, Tyne Bridge, which was opened by King George V in 1928. Continue along the north bank of the river, cross Gateshead Millennium Bridge and head left on the Three Rivers Cycleway.

    The trail takes you through pretty riverside parks, looping inland every now and then. A short while after passing over the Tyne Tunnel, it is worth a detour from the cycleway to see the Grade I-listed ruins of St Paul’s Monastery.

    You cross the River Don and rejoin the cycleway and follow cycle lanes along roads for the next 2 miles. It is then a mix of traffic-free trails and road sections to the South Shields Ferry Terminal, which you board across the Tyne to North Shields.

    Once across, you take Hadrian's Wall Cycleway west through Chirton Dene Park, Coble Dene Park, and Howdon Park to Willington Quay. You continue along traffic-free cycle paths through a green corridor with the river out of sight.

    You rejoin the Tyne at St Peter’s Basin. After crossing the small Ouseburn River, you leave the cycleway along Mariner’s Wharf to reach Quayside. With numerous restaurants and bars, it is the perfect place to finish. The station is less than a mile from here, if you retrace the first part of the Tour.

    For more great rides in Newcastle, visit: komoot.com/guide/671727/cycling-around-newcastle-upon-tyne.

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  • Difficult
    03:31
    33.1 mi
    9.4 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,150 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Breathtaking coastal views combine with the delightful Devon countryside and the idyllic expanse of Dartmoor National Park on this much-contrasting ride.

    With 33.1 miles of distance and 2,150 feet of elevation gain this is a more challenging ride and a good level of fitness is required.

    Leave the station and head west to join National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 2, which takes you around the bay to the Hoe, where you find the iconic Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse looking out over the English Channel.

    You trace the coastline to the Barbican, over the cobbled streets and then take a network of cycle paths and roads out of the city heading east, crossing the River Plym and onto the traffic-free cycle route.

    After heading under the Devon Expressway, you continue along NCN Route 2 until the Tesco. Here, you leave the cycleway and begin climbing out of Plympton. When you turn right onto West Park Hill Road, you begin a long climb on lanes through beautiful countryside.

    A brief descent from the hamlet of Yondertown is followed by another long climb to Lee Moor, which affords sublime views over moorland to Plymouth Sound. With more than 700 feet of elevation gain in the last 6.5 miles , most of the hard work is now done for the day. Aside from a few short-and-sharp climbs, the rest of the Tour is on a broadly downwards trajectory.

    After a brief descent, you climb steadily along the road through Wotter, where you are afforded awe-inspiring views to the coast. As you pass the 30 mph sign, take the road right, which winds into Dartmoor National Park.

    You cross the tiny River Plym via the picturesque Cadover Bridge before descending into Meavy. Here, you find the Royal Oak, a Grade II-listed village pub that is perfect for a pit-stop.

    The trail rises briefly out of Meavy before descending along beautiful country lanes to the Plym Valley Trail. For the next 6.5 miles you descend along this popular traffic-free route to Plymouth.

    The final section takes you southwest through the centre of Plymouth along traffic-free trails and roads back to the station.

    For more great rides in Plymouth, visit: komoot.com/guide/51558/cycling-around-plymouth.

    Intermediate
    02:25
    21.6 mi
    8.9 mph
    550 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This leisurely loop explores the historic canal network of Birmingham along tree-lined and traffic-free waterside trails.

    With 21.6 miles of distance and 550 feet of elevation gain, this is an easygoing Tour that is perfect for all abilities.

    From Birmingham New Street Station, you head onto National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 5 and soon join the Birmingham Canal, which opened in 1772.

    At the St Vincent Street Bridge, it is worth a brief detour from the cycleway to visit Edgbaston Reservoir, a lovely nature spot that is home to much wildlife. You rejoin NCN Route 5 a short time later and continue northwest.

    You cross the bridge at Smethwick Junction and cycle along a corridor of green to the Grade II-listed Engine Arm Aqueduct, an impressive iron structure that was built in 1928.

    After Telford Way, you take NCN Route 81 along the canalside to Albion Road Canal Bridge which you cross and join a gravel trail beside the Wednesbury Old Canal. Due to how narrow this section is, be mindful of other trail users.

    Less than a mile later, you pick-up the Walsall Canal. When you reach the Tame Valley Canal, cross over the water and under the A41 and follow this navigation northeast along a green waterside trail for 8.7 miles , crossing over a few times.

    The trail eventually leads underneath the infamous Spaghetti Junction, aka Gravelly Hill Interchange. From here, you take the North Birmingham Walking and Cycling Route along the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal to Old Snow Hill Road.

    The next section takes you along shared-use footpaths to St Philip's Cathedral, a spectacular Baroque-style building in the heart of Birmingham that was consecrated in 1715, and finally back to the station.

    For more great rides in Birmingham, visit: komoot.com/guide/14294/cycling-around-birmingham.

    Intermediate
    03:33
    35.2 mi
    9.9 mph
    825 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    If you thought cycling in London meant crowded streets, traffic jams, and concrete jungles, think again. This ride showcases a greener, gentler, and surprisingly rural-feeling side of England’s capital city.

    With 35.3 miles of distance and 825 feet of elevation gain, this is a reasonably challenging Tour. However, as it follows traffic-free trails and well-maintained cycleways for the most part, this ride is suitable for all abilities.

    From Southfields Station, head west on London Cycle Network (LCN) Route 3 around Putney Village and take LCN 71 to Richmond Park, a beautiful nature reserve where you can observe herds of fallow deer roaming freely, as well as woodpeckers, squirrels, and rabbits.

    You wind through the gorgeous parkland along National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 4 to Teddington Lock. Here, you cross the River Thames, cut through the heart of Teddington and then sprint along a lovely smooth and straight section through Hampton Park.

    Exit the park to the west, cross the picturesque Ham Common, and head along roads through Hampton, Sunbury, Lower Halliford, and Shepperton. You cross the Thames via Chertsey Bridge and rejoin NCN Route 4 after Chertsey Meads Nature Reserve.

    For the next 12 miles you ride along the south bank of the Thames on NCN 4 on roads and traffic-free trails to Kingston.

    You cross the town to Kingston Gate and then climb and descend on a great section of gravel along the southern edge of Richmond Park. The last section follows LCN Route 3 along roads back to the station.

    For more great rides in London, visit: komoot.com/guide/40898/cycling-around-london.

    Difficult
    03:16
    26.6 mi
    8.2 mph
    800 ft
    800 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    This Tour is the perfect taste of ‘urban gravel’ riding, taking you to places around Leeds where city, country, peace, and exhilaration go hand-in-hand.

    With 26.6 miles of distance and 800 feet of elevation gain, this ride is not too taxing. However, if you want to tackle the bike park, you will need some trail skills (or the confidence to give it a go).

    From the train station, head south along roads, crossing over the River Aire and the M621. You skirt the edge of Hunslet Moor Park, cross over the motorway once again and join the Middleton to City Centre Cycle Route, a paved and gravel path that winds out of the city.

    At Middleton Park, peel-off from the cycleway slightly and climb to Leeds Urban Bike Park, a flowing — and free-to-use — mountain bike and BMX trail with berms, drops, and jumps. When you’re done having fun, head down to Middleton Baptist Church and descend gradually into the green belt.

    You cross under the M1 and, at the Gardeners Arms, join the Rothwell greenway. This superb gravel trail descends steadily along a lovely corridor of green to the cemetery. Here, you double-back and head along Styebank Lane, skirt around Springhead Park, and continue along roads to Moorhouse and join the leafy Trans Pennine Trail to the River Aire.

    For the rest of the ride, you take a superb gravel trail beside the river past Thwaite Watermill, Thwaite Stone Circle, and the Royal Armouries back to the station. It is well worth spending some time to explore the sites along this pretty and varied section of trail.

    For more great rides in Leeds, visit: komoot.com/guide/674702/cycling-around-leeds.

    Easy
    01:22
    13.7 mi
    10.0 mph
    450 ft
    425 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This superb sightseeing Tour explores the historic city of Edinburgh, the port of Leith, and Portobello Beach, all on easygoing cycleways.

    With 13.7 miles of distance and 450 feet of elevation gain, this ride can easily be completed in under 90 minutes and is a great way to tick-off the attractions. Alternatively, you can take your time, park-up and explore more.

    From Edinburgh Waverley station, you join National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 75 and wind north through the city past Drummond Place Garden, through King George V Park, over the Water of Leith river and through St Mark's Park.

    You continue along the tree-lined trail and follow the Water of Leith to Sandport Place Bridge. Here, you cross the river and join the local cycle route across Leith, the Links park, and Seafield Cemetery to join the coast.

    For the next 2.2 miles you head along the delightful Portobello Promenade. If the weather is good, the golden sands and clear seas here are perfect for relaxing and swimming. Whatever the weather, you find lots of shops, restaurants and cafes along the promenade.

    Head right along Brunstable Burn with open fields on your left. At Brunstable Station, you join the Innocent Railway Path, a lovely cycle route along an old railway line which leads all the way to the heart of Edinburgh.

    Before finishing, it is well-worth paying a visit to Edinburgh Castle. Perched atop Castle Rock, the spot has been used as a fortress since the Iron Age and is an iconic landmark of the city.

    For more great rides in Edinburgh, visit: komoot.com/guide/18006/cycling-around-edinburgh.

    Intermediate
    04:54
    48.0 mi
    9.8 mph
    2,100 ft
    2,100 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Expect chalky-white bridleways, wide gravel byways, quiet country lanes, and picturesque riverside paths on this all-day bonanza, which showcases the bounty of brilliant riding Bristol has to offer.

    Taking you along the Cotswold Way, the stunning bridleways of Castle Combe, down the Fosse Way bridleway descent into the historic city of Bath, and making an easy finish along the River Avon to Bristol, this ride has it all.

    With 48 miles of distance and 2,100 feet of elevation gain — including some beastly climbs and technical descents — you will need a good level of fitness, endurance and reasonable technical ability to tackle this one.

    From Temple Meads Train Station, you pick up the smooth and traffic-free Bristol to Bath Cycle Path out of the city. You then follow back lanes through Pucklechurch (including a steep and rocky warm-up climb), then on through Hinton up the alternative Cock Lane climb.

    Turn left onto the Cotswold Way, which takes you along the field margin with fantastic views that stretch as far as the Severn Bridge and Wales. You follow this through fields, over the main road and along, parallel to the M4 motorway.

    North of Nettleton, enjoy the bumpy hedgerow bridleway past the dairy farm, which after a few gates opens into a central path up through a large arable field. Skirt the next few field edges before returning to the lanes, then onto Summer Lane gravel byway.

    The real highlight of the route comes next as you pass the Castle Combe race course and take the bridleway through Hammerdown Wood. Expect chalky hillside trails and impressive valleys that are secluded and vibrant with wildlife.

    Castle Combe is a really pretty village with some great pubs and places to grab a cream tea. It is a worthy detour, should you fancy a pit-stop.

    The following leg takes you onto the Roman Road of the Fosse Way, admittedly quite a busy road at times but with good visibility, and corking views to the Wessex Downs on your left. Peel off to the right when you reach Bannerdown, take the technical Fosse Way bridleway to Batheaston.

    Cross the river to the gravel trail that leads you to the canal and ride into the centre of Bath along the towpath, taking care for other users as it can get pretty busy. Once you are in the heart of the city there are myriad options for food and drink.

    From Bath, you follow the Bristol to Bath Path all the way back into Bitton, before peeling off to ride up Willsbridge Hill. You make your way to Hanham Lock, taking the idyllic gravel trail alongside the River Avon through Conham River Park to the finish.

    For more great rides in Bristol, visit: komoot.com/guide/9018/cycling-around-bristol.

    Intermediate
    02:21
    24.4 mi
    10.4 mph
    550 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This Tour takes you from the heart of Glasgow on picturesque cycle paths besides peaceful rivers, rural canals, and lochsides.

    With 24.4 miles of distance and 575 feet of elevation gain this is a leisurely ride that follows well-maintained cycleways for the most part, many of which are traffic-free. As such, it is a great Tour for all abilities.

    From Glasgow Central Station, you join the Waterways cycle path through Kelvingrove Park and continue along the River Kelvin on a pretty tree-lined trail.

    At Kelvin Aqueduct, you join the Kelvin and Clyde Canal towpath and follow it east for 7.7 miles of spellbinding waterside cycling. You depart from the towpath at Kirkintilloch, a historic town affectionately known as the ‘Canal Capital of Scotland’. There are places for food and drink here if you fancy a pit-stop.

    You then take traffic-free trails south through Woodhead Park and join Bothlin Burn as it flows through pretty Lanarkshire countryside to Muirhead. From here, you follow the A80 west past Frankfield Loch.

    After the University Of Strathclyde, you wind around Hogganfield Loch and then continue southwest into the heart of Glasgow once again. Right before the finish, the trail heads through George Square, the principal civic square in Glasgow, where you find many of the city’s important buildings and statues.

    For more great rides in Glasgow, visit: komoot.com/guide/26642/cycling-around-glasgow.

    Intermediate
    04:13
    44.0 mi
    10.4 mph
    1,100 ft
    1,100 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    This ride explores the historic city of Norwich, winds through the picturesque Norfolk countryside, and dips into the Broads National Park, where wildlife thrives and beauty is abundant.

    A good level of fitness and stamina is required for this ride, which is 44 miles (70.8 km) long with 1,100 feet (335 m) of elevation gain. However, as is characteristic for this part of the country, there is nothing even close to a hill, just a gently-undulating landscape.

    From Norwich Train Station, you head through the city to explore two landmarks: Norwich Castle, which was built under the orders of William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion; and Norwich Cathedral, a Grade I-listed building that dates to the 11th century.

    After crossing the River Wensum, you leave the city to the north along roads and eventually emerge into the countryside. At Spixworth, you head east along pretty country lanes lined with ancient hedgerows, dipping in and out of the Broads.

    When you reach Ranworth village, head right Maltsters pub and continue along country roads through the pleasant patchwork of fields and woodlands past Sotshole Broad, through the villages of Acle and Moulton St Mary, and onto Reedham on the River Yare.

    Here, you have to catch the chain ferry across the river, which runs on demand all through the day. Before boarding, though, the Reedham Ferry Inn makes a good choice for a pit-stop.

    You then begin to wind east along more pretty lanes through the villages of Loddon and Chedgrave. At Langley Street, you join National Cycle Network Route 1, which takes you past the stunning Rockland Broad, through Thorpe Marshes Nature Reserve, and along the banks of the Whitlingham Great Broad before leading you back to the heart of Norwich.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    10
  • Distance
    302 mi
  • Duration
    31:13 h
  • Elevation
    10,525 ft

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