Cycling around Manchester

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Photo: Ian

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Cycling in Manchester is one of the best ways to see this culturally-rich city’s fascinating history. A huge industrial sector has shaped the geography of this thriving place and by bike you can both explore the vibrant streets and get out into the surrounding nature. 

Use the many canals and riverside paths to pedal your way past old warehouses and factories before heading out south into sprawling farmland without so much as a hill in sight. Cycle routes around Manchester will take you to country parks, up pretty river valleys and even into the neighbouring Peak District National Park. 

Balancing flat trails with great opportunities to add in a hill climb or two, getting to know Manchester by bike is easy. Two-wheeled adventures will take you to hidden places, beautiful riverbanks and patches of glorious nature you never knew existed. 

Difficult
02:49
26.0 mi
Intermediate
02:28
19.4 mi
Easy
01:40
16.9 mi
Easy
01:38
15.6 mi
Difficult
03:12
32.7 mi
Difficult
01:58
16.3 mi
Intermediate
02:29
25.8 mi
Intermediate
04:37
43.6 mi
Intermediate
02:51
26.7 mi
Intermediate
02:51
29.8 mi
Difficult
04:03
38.9 mi
Intermediate
01:59
18.8 mi
Difficult
03:01
30.6 mi
Intermediate
03:36
34.9 mi
Difficult
03:33
30.0 mi
Easy
00:52
8.84 mi
Easy
00:41
6.89 mi
Difficult
00:57
9.91 mi
Easy
01:25
14.4 mi
Difficult
02:17
21.9 mi

Top 20 cycling routes around Manchester

    1
    Difficult
    02:49
    26.0 mi
    9.2 mph
    525 ft
    525 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.
    2
    Intermediate
    02:28
    19.4 mi
    7.9 mph
    450 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
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  • 3
    Easy
    01:40
    16.9 mi
    10.2 mph
    300 ft
    300 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    4
    Easy
    01:38
    15.6 mi
    9.5 mph
    425 ft
    425 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    5
    Difficult
    03:12
    32.7 mi
    10.2 mph
    800 ft
    800 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.
    6
    Difficult
    01:58
    16.3 mi
    8.3 mph
    200 ft
    200 ft
    Expert bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.
    7
    Intermediate
    02:29
    25.8 mi
    10.4 mph
    525 ft
    525 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    8
    Intermediate
    04:37
    43.6 mi
    9.4 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    9
    Intermediate
    02:51
    26.7 mi
    9.4 mph
    375 ft
    375 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    10
    Intermediate
    02:51
    29.8 mi
    10.5 mph
    600 ft
    600 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    11
    Difficult
    04:03
    38.9 mi
    9.6 mph
    2,000 ft
    2,000 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    12
    Intermediate
    01:59
    18.8 mi
    9.5 mph
    675 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    13
    Difficult
    03:01
    30.6 mi
    10.2 mph
    750 ft
    750 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.
    14
    Intermediate
    03:36
    34.9 mi
    9.7 mph
    550 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    15
    Difficult
    03:33
    30.0 mi
    8.5 mph
    625 ft
    625 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.
    16
    Easy
    00:52
    8.84 mi
    10.1 mph
    200 ft
    200 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    17
    Easy
    00:41
    6.89 mi
    10.1 mph
    125 ft
    125 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    18
    Difficult
    00:57
    9.91 mi
    10.5 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Expert bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.
    19
    Easy
    01:25
    14.4 mi
    10.1 mph
    300 ft
    300 ft
    Easy bike ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.
    20
    Difficult
    02:17
    21.9 mi
    9.6 mph
    325 ft
    325 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

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Going with the flow

Canals have a sense of magic around them and cycling along Manchester’s is a fantastic way to get to know the heart of this city. Serene, still water accompanies you as you explore the vast Manchester Ship Canal as well as the Ashton, Bridgewater, Peak Forest and Rochdale Canals. 

Some canals have the ability to lead you for miles, turning gentle morning rides into multi-day adventures if you want. Cycle routes by Manchester’s rivers can be just as impressive, with the Mersey, Irwell and Tame all meandering through the city and its surroundings. 

Nature and national parks

The River Tame will take you through Reddish Vale Country Park with its ponds, woodlands and open parkland. Keep an eye out for bright kingfishers as you pedal through. The River Mersey runs through wonderful green spaces and you can follow it from park to park on the outskirts of the city. Meadows, wetlands and woodlands can all be found on the banks of this well-known river. 

If it’s hills and dramatic scenery you’re looking for, the phenomenal geology of the Peak District awaits to the east. Pedal into the Peaks to find a fantastic array of cycle trails from off-road tracks up steep climbs to sweeping valley routes with the grand, rolling heights towering above. 

Pedaling back in time

Bike rides in Manchester never fail to introduce you to the city and area’s intriguing history. The city remains packed with fascinating buildings from repurposed factories and warehouses to mills and dockyards. 

The Tudor manor, Ordsall Hall can be found on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford. Out of place amongst the modern media companies of the area, Ordsall Hall provides a glimpse of Manchester’s history before it became the industrial powerhouse from the 1700s onwards. 

Cycling out of the city to the west, head to Worsley on the Leigh branch of the Bridgewater Canal. Stunning 18th and 19th century buildings line the canal here creating wonderfully picturesque scenes. Home to coal mines, the canal link between Worsley and Manchester was immensely important during the Industrial Revolution.

Wherever you end up pedaling in Manchester and its surroundings, history will surround you and carry you along with it. 

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