10 Bike-Friendly Cities: Discovering Urban Landscapes on Two Wheels

By Megan Flottorp

If you are looking to incorporate a city break into your upcoming summer travel plans, you likely want a destination that knows how to treat its cyclists. Because when it comes to travel, bicycling is not just a mode of transportation; it’s a ticket to experiencing the soul of a city at your own leisurely pace while moving your body and boosting your mood.

Luckily, your options for epic urban cycling adventures are constantly expanding — with more cities investing in dedicated bike-oriented infrastructure each year. Indeed, while iconic bike-friendly cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam will forever be on every cyclist’s radar, today, we would also like to share some lesser-known urban treasures begging to be explored on two wheels. Ready for some cycling destination inspo? Let’s dive in.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria: Where history meets urban charm

Nestled amidst the scenic hills of Bulgaria, Plovdiv combines ancient history with contemporary allure. The city’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and cycling is a great way to explore its winding streets and picturesque alleys. As you venture further out, you’ll find that the city also has an extensive network of bike paths and trails, as well as a bike-sharing program. Some top cycling routes in Plovdiv include the Maritsa River path, which follows the river from the city centre to the surrounding countryside, and the climb up the Nebet Tepe hill, offering spectacular views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Make a pit stop at one of the cosy cafes, indulge in traditional Bulgarian cuisine, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere that emanates from this cultural hub.

Seville, Spain: Flamenco rhythms and architectural marvels

Cycling in Seville
The river bank in Seville. © Profimedia

Saddle up and prepare for a journey through the vibrant tapestry of Seville. Whether you are cycling along the picturesque Guadalquivir River or marvelling at the stunning architecture of the Plaza de España and the iconic Seville Cathedral — you can lose yourself in the essence of traditional Andalusian culture. In addition to being a must-see for authentic Spanish vibes, though, Seville has also become one of the hottest spots for cycling across the continent. Thanks mainly to the building of countless segregated bike lines, a full 80km, in fact, now runs over what were previously parking spaces for cars. As a result, the average number of bikes used daily has exploded, and there are now about 50 bike shops in a city — so you know you’ll be well-serviced if you encounter any issues or want to opt for a rental.

Bogota, Colombia: A colourful cycling paradise

Known for its lively streets and vibrant street art, Bogota beckons adventurers with its energetic spirit. Here you can grab a bicycle and join the locals on the city’s extensive offering of bike lanes—known as ciclorutas, this is Latin America’s biggest cycling path network. As you pedal past the vibrant neighbourhoods of La Candelaria and Chapinero, you’ll discover colourful murals and bustling markets. In addition, you can discover the La Ciclovía tradition, when every Sunday, a large part of the road is dedicated to pedestrians and cycling enthusiasts. The city also boasts a mobile app for cyclists, Biko, which promotes cycling culture and gives special bonuses for riding.

Minneapolis, Minnesota: Cycling the city of lakes

Lake Calhoun
The Lake Calhoun Pavilion observation deck in Minnesota. © Profimedia

In the Twin Cities, the bicycle reigns supreme. With its interconnected system of bike-friendly trails, Minneapolis offers a pretty impressive cycling experience. Thanks to the local biking community’s work to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians—there are miles and miles of bike lanes, protected bikeways, and dedicated bike paths on which you can cruise around town. For a trip just south of the city, try the 5.7-mile Midtown Greenway, which takes you over the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge and leads you to the Chain of Lakes. Here you can explore an interconnected network comprising Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and Lake of the Isles, where you’ll find stunning views and an abundance of recreational activities.

Tainan, Taiwan: Temples, street food, and cycling adventures

In the heart of Taiwan lies Tainan, a city bursting with history, delicious street food, and charming alleyways. This is an ideal place to hop on a bicycle and weave through the labyrinth of narrow streets, stumbling upon hidden temples, vibrant night markets, and traditional tea houses. Luckily for us, the city boasts an extensive network of bike lanes and paths, as well as a bike-sharing program. Some of the highlights of cycling in Tainan include the Anping Tree House, a historic warehouse now home to a forest of banyan trees, and the Tainan Canal, a scenic waterway perfect for a leisurely bike ride. And, of course, Tainan’s super friendly locals mean a positive atmosphere and plenty of readily available help should you lose your way.

Melbourne, Australia: A cyclist’s paradise down under

Both banks of Yarra River, including well-known Southbank, in City of Melbourne at twillight. © Profimedia

Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia, is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, world-class coffee, and bike-friendly infrastructure. The city has more than 135 kilometres of biking roads and a laundry list of must-have cycling experiences. One riding highlight is the Capital City Trail, where cyclists share 29 kilometres with pedestrians. It circles the inner city and goes through some eastern and northern suburbs. The Maribyrnong River Trail, meanwhile, has an easy grade and takes riders past the Flemington Racecourse, a major horse racing venue, as well as Pipemakers Park, where you can explore the historic buildings and wetlands. The Main Yarra Trail is another option, offering up to 33 kilometres of lush green spaces and picturesque waterfront. Oh, and don’t forget to make a detour to St Kilda Beach, where you can enjoy the refreshing sea breeze before returning to the urban buzz.

Odense, Denmark: Pedaling through a fairy tale

Prepare to be transported into the magical world of Hans Christian Andersen as you explore Odense, the birthplace of the beloved Danish writer. Pedal through the charming streets, passing by half-timbered houses and picturesque canals. The city has an extensive network of bike paths and trails, as well as a bike-sharing program, making it easy for visitors to get around without a car. Some of the top cycling routes in Odense include the Odense River path, which follows the river from the city centre to the surrounding countryside, and the Hans Christian Andersen Trail, a cycling route that takes visitors through the city and to some of the most important places in the author’s life. Also, don’t miss the stunning Fruens Bøge forest, a serene oasis just a short ride from the city centre.

Tel Aviv, Israel: Coastal beauty and urban excitement

Tel Aviv
The old city and port of Jaffa in Tel Aviv. © Profimedia

Discover the vibrant fusion of beach vibes and urban energy in Tel Aviv, Israel’s cosmopolitan gem. With its extensive network of cycling paths and bike-friendly streets, including the scenic Tel Aviv Promenade, the city is a dream to explore by bike. Glide along the coastline, feeling the warmth of the sun and marveling at the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. The UNESCO-listed White City is also a must-see with its stunning Bauhaus architecture and vibrant street art. And, of course, Tel Aviv is a great starting point for cycling trips along the Mediterranean coast.

Hoi An, Vietnam: Cycling through timeless charm

Hoi An is a small and charming city located on the central coast. The city is known for its beautiful beaches, rich history, and charming architecture— and has an extensive network of bike paths and trails, as well as a bike-sharing program. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An’s narrow streets are adorned with lanterns, historic buildings, and traditional shops. Take a leisurely ride to the nearby countryside, where picturesque rice paddies and quaint villages await. The laid-back atmosphere and delectable local cuisine make Hoi An a true haven for explorers on two wheels.

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Europe’s green cycling capital

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, proudly holds the title of Europe’s Green Capital, and for good reason. The city’s car-free city centre and extensive cycling infrastructure make it a paradise for cyclists. Pedal through Tivoli Park, the city’s largest green space, and explore the vibrant riverside lined with cafes and galleries. And, of course, don’t forget to stop by the iconic Ljubljana Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the charming city below.

So, there you have it! If you are still looking to plan a summer adventure, why not opt to embark on a cycling adventure through a new urban landscape? Whether it’s the rich history of Plovdiv, the vibrant street culture of Bogota, or the coastal beauty of Tel Aviv, these destinations offer unique perspectives that can only be fully appreciated from the seat of a bicycle. Grab your helmet, hop on your trusty steed, and let the city be your playground!