I’m sure you have seen the rental bikes that have cropped up all over the world’s major cities that let you rent a bike for a short term spin around the city. The main downside with these bike hires is that you are not entirely sure if the numbers you need will be at the place that you want when you go to hire them. If you are travelling with a family, then you are better off using a city bike rental such as Donkey Republic to make sure your plans to cycle the city don’t get waylaid. I’ve put together this list of seen cities with child friendly cycle routes for family cycling from my own experience.
We love to cycle as a family but I am also a nervous mother. I think my children have more faith in their cycling expertise than I do. My daughter absolutely, positively refused to get on a bicycle until she was 8 years old no matter how much begging the rest of us did. She wouldn’t even get on a tandem bicycle or use a trailer. Once we stopped harassing her, she learned to ride a bike on her own accord and now she loves it. Go figure.
7 Cities With Perfect Child Friendly Cycle Routes
What makes these cities perfect for family cycling? Probably the fact that for the most part, they have a large urban park in the middle of the city for easy traffic-free cycling. When you have mixed ability cyclists, a dedicated cycle path is the best option to avoid vacation mishaps. Although both my kids love cycling now, they are not only easily distracted by their environment but also like competing with each other. I’d prefer not to test out our travel insurance on holiday.
Family Cycle in Barcelona
City bike rental in Barcelona is pretty easy for families. I would choose to explore the 70 acres of the Parc de la Ciutadella on a bike. When we went to Barcelona, we did not hire bikes because our children had not yet learned to ride bikes. We did not see anywhere near enough of the park’s many attractions (including a winter garden, the Barcelona zoo, waterfalls and even the Parliament of Catalonia) because we were limited to strolling. It is definitely on our must-do list for next time.
In addition, the bike path along the beach is perfect for a family cycle ride. The path is flat, straight and lined with snack vendors and play opportunities.
Family Cycle in Madrid
Likewise in Madrid, the Buen Retiro park takes up 350 acres near the Prado Museum. Renting a cycle is the best way to see all of its attractions, including the lake, art galleries and gardens.
Family Cycle in London
London has a great cyclepaths in its Royal Parks in the centre of the city. Hyde Park (350 acres) is connected to the smaller (47 acres) and St. James’s Park (57 acres). Although at a busy intersection, the route from Hyde Park into Green Park is regulated by a traffic signal to control the heavy pedestrian/cyclist crossing.
We had no problems when we did a cycle ride through these parks. On your ride, you will pass the Serpentine, Kensington Palace and have a postcard perfect view of Buckingham Palace surrounded by gardens from a bridge in St. James’s Park.
Family Cycle in Berlin
The Tiergarten in Berlin is set on over 500 acres of parkland in the centre of Berlin. You can explore lots of statues and memorials along its 14 miles of pathways. The paths are wide and flat thanks to the near-leveling of the city by Allied troops after World War II. They destroyed much in their wake and some of the statues still bullet holes in them which makes for a different game of “seek and find.”
Family Cycle in Vienna
In Vienna, we cycled through the park that surrounded the oldest amusement park in Europe, the Prater. Frankly, it was also an exercise in economy because renting bikes is much cheaper than to constantly keep shelling out Euros for each ride that would last only a few minutes. You pay for each ride individually at the amusement park and that can really add up. Surrounding the amusement park are hundreds of acres of parkland most of it very flat and easy to cycle.
Family Cycle in Irvine
Cycling in the planned city of Irvine in Southern California is a joy. The city encourages cycling and provides hundreds of miles of on and off-street parking. With so many dedicated cycle routes, I actually even let my children cycle outside of a traffic-free park! If you are more comfortable in a park, then check out the hundreds of acres that make up Orange County Great Park in Irvine.
Family Cycle in Manhattan
In Manhattan, Central Park is the place to take your family for a bike ride. Even though the city has provided more dedicated cyclepaths, Central Park is still your best bet with children on a family cycle ride. Central Park covers almost 800 acres and includes a Zoo, numerous playgrounds and a reservoir. You will pass the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim if you would like to take a break. There are lots of vendors around where you can stop and get drinks. You should know though that once you start the bike loop, you are stuck going all the way around it. There are no shortcuts but there are some steep hills.
Good to Know When Cycling With the Family
Other family-friendly cycling cities that I have been recommended to me are San Diego in California and Nice in France. Everyone cycles in Amsterdam it seems but I would have reservations letting my children cycle in the city. You are sharing the road with cars, taxis, expert cyclists, trams etc. I would think that family cycling in Amsterdam was best with older children.
My husband received a copy of Lonely Planet’s Epic Bike Rides of the World as a Christmas gift. He and the rest of the family were pretty enthralled with the book. Although this book has epic rides as suggested by the title, it also suggests shorter and easier family-friendly cycle routes.
Do you have any other cities that you can recommend that have family-friendly cycling routes? I would love to add to this list.
This article has been done in collaboration with Donkey Republic. As ever, all opinions remain my own. It also contains affiliate links about which more can be read at the Disclosure Policy and is linked up with Monday Escapes.