Seven Cities With Child Friendly Cycle Routes for Family Cycling

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 seven cities with child friendly cycle routes for family cycling from my own experience.

city bike rental for families
When everyone decides to rent a bike when you want to rent as well.

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 child friendly cycle paths for family cycling
7 major cities with child-friendly cycle paths for urban exploring

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.

Barcelona a city with child friendly cycle routes for family cycling
A cycle through the Parc de la Ciutadella

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.

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling
Bikes in the park in Madrid

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.

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling
A bike ride through Hyde Park in London

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.”

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling
Bikes chained along the river Spree in Berlin

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.

 a city with child friendly cycle routes for family cycling
A bike route in Vienna is shared with pedestrians.

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.

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling
My daughter liked to cycle the flat bits of Irvine whereas my son took the hills as a challenge.

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.

cycle paths in London
Biking through Central Park is a fun and safe activity for the whole family.

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 [easyazon_link identifier=”1760340839″ locale=”US” tag=”jg20-20″]Epic Bike Rides of the World[/easyazon_link] 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.

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE! 

What is better than biking around a city and explore it on two wheels? Here you'll find a list of 7 cities with child-friendly cycle routes in the world so you can go with the whole family! It includes cycle routes in London and other cities in Europe of course, but not only... #cycleroutes #bikes #biking #family #kids
What is better than biking around a city and explore it on two wheels? Here you’ll
find a list of 7 cities with child-friendly cycle routes in the world so you can go with
the whole family! It includes cycle routes in London and other cities in Europe of
course, but not only… #cycleroutes #bikes #biking #family #kids

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.

51 thoughts on “Seven Cities With Child Friendly Cycle Routes for Family Cycling”

    1. Amsterdam has a nice big park which isn’t in the centre but more of to the side. I’m not sure mine are of the ability to cycle in the streets of Amsterdam (or Copenhagen) yet. I tried to pick cities that were suited for little kids too (e.g., the emphasis on big city parks!!)

  1. This it such a great post! I had no idea about any of these cycle routes not even the London one and I’ve cycled there quite a bit. Thanks so much for sharing. I love to cycle in cities, European cities are great for safe cycle routes. I especially love Antwerp.

  2. Our son’s just learned to ride a bike and we’re itching to go on a cyling trip as a family! This is a really useful post, as I haven’t cycled in many of these places. We love the Netherlands, and Belgium, for cycling. It’s so safe there. #MondayEscapes

    1. Outside of the big cities, I think the Netherlands and Belgium are useful for all levels of cyclists. I would like to take the kids back to Bruges and see if they can cycle there – it seemed a nice small city with lots of bikers.

  3. I love your posts on family and child friendly vacation places. This is a great guide for bikers. I would just like to one more city here and that is Tel Aviv, Israel. I saw there were ebough stations and bikes in each one of them to get any numbers.

    1. I haven’t been to Tel Aviv! What a good idea. Usually these cities with beaches have a nice flat beachfront promenade that you can cycle along, catch a breeze and stop off for ice-cream (or two).

  4. Great list! Cycling is one of my favourite activities. I can’t speak from a family perspective, my personal favourite place for biking is all of the Netherlands. I’m probably a bit biased – lived there for over 4 years – but it’s a very bicycle-friendly country!

    1. The Netherlands is probably the most bike friendly country I know. I hesitated to put Amsterdam on this list because it’s not great for younger children. Once my kids become teenagers (and more proficient) I would let them bike in Amsterdam but it is shared use with cars, trams, other expert bikers etc.

  5. I get a bit nervous when bicycling with my kids too, especially when we’re in the city. In fact, we’ve only bicycled in Central Park in Manhattan once, and my kids were young, so I was really nervous. Now my son is 17, and he wants to do a cross-country bicycle ride in the US. My nerves! Still, I’m hoping I’ll overcome some of those fears and try to see more of the world’s cities via bicycle in 2017.

    1. Oh my goodness! He must be in peak fitness to cycle cross-country in the USA. Some serious miles, and some serious hills involved in that one. Central Park isn’t bad – our kids were young too. It’s the cars that stress me out. With children my husband and I create a little phalanx around our kids on the bikes 🙂

  6. My husband and I love exploring cities on bike! We wanted to do it in Amsterdam, but I felt like I was going to be a nervous wreck with all the traffic (and other bikers) so I opted against it. I would absolutely love riding around some of the European cities you’ve listed on here — it would be so much fun!

    1. Same here. I found Amsterdam a little nerve-wracking in terms of cycling. Those Dutch are expert bikers and weave in and out of traffic with ninja stealth. I definitely wouldn’t have let my children loose on the streets of that city until they were older and wiser.

  7. Cycling seems like such a great way to see new places. I wish we had bikes when we were on Island Hvar in Croatia last month. I noticed that there is a city bike rental stop near our apartment in Slovenia next month. I hadn’t thought about the possibility of there not being four bikes available until I read this, but of course that makes sense. We’ll see!

    1. If you aren’t travelling with kids then it might not be such a big deal to go to the next place to find a bike for you all. With kids though, once you get them set for something, the whole thing becomes drama if there’s a hiccup in the plan. I like to keep my drama to a minimum since there will inevitably be other drama that comes with travelling with kids.

  8. I’d never before done a bicycle route until visiting Europe. I’m so hooked now! I’ve done tours in a few of these cities but would love to knock them all off!

  9. This is a really really useful post. I love the idea of cycling with all my kids when they are a little older. I definitely need to bookmark this and would like to start with Barcelona. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  10. Our daughter was also too small to bike when we were in Barcelona, we’d love to visit again and have a bike ride. I’m downloading this app as soon as I finish typing. What a great idea for family travel!

  11. I am sure I would have been just like your daughter if we’d done ‘family cycling’! But, brillliant that you’ve got them all involved now. If you go back to Barcelona there’s a great place to cycle just outside the city – along the beach. You can see all sorts of birds, turtles and other wildlife.

  12. This is a fantastic list, thankyou for sharing! I’m starting to notice that more and more cities are adapting to become as bike friendly as possible, which is so fantastic because it’s such a great way to explore, especially with kids, and I think it’s becoming a rather large tourist trend 🙂

  13. I love the list and would love to share with all your readers a family friendly place to bike with the family. Florida has dedicated family-friendly bike trails, some of them are paved and some are paved. When visiting the theme parks extend your visit and go beyond the magic of Orlando you will find a nature lover, bike friendly and outdoor experiences that will mark Florida as a great place to visit beyond amusement parks

  14. Really helpful article not only for families with kids but for all types of travelers! I would love to cycle in some of the huge gorgeous parks of London especially in spring or autumn. When I was visiting Vienna I also noticed that they have great lanes for cyclists and the whole city is very clean and nicely arranged.

  15. I agree with almost everything what you say, but do you think that Barcelona is a Child Friendly Cycle city? I’m from Barcelona and unlike other European cities, in Barcelona there are a lot of accidents. Maybe not in Parc de la Ciutadella or in front of the beach, but cycling in the middle of the city where all the cars are, it pretty wild! I do it and I have to be very careful!

    1. I definitely wouldn’t go in the city itself in traffic with my kids (similar to London, New York City, Paris or any other big city). Cyclists in London are at a real risk in traffic. That’s why I suggested the Parc de la Ciutdaella in Barcelona – it’s huge, has lots of things to see and is safe. Especially with kids, you can’t count on them to pay attention in traffic and more than likely they will be distracted by some cool thing they see.

  16. That’s a great list of places with good cycling. Unfortunately, I don’t have kids, but it’s still great to see where and how I can go cycling with less worry. 🙂

    1. I like it too because I can cycle safely with all my camera gear. Stopping and going slow so I can get photos is a nice bonus. Of course, I can blame the kids for being slow pokes 🙂

  17. Great post – if you ever get to Merida, in the Yucatan Mexico check out the Bicecleta Ruta they close down half of the Paseo Montejo on Saturday nights and all day Sunday so families can ride bikes, roller blade and skateboard. It is fabulous – perfect for people watching and you can rent family bikes that will take up to 5, or just singles very cheaply. There is loads to see and do as it is the major road through a beautiful colonial area in Merida, the road was modelled on the Champs Elysee just gorgeous.

    1. That sounds fab! I would completely do a bicycle for 5 as that would be a cool experience but I can see my husband having a fit. He’s a proper cyclist and probably yell at us all for not doing any of the pedalling.

  18. Thanks Shobha for this lovely post. I really enjoying ride my cycle at night time. I think to travel at night time is much more adventurous than daytime. Your writing really inspires me to more ride. Like It:)

  19. Love your list. Even we had a ball cycling in Barcelona and many other places in India. I would love to do the same in other countries as well. Cycle our way to fitness!

  20. Europe is absolutely perfect in making the life of the bikers very good. in my opinion Amsterdam and Copenhagen are two of the best bike-friendly cities but there are many many more that I don’t know well.

    1. I just couldn’t cycle with kids in Amsterdam! My kids are decent on a cycle but I would worry they would see a cat or something and look away and be run over. There’s so much happening in Amsterdam and the streets are narrow. Copenhagen I can see being easier to cycle in.

  21. Nice list. Really liked the way you organized it. In our country Bangladesh, cycling has become a growing interest. Definitely not the best place for cycling but not that bad. Our community is growing and people are started cycling day by day. I hope one day I can see our country name in somewhere in the same type of list.

    1. Thank you. I am a paranoid mother so I did put some effort into creating this list of family-friendly cycling cities. My kids think they are great cyclists (because they do triathlons) but I’d rather be safe than sorry with city traffic.

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