The Most Bike-Friendly International Cities for Travelers

Other than being eco-friendly, navigating big cities by bike is a great way to save on gas, parking, and time when traveling. Check out this top of the world’s top bike-friendly cities for travelers publishing on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 27th, 2016. 

Bikes are a traveler’s best friend. When most travelers only get to see the sights that the tour busses and cars drive past, bikes offer a deeper, more intricate alternative. Going by bike offers traveling riders the chance to explore nooks and crannies otherwise not seen, stop and go on their own volition, and get in the exercise that a bus tour doesn’t offer. These are the best cities to explore on two wheels.


1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Biking is a major form of transportation Amsterdam. Logistically, the city streets are all very narrow, and traffic can back up to critical delays, making two wheels far easier than four in many cases. The streets lined with beautiful architecture to one side, and scenic canals and boats to the other. It is important to note though that driving under the influence in Amsterdam, even on bicycle, is still a crime. That said, the city’s loose marijuana laws make it easy to believe that every year Amsterdam city officials wind up drudging thousands of rusted bikes from the bottom of the city’s canals. A bike lock on a fence is still the recommended storage unit when you’re not riding.

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2. Oxford, England

Oxford is a beautiful town and home to the extremely prestigious university of the same name. It should come as no surprise that in every period movie or drama set in the countryside, the first scene is always someone riding a rickety bicycle up to an ivy coated house. Cycling through the city proper also works on two main routes: the first follows major traffic points for notable parts of the city, and the second follows back roads to see some of the lesser known streets. Just make sure to lock your bike up along George Street and get a bite to eat in the city’s breakout restaurant scene.

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3. Portland, Oregon

Portland offers a wide array of cycling experiences, from the city’s riverfront path to the Badger Creek Woods.The Nike Headquarters is based just outside of Portland as well, where the trails are full of noted Olympic athletes training for their next big race. Conversely, biking has become a very sensible form of transportation just to get from A to B, as many people move about the city on fixed-gear bikes riding to nearby coffee shops and local sights. A quick drive outside the city limits though also features bike trails in beautiful forest parks full of waterfalls and the sweet aroma of Evergreen trees.

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4. New York, NY

New York is always bustling no matter what time it is. The fast-paced, overcrowded nature of the city is what may make it seem like an unusual selection for this list. But New York can be one of the greatest cities for scenic routes, as it is also one of the few big US cities that has a public (via CitiBike) program. Scattered throughout the city are stations to rent a public bicycle, ride to your destination, and drop it off at another CitiBike location. This makes scenic rides through New York all the more fun because you’re no longer restricted to that neighborhood and can ride to a specific location and disembark. New York also has several paths mapped out just for such purposes, particularly through both Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. They also feature events like this biking donut tour.

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5. Paris, France

The beauty and romance of Paris is entirely based on the work and effort you put into it. Often times, that work and effort is put into churning those pedals around to keep moving forward. The city is scattered with bicycle rentals, and many streets have separate paths off the car lanes that are perfect for bicycles. If you’re looking to leave your bike lock on that bridge in the city, you may want to check out these localesinstead since Paris has blocked them.

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6. Washington, DC

The capitol sees all kinds of cyclists: from tourists leisurely rolling past the White House to congressmen trying to be seen supporting Go Green initiatives. Biking in the city can also be an inexpensive way to see as many landmarks as possible at any pace while getting the exercise to keep you from needing to hit the hotel gym that night. Car or bus tours can often come at a hefty price and do not always include every site that may be specific to tourists’ interests. Bikes also fit on the DC subway system comfortably and are easily portable.

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31 Comment to “The Most Bike-Friendly International Cities for Travelers”

  1. hannah gee says:

    Ah I love this post, so great cities to cycle in. I loved Cycling in Paris at Christmas time x

  2. Bhushavali says:

    Bikes are not only the best but also the most eco friendly way to move about a city. Glad to know the list includes Paris & Amsterdam!!

  3. Barely Vegan says:

    I would be so scared to ride a bike in New York, but I do understand why it’s on the list! I’d like to go to Portland and ride around.

    • I am more scared of doing that in Bucharest than in NYC, to be honest. I know you all think the traffic there is terrible, but it seemed mild to me after Bucharest, Athens on Labor day, and… Istanbul 😀

  4. Amanda Love says:

    I so recognize those CitiBikes in NYC being a New Yorker. They’re on almost every block in Brooklyn and people actually do ride them. They’re pretty safe too, we just hate that they take up valuable parking spots for cars. 🙁

    • Hahaha, yeah, it can’t be an all win. Unfortunately parking is a problem in NYC, but if you think about it, they take less space than having every bike rider park their car instead?

  5. This post just pushed me to learn how to ride a bike! I still don’t know how to, and it seems like biking is agreat way to explore these cities.

    Btw, you should also include other continents in this list, like Taipei Taiwan. When I went there, Bikes were the main modes of transport.

    • It is never to late! I have a friend who learned in her mid twenties 😀 Not done by me, but I welcome all additions to the top. Thanks for the Taipei recommendation!

  6. Priscilla says:

    I never thought NY was a bike friendly place!! I used to just walk or take the subway around town…

  7. Shub says:

    Go green! More and more countries should make the roads pedestrian and bikers friendly. Mother Earth needs these kind of initiatives.

  8. Lori says:

    Indeed, many people love to travel by bike or using their bikes while travelling. And true, Amsterdam is the most friendly city from this point of view 🙂 I was surprised in a nice way of Vienna – seemed really bike friendly as well.

  9. Saminu Abass says:

    These are wonderful places to take a ride. Though, am not that good in riding

  10. Franc Ramon says:

    I would actually love to have a bike ride in Paris or Amsterdam. It’s really gonna be scenic plus they have bike commute.

  11. Elizabeth O. says:

    I prefer bikes over cars, especially when I’m a small city. It doesn’t cause pollution and it keeps me physically active, that’s a win-win in my book! These cities are really beautiful and I’m sure it’s worth riding a bike for, I don’t even mind the distance.

  12. I hope our place will soon be more bicycle-friendly. Traffic is usually bad but there’s no infrastructure in place that makes it safe for bikers. I’d love to explore a city by bike. I want to do that when I visit any of the cities you listed here.

  13. Danessa Foo says:

    Interesting to see New York and Paris making that list… I am not surprised by Washington DC though. We saw many tourists riding around the monuments and touring the city via bikes.

  14. Fred says:

    I have not ridden a bike for a very long time! I have been to these cities but never saw the opportunity to ride a bike in any of them. Should get practicing to ride again.

  15. Leke Awonuga says:

    I love bikes tho don’t have any yet. Bikes are quite user friendly and can easily help one to navigate a city in a depth form.

  16. Erica says:

    Oh my goodness…here’s a confession: I don’t know how I ride a bike! And as someone who travels a lot, it’s definitely an inconvenience! My husband tried teaching me a few weeks ago, but the heat here makes it a little impossible to have he patience to learn.

  17. Rosey says:

    I love when cities use alternate transportation means (outside of vehicles). It makes them feel homier. 🙂

  18. fred erick says:

    This is really nice. I wish we had more places like these to bike around in the Philippines that is not to congested with traffic from the city.

    I especially like the Portland, Oregon. I wish I was there and just biked around the beautiful terrain 🙂

  19. Tiffany Yong says:

    Singapore is definitely not bike friendly, but I hope one day it will be because it is much more sustainable and environmental friendly!

  20. Debbie says:

    Amsterdam is the best place of biking. Its crazily organised so a pleasure to bike through. The citibikes are similar to the “boris bikes” in London, but due to traffic etc I am too scared to try in big cities. Great post.

    • I share your fear. When I see tons of traffic, I am a bit afraid of riding a bike. I’m more of a park girl when it comes to biking 😀 Scaredy cat, I koow 😀

  21. These are awesome cities to stay in. I wish that my country will have more facilities for bikers as well.

  22. Love this post. So useful. We biked all over New York recently and loved our time there.

    • Oh, awesome! I honestly wouldn’t have immediately thought of NYC as a bike-friendly place, so I found this information quite useful myself. When I visited, I stayed in Manhattan, and apart from a tour bus, I walked everywhere.

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