London by Bike: cycle routes

Time Out's staff show you the best cycle rides in the capital

We sent out five of our most adventurous writers to explore all corners of London and recommend the best routes for you to discover on a bike. You can tackle each route in full or simply select a section of the journey to try for yourself. Where possible, our writers have highlighted the nearest Barclays docking station where you can pick up and drop off your bike, but for a clearer view of all Barclays docking stations, check out this map. Remember to bear in mind the price of hiring a Barclays bike before embarking on your cycling route.

Choose your route: Central l North l South l East l West

The route in detail

Big Ben, London Big Ben, London

Start at the Victoria Embankment (1) docking station and follow the road west. This is a beautiful stretch that runs alongside the Thames, so you’ll see some major landmarks, including Cleopatra’s Needle and the London Eye, as well as the stunning evolution of architecture, especially in the OXO Tower (’20s), Ministry of Defence (’50s) and Portcullis House (’90s).

As you approach Westminster (2), Big Ben will loom into view above the trees. Once you reach its base, turn right into Bridge Street and follow the one-way system around Parliament Square until you’re on Great George Street. Take the first right into Horse Guards Road, where St James's Park will unfold to your left and, to your right, Horse Guards Parade, where Trooping the Colour takes place every year on The Queen’s birthday.

Prince Charles Cinema Prince Charles Cinema

At the end, turn right into The Mall until you meet the roundabout. It’s quite traffic-heavy here, so you might want to dismount and cross over to Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and the National Portrait Gallery (3) by foot. Otherwise, take the second exit into Charing Cross Road, which will bring you to Leicester Square. Dismount here and cross to the Prince Charles independent cinema tucked down Leicester Place, at the north end of which is Chinatown – home to numerous restaurants. A few minutes away, however, is Tuk Tuk (4), which serves hefty portions of authentic Thai and Malaysian cuisine at reasonable prices (average dish, £4.90). To get there, turn left into Little Newport Street, right into Whitcomb Street, straight across the lights and right into Old Compton Street, where Tuk Tuk will be on your left.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

After lunch, you may want to dock your bike and walk off the meal around the one per cent of the British Museum’s whopping eight million-piece collection that’s on display. To get there, pick up a bike from the British Museum docking station and continue east down Old Compton Street, turn left into Charing Cross Road and follow the one-way system to New Oxford Street, where you should turn left, but merge over to the right so that you can turn at the traffic lights into Tottenham Court Road. Go right into Great Russell Street, which will take you to the museum entrance. If you fancy something more modest, the Charles Dickens Museum is nearby. Pass the British Museum (5), turn right at Bloomsbury Square and left into Bloomsbury Way. After three sets of traffic lights, turn left into John Street, which turns into Doughty Street. Look for No 49, one of the Victorian writer’s former homes, preserved in its original state with furniture.

After this trek you’ll want a sit down and Queen's Larder (6) is a great pub with cosy booths to do just that. At the north end of Doughty Street, turn left into Guildford Street (where there’s a docking station), then the second left down Guildford Place and right on Great Ormond Street. At the end is Queen Square and Queen's Larder is No 1.

Ridden by Danielle Goldstein