A Guide to the Most Bike Friendly Cities in Europe
I love bikes for SO MANY reasons. I ride one to the office every day and try to get on it as much as possible outside of work.
Because of this love for my two-wheeled best friend, I have scoured the Internet looking for expert opinions on the most bike friendly cities in Europe. I found great lists from Frommers, WanderLust, Wired and many more. I also threw in a couple of my own for good measure.
Below you’ll see a roundup of what I found in my research—look no further!
Saddle Up and Ride on Your Summer Vacation
One of the most fun, intimate ways to get to know any city while traveling is on a bike. It also happens to be extremely healthy and environmentally friendly.
Since I’ve been helping you so much with your European summer travel plans recently, today I’m focusing on Europe. I thought you would appreciate my going the extra mile… by bike of course!
Europe’s Best Cities for Bikes and Its Top 6 Bike Countries
Before we get to the list of best bike cities, I have to give proper respect to certain countries.
Out of all 29 entries, there are six countries that are featured multiple times, making some countries more bike friendly than others.
So in addition to the best bike cities in Europe, we’ve got the top six bike countries as well…
#4. (Tied) UK and Spain
#3. (Tied) Belgium and Germany
#2. The Netherlands
I know! Who knew that France was so bike friendly that it could beat the Netherlands!?
Anyway, onto the list:
First on the list is London. Ride your bike along the winding Thames before leaving the city center to explore everything the English capital has to offer.
My adoptive home city, Berlin, is extremely bike friendly for many reasons. Also, it’s virtually flat, so almost every ride an easy ride.
You don’t need to speak French to enjoy Paris by bike. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Père Lachaise Cemetery are all accessible by bike.
A perfect summer destination, Copenhagen, is known for its beautiful sunny summer weather. Even better by bike.
The Eternal City might be known for its heavy Italian traffic, but it is also a great place to ride a bike. Just keep your eyes open for runaway Fiats.
Beer. Yes, Munich is known for its beer culture, but its clean street and calm lifestyle make it great for exploring on a bicycle.
Honestly, Amsterdam is my favorite city in the world. It is so picturesque in the summer that it seems like a fantasy land. But biking is easy here all year round, even in the deep winter of January.
Lyon is often forgotten when travelers make plans to visit France, but for bicyclists, it’s not to be missed.
#9. La Rochelle
La Rochelle is a little-known coastal city in Western France, but it’s ubiquitous bike culture is great for tourists. The beautiful national park “Parc naturel régional du Marais Poitevin” is only an hour or so by bike.
Trondheim is home to many beautiful natural sights including the Nidelva River and the Trondheim Fjord. It is also home to the northernmost medieval cathedral in Europe, which you can get to easily by bike.
Brussels, the de facto capital of Europe, is an extremely bike friendly city. For day-trippers who are not afraid of a three-hour bike ride into the countryside, the Westmalle Trappist Brewery is just 30 or 40 miles away.
Known for its eternal battle with Milan over ownership of the Wiener Schnitzel, aka Cotoletta Milanesa, Vienna with its beautiful architecture, food and drink is a great city to explore by bike.
Seville’s luscious Islamic architecture is a rare sight in Europe. By bike, checking out the city’s multi-ethnic flair is a breeze.
Budapest is known for its laid back, bohemian style. Once you get past the fact that you don’t speak Magyar, this chill, affordable city is a joy by bike.
Ghent, also known by some as “That Other Belgian City,” is small and quiet, making it perfect to explore by bike. Halfway between Bruges and Brussels, it is also a great base city for long day trips by bike.
Arguably the most famous wine city in France, Bordeaux is extremely bike friendly. With its location near the national park “Parc naturel régional des Landes de Gascogne,” it is an ideal city in which to get intimate with nature… and a few bottles of red.
Malmö and its stunning location eight miles across the Øresund Straits from Copenhagen provide an extremely unique experience for bicyclists. Although the bridge is not crossable by bike today, it might be in 50 years.
There is nothing better than a relaxing bike ride along the Liffey. Sorry, scratch that. There is nothing better than a relaxing bike ride along the Liffey, stopping every 20 blocks or so to grab a pint of the black stuff.
Aside from their great taste in beer and amazing architecture (see above–that building is not photoshopped), Prague is a bicyclist’s dream.
The university by the same name is what most people think of when they think of Oxford. This quaint English city is also ideal for taking in the sights on two wheels.
Utrecht, like many cities in the Netherlands (aka Holland) takes pride in their bike culture. Here, bikes, not cars, rule.
Strasbourg is a city that still hasn’t decided if it’s French or German. Check it out by bike and you’ll see why.
Valkenburg is a tiny city in the Netherlands where everybody knows your name. They also have amazing caves that you can bike to (pictured above).
The city of Nantes received the European Green Capital Award in 2013. Bicylces are a big part of that.
Mostly known for its obsession with diamonds, Antwerp’s winding streets are great fun for any bicyclist.
Barcelona’s wide streets are ideal for biking. You’ll have to get off your two wheels and get back on two feet once you enter the small streets of the beautiful Old City. That or deal with the steady stream of tourists that flow through them.
The name of Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, may be difficult to read, but it is super easy to get around in by bike.
Hamburg, Germany’s greatest port and home to the only soccer club worth mentioning, St. Pauli, is also a leading bike city. It might take a bit of getting used to biking here with all the canals, but once you do, you’ll be able to take in all the sights (and a couple of Astras) with ease.
Last but not least and our final Dutch city on the list is Eindhoven. After all this research into the best cities for bicycling in Europe, I am still very surprised that France beat out the Netherlands.
Next time, I’ve got to come up with a different criteria for deciding–the Dutch love their bikes!
I think they should have been number one.
Watch this video and tell me what you think!
All images are public domain from Pixabay and Wikimedia.