All this stress is enough to put you off travelling for good. But one way I’ve found to combat the stress of visiting a new city is to visit a place where bicycles and scooters are the prefered form of transport. Bike-friendly cities are much more accessible to the tourist and cycling is a much more environmentally friendly way to travel.
So in this travel story, I thought it would be fun to take you on a tour of the five best cities around the world to tour by bicycle and scooter. With cheap fares to these destinations available year-round, you now have no excuse to brush up your cycling skills and get out touring.
So, cycling shorts ready - let's get this journey started:
1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cycling is as synonymous with Amsterdam as canals and windmills. The city is reported to have more than 800,000 bicycles which means there are more bikes than people. But it takes more than just bikes to make a good cycling city. The flat streets and dedicated cycle paths are what make this the cycling capital of Europe.
Bikes are available to rent at key locations throughout the city, including the central train station. You will also find an almost unbeatable range of bikes available, from standard bicycles to electric scooters suitable for both adults and children.
When visiting the city I recommend getting an Amsterdam City Card which is available online or at tourist booths across the city. This entitles you to exclusive discounts on bike rental and free entry to many visitor attractions including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen vies with Amsterdam as the bicycling capital of Europe. Cycling is so popular here that nearly half of the city's residents commute to work each day by bike. As a result, cyclists enjoy more than 390 kilometres of designated cycle paths and the city even has a cycle superhighway.
Cycling is the prefered form of transport in Copenhagen so you won’t feel out of place in the saddle here. Many of the city's main attractions are easier to visit by bike than any other form of transport.
Bike rental is available across the city. You can choose from a range of bikes, but by far the most popular is the Bycyklen electric bike. These can be rented on a Pay as You Go basis or you can pre-pay for a set number of hours. The most cost-effective method will depend on how much cycling you intend to do.
3. Portland, Oregon
It won’t have escaped your attention that most of the cities in this list are located in Europe. But the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon is one of the exceptions. The City of Portland has been making significant improvements to its cycling infrastructure over the past decade. New cycle paths have been created, a public bike rental scheme has been developed and cycle maps can be downloaded for free.
Bikes can be rented from over 100 stations across Portland. There is a range of bikes available which can be rented on a pay as you go basis with discounts available for half-day or full-day hire. Biketown is the city's official bike share program with the company's distinctive bright orange bikes commonplace across the city.
4. Montreal, Canada
While you're in Portland, you might want to take a cheap flight to Montreal, Canada. The cosmopolitan city of Montreal has developed 645km of cycle paths, which is more than twice as much as mighty Copenhagen. The cycle paths criss-cross the city through parks and avenues, making this one of the most pleasant cities to enjoy by bike.
Bike rental is available using the city's BIXI system which has more than 500 bike stations located across the city. Rental costs from $5.25 per day with discounts available for weekly and monthly durations. You can purchase rentals using the BIXI app or via the Pay Station at each bike station.
5. Paris, France
With cheap flights to Paris available year-round, why not explore this beautiful city at a slower pace by bicycle? Since the launch of the city's bike-sharing program in 2007, more than 230 miles of cycleways has been developed. Cycle paths cover most of the city and serve the most popular attractions including the Eifel Tower, Louvre, Musee D'Orsay and Notre Dam.
Standard and electric bikes can be rented from the city's 1230 Velib bike stations. There are more than 14,000 bikes on the network so you shouldn't have trouble finding one. You can purchase a 1-7 day pass online or via the Velib app. Prices start at €1 per hour for a standard bike or €2 per hour for an electric one.
So there you have it, my list of the five best cities to tour by bicycle. When compiling, this list I’ve tried to stick to cities where the terrain is relatively flat. I’ve also chosen cities where electric bikes are available. So while you will need to have a reasonable level of fitness, you don’t need to be super fit. This is a holiday, after all!
One other thing to remember when touring by bike is to wear practical clothing and footwear. Helmets and other safety equipment are usually provided as part of the rental fee, so you don’t need to worry about that. Just make sure you wear trousers rather than a skirt and practical shoes.