If the chance to take in the views of a new city by bike is something you’ve always wanted to experience, the first step towards making plans for your trip should be focused on ensuring the area offers a desirable and affordable environment for your two-wheeled exploration.
From the cheapest locations for 24 hour bike rentals, to cities with the most mapped bike routes, flattest terrains and strictest cycling laws - we’ve delved into the data to rank and reveal the cities that will statistically offer up the most enjoyable cycling experience.
Many cities offer pay as you go cycle hire, compare travel credit cards deals to get the right card for your travel plans.
To ensure the findings collected as part of the analysis we took into account information from an even mixture of global cities. The seed list of 40 destinations analysed as part of the Cycle Cities report were taken from a previous campaign that determined the world’s healthiest places to live.
|City||Total Score /280|
|Tel Aviv, Israel||192|
|The Hague, Netherlands||168|
|Wellington, New Zealand||155|
|Prague, Czech Republic||152|
|Madison, United States||145|
|Chiang Mai, Thailand||141|
Copenhagen ranks as the most accommodating location for cyclists of the cities analysed, with an overall score of 216 points out of a possible 280.
While a daily bike rental of £13.79 may seem a little pricey for a day of cycling compared to other cities, Copenhagen is a notoriously expensive tourist destination, and certainly worth exploring. Boasting historical beauty and a breath-taking harbour, the fact that the city has an elevation of just seven feet is sure to make for a smooth journey.
The Estonian capital of Tallinn is the next most bike-friendly city, with an overall score of 210. Visitors to the city are spoilt for choice when it comes to areas to explore, with 0.86km of mapped cycle routes for every resident. A 24 hour bicycle rental costs £12.81, with popular hot spots of the coastal capital including the cobbled old town, or the historic square Tallinn Raekoja Plats.
Unsurprisingly, the cycle-centric city of Amsterdam ranks right up there generating an overall score of 209/280.
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a bike ride taking in the unique architecture, stopping off at such attractions as the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank’s house.
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, emerged as the least bike-friendly city according to our research, with an overall score of just 116/280. While the beautiful city is known for its large and green open spaces. The annual rainfall of 1,124mm also makes it risky for tourists wanting to avoid a downpour during their bike rides.
Barcelona might be one of the most aesthetically pleasing and beautiful cities in the world to explore by foot, but when it comes to bikes it placed second-to-last on our ranking. With a distinct lack of mapped cycling routes and fewer cycling repair shops than other cities, taking in the city’s sights on two wheels is likely to offer the opposite of a relaxing city break!
If you’re planning on taking in the sights of a city on two wheels, it’s important to know how much cycle rental is likely to set you back once you arrive.
In the cyclist-friendly cities of Zurich in Switzerland and Cluj-Napoca in Romania, you can rent a bike completely free as part of their environmentally-friendly cycling incentives that encourage tourists to explore urban areas by bike and reduce city pollution. All visitors need to get started is to sign up with a valid form of ID and a small, refundable deposit.
Bursa in Turkey is the third most budget-friendly city for bike rentals, where tourists can hire a bike and venture through the cultured streets and admire the architecture of the mosques for a bargain £0.78 a day, or just £5.46 for the entire week.
Valencia in Spain closely follows with a daily hire of £1.22, or a weekly cost of £8.55. A cycling venture to the Old Town and attractions like the Oceanogràfic de València are popular hot spots for those visiting the Spanish city.
The most expensive cities to explore via a hired bike include Muscat in Oman (£28.17 per day), and the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik (£27.95 per day). Neither of the cities are particularly known for their cycling opportunities, with the high price points for bike rental potentially reflecting a lack of demand from visiting tourists.
E-bikes are the perfect, if slightly more expensive, solution for those that enjoy the speed and ease of bike travel, but lack the effort and stamina required to power a standard cycle. Perfect for tackling hilly areas, or for squeezing more tourist attractions into a busy day, electric bikes make exploring more accessible and are becoming more popular the world over.
If you’re searching for the most affordable city to explore by e-bike, then the environmentally-friendly city of The Hague in the Netherlands should be first on your list, with a bargain rental cost of just £2.56 per day - who could say no?
Madison, or the ‘Greenest City in America’ as it’s better known, is the next cheapest city to rent an e-bike, with a daily cost of £10.78 that sets cyclists up for the perfect day to explore the city's abundance of parks.
Brisbane in Australia follows closely behind, with an affordable e-bike rental rate of just £12.20, perfect for the hilly and elevated journey up to the tourist attraction Mount Coot- The Summit Lookout.
The costliest cities for those wanting to rent an e-bike include Zurich in Switzerland, which will set visitors back a daily rental rate of £62.82, and Copenhagen in Denmark (£57.39).
Editor's correction 1.9.2021 : Due to an error in the original data we have revised the distance of the bike paths per capita in each city.
When it comes to exploring the world on two wheels a map is always a good idea. Using data from bikemap.net we've discovered which city has the most mapped cycle routes per capita.
|City||City Population||Total Mapped Bike Routes (KM(KM)||Mapped bike routes per capita (KM)|
|Chiang Mai, Thailand||201,000||131,897||0.66|
|Prague, Czech Republic||1,860,800||203,374||0.11|
|Wellington, New Zealand||586,500||53,735||0.09|
|Madison, United States||366,400||12,157||0.03|
|Tel Aviv, Israel||2,554,100||37,315||0.01|
|The Hague, Netherlands||658,200||440||0.00|
Timișoara in Romania leads the way, with 0.89km of mapped routes per resident. Alongside its stunning architecture and baroque buildings, the country's third most populous city is also home to more than 40,000 university students, who no doubt benefit enormously from navigating around the city with so many mapped routes.
Following closely behind in joint second place are the Swiss city of Geneva, and Tallinn in Estonia, each boasting 0.86km worth of mapped cycle routes per resident. With lots of routes to choose from, no inch of the cities will go unexplored by cyclists.
The Thai city of Chiang Mai in Thailand is the next city to triumph when it comes to bike routes. With 0.66km of mapped cycle routes per resident to venture down, tourists to the popular Asian country can explore all that Chiang Mai has to offer, including its beautiful Old Town.
During a visit to any new location, especially if you plan to hire a bike, it’s essential to research the local cycling laws and the safest ways to ride as they could differ to what you’re used to at home. With no city-specific data available, our report looks at the safest countries to cycle and the cycling rules all are required to follow.
|City||Fatalities per 100,000 people per year in country|
|The Hague, Netherlands||3.56|
|Tel Aviv, Israel||3.63|
|Prague, Czech Republic||5.71|
|Wellington, New Zealand||6.43|
|Madison, United States||10.65|
|Chiang Mai, Thailand||31.15|
Singapore is the safest country to visit on two wheels with only 2.48 road fatalities per 100,000 people per year. This figure comes as no surprise with Singapore’s safety-conscious measures requiring every cyclist to wear a helmet, stop at traffic lights, never use a mobile phone and have a bike fully equipped with lights, reflectors and brakes.
The next cyclist-safe country is Switzerland with 2.50 road fatalities per 100,000 people per year, despite the country’s relaxed approach of cyclists not requiring lights, brakes and needing to stop at red lights.
The country with the most road fatalities is Chiang Mai in Thailand with 31.15 per 100,000 per year, making it the most dangerous country to cycle around. The cycling laws require you to have lights and reflectors on your bike but brakes aren’t required, so you’ll need to take extra care when cycling.
|Cities||Does the bike require lights?||Does the bike require eflectors?||Front and rear brakes required?||Can you cycle on the pavement?||Are cyclists required to wear a helmet?||Are cyclists requred to weart hi-vis?||Are cyclists allowed to use mobile phone?||Are cyclists required to stop at traffic lights?|
|Muscat, Oman||Yes||Yes||No data||Yes||Yes||No||No data||Yes|
|Tallinn, Estonia||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No data||Yes|
|Vilnius, LithuaNoia||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No data||Yes|
|Wellington, New Zealand||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No data||No|
|Chiang Mai, Thailand||Yes||Yes||No||No||No data||No data||No data||Yes|
|Tel Aviv, Israel||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Hague, Netherlands||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Prague, Czech Republic||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes|
It’s only natural that during a city break tourists will want to cram as much sight-seeing and activities into their limited time as possible, which is why hiring a bicycle can be such a tempting means of transportation.
That being said, before beginning your journey, it’s wise to scope out how many bike repair shops your location boasts. That way if any unforeseen problems occur, you can have it repaired quickly, without putting too much of a delay on your itinerary.
Luxembourg City is undoubtedly the best place to be if you’ve got anything wrong with your bike. From tyre punctures to a problem with faulty brakes, the capital city has an average of 14.12 cycle repair shops per 10,000 residents.
Chiang Mai in Thailand is the next best city to be in if your bike needs fixing. With 7.96 cycle repair shops per 10,000 to choose from, you’ll be back up and exploring the city on two wheels in no time.
On the flip side are the most unhelpful cities to get stuck in with an emergency repair need. The fast-paced and crowded Tokyo has less than one bike repair shops per 10,000, so you may just need some bike-fixing knowledge yourself if you ever find yourself cycling around the Japanese capital. Additionally, both Lisbon in Portugal and Izmir in Turkey have just 0.06 repair shops per 10,000.
When choosing a city break spot, you’ll no doubt take into consideration the average climate temperature of your destination. While the warmest climates with the least rainfall might be the most tempting, if you're planning to sight-see on two wheels, picking a more moderate and comfortable temperature might be a better idea, hence why we only factored this into our overall index.
Taking the average temperatures for each city throughout the year, the top 10 cities to visit per season are determined based on the locations that would provide the most comfortable temperatures to ride in.
|Rank||City||Autumn average temperature (celsius)|
|3||Wellington, New Zealand||11.5|
|6||The Hague, Netherlands||12.1|
The best city to explore during the Autumn emerged as Ljubljana, with a crisp average temperature of 10.6°C. The Slovenian city makes for a fantastic cycling experience, with plenty of sights to see within the old town, including the river embankment, and one of the oldest botanic gardens in Europe. Other cities offering great temperatures for Autumn bike rides are Vienna, Wellington and Amsterdam.
|Rank||City||Winter average temperature (celsius)|
|6||The Hague, Netherlands||4.7|
For tourists looking to escape for the Winter, the city of Limassol in Cyprus offers a comfortable climate to take to on two wheels. There are many bike paths stretching along the stunning ocean front, which offer a refreshing way to take in the scenic beauty and mountainous regions. Following closely behind is the Spanish city of Barcelona, famed for its breathtaking architecture and most notably the modernist work of Antoni Gaudi.
|Rank||City||Spring average temperature (celsius)|
|9||Wellington, New Zealand||13.5|
For many, Spring marks the perfect time to visit and discover the delights of a brand new city, and cyclists are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to cities offering the perfect climates.
Featured in the top four of Springtime bike breaks is Zagreb in Croatia, which boasts an average 11.5°C temperature between the months of March and May. The Croatian capital is a thriving and energetic city, making it the perfect destination for cyclists to explore the historic streets and sights, or make a stop at one of its quirky museums, shops and restaurants.
|Rank||City||Summer average temperature (celsius)|
|4||Prague, Czech Republic||19|
Finally, for a city that isn’t going to prove too warm for cyclists during the Summer months, the best city to escape to during the period of June - August emerged as Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
With an average Summer temperature of 17.7°C, the capital city has a unique architectural character, and many cultural events and attractions to take in, particularly during this time of year. Highlights that visitors should be sure to add to their cycling itinerary include Bernadine Park, Gediminas Tower, and the Amber Museum Gallery.
For travellers less concerned with the temperature of the city they are biking in, and more focused on ensuring a drier climate, we also researched the average rainfall* across each of the 40 cities.
Locations with the least amount of average precipitation, and therefore most likely to offer tourists drier cycling experiences emerged as follows:
|Rank||City||Average annual rainfall (mm)|
|3||Tel Aviv, Israel||413|
*Rainfall data from climate-data.org. Please note this was not included in the overall index as temperature was deemed more useful to cyclists planning to rent a bike in each city.
A huge number of cities around the world struggle with high levels of pollution, and would greatly benefit from local residents and visitors alike reducing their use of vehicles and making the switch to bicycles where possible.
But which cities featured in our campaign currently score the highest on the pollution index?
Chiang Mai in Thailand takes the title as the most polluted city with a high score of 77.08 on the pollution index. If many of the residents and tourists travelling around the city via a scooter switched to the more eco-friendly cycle bike, this could really help their pollution problem.
The third-largest city in Israel, Haifa, closely follows with another sizable pollution level of 74.79. The highly populated city is also one of the major ports for oil which is a large contributor to the pollution issue, meaning the city could benefit significantly from reducing emissions elsewhere with a cycling scheme.
The popular tourist spot Barcelona in Spain is the next most polluted city scoring 65.75 on the pollution index. The high levels of urban traffic contributing to the problem could be easily combated with a bike rental scheme to encourage tourists to swap buses, trams and trains for cycle bikes.
If a city trip is on the horizon for you in the coming weeks or months, and our research has helped inspire you to explore the destination on two wheels, then the below tips, which look into the ways to ensure your cycling experience is as affordable and safe as possible might just be of interest:
Don’t drink and bike
For many tourists, visits to bars, pubs or taverns to sample some of the local alcoholic beverages on offer is a crucial part of any city break. That being said, cycling under the influence of alcohol in some countries can result in incurring a hefty financial fine, so it’s important not to get carried away.
The most commonly agreed limit amongst the cities researched in our campaign is that cyclists cannot have a blood alcohol level greater than 0.5 grams per litre. Some countries give out smaller fines like Croatia €65 and the Netherlands €100, while Italy and Spain have much higher fines beginning at around €500 and ranging up to €1000.
Ireland is one of the strictest enforcers of the rule, handing out €1000 fines for drunk cycling, which can rise to €2,500 if an individual is deemed to be cycling dangerously.
Make sure you have the right insurance
If you know you’re going to be touring your holiday destination on two wheels, make sure you get the right insurance beforehand.
Some travel insurance companies define cycling as a dangerous activity, so you’ll need to ensure it's covered in your policy and you won’t be required to pay any additional costs should you experience an injury that requires hospital treatment.
If you’re unsure on what type of travel insurance you require for an upcoming trip, you can secure a quote here.
Keep your wheels off the pavements
When taking in the sights of each city on your bike, make sure you stick to the allocated cycle lanes or roads to avoid any unnecessary fines.
Cycling on a pavement in Germany can lead to a €25 fine, while fines in England can range between £50 and £500 with bikes considered vehicles. Tel Aviv in Israel also limits the use of some of its sidewalks for cyclists, with fines ranging between 100 - 1,000 shekels.
Don’t text and ride
If you need to send a text or check google maps to make sure you’re riding in the right direction, make sure to pull up and stop cycling first.
In many countries, using any handheld device while cycling is strictly forbidden due to how distracting they can be, resulting in possible fines of 1000 Danish kroner in Denmark, €95 in the Netherlands, and up to $1,000 in Singapore, or even three months jail time in extreme cases!
No backies or saddles allowed (carrying extra passengers on your bike)
If you’re hiring a bike for a short ride around the city, it might be tempting to think you can save on your budget if you just give a fellow passenger a backie or saddle - but that decision could end up costing you a lot more than forking out for the additional bike.
Many countries issue a fine for anyone carrying more passengers than the bike is designed for, with Cyprus fining rule-breakers €50, Brisbane in Australia $137 and Japan 20,000 yen.
Below, we have included the methodology for the campaign, raw data can be shared on request - firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking a seed list of 40 locations from the money.co.uk campaign - The Healthiest places to live - we researched a selection of different topics in order to determine the most affordable, safe and practical cities to rent a bike around the world.
The consumer spending experts developed the ranking based on the following criteria:
1. Cost of hiring a bicycle - Using manual research (all linked in the raw data) we looked to find the average cost of renting a standard city bike or equivalent in each location for a week in GBP (£). 24 hour cost has also been worked out by dividing the cost by seven. *please note: the city of Haifa has been omitted from this section due to the lack of bike rental options available
2. Number of road traffic accidents - Taking country populations from https://data.worldbank.org/ and the most up to date data on the number of road traffic fatalities per year in each country of the world from the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241565684, we determined the cities deemed the safest for those taking to the roads on a bicycle. *please note, data for road traffic accidents and fatalities within the specific cities researched was unavailable.
**please note WHO data released in 2018, with sources included within spanning several years from 2016 onwards
3. City population VS. Number of mapped bike paths - Taking the population of each of the 40 cities from teleport.org, we researched the length of mapped bike paths in each city (in KM) using www.bikemap.net, as well as other manual research (listed below) in order to determine how many KM of mapped bike paths there are per city resident.
4. City pollution data - Using the most recent pollution index rankings on Numbeo - https://www.numbeo.com/pollution/rankings.jsp - we have determined which of the cities are currently suffering the least with pollution, as well as those with the most that could benefit from an increase in bike usage amongst residents and tourists.
5. Average city climates - Using data from climate-data.org, we researched the average annual temperature (in celsius) of each city across each season, in order to determine the 10 cities with the most comfortable temperatures for different periods of the year.
5.a - Average rainfall data: Additionally, we found the average annual rainfall (in mm) of each city using climate-data.org, although this wasn’t a factor taken into account for the overall index ranking.
6. Cycling laws in each city - Using manual research (all linked in the raw data), we looked into the different laws and regulations that cyclists are required to adhere to within each of the city, including whether a bike requires lights, reflectors, brakes (front and rear), whether cyclists are allowed on the pavement, if cyclists need to wear helmets and hi-viz jackets, if they can use a mobile phone while cycling, and if they are required to stop at traffic lights.
7. Number of cycling repair shops - Using city population data from teleport.org and data from Google My Business, we collated up how many cycle repair shops there are in each city, in order to determine how many cycle repair shops or bike shops offering repair services there are in each city per 10,000 people.
8. E-bike rental costs - Using manual research (all linked in the raw data), we looked into the cost (£) of hiring or renting a standard e-bike for a 24 hour period in each city (excluding returnable deposits) *please note - the cities of Haifa, Timisoara, Bursa, Muscat and Izmir were all omitted from this section due to the lack of e-bike rental options available.
9. Overall best cities table - Taking results from seven of the data sets collected from the wider research, we assigned each city a score out of 40 for each element (40 being the most bike-friendly, and 0 being the least) and each city was subsequently given an overall score out of 280.
Currency conversions complete on 05/08/2021
Price datas complete as of 05/08/2021