Australia's best cities for cycling
Cycle through the heart of cosmopolitan Melbourne, discover Adelaide's vineyards, pedal past the Swan River or explore Sydney's beaches from the saddle of a bike. Find out what four Australian capital cities have to offer for cycling enthusiasts.
Cycling is a fun and active way to see a city, often allowing you to discover people and places you may have otherwise missed by car, bus or train. By bike, you can explore the locals' hidden hotspots and get a feel of what everyday life there is like. If you've been in the car for a few hours driving to your destination, cycling around the city is also an effective way to stretch out your legs and get some fresh air. But what makes a city a great place for cyclists?
Considered Australia's cycling capitali, Melbourne combines safe cycling networks, a bike share scheme, flat topography and a mild climateii to make the city a favourite for cycling enthusiasts.
Bike riders are spoilt for choice in the city centre with a 135km network of on and off-road bike pathsiii. The Capital City Trail, a car-free path that loops around inner Melbourneiv,v, is the perfect track for those who want an easy ride through Melbourne's main sites. Along the 30km path you can visit Federation Square, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and Melbourne Zoo and Aquariumv. The Capital City Trail also offers beautiful scenery along the way including the Yarra River, Docklands and scenic Dights Falls, a historic weiriv,v. The Capital City Trail also connects to the Main Yarra Trail, where you can cycle through diverse landscapes including bushland and open fieldsvi.
Once you're ready to ride alongside Melburnian cyclists in the heart of the city, pedal down historic Swanston Street, café-hop along Fitzroy Street, or visit some of Melbourne's cultural attractions such as the National Gallery of Victoria as you ride down leafy St Kilda Road towards the beachvii. You'll be able to get around the city by bike easily with other major bike paths on Flemington Road, Royal Parade and Footscray Road as wellviii.
You can hire a bike from the Melbourne Bike Share scheme by simply visiting one of the 51 bike terminals around the city, where a security deposit of $50 will be held on your credit cardix. Bike share users can purchase a daily subscription for $2.70 or a weekly subscription for $8, and although subsequent hourly rates apply, the first 30 minutes of any trip is freeix. That means that if you ride for no longer than 30 minutes between bike share terminals around the city, $2.70 will be all you'll pay for the day, making it an economical form of transportix.
Adelaide has a free bike hire scheme, which makes it easy for anyone, whether a local or a tourist, to borrow a bike during the day without spending a centx. Just visit one of the many participating bike hire venues and leave your driver's licence or passport as a deposit, which will be returned to you when you bring the bike back to the same locationx.
Once you've hired your bike, helmet and chain from Adelaide City Bikes, acquaint yourself with Adelaide by following the bike path along the River Torrens to West Beachxi. You can also explore the city's coastline by cycling north from the scenic suburb of Glenelg up to Outer Harbour along the shared use path, with plenty of beachside attractions to stop at on the wayxi. If you'd like to get out of the city centre for the day, the Coast to Vines Trail offers cyclists the chance to ride along the 37km historic rail corridor between Marino Rocks and Willungaxii. This trail allows riders to discover McLaren Valley vineyards, historical towns and Aboriginal heritage sightsxii.
Australia's sunniest city, Perth has an eclectic mix of urban culture and natural wonders including clean beaches, lush parkland and an expansive coastlinexiii. These natural features, a flat landscapei and a variety of bike trails make Perth one of Australia's most accommodating cities for cyclistsxiv. Whether you want to cycle around the Swan River on the easy 3km Windan Bridge Loop or take half a day discovering the coast on the 14km Marmion to Burns Beach path, there are a number of bike hire stores around the cityxiv.
For a day trip out of the city you can't beat a journey to beautiful Rottnest Island, which boasts stunning beaches and unspoilt flora and faunaxv. Vehicles are not permitted on the island, so hire a bike for the day and enjoy the car-free environment and Rottnest's many natural marvelsxv.
Although Sydney may be hilly, it still fosters a vibrant bike culturei. Each year Sydney celebrates cycling with the Sydney Rides Festival, which aims to promote cycling participation by increasing awareness, improving bike skills and enjoying events from the saddle of a bikexvi. Events include a variety of group rides, cycling workshops for children and adults, and informative public talks and for singletons. There's even bike speed-datingxvi! Sydney also hosts an annual bike film festival at a ride-in cinema at scenic Cathedral Square, where short films on all things cycling are shown outdoorsxvii.
If you want to get pedalling in Sydney, there are numerous bike hire locations across the city as well as plenty of bikeways in the city and suburbsxviii. Cycling is a great way to visit Centennial Park or to see Sydney Harbour from the 8km Bay Run loop in Iron Cove Bayxviii. If you fancy a day at the beach, Manly boasts 20km of cycling paths, which will take you to secluded coves and popular seaside locations including North Head, Shelly Beach and Manly Lagoon and Covexix. Bring your bike with you to Manly or hire one once you arrive - you could even book into a cycling tour led by a local expert to discover hidden gems along the coast by bikexix.