Answers from Our Experts (1)
When it comes to exploring the capital, nothing beats a bicycle. Public transport may get you from A to B but cycling gives you the freedom to stop along the way and experience the quirks that make London unique. Here are three routes to get you started.
High Street Kensington to Trafalgar Square
Check out the shops on Kensington High Street and Kensington Church Street, admire St. Mary Abbots, the 19th-century church on the corner where the two streets meet, then cycle east along the high street until you reach the southwest corner of Kensington Gardens. Enter the park for Kensington Palace, the Diana Memorial Playground, the Serpentine Gallery, the Albert Memorial and the Peter Pan Statue. Cross the road into Hyde Park for the Diana Fountain and swimming and boating on the Serpentine. Exit the park at Hyde Park Corner, cycle underneath Wellington Arch and along Constitution Hill until you reach Buckingham Palace. Visit the palace and the Queen's Gallery, then take Birdcage Walk past the Guards Museum, keeping St. James's Park on your left. At Parliament Square, admire the Houses of Parliament before turning left into Whitehall. Keep your eyes peeled for Downing Street, the Cenotaph and the Memorial to Women of World War Two as you cycle up Whitehall before arriving at Trafalgar Square for Nelson's Column, the National Gallery and the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
The Regent’s Canal from Islington to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Access the towpath via the ramp at Danbury Street and turn left towards the lock. Browse at the floating shops and cafes moored on the canal at City Road Basin, then continue past The Narrow Boat pub. A bit further on and across the canal you'll see first Holborn Studios, where all manner of famous photography, film and musician types have worked over the years, then Gainsborough Studios, a housing development built on the site of the studios that produced Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. Next up is Towpath, a lovely cafe that's open from March to November. As the landscape gets grittier, keep your eyes peeled for street art by the likes of Bansky and Bob & Roberta Smith. Broadway Market, coming up on the left, is great for shopping, including a buzzing street market on Saturdays. A few minutes later you'll find yourself cycling alongside Victoria Park – there's a boating lake not far from the towpath. Just past the park, take the lefthand branch of the canal, then turn left again at the end for the entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Finally, for a magical route that's very little known even among Londoners, head to Finsbury Park. This is where you'll find the start of Parkland Walk, a former railway line that's now London's longest nature reserve. Operating for around 100 years from the 1870s, the line is now home to hundreds of species of wildflowers, as well as large numbers of butterflies, mammals and birds. It runs for four and a half miles in two separate sections between Finsbury Park and Muswell Hill. To connect the two, turn right up Holmesdale Road at the end of the first section, then right again onto Archway Road, then right again after Highgate station onto Muswell Hill Road, keeping Highgate Wood on your left. The second section can be accessed from Cranley Gardens, which is the first right turn after the wood. If you're still looking for a challenge at the end of the route, cycle up to the top of Alexandra Park for great views over London.