Whilst cycling and London’s Royal Parks have had a turbulent relationship, they are an undeniably beautiful spot to visit on a hot day, even if you do have to leave your bike at the gate.
Here is a roundup of some of my favourite spots and some of the attractions and hotels around them. I’ve also spoken a little bit about the cycling restrictions in these parks.
It took me around 8 minutes and 24 sec to do a loop of the Regent’s Park outer circle on a road bike back in 2011. However, this isn’t the best way to experience the park. You are better off leaving your bike at the gate and taking your time to walk around. There are plenty of beautiful gardens here and even after visiting the park for years, I’m still discovering little corners and quirks to it. I’ve also always dreamed of playing a round of tennis here!
While you are there, don’t forget the walk up to Primrose Hill. On a clear day, the views over London are incredible. On the other side of the hill, there are lots of pubs and restaurants to visit.
Aside from that there’s also the London Zoo, St Mary Magdalene Church and Sherlock Holmes museum (a surprising popular tourist attraction). The park is also located next to some of the best cafés and hotels in London such as the Cow & Coffee Bean, Boathouse Café, and the Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park.
Cycling in the park is restricted to between St Marks Bridge and the top of Avenue Gardens, past Cow & Coffee Bean.
You’ll find a map of the park on the Royal Parks website. There are cycle hire docking stations around most of the park.
Hyde Park is a lot more welcoming to cyclists. There are a number of routes you can take through the park. The blue routes you can see above are open to cyclists. These are some of my favourite shortcut routes through London.
My number one attraction in Hyde Park is the Serpentine Gallery. The organisers are always changing the design and putting on new exhibitions. Some of my fondest memories are playing chess here with my friend (and beating him!) and checking out the quirky installations.
The Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain is a popular spot in Hyde Park, especially for children who enjoy playing in the water.
A good place for tourists to stay near the park is the Holiday Inn London Mayfair hotel. The hotel has more than 190 rooms equipped with LCD televisions, free high-speed Internet, king size beds, and DVD players. There is even a Starbucks Coffee inside, offering a wide selection of finest coffees, hot chocolates, teas, and biscuits. The Mayfair Hotel Bar is the perfect place to relax and enjoy some drinks in the evening after cycling.
Hyde Park is surrounded by Cycle Hire Docking stations.
3. Richmond Park
This post would be incomplete without a mention of Richmond Park. Covering an area of about 10,000 acres, Richmond defines itself as the largest of London’s Royal Parks. Attractions include the Isabella Plantation, ‘The Way’ – St Paul’s Cathedral tercentenary gates (my favourite view), and last but not least the deer which have roamed freely in the park since 1529.
It is the most cycle friends of all the parks in London and you’ll always see road cyclists here practising their hill climbing.
Nearby there are plenty of great restaurants and pubs in Richmond. Accommodation wise, the Holiday Inn London – Kensington Forum hotel, which is about a 30 minutes cycle ride from the park. The hotel has 906 rooms equipped with curved shower rails, modern beds, carpets, free Internet, and flat screen televisions.
With its technical descents, steep climbs, and steady accents, Richmond Park remains one of the best road cycling parks in London.
Unfortunately cycle hire bikes don’t reach this far out (yet!) but there are plenty of places to rent a bike.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.