Finding cycle routes suitable for kids in London is not the easiest thing. One way is to plot your route using Google Maps’ cycling option, but you can’t really trust the recommended cycle path to be child-friendly. However, it is possible to cycle traffic-free in London, so check our 10 family-friendly cycling paths suitable for even the youngest family members.
Types of places to go cycling with kids in London
Safety is key when cycling with children in the city. But with a mix of cycle networks (Cycleways, Quietways, National Cycle Routes) operating with different types of street signs and maps, it can be really confusing to plan a family-friendly cycle route across London. This is why we usually end up tailoring our own route in advance to be on the safe side. Here are the resources we’re typically using when looking for cycle paths suitable for family rides:
- Parks: Shared paths and cycle lanes in London’s many parks
- Regent’s Canal: Shared paths along the canal
- Thames Path: Footpaths partially shared with cyclists
- National Cycle Network: Nationwide network of signed cycle routes
- Cycleways (TfL): London’s official network of cycle lanes
- Google Maps: Google’s recommended cycle routes (usually not safe for kids)
Our recommended cycle paths are often a mix of these different networks. When it comes to shared paths, note that speed is often limited and there are sections where cyclists must dismount.
Safety First! We have chosen cycle routes in London that are mostly safe, but some parts can be challenging. For some sections, it might be safer for children to dismount and walk with their bikes. Watch your children carefully at all times when cycling in London!
10 Recommended cycle routes in London for families
Cycle routes avoiding too many busy roads and traffic junctions:
- Epping Forest Circular route
- Richmond Park cycle route
- Lewisham to Sydenham via River Pool
- Thames Path going east from Tower Bridge
- Battersea Park Circular Cycle Route
- Central London green belt cycle route
- Regent’s Canal from Little Venice to Camden Lock
- River Lea and Lee Valley to Waltham Cros
- Canary Wharf to Victoria Park
- Hampton Court to Richmond route
1. Epping Forest Circular Route – 11 miles
Epping Forest is London’s largest green space and it’s a great spot for a long family cycle trip. Our recommended circular route takes you through the main part of the park on shared gravel paths. You’ll pass through ancient woodlands and idyllic meadows, so make sure to set aside the whole day and enjoy everything that Epping Forest has to offer.
- Distance: 18 km / 11 miles
- Ancient woodlands
- Rich wildlife
- Protected nature reserve
- Iron age forts
- Visitor centre with maps
2. Richmond Park Route – 6 miles
Richmond Park is one of the most child-friendly parks in London with several family bike ride options. It’s less manicured than the Central London parks, like Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, but on the other hand, you get to see wild deer roaming freely!
If you’re not bringing your own bike, you can rent one from Roehampton Gate where they also have plenty of options for children including, seats, trailers and tag-a-longs. Check the official visitor map to make sure you stay on the designated cycle paths and remember that pedestrians have priority.
- Distance: 9 km / 6 miles
- Roehampton Cycle Hire
- Pen Ponds Cafe
- Wild deer roam freely around
- Isabella Plantation
- Pembroke Lodge
- King Henry’s Mound
3. Lewisham to Sydenham via River Pool – 3 miles
If you live in South East London, here’s a good one for you! Starting from Ladywell Station in Lewisham there’s a connecting chain of traffic-free parks going south along Pool River and Ravensbourne Gardens. Actually, you can cycle all the way from Deptford Creek by the Thames and follow the river south to Lower Sydenham. The route is called the Waterlink Way and Lewisham Council has made an excellent map highlighting the best cycling route, and how to negotiate the few points that are not traffic-free.
- Distance: 5 km / 3 miles
- Web: https://lewisham.gov.uk/
- Ladywell Fields Adventure Playground
- Ravensbourne Park Gardens
- River Pool Linear Park
- Bellingham Play Park
4. Thames Path from Tower Bridge to North Greenwich – 8 miles
The Thames Path is our favourite family cycling route, although it can get really busy during summer weekends. Pedestrians take priority, and when cycling with small children it can be difficult to go slalom between everyone strolling along the river. The cycling route is not entirely traffic-free as you will have to use some side streets here and there, but these are usually without much traffic.
If you’re interested in British maritime history, the route takes you past several points of interest like the Mayflower Pub, the Docks, Deptford Wharf, Cutty Sark and the Old Naval College. If you’re going with kids, stopping by Surrey Docks Farm is a good option, as well as the Children’s Gallery in the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
Highlights of the Thames Path (going eastward)
5. Battersea Park Circular Cycle Route – 1.2 miles
The only issue cycling in Battersea Park is that there are so many cool things for kids to see that you’ll be tempted to stop all the time 🙂 From Go Ape and play areas to the Children’s Zoo and a Boating Lake, you’ll find plenty of kids’ activities to fill the day. Renting bikes is very expensive, but if you haven’t tried riding a recumbent before, this might be a good time to test it out! The park gets really busy during weekends, so make sure to stay on the designated paths when plotting your cycle route through Battersea.
- Distance: 2 km / 1.2 miles
- Web: https://www.letsride.co.uk/
- Battersea Park Children’s Zoo
- Australian Memorial Garden
- Pear Tree Cafe
- Rosery Gardens
- Boating Lake
- Battersea Play Park
- Go Ape Battersea Park
- Old English Garden
6. Central London family-friendly cycle route – 8 miles
We wouldn’t recommend cycling through Central London with kids, except for this specific mostly traffic-free route. Riding through London’s most scenic of cycle routes, you’ll be tempted to make frequent stops to absorb all the glorious Royal splendour. You’ll take advantage of Central London’s green belt, cycling through four Royal Parks; Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park. Rent a “Boris-bike“, keep your journeys under 30 minutes and you’ll get the most cost-efficient sightseeing trip you can get in the capital!
- Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
- Web: https://www.letsride.co.uk/
- Diana Memorial Garden
- Kensington Palace
- The Albert Memorial
- Princess Diana Memorial Fountain
- Wellington Arch
- Buckingham Palace
- 10 Downing Street
- Speakers’ Corner
- Serpentine Gallery
7. Regent’s Canal from Little Venice to Camden Lock – 3 miles
Little Venice does not look like the original Venice, but it’s a nice little neighbourhood with narrowboats on the canals and terraced Georgian and Victorian houses typical for the area. Regent’s Canal is very unique, and thanks to the towpaths that were once constructed for horses to tow barges we can now enjoy a wonderful traffic-free cycling route between East and West London.
The path is not exactly as wide as a boulevard, so be careful not to manoeuvre into the wet elements. You can’t be too much in a hurry cycling this route, so take your time and get off the bike if too crowded. We have just highlighted the cycling route from Little Venice to Camden Lock, but if you could like to continue further you can cycle canalside all the way to East End and the Limehouse Basin by the Thames.
Distance: 5 km / 3 miles
- Little Venice
- Grove House
- London Zoo
- Regent’s Park
- Primrose Hill Playground
- Camden Lock
- Camden Market
8. River Lea and Lee Valley from Stratford to Waltham Cross – 13 miles
This is the longest family cycle route on our list, and it starts from the modern-looking Queen Elizabeth II’s Olympic Park, featuring impressive venues like the London Aquatics Centre built for the 2012 London Olympics. The route takes you north following River Lea, which played a significant role historically as the border river between Saxon Wessex and Viking Danelaw in East Anglia. Luckily most of the cycle route is on the western side of the river, so you’re safe from bloodthirsty Vikings 😉
On route to Waltham Abbey, a traditional market town, you’ll pass a number of wetland reservoirs supplying London with fresh water.
Distance: 21 km / 13 miles
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- Olympic Swimming Pool
- London Aquatics Centre
- River Lea
- Walthamstow Wetlands
- Waltham Abbey
9. Canary Wharf to Victoria Park via Miles End Park – 6 miles
This 10 km route takes you from Canary Wharf through Limehouse, Mile End Park and along Regent’s Canal before ending up in a circular route around Victoria Park. The path takes you through some very contrasty East London neighbourhoods, and you’ll get the opportunity to try one of London’s longest slides in Victoria Park’s playground. Be aware of a few road crossings, although you’ll mostly cycle completely traffic-free.
Distance: 10 km / 6 miles
10. Hampton Court to Richmond upon Thames – 8 miles
This scenic Thames riverside family cycle route between Hampton Court Palace and Richmond is about 8 miles long and mostly flat, with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views, wildlife and history along the way. You can start at either end of the route, but we recommend starting at Hampton Court Palace, where you can admire the magnificent Tudor architecture and gardens of Henry VIII’s former residence.
From there, you can follow the signs for the Thames Path National Trail, which will take you along the riverbank, past meadows, woodlands and historic landmarks. Some of the highlights include Hampton Court Bridge, the oldest surviving bridge across the Thames; Teddington Lock, the largest lock complex on the river; and Richmond Green, a popular spot for cricket and picnics. The route ends at Richmond upon Thames, a charming town with a rich cultural heritage and plenty of shops, cafes and pubs to explore.
Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
- Hampton Court Palace
- Teddington Lock
- Ham House and Garden
FAQ Cycling in London
Can you cycle in London’s parks?
You can cycle on designated cycle paths in most of London’s parks. Some of the best parks to cycle in are Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Battersea Park and Regent’s Park.
Can you cycle on the pavement in London?
Cycling on the pavement is illegal under British law, and you risk getting a penalty by the police.
Can I cycle on the Thames Path in London?
You can cycle on the Thames Path if it’s marked as a shared footpath (see image) or as a designated cycle path.
Can I cycle on the Southbank in London?
No, cycling is not permitted on the Southbank between London Eye and London Bridge. You can take National Cycle Route no. 4 which is going mostly through quiet streets in parallel to the Southbank.
Is cycling with kids safe in London?
We wouldn’t recommend scooting through London’s busy streets with kids. But if you carefully plan in advance and make use of London’s green spaces, river- and canal-sides you’ll find plenty of traffic-free cycling routes safe for kids.
Where can I find traffic-free cycling routes in London?
Check the cycle route suggestions on LondonDucklings as well as the National Cycle Network Map.
Can I cycle through Kew Gardens?
No, cycling is not allowed in Kew Gardens.
Can I cycle through Hyde Park?
Yes, you are allowed to cycle on the designated cycle paths and shared paths in Hyde Park.
What’s the fine for cycling on a footpath in the Royal Parks?
Are the bike lanes safe for kids in London?
There are several official biking routes in London, and some of them include proper bike lanes. However, with the amount of traffic in Central London, our advice is to limit cycling with kids to traffic-free areas like parks and on the Thames path.