If cycling in Sydney makes you think of dodging peak hour traffic and navigating your way through a complicated network of side streets, you’re not alone. In fact cycling rates in Sydney are among the lowest in any major city in Australia, and have been on the decline for the last few years. The good news is that beyond the main roads, there are plenty of bike paths to explore – whether you’re the next Cadel Evans or closer to a kid on training wheels.
The 3.8 kilometre ‘Grand Drive’ that runs around Centennial Park is every cyclist’s dream: it’s flat, car-free and flanked by beautiful parkland on either side. There’s even a dedicated ‘learners’ cycleway’ where beginner cyclists can practise without holding up more serious lycra-clad riders. It’s easy to see why more than 700,000 cyclists come for a spin here every year, making it one of Sydney’s most popular cycling routes.
The Bay Run
If you like your ride with a side of stunning bay views, head to The Bay Run. This 7 kilometre path does a loop from Birkenhead Point, through Drummoyne and Lilyfield, and on to Rozelle. With parklands on one side and the water on the other, it’s a picture perfect ride with plenty of spots to stop along the way for a breather.
Harbour Bridge to Anzac Bridge
Want to ride across the most famous bridge in Australia? This short, 2.6 kilometre route takes in all the famous landmarks with views of the city skyline thrown in. With dedicated bike lanes the whole way, it’s a safe and easy ride for cyclists of all abilities. Come across the Harbour Bridge from the north, along the Kent Street cycleway, and over Pyrmont Bridge towards Anzac Bridge.
Prospect Reservoir and Orphan School Creek
To make a day of it, try the 29 kilometre loop that travels through Guildford, Fairfield, Abbotsbury, Horsley Park and back through Greystanes. It’s off road the whole way, winds through parklands, and offers some great views of Greater Sydney. Stop along the way at the Saturday Fairfield Markets and Fairfield City Farm, or stop of for a picnic at Pimelia or The Dairy picnic areas. The route also rides over the sandstone arches of the Boothtown aqueduct, built in 1888.
Parramatta Heritage Trail
To add a dose of history to your weekend ride, take on the 19 kilometre Parramatta Heritage Trail. The route takes your past some of the most significant sites from Australia’s colonial history, including Parramatta Gaol, The Female Factory, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Old Government House, and Australia’s oldest building: Elizabeth Farm. You’ll also wind your way through Parramatta Park and along the Parramatta River. This route takes you on some low-speed roads, so you’ll need to be confident riding on the road.
Probably Sydney’s most unique cycling trail, the 8.4 kilometre Narrabeen Lagoon Trail follows the shoreline of the lagoon and is a haven for wildlife, including black swans, owls and bats. It’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Sydney (crucial when you live in the city), and only a 45-minute drive from the CBD.
Lady Carrington Drive
Get well and truly out of the city and head to Royal National Park for a ride along Lady Carrington Drive. The 10 kilometre track follows the Hacking River, and is an easy one or two-hour ride each way. Originally a carriage route, the track crosses over 15 creeks, through patches of rainforest, and passes three picnic areas. Keep your ears and eyes open for lyrebirds, lace monitors, and echidnas.
An Inner West classic, the Cooks River cycleway is one of the city’s oldest and most popular shared paths. The 23 kilometre path starts at Settlers Park in Ryde and passes through parkland to finish at Botany Bay. There are plenty of train connections along the way so if you don’t feel like taking on the whole route both ways, you can jump on a train for the way back.
Ettalong to Umina Beach
For beachside views, it doesn’t get much better than this easy 7.5 kilometre route from Ettalong to Umina Beach. Hop on an Ettalong-bound ferry from Palm Beach, and take in the magnificent beach views. Bring your bathers to take a dip along the way, and enjoy some of the Central Coast’s best beachside cafes.
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