Cycling and Bristol go together like Wallace and Gromit. Named as England’s first cycling city back in 2008, Bristol has flourished as a bike-friendly haven and is home to excellent cycle routes and experiences suitable for every type of rider, from regular pedal-heads and fearless mountain bikers, to occasional leisure riders.

Yes it can be hilly, but for every gruelling climb there’s a heavenly freewheeling descent, and you can avoid the hills entirely by taking a gentle ride around the Harbourside or riding the flat Bristol and Bath Railway Path. Here are some of the cycling highlights in and around the city.

The Festival Way

The Festival Way is a 9-mile route that will take you from Bristol Harbourside to Millennium Park in Nailsea, via the beautiful Ashton Court Estate. It’s a great traffic-free route for families attending events at Ashton Court such as Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and more.

Person cycling on Harbourside - credit Chris Bahn, Bristol City Council
Photo credit: Chris Bahn, Bristol City Council

Bristol and Bath Railway Path

The Bristol and Bath Railway was the first ever route to be created on the National Cycle Network.

It’s still one of the Network’s most popular routes and is an easy 16-mile ride between Bristol Harbourside and the World Heritage City of Bath – perfect for people wanting to take in two fabulous West Country cities in one leisurely bike ride. 

Family cycling along Bristol and Bath Railway Path in Mangotsfield - credit South Gloucestershire Council
Image - Bristol and Bath Railway Path in Mangotsfield 

The Strawberry Line

The Strawberry Line is a favourite local ride. Take a train from Bristol to Yatton and then tackle this 11-mile countryside route that passes through Thatcher's Cider orchard on the way and ends at the magnificent Cheddar Gorge and Caves. The route takes its name from the delicious Cheddar strawberries that used to be transported along here when it was a working railway line.

You can plot these and other routes on the online map of Bristol-based charity Sustrans, creators of the National Cycle Network.

Person cycling along Strawberry Line - credit Sustrans
Image - The Strawberry Line cycle route. Credit: Sustrans

Mountain bike trails

If you prefer a gnarly mountain bike trail to a smoothly surfaced route then head for Ashton Court and Leigh Woods – they are hugely popular with the MTB crowd and are only minutes away from the city centre.

You can hire mountain bikes from Pedal Progression in Ashton Court.

Mountain bike trails in Ashton Court - credit Visit West
Image - Mountain bike trails in Ashton Court

Cycle hire and tours

If you arrive in Bristol without your own bicycle it’s no problem, you can hire one at Cycle the City, an independent bike hire service on the waterfront. Or hire a bicycle made for two at Bristol Tandem Hire. Cycle the City is based at No.1 Harbourside café bar on the waterfront, so you can return your bike and then sit down for a cider, a hot meal made with locally-sourced, seasonal produce, and live music.

You can also hire an e-scooter or e-bike across Bristol and the surrounding area. Use the TIER app to find your nearest available e-scooter or e-bike, hop-on and ride on. Then you can hop-off and safely park at an approved location.

Cycle-friendly hangouts

After a day’s cycling, there’s nothing like sitting down to a hearty hot meal, and where better to fuel up than surrounded by fellow cyclists at one of Bristol’s cycle cafés? 

Mud Dock cycleworks and café combines sales of bikes and accessories with repairs and servicing, maintenance workshops and managed, covered bike parking for 50 bikes. The café bar above the shop serves excellent food in a stylish, renovated warehouse on the dockside and has a rooftop terrace for outdoor, summer dining with great views over the water. It has been open since 1994 and is one of Bristol’s classic cycle outlets.

Mud Dock Bike Shop - credit Mud Dock
Image - Mud Dock Cycleworks

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