Canals, row houses, tulips, and bikes: cycling is such a core element of life in the Dutch capital that it’s become emblematic of the city. There are nearly a million bicycles in Amsterdam, over half of residents bike daily, and there are officially more commuters on two wheels than four in the city. To truly experience Amsterdam the way the locals do, be attentive to its cycle paths, brush up on your signaling and other etiquette, and then set out on a city highlights tour, discover its varied neighborhoods by bike, or rent your own to explore independently.
Copenhagen is routinely named the most bike-friendly city on Earth, and for good reason—90 percent of its residents own bikes, the majority of trips around the city are made on two wheels, and the Danish capital is crisscrossed by a vast network of cycle superhighways, bike bridges, and routes that connect it to other locations across the country. Bike ownership has virtually become a prerequisite of life in Copenhagen, and for tourism in Copenhagen, too. City highlights bike tours are available, as are sustainability tours, culinary tours, and art tours.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Barcelona (which is also a worthy cycling destination in its own right), Girona may not be Catalonia’s most-visited city, but among cycling geeks, its reputation is unmatched. Hundreds of professional cyclists have made Girona their home, while all-stars including Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish trained there. Credit the ideal climate, surfeit of paved roads that are blessedly light on vehicular traffic, varied elevation, and proximity to those rugged Pyrenees. Rent a bike to follow in the pros’ wake—or book a week-long road-biking vacation if you’re really serious.
Rated one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US, Portland, Oregon has long embraced bike culture—just look to Portlandia’s good-humored spoofs of fixed-gear bike obsessives, complete with requisite facial hair and gauged ear piercings. In reality, it’s not just hipsters who favor commuting on two wheels in Portland, though … despite the city’s preponderance of craft beer, street art, and food cart bike tours. Portland’s extensive network of bike paths—including those that connect to public parks and tracts of wilderness beyond the city —means that biking is a fact of life here.
Tokyo ranks in the top 20 bike-friendly cities around the world—no mean feat considering it’s also the globe’s largest metropolis, and that its public transit options are myriad and robust. But millions of Tokyo residents still use bikes to get around, while pro cyclists take to the trails around Mt. Fuji to test their climbing abilities (the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics also hosted its road race course around the iconic peak). For a taste of Tokyo’s unique cycling culture, book a small-group tour to see the city’s highlights, or embark on a bike and food tour.
Colombia has produced a number of international cycling greats—including current competitors such as Nairo Quintana and the Bogotá-born Egan Bernal—and its capital is the perfect place to venture for a dose of that cycling culture (especially once you’ve adjusted to those Andean heights). The city boasts hundreds of miles of bike lanes, and guided tours provide an excellent way to discover its central Candelaria neighborhood as well as its markets and street art.
Insider tip: If you’re exploring independently, time your visit for Sunday, as the weekly Ciclovía sees nearly 100 miles (161 kilometers) of its streets closed to cars until 2pm.
Home to one of the world’s first bike-sharing services (BIXI, launched in 2009), Montreal is now considered among the most cycle-friendly cities in North America. That’s thanks in part to its mid-construction Réseau Express Vélo—a network of trails that will span some 114 miles (184 kilometers) across the Island of Montreal upon completion—as well as its hundreds of miles of existing bike routes. Today, bike tours are a great way to scope out its architectural highlights, eclectic neighborhoods, and lively food scene.
Explore more bike tours around the world