Five one-day bike trips from London
To get back to London, trains between Windsor and Waterloo or Paddington run all day and take less than half an hour.
London to Brighton: 58 miles
Coastal Brighton is one of the capital’s closest seaside resorts, with a vibrant city centre, wide, rocky beaches and a Victorian pier-turned-fairground. Just 58 miles south of London – and doable in six hours on a bike – the hip city has become one of London’s favourite weekend escapes.
Start your trip at the Lambeth North tube station and head south down Kennington Road. The mostly flat route skirts the large towns of Croydon and Crawley, but mainly meanders through picturesque Surrey villages. A highlight is the rural scenery between the Purley and Redhill, a typical English setting with medieval churches, cosy pubs and sparkling streams.
Once in Brighton, head to the beach promenade to find numerous seafood restaurants. Brighton Pier has many food kiosks as well as the Palm Court Restaurant where you can buy traditional fish and chips; if the weather is good, get your food to take away and eat it on the beach.
Trains back to London’s Victoria station run all day, with a journey time of 30 to 40 minutes.
London to Cambridge: 60 miles
To explore the landscapes north of the capital, head to the English section of the Tour de France route. The official route has three stages, the first two in Yorkshire, covering 242 miles, with the third making its way from Cambridge University south to The Mall in London. It is this final leg that can easily be done in reverse in a day, pedalling the 60 miles from London to Cambridge in just five and a half hours.
Starting north of the River Thames at London Bridge, the route makes its way through Shoreditch towards the suburb of Ilford and the city limits. While most of the trip meanders through flat English countryside, the end section towards Cambridgeshire is somewhat hilly and requires strength and endurance.
Cambridge is best known for being home to England’s second oldest university, established in 1209. An excellent way to see and learn more about it is to opt for a punting trip down the River Cam. These flat-bottomed boats, resembling Venetian gondolas, are propelled with a long pole and drift down the river alongside many of the university’s grand buildings such as Christ’s College. If you need some help guiding your vessel, local guides can be found by the river and are often university students with a lively knowledge of the area’s history.
After an afternoon in the quintessential English city, regular trains to London’s Kings Cross Station leave from the city centre and take around an hour.