select - Cycling Cities

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Next time you travel overseas, research the two-wheeled possibilities: cycling is a great way to exercise and see new places close up. Better yet, pedalling around these superb cycling cities often doesn't cost a cent.

 

Copenhagen

Copenhagen has an impressive network of cycle paths, and with 90% of Danish adults owning a bike and 40% of all trips in Copenhagen made by bicycle, it's a great way to join the locals. Between May and December use one of the free bicycles available; all you need is a two-kroner coin to release a bicycle, refunded when you return it. Many people start their two-wheeled tour at the Little Mermaid. Pedal along the waterfront and you are rewarded with views across the harbour to the startling Danish Opera House, before arriving in the city centre. For a cycle off the beaten track, try the adjoining neighbourhoods of Vesterbro and Nørrebro, where an interesting blend of communities runs street markets, little stores, and some great restaurants and live-music venues.


WHERE
Some 1,300 free bicycles are located at 125 specially designated stands around the city. Hotels also often rent bikes.


WHY
Apart from Tivoli Gardens and Strøget – the world’s longest pedestrian street – you can cycle anywhere in flat, cycle-friendly Copenhagen.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Copenhagen.

 


Beijing

Nowhere is more associated with the bicycle than China, although the humble two-wheeler is being edged out by the growing number of cars. Still, a bicycle rental scheme in Beijing makes 5,000 bicycles available at 200 locations across the city for a very modest fee. The best place for a pedal is the city’s Back Lakes district north of the Forbidden City. Here locals play ping-pong, practice tai chi by the lakeside, and shop at markets in rambling back alleys that were once home to imperial courtiers and merchants. Over a hump-backed bridge, you might be sucked into another alley where cycle-rickshaw drivers snooze and Tibetans sell bangles and deer antlers. When it’s time to rest, the lakes are lined with teahouses and bars, offering an atmosphere of old Beijing at its most charming.


WHERE
Bicycle rentals are available through upmarket hotels or the tourist-oriented Universal Bicycle Rental outlets.


WHY
China is the spiritual home of cycling, and Beijing’s quiet and mostly pedestrian back alleys are best explored on two wheels.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Beijing four times a week.

 


Vienna

In Vienna an excellent system allows you to pick up a bicycle at one of many City Bike stands before heading out along 250km of marked cycling tracks. Even if you pedal for 120 hours – certainly enough to burn off all that Sachertorte – it will cost you only a few euros for a spin around the city’s beautiful baroque architecture.


WHERE
The city has free City Bike stands. Rental shops are found especially along the Danube Canal and near the Prater.


WHY
Dedicated cycle lanes make it easy to get about, and Vienna's imperial parks and palaces provide delightful passing scenery.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Vienna.

 


Paris

Moving around Paris by metro may be fast, but it won’t let you see the sights. Get on a bike instead: the Velib system (taken from the French words for bicycle and freedom) is among the best anywhere. There are 20,000 bicycles available across the city for just a few euros. The tourist office supplies a free map detailing all the stations, where machines have instructions in several languages. Bicycles are free for the first half-hour, then a small fee is charged even for several days of use. Bring your own helmet – they aren't supplied, because French law doesn’t require you to wear one. Admire the city’s passing buildings, but take a spin through its street life, past cafés and parks and department stores, and the city really comes alive.


WHERE
1,450 cycling stations across the city, detailed in a tourist office map; several are close to the Eiffel Tower.


WHY
Free bicycles are popular with locals and tourists alike, and the best way to soak up the neighbourhood ambience.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has 16 flights a week from Doha to Paris.

 


Zurich

Most train stations in Switzerland rent bicycles, while tourist offices supply maps of routes for cyclists. In Zurich, the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) does the same for just CHF27 per day. The city also has some 300 bikes available between May and October at various points around the city. They’re completely free of charge; all you need is a valid ID and CHF20 refundable deposit. Cycle the Limmatquai, starting near the train station and heading through the old town along the Limmat River to the lake. Then Utoquai heads along the lakefront past promenades lined with purple and yellow pansies, while Mythenquai takes you right out along the western shores of the lake and into the wooded countryside. The cycle route from Seebach to Katzenruti beyond the city is particularly fine.


WHERE
Year-round at the main train station or Swiss National Museum, and other venues throughout the city from May to October.


WHY
Cycle-friendly pathways that take you through the old town and out along the lake to an alpine backdrop.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Zurich.

 


Oslo

Pedalling around Oslo neighbourhoods is sheer delight, and the city is well set up for cycling, with numerous rental shops as well as a tourist cycle network. The surrounding countryside also has plenty of mountain biking trails. For the best view over town, ask how to get to the Valhalla Curve, where the mountains inspired Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s most famous painting, The Scream.


WHERE
Some 100 Oslo Citybike stands around the central area allow you to borrow bikes for up to three hours.


WHY
Oslo is a very outdoors city in summer, with plenty of parks and scenic coastal routes ideal for cycling.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has five flights a week from Doha to Oslo.

 
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