Best Visited on a Bicycle
At first, I thought it was only me, noticing how many WHS I have visited using a bicycle as my main means of transport, as I practically grew up on a bicycle in the Netherlands. But then I saw other community members doing it too – even Hubert from mountainous Austria! And long-distance cyclist Michael Ayers has proven that you can cycle almost anywhere. There are just so many WHS where a bicycle is the right kind of transport.
What advantages does a bicycle have?
If you have to choose between walking and cycling, the advantage of a bicycle is that it takes you just that bit further. It’s ideal for distances between 15 and 40km and perfect for exploring serial sites or cultural landscapes that are spread out.
Choosing between driving and cycling, a bicycle will give you of course that breath of fresh air. But also more of a ‘feel’ for a certain area (cultural landscapes again come to mind), as you move through it more slowly. You can also take smaller paths and don’t need to worry about parking. And it’s cheaper to rent a bike than a car.
Which WHS are best suited to a visit on a bicycle?
I've searched all our reviews for the term "cycle". After weeding out some dynastic, agricultural and climatic cycles, over 100 WHS were left. I then also excluded those where a bicycle was just used as door-to-door transport. The remaining ones come in four categories:
1. Popular choices
A fairly large number of WHS come with a clear bicycle infrastructure for tourists. They are usually recommended for cycling by more than one of our reviewers. These sites include Angkor (The Small Circuit), Bagan (more popular by e-scooter nowadays), Bali Subak System, Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, Kinderdijk, Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, Muskauer Park, Neolithic Orkney, Polonnaruva, Rapa Nui (though the big circle (45km) is better done using an e-bike), Reichenau, San Antonio Missions (Photo 1), Schokland, Southern Öland, Stari Grad Plain, Sukhothai, Trang An, and Wachau Cultural Landscape.
2. Good finds
Individual reviewers discovered the following alternative ways to visit the following WHS on a bicycle, where it isn't common practice:
- Ancient Kyoto: Daniel wrote, “With a mountain bike it is possible to visit all interesting sites east of the river in one day. ... And nearly all sites have free bicycle parking".
- Berlin Modernism Housing Estates: Michael Turtle: “visited three of the six apartment blocks, using a rental cycle to get between them and then back to my accommodation in the centre of Berlin”.
- Białowieża Forest: Jakob even crossed the border into Belarus and spent 6 hours exploring the paths in the forest.
- Carthage: Els visited the spread-out locations on a guided bike tour (Photo 2).
- Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape: Tom about Gwennap Mining District, "a good way to see this subsite is to cycle the 11 mile miners' track”.
- Talayotic Menorca: Els: “The distances between the sites in the southeast of Minorca are perfectly suitable for cycling.“)
3. For the intrepid cyclists
The bicycle expeditions below are probably not to be repeated by others, as they require serious preparation, fitness, or a general adventurous demeanor:
- Aasivissuit – Nipisat: Michael Ayers rode through the core zone from Kangerlussuaq airport, but you have to bring your own bicycle.
- Fertö/Neusiedlersee: Hubert cycled around the entire Austrian part of the lake (a total of approximately 80 km).
- Galapagos Islands: Tonisan explored the Santa Cruz highlands, cycling all the way back to Puerto Ayora. "I only recommend doing that if you don't mind getting wet because of the mist and full of mud, and I must say it is physically challenging.”
- Hué: Els rented a bicycle to see some of the places outside the city. "But the road quickly deteriorated, the signposting got more erratic, the sun warmer and the hills higher. At one moment I even found myself and my bicycle on the very dusty AH1 highway between Hanoi and Saigon". (At least they have bike parking, Photo 3)
- Nemrut Dag: Emyr shares: “I cycled up there in 1988 - 21 years ago!!!. It took all day. I remember being knackered by the time I reached the top”.
- Route of Santiago de Compostela: Walter: “I decided that I needed to complete the 700 km in order to tick off the site. Lacking time, I decided to cycle the route.”
4. Mentioned as an option
It is funny to see that reviewers mention taking a bicycle as an option more often than they actually use one. And they often also already include the excuse for not doing so (Uphill! Strong winds!). But still, these may inspire future visitors: Ayutthaya, Beemster Polder (strong winds), Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (a lot uphill), Brazilian Atlantic Islands (but there’s a convenient bus system), Canal du Midi (on the old towpath along the canal, but takes a couple of days), Evaporitic Karst and Caves (one needs some training), Ferrara (Po Delta), Frontiers of the Roman Empire, Isole Eolie, Ohrid Region, Pampulha, Par force hunting landscape, Pico Island (the northern part), Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos, Site of Xanadu, St. Petersburg, Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver-Zinc Mine (for the trip to Black Trout Adi), Taxila, The Four Lifts, and Val d'Orcia.
Are there other WHS that come to your mind that are well-suited to be explored on a bicycle?
Els - 19 November 2023
Astraftis 21 November 2023
I add myself to those mentioning the Curonian Spit: it is absolutely the best way to experience it from an extremity to the other, as there is a nice route which is mostly distant from the car road. I did it from Juodkrantė to Nida using a local bike rent which allowed me to drop the bike at the arrival. There are also companies offering bike tours.
Durian 21 November 2023
Ten years ago, cycling was a popular way to see the whole town of Luang Prabang. Every hotel has bicycle for guest to rent.
jonathanfr 20 November 2023
Maybe we could create a connection?
Solivagant 20 November 2023
@Els "I think cycling hasn't been a real option for Kathmandu anymore in the past 30 years, Solivagant. Due to the traffic, dust and air pollution".
I have done a check and there are a lot of Bike hire companies still in Kathmandu - now offering mountain bikes for longer trips but still marketing them for trips in the city and around the Valley as well.
Michael Ayers 19 November 2023
Just adding my stamp of approval. :-)
Shandos Cleaver 19 November 2023
Another great option for cycling is Lord Howe Island. The island is fairly compact, so nearly all visitors hire a bicycle, to supplement the shuttles provided by the accommodation to/from airport and restaurants in the evening. Car hires are quite limited.
We also hired bicycles to explore Keoladeo National Park in India. It was the perfect speed for a brief visit spotting birds alongside the path.
Plus, in Sri Lanka, we used bicycles at Anuradhapura as well as Polonnaruva.
Silivagant 19 November 2023
No mention of Luxor/Karnak....we have twice used bike hire to see the sites there again some years ago. Maybe the security arrangements nowadays make this more, difficult I remember us taking our bikes over the hills from the Valley of the Kings and down to Queen Hatsepshut's tomb. An ideal site for bikes... Many separate places which are a bit too far aooart for walking and a bit too close for a car. Yes it can be hot but perfectly doable .
Another site I remember cycling at was Hoi An....
Jakob 19 November 2023
We visited quite a number of WHS by bike. We had Bromptons ans this Summer even our ordinary bikes with us.
Sites where biking enhanced the experience immensly:
- curonian spit: nice 45km Trip from Nida toKlaipeda
-bialowieza, perfect to explore the belarussian Site
- lots of places in the NL: -Kinderdijk (this time we couldnt park anywhere, thus had to skip)
- Beemster Polder
- Water Defense line, e.g at Utrecht
Amsterdam canal Ring
- Grand Guerre sites around Ypern
- Dessau Wörlitz combined with Bauhaus
- Parforce near Copenhagen
- Potsdam Palaces, best way to see most of them in one day, unfortunately restrictions are in place
- Sukhothai, cheap to rent
- Dresden Elbe Valley
Sites, where I wished I had a bike with me:
- Hadrian Wall
Many cities can be best visited by bikes and just as a roadtrip by camper, in dense WHS regions its fun to go from one WHS to the other.
Zos 19 November 2023
Beijing is cycling friendly again with dedicated bike lanes. And there are different shared bike options you can use. One can cycle from Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Central Axis, Grand Canal and Summer Palace within a day.
Els Slots 19 November 2023
I think cycling hasn't been a real option for Kathmandu anymore in the past 30 years, Solivagant. Due to the traffic, dust and air pollution.
Can Sarica 19 November 2023
I had cycled the Angkor long tour a few years ago and it was definitely my best WHS experience. This summer, I visited the San Antonio Missions on bike. The bike-sharing system is really making the visit so enjoyable and convenient there.
Another location to cycle may be Rideau Canal. The path besides the canal is suitable for a bike ride and stretches from Ottawa river to Mooney’s Bay. However, there is no bike share system in Ottawa but only a e-scooter system.
Hubert 19 November 2023
I also like exploring WHS by bicycle. I used a bicycle at about 20 WHS, and at a few TWHS (yes, Via Appia was quite bumpy). You have a different view of the surroundings than by car, you can stop wherever you want and reach spots that are not accessible by car. And it's often time-saving, even in Japan where public transport is excellent (Asuka TWHS). It's perfect for large garden landscapes like Potsdam, Lednice-Valtice, Dessau-Wörlitz or vineyards (Saint Emillion, Burgundy)
My most memorable bike tours are Kyoto, Fujisan (the area near Lake Kawaguchi), Orkneys, Loire Valley (a 40 km route), Curonian Split.
If you use a rental bike, the quality is crucial for the fun. I have experienced this on the Orkneys. There was only one small bike rental in Stromness, with only five bikes, none of good quality. And in Japan: don't take a mamarachi bike, it can be exhausting, especially if you are taller than 1.60 m. The best option is always a mountain bike.
And yes, you can take an e-bike, but that's for wimps.
Ian Cade 19 November 2023
A few months too early perhaps, but last week at the Roman end of the Via Appia was full of cyclists (and it seems Hubert added it to his list of sites he explored by by bike as well). Will probably need a mountain bike as those cobbles looked pretty erratic, though my Flemish friends were very excited by the prospect when I sent through pictures.
Solivagant 19 November 2023
Sukhothai and Ayutthaya must surely still be ideal cycling sites - we did so as "recently" as 2017. Bike rentals were much in evidence
Looking back over the Years......
Hue - may be "adventurous" now but was the "normal" way of seeing it in 1994! There were no motorways - a peaceful trip with a pleasant ferry ride on the way
Others from the past we did
Beijing - 1989 - Then was by far the easiest way to see the entire city through the quiet hutongs! The main problem was finding one's bike among the thousands in the bike parks!
Suzhou also for getting quickly around all the gardens - in 1989 we left the bikes outside each of them with no problems. Now???
Kathmandu - Around the city and out into the countryside to see Boddhanath and Swayambu (1975)