On your bike! It’s a great way to inject a bit of fun in to a city break or to experience towns and villages a little off the beaten track. Cycle-friendly cities such as Stockholm and Copenhagen boast bike hire schemes which allow you to explore with ease. There are plenty of easy-to-follow routes heading out of the city so you can escape to the countryside or the coast. Best of all, you can find plenty of hostels which offer free or cheap bike rental too.
For something more challenging, try tackling a section of the North Sea Cycle to experience the stunning coastline of west Sweden. It’s great for budget travellers who can take advantage of the hostels en route which are equipped with laundry facilities so you can keep luggage to a minimum.
Cycling in Denmark
Cycling is part of everyday life in Copenhagen. And the extensive and well-kept cycle network makes it a joy to go to and from by bicycle. Copenhagen is a great destination for combining cultural city life with days spent exploring the countryside. A number of well marked national cycle routes lead to the beach or through the deer park. Use the Copenhagen free bike scheme, Bycyklen (City Bikes). Insert a 20 kroner deposit into the bike racks dotted about the city and you are free to explore! Why not check out the Copenhagen Bicycle Festival which is held in September.
For venturing further afield, try National Cycle Route 4 from Søndervig to Copenhagen (310 km). About 90 percent of the route is tarmac, so you will be fine on a road, touring or hybrid bike along country lanes and forest trails.
The first stretch is particularly attractive, along the historic trail between Søndervig and Ringkøbing which also skirts the stunning fjord. Further on you can take in the Skjern River Project, 2,200 hectares of protected wildlife with plenty of opportunities for bird spotting before you hope across to the south side of the river on the ferry. The steepest climb is across Denmark’s highest point 160m above sea level to Søhøjlandet.
There is plenty to do around here if you fancy more varied activity such as canoeing on the lakes, enjoying a few museums or letting the old paddle steamers do the work! Onto Århus with its charming cafe culture, a fascinating open-air museum and a buzzing student population which keeps the place lively at night. It’s rather exciting to pop your bike on the ferry to Kalundborg where you can spot the five-tower church.
Further on through quiet and idyllic forest, Roskilde is a famous home to monarchs from days gone by with 38 kings and queens buried here. There are also some magnificent examples of Viking ships and workshops around the fjiord. The final leg is to Copenhagen. If you are looking for cycle-friendly hostels in Copenhagen, Hostelbookers offers a number of properties with bike rental. Danhostel Copenhagen City is a slick choice with a good bar area, views over the city skyline as well as cycle hire on offer.
If you do the route in reverse and need to catch a train back to Copenhagen, remember to book a ticket for your bike and hop on the carriage with a bike symbol. It’s a 5-6 hour journey with 2-3 changes to Søndervig. Alternatively, start at Ringkøbing for a 4-5 hour journey with only 1 change.
Cycling in Stockholm
Djurgården is Stockholm’s green and leafy island retreat popular with walkers, swimmers, cyclists or anyone looking for some peace and quiet. For easy zipping between Stockholm attractions, get yourself a bike card. These can be used to activate one of the bikes available at stands across the city. Hop on then return the bike to a stand once you’ve finished with it.
You can buy either a 3-day pass, which needs to be used consecutively, or a season card which is valid for the entire period between 1st April and 31st October. These can be bought off the main website for 250 kroner or from hostels and the tourist centre for 300 kroner. Alternatively, a number of cheap hotels in Stockholm offer bike rental or storage space for bikes. Try the City Lodge Stockholm or HI Hostel Zinkensdamm.
One of the great things about going by bike is the ability to indulge in foodie treats, without the guilt trip! With the prospect of cycling off your breakfast or lunch, you can certainly find room for pudding or reach for that extra cinnamon roll. Why not pack a picnic back at your hostel and head out of town. The Ulriksdals Slott in Solna is a cute garden centre with pick-your-own opportunities as well as a gorgeous garden cafe selling all manner of scrumptious cakes and hearty soups and sandwiches. It’s a nice cycle which takes about 30 minutes one way.
You need to head along Hagastråket and the west side of Hagaparken. Turn right along Bergshamnavägen which is at the top of Brunnsviken. Keep going until you spot a sign for Ulriksdals Slott. Make sure you take the little tunnel on your left which leads to Ulriksdals development. You will be riding along a narrow path before taking a left uphill to the entrance.
Bike touring in Sweden and Norway
Why not try a section of the North Sea Cycle including Norway and Sweden. There is some traffic but there are plenty of cycle paths and quieter country lanes. Coastal stretches along the archipelago and predominantly flat terrain make it a joy to cycle. Cultural highlights en route include lively Gothenburg and the Old Town in Fredrikstad, one of the best preserved fortress towns of all the Nordic countries.
The west coast of Sweden stretch is 380km and your starting point is Gothenburg – Sweden’s second largest city and famed for its enthusiastic nightlife so book a few nights here in a Gothenburg hostel. From here you join the Cykelspåret following the pretty Göta Canal, through the fortified town of Kungälv for about 20km, until Ale. Beyond here you can enjoy runs through the forest and the lakes of the Bohuslän.
Further north, the route heads back out towards the sea, weaving in and out of the archipelago and through the painterly fishing villages of Fiskebäckskil and Fjällbacka where you can enjoy spectacular sunsets. Try and set aside a day to visit Sweden’s first marine park on the nearby and car-free Koster Islands by taking a ferry from Strömstad. Crossing the border in to Norway at Salktbacken you are treated to spectacular views of the Idefjord.
Your accommodation options include a slight detour east to the HI Halden Hostel where you can wash your clothes and relax in rural surroundings. Alternatively, press on until you reach Sarpsborg where you will find the HI Sarpsborg Hostel Tuneheimen, picturesquely located on the banks of lake Tunevannet. Nearby, there are Iron Age burial ground and rock carvings to discover.
At Mosse, the North Sea Cycle heads across the water to Horten. But keep heading north for about 60km and you can make your final destination Oslo with a ferry crossing from Nesodden – a great way to enter any city! Spend a few days here recovering and book yourself into an Oslo hostel. Here you can take the opportunity to give your bike a well earned rest discovering Oslo museums, jazz bars and galleries. However, if you find yourself yearning for even more free-wheeling, this city boasts hundreds of cycle trails within the city limits or a short train ride away.
Article sponsored by Hostelbookers