As soon as you step off your cruise ship and onto Scandinavian land, you’ll notice the different pace of life in these beautiful, charming nations. Scandinavian efficiency is world famous, and every aspect of life in Denmark, Sweden and Norway seem to be lived in a different gear. At the very heart of this laid-back atmosphere is Scandinavian transport, an efficient model which is a million miles from the rage-inducing traffic jams and train delays which seem to beset the UK.
Cycling is a hugely popular mode of transport in all the major Scandinavian countries, with cyclist numbers to rival that of Amsterdam. Trusted two-wheelers can be found chained up to the fences and posts outside office blocks, restaurants and bars connected by a comprehensive series of cycle paths. And your typical Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm local would think nothing of trading their car in for pedal power.
In fact, we believe the best and most authentic way to explore these beautiful cities is on the back of your own bicycle. So, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to cycling around this part of the world, including the best routes, top tips and the rules of etiquette.
This is a tourist’s guide to cycling in Scandinavia.
Where to Get a Bike
Taking your own trusty two-wheeler on a cruise can put a severe dent into your baggage allowance, so we’d always recommend hiring a bike when you step foot on land. The Scandinavians know that cycling is a popular pastime for visitors, so you won’t have to look far when searching for bike rentals in Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm. But to make things that little bit easier, here are our favourite bike rental places in the major cities of Scandinavia.
Oslo – Viking Biking
Nedre Slottsgate 4
We promise that it is not just the name of the company which helped Viking Biking scoop the award for Cruise1st’s favourite bike rental shop in Oslo, it’s also wonderfully well-stocked and incredibly close to the major cruise terminals of the city. Located just minutes from the water, Viking Biking can help you get cycling almost as soon as your ship drops anchor in Oslo.
Copenhagen – Luca’s Cykler
2200 Copenhagen N
Owned and operated by the eponymous Luca, this charming little bicycle rental shop has a personal touch which some of the large alternatives can’t match. Luca is more than happy to take time to discuss your personal cycling needs and tastes, helping you to find the perfect two-wheeler to start your tour of Denmark’s wonderful capital.
Stockholm – Bike Sweden
114 57 Stockholm
Offering guided tours as well as a bike rental service, Bike Sweden is the one-stop shop for everything you could need when cycling around Stockholm. With a hugely knowledgeable team, Bike Sweden will soon have you hitting the Stockholm streets powered by pedals and your pumping legs.
The Best Cycle Routes in Scandinavia
Now you’ve got your bicycle, helmet and sense of adventure in tow, it’s time to hit the streets of Scandinavia. Although heading into the cities with no particular plan can be fun, and can help you unearth some truly wonderful surprises, we’d suggest following a tried-and-tested route which will take you past as many of your host city’s highlights as possible.
So, we’ve put together our favourite route from each of the Scandinavian capitals – helping you enjoy the highlights of the cities whilst avoiding steep ascents and overcrowded areas.
Oslo – The proud Viking and Maritime heritage of the Norwegian capital means that many of the city’s highlights are perched on the water’s edge, creating wonderful cycle routes next to the sea. The five-mile route heading east from the Fram Museum to the Akershus Fortress takes in many of Oslo’s most treasured sights, and finishes up close to Viking Biking, arguably the world’s finest rhyming bike rental shop.
Copenhagen – A good route to take through the heart of Copenhagen starts from the beautiful Botanical Gardens. From there, head south through the University district of the city, before turning west through the centre of the city. Continue in a north-west trajectory past Frederik’s Church and the Designmuseum Denmark before approaching the star-shaped Kastellet citadel. Follow the citadel in an anti-clockwise direction and you’ll find yourself at the beautiful Little Mermaid statue. This route is roughly three miles in length and can be completed in about 16 minutes. But we’d recommend taking your time and enjoying all the sights along the way (and stop in at least one café).
Stockholm – Cycling in Stockholm gives you the chance to explore many of the 14 different islands which make up the city, and we’d recommend journeying from the most peaceful to the most famous. The three-mile route from the Royal Djurgården gardens to the Royal Palace in the Gamla Stan region takes you past so many of Stockholm’s highlights, and gives you a chance to two-wheel your way across a couple of truly beautiful bridges. Taking 22 minutes at a good pace, this is another route we’d recommend taking slowly.
Cycling Etiquette of Scandinavia
With more cyclists per capita on the road in the Scandinavian countries than commonly found throughout the UK, certain rules and restrictions must be followed to ensure that everyone stays safe and journeys along the cycle paths in comfort. Over the years, the Scandinavia populations have developed a cycling etiquette which should be followed to ensure safe, pleasurable and rewarding cycling through Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Here, we’ve collected the cycling etiquette of Scandinavia.
- Single file please. Although cycle lanes in Scandinavia tend to be wide enough to cycle two abreast, the locals won’t thank you for it. The extra-wide lanes are for overtaking, not meandering and chatting. Keep in single file and wait until the coffee stop to catch up with your friends.
- Turning right on red is illegal. Some of the locals may set a bad example by zipping right when the red light is showing, but we’d suggest that visitors should bide their time until the green light shows. This can help keep you safe and stop you infuriating the locals.
- Never cycle on the pavement. The Scandinavian capitals tend to have pretty comprehensive cycle routes, so stick to these. Cycling on the pavement will only irk and irritate the pedestrians.
- Taking your hands or feet off the pedals may be tempting for more experienced cyclists enjoying the free-wheeling experience, but throughout Scandinavia it’s a legal requirement to keep at least one hand and both feet on the handlebar and pedals, respectively, at all times.
- If you want to check out the shops, stop and then do so. Window shopping whilst cycling by can be slightly catastrophic if you end up wheeling onto the pavement with your eyes on a designer handbag or Danish pastry.
- Use your bell wisely. It should be used to alert other riders where you are at critical points, not to display any and every emotion. Underuse could result in other riders remaining ignorant as to where you are, which can be equally dangerous.
Although it may sound like there’s a huge selection of rules and requirements when cycling in Scandinavia, they remain three of the most bike-friendly cities on the planet – perfect for passionate cyclists or relative novices. And we believe that cycling is the very best way to explore these amazing cities, taking in all the delightful sights whilst fitting in with the locals.
So, if you’re thinking about heading to Scandinavia for a little cycling and culture, Cruise1st UK offer great deals on itineraries from leading cruise lines. For a huge selection of unbeatable deals on Scandinavian cruises, click here, or call our friendly sales team on 0808 231 3669.