Did you know you can cycle the sights of London from as little as £2? 🚴
To get you started, we’ve put together three sightseeing routes you can easily explore with Santander Cycles. 🎡💂🏰
While we’ve covered the quickest way through each route from start to finish, on the map you can see we’ve marked a few off-shoots that you might find interesting.
Feel free to stop anywhere along each route – there’s plenty of docking stations where you can drop off your cycle so there’s more time for you to enjoy the attractions at your leisure, and then simply pick up another bike! 🚲
Hyde Park Loop
- The Hyde Park route starts near The Serpentine Gallery
- You can hire a Santander Cycle here or at one of the docking stations near the Underground Stations at Hyde Park, including Lancaster Gate, South Kensington, Marble Arch or Hyde Park Corner
- From outside the Serpentine Gallery, cycle over the Serpentine Lido and turn right on to Serpentine Road, follow along The Serpentine past the café down to Aspley Gate
Serpentine Galleries 🖼️ Contemporary art lovers should stop here. A leading arts institution in the heart of Kensington Gardens, it comprises of two galleries and the architect-commissioned Summer Pavilion.
Joy of Life Fountain ⛲ The fountain is a brilliantly bonkers bit of swinging 60s exuberance. Designed by T. B. Huxley-Jones, it stands on the site of a reservoir once supplying the royal palaces with drinking water.
Wellington Arch 🏛️ One of London’s best-known landmarks, Wellington Arch was originally intended as an outer entrance to Buckingham Palace. The sculpture that crowns the arch today was placed there in 1912.
Leinster Gardens False Facades 🏠 Did you know that 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens are actually fake house fronts? They were originally built in 1868 to hide the tunnel and underground tracks of the world’s first underground railway – the Metropolitan Line.
Kensington Palace 🏰 Spend a few hours visiting the fashionable residence of royals from William III to William and Kate. Highlights include Jacobean architecture, impeccable grounds and a major exhibition showcasing dresses belonging to Diana the Princess of Wales.
Royal Albert Hall 🎼 Built as a memorial to Queen Victoria’s husband in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall’s impressive exterior is matched by the regal red and gold interior. The world-famous home of the Proms series, pop and rock concerts and circus extravaganzas.
Science Museum 🔬 If you’ve always wanted to pilot a flight simulator then head to the Science Museum. With seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and an in-house IMAX cinema.
Natural History Museum 🦖 Both a beautiful building and modern research institution, there’s 80 million specimens to see here on top of fresh new exhibitions. A fantastic diving blue whale skeleton is now resident in the Hintze Hall.
Victoria and Albert Museum 🏺 One of the world’s most magnificent museums for applied arts. Some 150 galleries house an array of wonderfully curated pieces spanning many centuries, from the Raphael Cartoons to the Ardabil Carpet and a Hello Kitty rice cooker.
- At the end of Serpentine Road turn right on to South Carriage Drive and towards the crossing
- Cross here and follow under the arch towards Wellington Arch across the main roundabout
- From here follow along Constitution Hill towards Buckingham Palace
- Staying in the cycle lane, take Spur Road over the roundabout, following signs onto CS3
- Continue to follow towards Westminster and Westminster Bridge
Queens Gallery: Buckingham Palace 👑 All year long you can look round The Queen’s Gallery, where you’ll find pieces from the Royal Collection. Stroll along the Royal Mews from February to November. The State Rooms are open throughout August and September.
Horse Guards Palace 💂 This parade ground is used for royal parades and ceremonies. Every morning the ceremony of Changing of the Guard takes place (11am Monday – Saturday, 10am on Sunday). The annual Trooping of The Colour also takes place here.
Churchill War Rooms ⏳ Beneath Westminster, the Cabinet War Rooms were at the heart of Churchill’s wartime strategies. There is a lot to take in and together with the Churchill Museum makes a fascinating and unique place to visit.
- After passing Big Ben on your right, turn left before the bridge and continue along CS3
- Turn right on to Blackfriars Bridge, following signs for CS6
- After crossing Blackfriars Bridge, take the first right onto Upper Ground
- Continue along the road and at the junction of Concert Hall Approach and Belvedere Road, continue straight onto Belvedere Road, using the cycling entrance on the left of the barrier
- Continue straight and at the end of the road, use the cycle ramp on the right hand side and use the crossing to join the cycle lane, turning right towards Westminster Bridge to complete the loop
Westminster Abbey ⛪ The only place in London where 16 royal weddings, funerals and every coronation since 1066 have taken place. Walk past the tombs of 17 kings and queens, as well as famous figures including Darwin and Dickens.
Houses of Parliament 💼 Tours offer a unique combination of a thousand years of history, modern day politics and stunning art and architecture. An audio tour lasting about an hour features both Houses, Mr Speaker and Black Rod.
Cleopatra’s Needle 📜 Presented to the British Government in 1819 in commemoration of the victories of Nelson and Abercrombie over the French in Egypt, the needle was made for Pharaoh Thotmes III in 1460 BC. The only connection to Cleopatra is that it came from her royal city, Alexandria.
Somerset House 🏛️ Rebuilt in 1775, Somerset House features the Courtauld art gallery and a beautiful fountain court that hosts outdoor cinema and live music events in Summer and an ice skating rink in winter.
Sea Life London Aquarium 🐟 Walk through, over and under colourful aquatic worlds from the tropical to the Arctic at Sea Life Aquarium. Visit Shark Walk, Atlantic Depths and Ray Lagoon – all beside the River Thames.
London Eye 🎡 One of the most iconic structures on the London skyline, the London Eye observation wheel will take you to heights up to 135 metres. On a clear day you can see Windsor Castle in the distance.
Tower of London 🏰 Experience London’s history, from the flamboyant to the frightful, at this eleventh-century fortress. Wonder at the Crown Jewels, torture tools, Royal Armouries, or take a tour with a ‘Beefeater’ (Yeoman Warder).
Tower Bridge ⛴️ One of the most famous river crossings in the world, Tower Bridge is actually only 125 years old. You might be lucky enough to see the bridge lift-up in the middle if a large vessel is passing underneath.
About Santander Cycles
Santander Cycles is an affordable and convenient way to explore London. 🚴
There’s no need to book! Simply hire a bike, ride it, then return it to any docking station.
This blog post is also available as a PDF that can be easily downloaded and printed at home.
Celebrating 10 years of cycle hire
Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s already been 10 years since we launched London’s flagship cycle hire scheme, and there’s lots to celebrate:
🚴 More than 87 million hires have been made since TfL launched cycle hire in the capital on 30 July 2010
🚴 In 2019, more than 10 million Santander Cycles hires were made for the fourth year in a row, including more than 34,000 on Christmas Day
🚴 Since launch on 30 July 2010 across eight London boroughs with 315 docking stations, there’s now more than 12,000 bikes available from over 800 docking stations
To celebrate, we’re searching for the scheme’s most dedicated cyclists to reward you with unique prizes money can’t buy. 🎁
Alongside our friends at Santander, we’re looking for people who hired the cycles within the first year of the scheme, people who have completed the most journeys or people who have a unique story to share about the cycles. ❤️
Each month a winner will be selected, and these 12 winners will be rewarded with a Santander Cycles named after them, free annual membership and other prizes! 🎉