There's something to be said about exploring a city by bicycle — it's faster than walking and more flexible than driving or taking public transportation, and it's healthy for both the Earth and your body. According to Schwinn brand ambassador Jeanette Zinno, biking also allows you to see a city in a whole different way by fully immersing you in a new environment. Plus, you don't need to know the local language to navigate around, and it's a great way to meet locals. Ready to hit the road? Here are 22 of the most bike-friendly cities around the world. Before You Go: Zinno advises to get a lowdown of your location beforehand, bring a physical map (GPS and phone batteries aren't always reliable), pack layers for changing weather conditions, and bring a bag with essentials like sunblock, water, and a phone charger. Pro Tip: In the US, AAA Auto also offers roadside assistance for bikers and will tow a bike up to 200 miles.
Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen is often considered a bicyclist's paradise — the city has about 225 miles of bike lanes, nine of 10 Danes own a bike, and bikes outnumber cars. The Copenhagenize Index, a biannual ranking of bicycle-friendly cities, ranked Copenhagen the number one bike-friendly city in 2017 based on a number of factors including bike culture, infrastructure, urban planning, and perception of safety.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: The Dutch capital is relatively flat, ideal for cruising around on two wheels. Cycling is the default mode of transportation, and urban planners have helped design the city for biking safety and efficiency. There are over 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam, and 58 percent of residents over the age of 12 bike daily.
Utrecht, Netherlands: The small medieval city sees 125,00 daily bike trips a day, and 96 percent of households own at least one bike. The city also has special bicycle bridges and roundabouts, a traffic system (Flo) designed to help cyclists catch green lights, and the world's largest biking garage, which will hold 12,500 bicycles by late 2018.
Montreal, Canada: Montreal, with its expanding bike system, is the Copenhagenize Index's only North American entry in the top 20. The city has 400 miles of bike paths and hosts a bike festival in late May/early June. Zinno suggests a ride up Mount Royal for a gorgeous view of the city and a stop for some poutine ("you can’t not"), and checking out St. Paul Street and the shops in the Mile End.
Strasbourg, France: The northeastern French town has 311 miles of bike paths, France's largest cycling network. A large part of the historic city center is car-free, with a number of pedestrian and bike paths that connect and go through public squares and spaces.
Berlin, Germany: Berlin has historically been bike-friendly, with paths available throughout the city, including ones along the former Berlin Wall. In 2016, 100,000 citizens signed a referendum in an effort to improve the city's bike infrastructure and called for a plan that included creating 60 miles of commuter bicycle highways, adding parking spots in streets and public transport stops, and increasing the modal share of cyclists from 13 to 20 percent by 2025.
Portland, Oregon: While still small relative to most European cities, Portland's cycling scene is growing and the city has adopted a bicycle plan for 2030 to encourage ridership, build a larger bikeway network, and increase parking. The city already has a large bike share program (BIKETOWN), a festival in June, and a bike-friendly airport, which includes an assembly and repair station.
New York City, New York: New York City's streets are usually jam-packed with yellow taxis, but the city has helped increase cycling with bike share programs, protected crosstown bike lanes, and expanded bikeways like the Hudson River Greenway (the longest in Manhattan). Zinno recommends riding across the Brooklyn Bridge and through Prospect Park, grabbing a slice, and exploring Williamsburg. (Photo via Schwinn/Jeanette Zinno)
Malmö, Sweden: The Swedes have made an effort to increase cycling in Malmö, where every fourth trip is by bike, using a number of unique tactics: A few years ago, a campaign called "No Ridiculous Car Trips" was launched to discourage people from driving short distances (less than three miles). And in 2016, Cykelhuset ("bike house") opened as a residential complex for sustainable, car-free living: There are wider doors and balconies to accommodate bikes, various types of bikes for rental, and zero parking spots for cars.
Boulder, Colorado: Boulder residents are known for being extremely health-oriented, so cycling — both road and mountain — is second nature. With 300 days of sunshine and 300 miles of paths, you'll have plenty of time to adjust to the altitude while cruising around this mountain town.
Paris, France: There are few things more romantic than riding a bicycle through Paris with a freshly baked baguette in a basket. Luckily, the city's numerous riverbanks, bike paths, and quaint streets allow for just that. Paris was one of the pioneers in the bike sharing service, having launched Vélib (the name is a mashup of the French words vélo, which means bike, and liberté, which means freedom) in 2007. There are now over 20,000 bicycles and 1,400 stations in the city.
San Francisco, California: The steep hills of San Francisco may be a deterrent, but bicycling is one of the most scenic ways to see the City by the Bay, as is evident by the throngs of tourists riding (or pushing) one of the many rental bikes available in town. Bike share programs and increased protected bike lanes have helped regular two-wheel commuting. Critical Mass, a mass bicycle ride that takes place on the last Friday of every month, originated in San Francisco in 1992.
Antwerp, Belgium: Despite cobblestoned streets and tram tracks, Antwerp has a thriving bike scene, thanks in part to Velo, the city's bike share system. The 20+ mile path along the river Scheldt lets cyclists have a scenic way to explore both banks.
Ljubljana, Slovenia: The city has had Copenhagen-style bike tracks since the 1960s and was chosen as European Green Capital in 2016 as a result of its effort in focusing on public transport and pedestrian and cycling networks. There are about 45 miles of cycle tracks and 83 miles of bicycle lanes that lead to the city's large green spaces and historical architecture.
Chicago, Illinois: When the weather's nice in Chicago, it seems like the entire city's population is outdoors, and with over 200 miles of bike lanes and paths (including an 18.5-mile Lakefront trail), exploring is ideal on two wheels. The city is testing a dockless bike program, and its Cycling Plan of 2020 calls for an expansion of infrastructure and bikeways to provide a bicycle accommodation within half a mile from every Chicagoan.
Barcelona, Spain: A great way to see Barcelona is to cruise along the waterfront or through the narrow neighborhood streets by bike. As part of its Urban Mobility Plan, the city has been working to increase bike paths, parking, and safety since 2013. The goal is for 95 percent of the population to have a bike lane within 300 meters of their homes. The city's bike sharing program, Bicing, has both standard and electric versions.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: Argentina's capital made a concerted effort to be greener and healthier by promoting biking as a main mode of transportation. It has paid off: Construction of a network of protected bikeways in Buenos Aires began in 2009, and there are now over 117 miles of bike-exclusive lanes. The bike sharing system, Ecobici, also offers free bikes 24/7, 365 days a year. (Photo via holgs/Getty)
Budapest, Hungary: Budapest has 124 miles of cycling paths and the city offers guided tours to explore both sides of the Danube: the hills of Buda and the mostly flat streets of Pest. The EuroVelo 6 route along the Danube, a bike path that spans across 2,000 miles and 10 countries, is also popular with both locals and tourists.
Austin, Texas: Texans in Austin have plenty of bike paths to ride, including the Lance Armstrong Bikeway and Rio Grande Bikeway. For a creative take on bikes, visitors can head to the Austin Bike Zoo, where you can help pedal an 80-foot, 34-wheeled rattlesnake.
Vienna, Austria: Vienna has 780 miles of bicycle paths and popular routes include the famous Danube cycle path, which goes from Germany to Austria to Hungary, and Sightseeing Bicycle Path Ringstrasse, which takes you along the old city. Adventurers take note: The Vienna Woods provide a unique setting for mountain biking. The main bike-sharing system, Citibike Wein, has 120 stations around the city. (Photo via VvoeVale/Getty)
Washington, DC: Increased infrastructure in DC (there are now over 100 miles of bike lanes and trails) has made biking one of the easier ways to get through jam-packed city streets and see the capital's numerous monuments and memorials up close. Capital Bikeshare, the DC metro area's bike share program, is one of the biggest in the country, having reached 20 million rides since its launch in 2010.
Minneapolis, Minnesota: In Minneapolis, old railways have been converted to a bike network, and the city has over 200 miles of trails and routes, as well as the country's first bicycle freeway, the Cedar Lake Regional Trail. The 50-mile long Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway links many of the city's park areas and has paths for both pedestrians and bikes.
Where is your favorite bike-friendly destination? Tag us in your travel ‘grams @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)