In case you’re lacking in ideas on how to spend some quality family time, or you’re just looking for different ways to break up a routine while doing something that benefits everyone’s health – then we’d definitely recommend you a family cycling day trip through Sydney. You should also keep in mind that cycling represents not only a great way to spend quality time, get healthier and more fit, but also to save the environment. This is especially important for hilly cities like Sydney, who rely heavily on motor vehicles. Bicycles represent a great way to reduce the carbon footprint on our planet, and it’s paramount that people in big cities embrace and favor these ’green’ transportation options.
Although Sydney isn’t mainly considered to be the most bicycle-friendly place on earth, it still has many great things to offer. And despite its hilly topography (unlike some flatter cities such as Canberra or Melbourne), we nevertheless encourage everyone to try this family activity – at least for a day – and see for yourself what a truly amazing experience can be cycling through Sydney. In this article, we’re going to give you some examples for which parts of Sydney to explore and pay the most attention if you want to maximize your family biking experience.
We begin our list of things you can cycle through with your family with the northern part of Sydney. You can have a memorable time if you take a ferry to Manly and visit secluded coves, beaches and North Head, where you can enjoy the harbor.
You can also ride the trail at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, which is 7 kilometers long and has many scenic views, as well as Aboriginal rock engravings and wildflowers.
On top of these things, you can also take a ride through 8.4 kilometers long off-road nature trail around peaceful Narrabeen Lagoon. You can even have a nice picnic or a barbecue if you decide to further explore this area and stay for a while longer.
Probably the most well-known bike path in the western part of Sydney is the 35-kilometer long trail that goes through Sydney Olympic Park. There’s also a Bike Safari Map that you can download and choose one of three Circuits: there’s a 5.5 kilometers long Parklands Circuit, 7.6 kilometers long Olympic Circuit, and 11 kilometers long River Heritage Circuit. While you’re there, also make sure your kids take a ride through the Children’s Loop, which is located in Bicentennial Park.
Also, we strongly recommend you to visit the Western Sydney Parklands (which has more than 5,000 hectares) and its cycling tracks. If you’re up for a complete adventure don’t hesitate to take a 50km off-road cycleway, as well. That way you’ll be able to go from Guildford and Canley Vale all the way to the Parramatta-Liverpool Rail Trail.
The Parramatta heritage trails offer you a history lesson simply everyone enjoys attending. Along this trail, you’ll get a chance to see some of Australia’s oldest pieces of architecture. For example, if you take this route you’ll be able to see the Elizabeth Farm, which was built in 1793, or the Old Government House, which was built six years later (1799). Parramatta Park and Parramatta River are also more than worthwhile to paddle along.
As far as the western part of Sydney goes, there are numerous bike paths that weave through Sydney’s south. There are plenty of breathtakingly beautiful national parks over there, such as Dharawal National Park (near Helensburgh), with great cycling routes. And even though these paths aren’t as long as the previous ones that we’ve mentioned in this article, you can still get a pretty decent ride. A 15-kilometer long one-way route that goes through woodland is fairly respectable in this regard – and it’s suitable for those who aren’t used to biking all day long.
And if you’re looking for an even shorter ride, then we’d recommend you to take the Loftus Loop Trail. What’s really great about Sydney is that you actually don’t have to take one of the paid bike tours to cycle through the city. Even if you’re a tourist, all you need are some reliable types of bicycles for the whole family, a city map, and a little bit of adventurous spirit. Sydney offers really diverse terrain and beautiful scenery wherever you decide to go.
The eastern part of Sydney is an idyllic suburban part where you can enjoy your family’s cycling day trip to the fullest. Centennial Parklands are probably the place that cyclists visit the most, in this particular area of the city. Although it has ’only’ 360 hectares (especially compared to the Western Sydney Parklands that are 5,000 hectares wide), it’s still an awesome riding experience altogether. Centennial Parklands is a green oasis that spreads over three adjoining parks – all of which offer both peaceful and beautiful cycling paths.
And if you’re looking for more cycling experiences in this area of the city, the eastern part has a lot more to offer. For instance, you should check out the Cycleway Finder. The important thing to note is that your bikes can be taken on Metro, Sydney, and Intercity trains, but they can’t be taken on buses.
Other Things Worth Mentioning: The Shores of Iron Cove
A great day to spend with your family members is to ride along the shores of Iron Cove. This is a truly tranquil ride which is only 7 kilometers long. Along the way, you can stop by and visit any of the nine parks, as well as places like Lilyfield, Drummoyne, and Rodd Point. What’s great about this ride is that you’re actually never more than 20 meters away from the waterfront. This is especially great during those hot summer days since we all know just how important it is to be near water during these periods.
The shores of Iron Cove offer magnificent views of the bay. And in the very middle, you’ll get a chance to see Rodd Island, which is a former science center that now serves as a recreation reserve. This entire bay run is a loop, which means that you don’t have to worry about how are you going to get back – you can always end your ride in the exact same point where it began in the first place.
Narrow Neck (Katoomba)
This particular trail is probably more suited for the more experienced group of riders, so we’d recommend you to bike through only if all family members are in decent biking shape. It’s not that the trail is that long – it’s nine kilometers each way – but you still have a chance to see many beautiful things along the path. There are plenty of wildflowers, open forests, swamplands, and areas of open uncultivated land with characteristic vegetation of coarse grasses, gorse, and heather. And if you’re looking to extend your ride some more, then we’d recommend you to start at the Katoomba Station.
We already spoke about those much sought-after waterfront rides, but we simply have to specifically mention Manly Beach – again. You can have an awesome and interesting ride if you start at the north end of the beach (at Manly lagoon) and bike all the way to Shelly Beach. In case you don’t live on the northern shore, there are still ways to get there by bike, you’ll just have to take your bike on the ferry and you’re good to go.
Lady Carrington Drive (the Royal National Park)
This bike tour offers a great chance to get away from the urban city area and maybe even completely forget that you’re near Sydney. If you decide to take a bike tour through the Lady Carrington Drive which is located in the Royal National Park, chances are that you’ll want to come back time and time again. Even though it’s only 10 kilometers long, the whole cycling experience is truly amazing. You’ll be able to see the old carriage route, watch for lyrebirds, lace monitors, and echidnas.
We also recommend you to stop and have a picnic here since there are three dedicated areas for this kind of leisure experience as well. A nice place to visit while you’re in the area is also the Palona Brook cave.
Many cyclists consider Sydney to be bicycle-unfriendly, mainly due to its hilly topography. In this article, we’ve tried to prove them wrong, giving you many places that you can visit and that we consider being jaw-droppingly awesome to cycle through. Some of these places are closer to the city, and some offer a proper escape into the wild. No matter which one you decide to visit and bike through, you definitely won’t regret the decision.
All city parts are crowded with nice bike paths and beautiful scenery that each family member can enjoy. And depending on the level of fitness, you can also choose to take the routes that are less or more demanding. So, whether you’re a tourist or you actually live in the city, we strongly recommend you to hop onto your favorite two-wheeler and get a nice ride through these areas that we’ve mentioned here.