1. King’s Cross to Limehouse Basin
If the idea of taking to London’s roads without being safely enclosed in a vehicle fills you with anxiety, this is one of the best East London cycle routes for you.
It’s a 6-mile cycle along the Regent’s Canal, starting at King’s Cross and ending at the Limehouse Basin, meaning minimal road-cycling time.
From King’s Cross’ trendy Granary Square, head east along the canal.
As you head down this stretch of canal towards Hackney, you’ll find a hidden, peaceful retreat from the busy city roads, and some of the beautiful period houses that East London is famed for.
If petting cute animals sounds like a respite from the saddle, pop into Hackney city farm for free as you pass.
Or if you’re looking for something off the beaten track, check out The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, just off the canal as you near Victoria Park.
As you pass Victoria Park itself, you can take a detour to check out its attractions, which include a Chinese pagoda, model boating lake, and much more.
After rejoining the canal, you’ll soon cycle through Mile End Park. Stop off here for attractions including the Ecology Park, Mile End Stadium and Mile End Climbing Wall.
Keep going and you’ll reach the Limehouse Basin, where you’ll be rewarded with picturesque views of the marina.
2. Hackney Marshes to Walthamstow Wetlands
Another of the best East London cycle routes if you want to avoid London’s roads, this 5-mile route circles round the Hackney Marshes and Walthamstow Wetlands.
Starting at the Hackney Marshes Centre, head north along the west side of the park, up the River Lea.
Keep heading north past the Walthamstow Marshes to the Walthamstow Wetlands. It’s a huge historic nature reserve teeming with wildlife, so bring your binoculars for a bit of bird spotting.
You can go further up to the reservoirs, or alternatively, loop back and head south, this time down the east side of the marshes.
This is an easygoing cycle passing sights like the Lee Valley Riding School, playing fields, and the Waterworks Nature Reserve.
3. Stonebridge Lock (Tottenham) to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium
One of the most picturesque East London cycle routes, this 5-mile ride starts at Stonebridge Lock in the Tottenham marshes. First head south along the banks of the River Lea.
If you’re interested in Victorian engineering, pop into Markfield Beam Engine and Museum; a Grade II listed engine hall featuring a steam-powered beam engine from 1888.
After you’ve cycled through Lee Valley Marina and its array of colourful canal boats, consider stopping off at Springfield Park to check out Springfield House. Here you can get great views of the marshes.
We recommend a stop at the Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve. This previously industrial area has become a natural habitat for wildlife.
There’s over 60 different species of bird living here so see if you can spot one you’ve never seen before.
Further along the river you’ll reach your destination, the Stratford Olympic Park and its sights including the stadium and the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture.
4. Olympic Park loop to the Thames at Limehouse
There’s nowhere better to start a 4 mile cycle than at the Lee Valley VeloPark in the Olympic Park, where Sir Chris Hoy and Dame Sarah Storey won their medals.
The Olympic Park features 25 art sculptures, which you can discover by taking the ‘Art in the Park’ trail – pick up a free trail guide from the park’s information point.
There’s tonnes to see in the park, and it’s very cycle-friendly, with a network of paths for you to explore.
Once you’ve had enough 2012 Olympics nostalgia, head south out of the park along the Three Mills Wall River.
As you pass, check out the House Mill – a Grade I listed tide mill built in 1776. It’s open every Sunday May – October from 11am – 4pm, and on the first Sundays in March, April and December. Plan ahead if you’d like to visit.
Follow the Three Mills Wall River south to where it meets the Lea, and turn off onto the Limehouse Cut canal at the Bow Locks.
Stop for a brief visit to the Limehouse Town Hall, and make the final stretch via road to the Thames to enjoy the scenery.
Best East London Cycle Routes: A summary
So there you have it, four great East London cycle routes for you to take in the sights and urban natural beauty this corner of the city offers.
Please remember, when cycling along canals and riversides to be courteous to pedestrians using the paths – and pay attention to make sure you and your bike don’t go for a dip in the water!