Hit the Road: Experience The 11 Best Manchester Bike Routes

Hit the Road: Experience The 11 Best Manchester Bike Routes

manchester traffic free cycle routes

There’s no need to rent a car when you visit Manchester – the city has great public transportation and plenty of cycle routes to get around on. Cycling is a great way to see the sights and get some exercise at the same time. Here are some of the best local cycle routes to check out during your trip.

You can cycle traffic-free for 18 km on the Bridgewater Canal Cycleway, cycle around the suburbs of Manchester on the Manchester Airport Orbital Cycle Route, or test your mountain biking skills not far city at Clayton Vale! 

Experience The Beauty Of Manchester On Two Wheels

Cycling Routes
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    The table above lists all the best cycling routes around Manchester. Click on each name to be taken straight to the part of the blog post for that route.

    What better way is there to explore the sights of Manchester than on a bike? Taking in the sounds of the city in the fresh air is hard to beat! Have a look below at the cycle routes listed on the interactive map and click on the buttons below the map for each route, for further information before you travel. The purple icons on the map indicate some local bike hire places. Check them out for prices on their website before you rent.

    Bridgewater Canal Cycleway

    Manchester is a great city for cycling, and the Bridgewater Canal Cycleway is one of the best routes to experience all that the city has to offer. With over 18km traffic-free, the cycleway runs along the canal and is a flat, easy route that's perfect for a leisurely ride. The cycleway is also well-connected to other routes in the city, so you can easily extend your ride if you're feeling energetic.

    Fallowfield Loop

    The Fallowfield Loop is a traffic-free cycle path that runs for 5.4 miles through some of the most scenic areas on the south side of the city. You'll get to experience incredible views of the urban area, as well as some of Manchester's best-loved green spaces including Highfield Country Park. And because the Loop is traffic-free, it's the perfect place to relax and take your time, enjoying the scenery at your own pace. Whether you're an experienced cyclist or a complete beginner, you'll find the Fallowfield Loop is a great place to enjoy a cycle ride.

    Ashton Canal Cycleway

    The Ashton Canal Cycleway is a must-visit for any biking enthusiast. The 10km path running from Ashton-under-Lyne to the city centre is well-paved and relatively flat, making it perfect for a leisurely ride. Along the way, you'll pass by the Etihad Stadium and Philips Park, and with the whole route taking around 40 minutes to ride, you can take in a section of the city with plenty to see in no time at all.

    manchester bike routes

    Rochdale Canal

    The route takes you through some of the most scenic countryside in the region, starting in the city centre and running through the Pennine Hills. There are also plenty of places to stop along the way to rest and take in the views including the monument at Stoodley Pike. Running for around 33 miles and along the National Cycle Route 66, the route is another scenic canal route that Manchester has to offer.

    Manchester Airport Orbital Cycle Route

    If you're looking for a great place to cycle in the city centre, look no further than the Manchester Airport Orbital Cycle Route. The 8-mile mainly off-road cycle route is perfect for those who want to experience Manchester's many suburbs to the International Airport on the outskirts of the city. The route is well-maintained and offers a variety of different terrain, so you can get a feel for the area.

    Saddleworth Rail Trail

    The Saddleworth Rail Trail is one of the best places to go cycling in the Manchester area. The trail follows two former railway lines running for 6 miles and with a fairly flat gradient, the route is not too hard on the legs. Additionally, the trail is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside which is popular with families looking to get out on their bikes.

    manchester cycle routes

    MTB: Pennine Bridleway

    There are few things more invigorating than a good cycle ride. The fresh air, the exercise, and the sense of freedom all combine to make cycling one of the most enjoyable activities around. And when it comes to finding a great place to cycle, there's nowhere better than the Pennine Bridleway. The epic trail is around 205 miles end to end, making it the perfect destination for a long-distance mountain bike ride. But even if you're not looking to go the distance, the Pennine Bridleway still has plenty to offer. The trail winds its way through some of England's most stunning scenery, and you're sure to find yourself taking in views that you never would have seen from the road. You can access the trail near the city or start at one of the many other points stretching from the Peak District to the Yorkshire Dales.

    MTB: Clayton Vale

    If you love mountain biking, then you need to check out the 12 kms of trails at Clayton Vale. The routes at Clayton Vale are some of the best in the area and you'll enjoy challenging yourself on the different grades of trails here.  And with the scenery on offer from the Clayton Vale Nature Reserve, you'll enjoy your ride here.

    MTB: Trans Pennine Trail

    The Trans Pennine Trail is one of the most popular cycling routes in the country, and it's easy to see why. The 215-mile-long trail winds its way through some of the most beautiful countryside from Southport to Hornsea, and is a great way to get out and explore the stunning scenery of the Peak District just past the Manchester section of the route. The trail is well-marked, easy to follow and mostly traffic-free making it ideal for cyclists of all abilities.

    MTB: Viridor Wood

    The trails at Viridor Wood are perfect for both beginners and experienced riders, and the scenery at this Site of Special Scientific Interest is simply breath-taking. With over 5 km to ride on, you can easily spend an afternoon riding in the forest working on your mountain biking skills.

    MTB: Wharncliffe Woods

    There are many reasons to love Manchester, but one of the best is the city's proximity to some of the best mountain biking trails in the North of England. If you're looking for a great place to ride, Wharncliffe Woods should be at the top of your list. The trails here offer a variety of challenges, from gentle inclines to steep climbs. You'll also enjoy stunning views of the forest as you ride. Best of all, the woods are only a short drive from Manchester, so you can easily make a day trip of it.


    In this blog post, we have shared some of the best Manchester bike routes. To find out more about things to do in this area, click on the links below:


    Manchester Blogs


    Free Things to do in Manchester


    Forest Walks near Manchester


    Local Delicacies from Manchester

    Please note...

    All outdoor activities including cycling involve a degree of risk. The routes are recommended due to the well known features of each route but this may change over time and further research is required before undertaking any activity. The weather can also impact the surface and general conditions of each route so please keep yourself updated with the weather forecast before setting off to enjoy your cycle!

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