Santander Cycle is London’s self-service cycle hire scheme which I absolutely love! It’s the cheapest way to get around the city and I always make sure that I get to use it as much as I can specially if the weather’s good. You can hire a bike from as little as £2, no need to make any reservation and it’s very easy to find with numerous docking stations dotted around the city.
London is also very cycle-friendly, in fact the cycling route of the itinerary I’m about to show you has a special cycling lane so you don’t have to worry about buses and cars traveling alongside you if you’re not a seasoned cyclist like I am.
How to use the Santader Cycle:
You will see a lot of Santander Cycle Docking Stations around the city and the only you thing you
need is your credit/debit card to rent it.
The rental fee starts from £2.00 which will be valid for the whole day and that includes 30-min free ride. If you go beyond the 30-min time limit, there will be an additional £2.00 that will be charged on your card. I normally just ride it as normal and pay for everything at the end of the ride but I was advised that you can actually use the free 30mins every time so that you don’t have to pay extra.
How do you do it, here’s a very simple example provided by Visit London:
To get started, Juan buys £2 bike access for 24 hours, rides for 15 minutes to Trafalgar Square and docks his bike nearby. Later that day, he picks up another bike and rides for 22 minutes to the theatre and returns the bike there. The first 30 minutes of each journey is free, so Juan only pays £2 in total.
– Allow a minimum of at least 6 minutes between docking a bike and taking another to make sure that the new 30-min free ride will apply.
– Always dock your bicycle when you’re not using it.
– Make sure that the green light goes on when you dock it to ensure that it’s properly placed and you won’t be billed extra.
Should you need more information about Santader Cycles, you may visit their website here. You may also download the app which you can find here, this will make it easier for you to find the nearest docking station and also buy your tickets.
Now that you know how to use the Santander Cycles, let’s begin our Self-Guided London City Tour On A Santander Cycle which covers some of the major sights of the city.
FIRST STOP: KENSINGTON PALACE
There are quite a few Santander Cycle docking stations around Kensington Palace but I always prefer to get mine by the entrance along Kensington Road. Assuming that you’ve already explored Kensington Palace and its grounds, take your bicycle and cycle through Kensington Gardens. Make sure that you’re on the correct cycling path, it’s well signed anyway.
SECOND STOP: HYDE PARK
The park next door is your second stop, you’ll cross a small road and you can choose to cycle around the beautiful Hyde Park or alongside it by the main road. You can opt to dock your bike in Hyde Park if you do decide to explore it.
THIRD STOP: CONSTITUTION HILL
At the end of Hyde Park, you’ll cross the road towards Wellington Arch and continue on to Constitution Hill. It’s a pretty tree-lined street with Green Park on your left and the Buckingham Palace Gardens on your right.
FOURTH STOP: BUCKINGHAM PALACE
Following the cycling path, you’ll soon reach the Buckingham Palace which should be on your right- hand side. A mandatory photo shoot here is required of course.
FIFTH STOP: WESTMINSTER ABBEY, BIG BEN AND HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
Cycling through the Birdcage Walk, you’ll soon reach Westminster Abbey and the famous Big Ben. The Houses of Parliament is also nearby so you can dock your Santander Cycle at 7 Storey’s Gate SW1P 3AT while you take some selfies with these three famous London icons.
SIXTH STOP: LONDON EYE
With your Santander Cycle, take the first left towards Westminster Pier just opposite the Big Ben. You will soon have the sight of the famous London Eye on your right, across the River Thames. I do love cycling through this whole stretch of cycling path until I reach the Blackfriars Bridge where I will take a right.
SEVENTH STOP: SOUTH BANK
After crossing the Blackfriars Bridge, take the first right towards South Bank which is the seventh and the last stop of this itinerary. South Bank is one of London’s cultural and entertainment districts. You can opt to dock your bike at the docking station at Belvedere Road 1 SE18TL before exploring the South Bank area on foot. I always love walking along the River Thames and stop for a pint or two in one of the restaurants along South Bank.
I normally end my cycling ride here as I’ll take the train from Waterloo Station which is nearby. I plan to create more cycling itineraries in London in the days to come so watch out for it. 🙂
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