Who has never dreamed of becoming a King/Queen? With this route, you’ll be able to see part of their lives, from palaces to guards, coaches, gardens… the perfect trip to fuel your best dreams. This ride is roughly 18 miles long, flat and completely along tarmac roads - a great day of regal adventuring for any cyclist.
From Tower of London to Kew Palace via Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, The Household Cavalry Museum, the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews.
Head to the Tower of London - or should we call it Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London - to see your first attraction.
The Tower of London is jewel in the crown of English history. Besieged several times, it has been used for a lot of different purposes: as a royal residence, an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office, the home of the Crown Jewels of England, a prison and now a museum. What a life!
If you love old bricks and medieval castle, you’re in for a treat.
Now follow the Thames and head to the west for the next stage
Leg 1: Tower of London to Kensington Palace
This first part is really awesome because you’re going to see a lot while cycling. Follow the road alongside the river and pedal past : Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street. You’ll feel you’ve seen everything of London despite having cycled only few kilometres.
You will now arrive at The Household Cavalry Museum. Feel free have a wander around the museum but the main attraction is the Queen’s Life Guard. You will see them either on foot or on horse. Their role is to escort the Queen if she travels by road and you can see them around the Queen’s coach during official ceremonies.
They are very impressive with their red tunics and white plumed helmets. Make sure you don’t get too close or stay in their way when they are moving as they will most likely shout at you and you may be arrested for this (for real). If you’re there around 4 o’clock, you’ll see the dismounting ceremony where the guards are inspected by an officer and then the mounted guards take the horses back to stables for the night.
You can then choose to go through the arch and head directly to St James Park (it’s a shortcut) but we don’t recommend this as you’ll need to dismount and you’ll miss few nice landmarks.
Head instead to the north following the road and you’ll see Trafalgar Square. Pass through the Admiralty Arch which is the main entrance to The Mall that will take you to Buckingham Palace.
From the Admiralty Arch, it is pretty easy as all you have to do is to go straight for 930 metres and you’ll end up at Buckingham Palace. It is quite pleasant to cycle there and if you get bored feel free to go through St James' Park where you’ll see lots of ducks, birds and squirrels who will come to eat peanuts in your hand. St James' Park is probably the best place if taking selfies with animals is your thing.
Cycle round the Victoria Memorial and you'll find yourself at the gates of Buckingham Palace. The flag that flies above the palace will either be the Union Jack, to denote that the queen is not there, or the Royal Standard, to denote that she is. If you're lucky enough to be there on a Royal Standard day, don’t expect to catch a glimpse of the queen as it will probably not happen (if it does, let us now the day and time as we are desperate to see her)
In any case, you’ll be able to see one of the most recognizable symbols of London: the Queen’s Guard. And if you’re lucky enough to be there on the right day, the changing of the guard ceremony happens with great fanfare at 11. Make sure that you get there early for a good view! If you want to park your bike up, lock it up at one of these spots.
You can then head to the next landmarks which are the Queen’s Gallery and The Royal Mews. They are all in and next to Buckingham Palace.
The Queen’s Gallery is an art gallery that houses around 450 works from the Royal Collection. If you plan to go in, there are packages that will give you a discount if you do both The Queen’s Gallery and The Royal Mews, so make sure you ask for it.
The Royal Mews is just behind The Queen’s Gallery and houses the Royal Stables. You’ll see a good collection of vehicles that carried Kings and Queens and you will be able to see the famous Gold State Coach which is only used for special occasions and has been used for the coronation of every British monarch since 1760.
Buckingham Palace checked off, jump back on your bike and keep going by heading to Kensington Palace. The good news is, you can get pretty much the whole way cycling through parks which will make the journey more enjoyable. You’ll cycle next to The Serpentine; the lake in Hyde Park. If it's a sunny day, take your swimsuit and stop at the Serpentine Lido for a dip! This lido is natural and, as you swim alongside the Canada geese, it's easy to forget that you're right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Dry off and, after another few minutes on the bike, you'll arrive at Kensington Palace, which is the official residence of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. The building also houses Prince Harry, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. It is also known for being the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria. Some parts are open to public, but make sure you book in advance as it is a very popular place.
Leg 2: Kensington Palace to Kew Palace
You’ll need to brave the road for this next leg! You’ll cycle near Notting Hill - a beautiful neighbourhood made internationally famous by a certain Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts - which is also home to Portobello market and a great place to stop for a light lunch or a peruse of some antiques. If you are really into shopping, you can stop at Westfield in Shepherds Bush but we have to warn you: it is crowded, stressful and it’s not going to be easy to cycle with all of the shopping bags that you acquire!
Keep going through leafy Chiswick and Kew to Kew Palace.
Kew Palace is a traditional Georgian palace, and although most of it is no longer standing – only the Dutch house remains - it is still an iconic royal place for having housed kings and queens from 1728 to 1818. You can visit the inside and it will take you back in time.
The nice thing with Kew Palace is that it is located in a botanical garden that will blow you away by its plants coming from all over the world. You do need to pay to go in but it is totally worth it. They even have a treetop walkway 18 meters above the floor so you can experience what it’s like to be at the top of trees.
Leg 3: Kew Palace to Hampton Court
Head down now to our last stop: Hampton Court.
After having cycled some busy roads between Kensington and Kew Palace, you’re in for a treat: to get to Hampton Court, you’ll be able to avoid mostly roads and cycle alongside the Thames. If you’re in a hurry, make a beeline ( 😉 ) for Richmond Park. This is one of the best places to cycle and you’ll be able to see deer (in London, crazy no?). We totally recommend doing the Tamsin Trail which is a tour of the park we already covered on our blog and will make you forget you are still in the middle of London.
The riverside in Richmond also makes a great place to stop to refuel, with plenty of restaurants to choose from. Nearby Petersham Nurseries also serves delicious lunches in divine surroundings. Keep following the Thames and after a bit you’ll arrive to Hampton Court, home of Henry VIII.
Hampton Court was meant to be the English answer to France's Chateau de Versailles. The building is massive, it is beautiful with its red bricks and the garden will amaze you. Pay attention to every detail while there, you’ll spot some gems such as the decorative chimneys or the astronomical clock that adorns one of the towers.
This route will take you through the best royal places of London. You’ll have to do a little bit on busy roads but most of it is pretty quiet and really easy to cycle. And there isn't a hill in sight! Well, maybe a couple of small ones in Richmond...