5 brilliant and beautiful bike rides in and around Shanghai

Saddle up and discover Shanghai via some well-ridden tracks, scenic river paths and gruelling hill climbs

Photograph: Pavel Danilyuk via Pexel
One of the great advantages of Shanghai is the ease in which you can explore the city on two wheels. Love them or loathe them, the plentiful supply of share bikes, along with the flat nature of the city, has created an abundance of opportunities to take in the sights by way of some gentle exercise. Furthermore, as a city woven with dedicated bike lanes and safe cycle paths, it’s easy to see why so many decide to spin their way around town.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend activity or something to do in the evenings after the midday heat has melted away, we take a look at some of the wetlands, waterways and coastal routes that are waiting for you to saddle up and explore.

East Bund

Photograph: Siyuan Hu via Unsplash

Total distance 25 km
Difficulty Low

We’ve all exhausted the West Bund over this past month, but few have explored the East Bund trails along Pudong’s side of the river. The Pudong Riverside Greenway runs between Xupu bridge and Yangpu bridge and has long been a poorly kept secret for those wanting to take in some riverside views. Despite the daunting length of this trail, there are many modern rest-point stations along the way, providing drinking water, toilet facilities, and a refuge from any adverse weather. While there’s no need to complete the whole route in one outing, doing so will reward you with several changes of scenery from disused factory spaces and gleaming modern architecture, to the developed wetland area which is Houtan park.

🚴Highlights Healthy, sociable and fun for all the family.

Pudong Canals

1.pudong canal
Photograph: Time Out Shanghai

Total distance 10 km
Difficulty Low

Staying in Pudong, an alternative route begins at Century Park and heads east, away from the bright lights of Lujiazui. While you can easily extend the ride by taking in the park’s offerings, taking Jinxiu Lu from the North-East corner of the park will bring you over the winding river where you can turn right onto Heisong Lu just after Pudong Hospital. This brings you onto the tranquil settings alongside Zhangjiabang Canal where you will wind your way along until reaching Jinqiao Lu. This 4km stretch of canal pathways transports you through picnic spots and picturesque remains of bygone days which seem far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life.

🚴Highlights Lazy willow-tree pathways in a slow-paced inner-city escape.

Sheshan Mountain

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Total distance 30 km
Difficulty High

While the wetlands and willow tree-lined pathways of Pudong are a great antidote to urban pressure, breaking out of Shanghai’s inner-ring is a true release from stress. Situated on the city’s Western outskirts beyond Hongqiao airport, take the metro along Line 9 to Sheshan station and cycle out to Sheshan National Forest Park to transport yourself into the midst of nature. From the metro station, follow Linyinxin Lu to the Moon-Lake Sculpture Park before tackling one or both of the peaks at Sheshan National Forest Park. From here, a more leisurely cycle through the calming scenery can take you to the Chenshan Botanical Gardens before completing the loop back to the metro station. Note, there are fewer shops on this route than the others on this list, so be sure to prepare enough water and snacks to keep up your energy levels.

🚴Highlights The viewpoints from the 100m peak of West Sheshan Hill or 65m peak of East Sheshan Hill.

Dishui Lake

Photograph: Time Out Shanghai

Total distance 6-33 km
Difficulty Medium

Another option for the more intrepid cyclists can be found in Lingang, located approximately 70km south-east of the city centre. Although many of us have promised ourselves to explore this area, few make it to the tip of Metro Line 16, meaning crowds can be far thinner here than elsewhere. Once here, there are a variety of nature routes you can take around Dishui Lake, such as the shorter (6km) and longer (10km) loops which guide you around the freshwater lake. Up for something more challenging? Try the 33km trail which circles both the lake and the Shanghai Ocean University campus, passing along Hangzhou Bay which provides some refreshing seascapes.

🚴Highlights Panoramic Ocean views and a break from the crowds.

Meilan Lake Scenic Area

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons (Gucun Park)

Total distance 15 km
Difficulty Medium

A more classical option lies at the Northern end of Metro Line 7, where you will find yourself on the part of Shanghai’s first ecological trail. Here you will have the choice of venturing north beyond the Baogang and Chenhang Reservoirs and into the orchards covering the Yuepu section that is famed for bird-watching. Or you can cycle south towards Gucun Park, where you can finish your ride with a stroll through the park’s traditional gardens. The more adventurous can even connect with and follow Suzhou Creek back into the heart of the city, where the pathways terminate at the bund with an altogether different scenic spectacle.

🚴Highlights Less of a route, more of an area to explore, this 100km ecological trail has a wide variety of natural scenery to bathe your soul in.

Read more