Stockholm on Two Wheels: Biking Around the Capital of Scandinavia
Guest post by: Louise Vinciguerra
Spread across 14 islands and surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Europe, Stockholm is not a city to be seen from the inside of a vehicle. One of the most enjoyable—and efficient—means of exploring this Scandinavian capital is via bicycle. Thankfully, city planners and local businesspeople agree.
Where to Pedal
Getting around Stockholm via bicycle is remarkably easy, as bicycle lanes are clearly marked throughout the city. In some cases, the lanes are incorporated as part of the sidewalk, while in other places the lane is part of the road. Either way, the lane is clearly marked, and signage will note whether you’re sharing the lane with pedestrians or cars, and whether there are other hazards. The city’s commitment to bicycle culture is also evident by the ample bike “parking:” You’ll find bicycle racks outside of almost every major building and on every street.
While a bicycle and a map of the city are all you need to explore, if you’d desire more guidance, a number of tour providers offer guided bicycle rides. This allows you to see not only the major attractions but also the lesser-known places that are not accessible via tour bus. Try a tour with Bike Sweden for an introduction to Stockholm before you start off on your own; the 2.5-hour tour brings you to the major sites in downtown, such as the City Hall and the Royal Palace. If you’d rather set out on your own, grab a bicycle lane map from any City Bike location or ask your hotel staff for recommendations.
Getting Your Wheels
Since shipping your bicycle to Stockholm is impractical for a short visit, you’ll need to acquire some wheels once you arrive. Thankfully, that’s fairly easy to do. Your best bet is to stay in a hotel that offers bicycles for guests, either for free or a small fee. Many smaller properties include bikes as part of the nightly rate; when you look for Stockholm hotels on Venere.com, you’ll easily find properties offering bicycles.
If your hotel doesn’t provide two-wheeled transportation, your next best option is Stockholm’s City Bikes program. Similar to other cities’ short-term rental programs, the City Bikes program allows residents and visitors to borrow bikes for up to three hours from locations all over the city. When you arrive in Stockholm, purchase an access card that allows unlimited use; a three-day card costs 165 Swedish krona (about $25). A season pass, which is good between April and October, is 300 SEK or about $45. To get a bike, swipe your card at the rental station, choose a bike and you’re on your way! Return the bike to any station in three hours and grab another bike when you need one.
If you’d rather have your “own” bike to ride during your visit and not worry about time limits or locating rental stations, you can rent bikes from private companies for as little as one hour up to seven days. This is usually the best option if you’re traveling with children, as the City Bikes program only allows riders over age 18. Private companies will rent bikes for children or additional gear, such as child seats or bike trailers, for transporting the little ones. One of the most popular bicycle-rental shops is Rent a Bike, located on Strandvägen near the Royal Theatre. This rental agency has multiple bicycle types, including tandem and mountain bikes.
Safety and Regulations
Unlike other cities, Stockholm does not have a mandatory helmet law for bicyclists over the age of 15; children under 15 riding with adults are required to wear a helmet, though. However, given that you’ll be riding on city streets and among heavy traffic at times, it is a good idea to wear a helmet. City Bikes has a helmet-rental program, and some independent companies may provide required protective gear to wear while using their equipment.
Otherwise, the bicycle laws in Stockholm are similar to those in the U.S. Keep to the right of the lane, allowing faster riders to go around and alert other cyclists before passing them. Watch for pedestrians — some residents of Stockholm claim they are more likely to be hit by a bike than a car. And take care to lock your bike; even though Stockholm is a safe city, unattended bikes are vulnerable to theft.
Riding around Stockholm on a bicycle is one of the most enjoyable ways to see this city. So grab a two-wheeler and set off on an adventure — you never know what you’ll discover!
About the Author: Louise Vinciguerra is a fantastic joke teller, has a million and one hobbies, and enjoys matching her fonts with her moods. This Brooklyn native dirties her hands in content on weekdays and as a devout nature lover, dirties them in soil on the weekends. When she’s not on Facebook, WordPress or Twitter, she’s traveling in search of fun food, dabbling in urban farming or planning nature trips from her resident city of Rome. When she’s not doing any of the above, she sleeps.
Image by: Transit Nerds From Flickr’s Creative Commons