Manly to City Backroads Ride

Cycle Sydney, Road Ride, Manly to City Backroads

Manly, as the saying goes, is ‘seven miles from Sydney and a million miles from care’. It’s fairly true. Manly is a lovely place. It has a great beach, public artworks, cafes and shops and is serviced by the Manly ferry. And, if you know the back roads, then you can have a very enjoyable ride, avoiding the congested main roads between Manly and Sydney which can be quite treacherous, and not pleasant cycling, during peak hour.

This bike ride aims to get you to Sydney with as few main roads as possible. Should you bike ride this route on a weekday, you’ll have plenty of two wheeled friends to keep you company as it's a popular commuter route to the city. It’s worth doing if only to ride over the Harbour Bridge.


A hilly ride through mostly backstreets.


The best way to get to this ride is by catching the Manly ferry from Circular Quay. From the end of the ride you can ride back across the Harbour Bridge or hop on a train to your home destination.

The ride

We start off at the Manly Wharf, simply because it’s where you would start if you caught the ferry, and then turn left. Riding through The Crescent and Lauderdale Avenue is nice, if a little narrow at times. So as soon as we get the chance we turn off into Condamine Street. We ride through Dobroyd, simply because there are such fantastic views of Middle Harbour. While a nice detour, it isn’t essential. Clontarf is where the hills kick in. As soon as you pass Clontarf Beach, which is an excellent place for a picnic, you’ll be riding uphill to Seaforth, then it’s down to the Spit Bridge. If you’re there at opening time, it’s fun to see the yachts cruise through and you can choose one for yourself at the yacht brokers on the other side.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction they say, so once over the bridge, it’s time to go up again. But this route is much gentler than the one the cars take. When you get to the crossing point of Spit Road, make sure you look how the bike lane goes. It’s a bit confusing the first time round. After this we’re gradually making our way up to North Sydney. The only section where the planners have let us cyclists down a bit is the crossing of Ernest St so take care. We ride through North Sydney Oval, traditional home of the North Sydney Bears and head through the business district. This is downhill all the way so keep an eye out for opening car doors.

Once you’re into Milson’s Point, it’s time to hit the Bridge. The bike path is on the western side and you can see the obvious way by the large staircase. It’s mandatory for some of the younger crew to muscle their way up the central bike path, so feel free to give it a go. Remember, that while pedestrians are forbidden on the western side, cyclists are forbidden to go on the eastern side. Coming off the Bridge, we do a little loop around Observatory Hill and drop down to Circular Quay through the convict built Argyle cut. There you are. It’s a wonder why all those people drive from Manly every day, isn’t it?

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Leave Manly Wharf and head left. Follow the road left into Commonwealth Pde. It then becomes The Crescent. And then becomes Lauderdale Ave.
  • 3.1 Turn left into Condamine St. At the T-junction turn right into Ernest St.
  • 3.4 Take the first left into Vista St.
  • 3.5 Turn left into Bareena Dr.
  • 4.0 Enter Sydney Harbour National Park.
  • 4.3 Good lookouts from Dobroyd Head.
  • 5.0 Exit national park and continue straight ahead along Bareena St.
  • 5.5 Go left into Woodland St and follow it around to the left. Don’t go straight.
  •  5.7 There’s an S-bend and the road becomes Moore St.
  • 6.0 Come to a T-junction. Go left into Beatrice St. Turn right into Amiens Rd.
  • 6.4 Pass Clontarf Park and beach on the left. Amiens Rd becomes Perrone Ave.
  • 7.3 Turn right into Kanangra Cres.
  • 7.6 Left into Ethel St and ride over Manly Rd.
  • 7.9 Turn left at roundabout into Sydney Rd and ride down the hill.
  • 8.2 Go left into Panorama Pde and follow the bike signs.
  • 9.3 Cross Spit Bridge. Once on the other side loop under the bridge, ride past the kayak shop and then veer left into Parriwi Rd.
  • 11.4 At the top of Parriwi Rd turn right into Military Rd using the marked bike lane. Cross at the lights and turn into Bickel Rd and then Bapaume Rd.
  • 12.0 Follow to the right into Killarney St and come onto Bay St. Bike path goes from right hand side. Ride along Wyong Rd.
  • 12.4 Turn left into Ellalong Rd. Go through park then turn right into Lodge Rd and left into Ryries Pde.
  • 12.9 Go left into Tobruk Ave.
  • 13.3 Turn right into Brightmore St and right again into Benelong St.
  • 13.8 Take a right into Grassmere Rd.
  • 14.9 Cross Ernest St. The bike lane next to the highway takes us down towards North Sydney.
  • 15.4 Next Falcon St and ride through North Sydney Oval.
  • 15.8 Follow path into Walker St. Cross at lights and bear left along the railway.
  • 17.1 Come to Milson’s Pt Station Bike path up steps.
  • 18.5 Come off bridge to Observatory Hill.
  • 18.8 Go through Argyle St and finish at Circular Quay.

    Food and Drink

    Apart from Manly at the beginning of the ride, the only real place for food and drink along the route is at the shops in Seaforth. Bakery recommended.

    Trail map

    Locate Me
    Get Directions

    19.517 km / 12.127 mi

    Total Distance

    418 m / 1,373 ft

    Total Ascent

    414 m / 1,357 ft

    Total Descent

    102 m / 334 ft

    Highest Point

    Additional Info:

    Traffic: Good, though many streets are narrow. Care needs to be taken at the end of the ride near North Sydney.

    Side Trip: The best side trip from this ride is Historic Sydney. This would allow you to form a sort of figure eight and to combine the two would be a good option for visitors who are short on time and want to get a good look at Sydney. If you’re just looking for somewhere nice to go that doesn’t involve a bike, try Clontarf Beach. It is lovely and shady with a sheltered swim area for the kids.

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Rail Trail
    EPIC Ride
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Gravel Road
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle
    Loading comments...