Cycle Melbourne, Sightseeing Ride, Capital City Trail
The Capital City Trail actually follows the south bank of the Yarra River through the city but this ride offers a slight variation by starting behind Federation Square and heading off through Birrarung Marr.
Cycling east from Federation Square you cross Birrarung Marr. This park has become a focus for outdoor activities and major events in Melbourne.
Between 8 and 9am, 12:30 and 1:30pm, or 5 and 6pm, you can enjoy the sounds of the Federation Bells just off to your left. As you head away from the city along the river, look back over your shoulder for a postcard view of Melbourne. Maybe stop riding beforehand. The trail soon drops right over the water and travels on floating pontoons which can be icy and slippery in the mornings.
The route is flat and smooth. You can enjoy flowy urban ride on well-designed pathways.
The ride starts and finishes at Flinders Street station and passes several other stations. Because the trail circumnavigates the city, you can join it anywhere along the route, whether cycling or using train or car.
Food and drink
Water fountains are dotted along the trail. Except for the stretch between Princes Park and Docklands, there are plenty of cafés and restaurants too. I can recommend the coffee and chocolate brownies from the café at the Collingwood Children’s Farm.
For visitors to Melbourne who didn’t pack bikes, there is a bicycle hire shop just below the start point, at Federation Wharf on the river’s edge, which opens seven days a week, weather permitting. Melbourne Bike Share has stations at Federation Square and on the trail at Docklands.
You will come to Dights Falls, where the weir is being re-built with a fishway to allow fish to bypass the weir. The path is so close to the river here that you might find yourself splashing along (or detouring to higher ground) if the river is in flood. There is a demographic change as you ride through Clifton Hill and the northern outskirts of Carlton. Don’t be surprised if you get dusted off by young girls in normal street wear on single speed, inner city trendy bikes, running late for their next lecture at Melbourne University or coffee at their favorite hangout.
The next highlight, depending on who is on the ride, is the Melbourne Zoo which is opposite Royal Park station. As well as the animals it can offer refreshments, toilets and lawns to relax on. The ride under City Link freeway is a surreal change from the parklands you have just ridden through. Towards the end of the ride you travel through the Docklands and Southbank precincts which are booming. The wall to wall eateries and Melbourne Casino usually mean the ride back along Southbank will be slow as you wobble through the pedestrian hordes. Observe the 10kph limit signs for bikes. Towards the end you can follow the route back across Princes Bridge to the city or continue along the south side of the river to the more relaxing Alexandra Gardens and Kings Domain.
28.918 km / 17.969 mi
694 m / 2,277 ft
705 m / 2,313 ft
53 m / 173 ft