7 Best Free Cycling Route Planners for 2023

7 Best Free Cycling Route Planners for 2023

Finding new places to ride is one of the best parts of cycling.

But spending time planning routes can be a drag, especially if you end up on dangerous or boring roads.

That’s where cycling route planners come in handy!

In this post, I’ll go over whether route planning is really necessary, then dive into the 7 best free apps and websites for mapping your next adventure on two wheels.

Get ready to discover some great new rides!

Is There an App to Plan a Cycle Route?


There are tons of great cycling route planners out there, both free and paid.

I’ll be focusing on the free options, since who doesn’t love getting helpful tools without spending money?

These apps make it super easy to map out routes based on your location, distance preferences, and more.

Many also have databases of rides shared by other users so you can find popular routes in your area.

Do I Need Route Planning?

As cyclists, we tend to enjoy winging it and exploring new areas spontaneously.

But having a planned route can make your rides safer and much more enjoyable.

Here are some of the key benefits of using a cycling route planner:

Avoids Busy Roads: Apps provide alternatives to dangerous high-traffic streets, helping you find quieter, safer roads for a stress-free ride.

Matches Your Fitness Level: Many planners let you specify details like elevation and difficulty, ensuring the route suits your cycling ability.

Discovers New Scenery: Find amazing roads and trails you’d never stumble upon on your own.

Expand your horizons!

Tracks Your Rides: Route planner apps often integrate with fitness trackers to log mileage, speed, elevation and more.

Great for training!

Provides Navigation: Get turn-by-turn directions right on your phone so you never get lost during your ride.

So while impromptu rides are fun, having a planned cycling route takes so much of the guesswork and potential hassles out of your journeys.

Now let’s check out some stellar route-planning apps!

Is Google Maps Good for Cycling?

Before we dive into the specialized cycling apps, what about just using good ole Google Maps?

Google Maps provides cycling directions and can create a route for your bike trip.

However, it has several key limitations compared to dedicated cycling route planners:

  • No adjustment of routes based on cycling skill level or preferences – often ends up directing cyclists onto busy roads
  • Lack of cycling-specific features like fitness/workout tracking, gearing adjustments for hills, and community route collections
  • No integration with cycling apps and social platforms like Strava
  • Can’t factor in the popularity of routes amongst cyclists like heatmaps can
  • No detailed elevation data or hilliness ratings to assess difficulty
  • No alternate route options optimized for safety, scenery, etc.
  • No voice navigation or turn-by-turn guidance tailored for cycling

While the traffic layer can help avoid congestion, overall Google Maps is fairly basic for cycling trip planning.

For cyclists who want customized, safe routes that match their fitness level and riding goals, as well as tools to log and share rides, dedicated cycling route planners are a much better choice.

Now let’s explore some of those top cycling-specific route-planning apps!

7 Best Free Cycling Route Planners

With so many options out there, it can be tough deciding which route planners are worth your time.

I’ve tested and researched dozens to narrow it down to the 7 very best based on features, ease of use, and cost.

All of these deliver awesome tools for mapping your next ride without charging a dime.

Okay, let’s get to the list!

1. RidewithGPS

Price: Free basic features, premium subscription $7.99/month or $79.99/year.

Features: Detailed mapping, cue sheets/turn instructions, elevation charts, fitness/training metrics

Systems supported: Web, iOS, Android

Best for: Serious cyclists who love data and discovering popular routes

With over 420,000 cycling routes contributed by users all over the world, RidewithGPS makes it easy to find awesome mapped rides in your area.

Elevation charts help you gauge the difficulty. Integration with fitness devices provides in-depth ride analysis.

The premium subscription unlocks features like custom printable cue sheets complete with turn-by-turn directions.

Overall, it’s a top choice for performance-focused cyclists.

2. Komoot

Price: Basic version free. Paid offline region packages are one-time purchases of $3.99 for a single region, $8.99 for a region bundle, or $29.99 for the entire world.

Features: Custom route recommendations, voice navigation, elevation profiles, offline map downloads

Systems supported: Web, iOS, Android

Best for: Cyclists who want a personalized route catered to their fitness level

Komoot is great for road, gravel, and mountain bikers who want routes tailored to their ability.

Based on info you provide like fitness level, preferred distance, and elevation, Komoot suggests route options optimized for you.

Turn-by-turn voice navigation assists you along the way. Komoot also makes it easy to find less trafficked roads and paths for a stress-free journey.

3. MapMyRide

Price: Free with account sign-up, $5.99/month or $29.99/year premium features

Features: Route mapping by distance/difficulty, fitness tracking integration, training analysis

Systems supported: Web, iOS, Android

Best for: Casual riders who want to track their cycles

Part of the Under Armour family of fitness apps, MapMyRide has all the route planning capabilities plus integrates with their activity trackers.

So you can easily log workout data like speed, distance, calories burned, and more while cycling.

The social fitness community also makes it fun to share and find mapped routes with other riders.

Though less robust than some competitors, it gets the job done for basic route planning and training tracking.

4. Strava

Price: Free membership, $6.67/month premium options

Features: Personal heatmap analysis for route suggestions, route builder, training plans

Systems supported: Web, iOS, Android

Best for: Avid cyclists who love stats and social connections

What makes Strava stand out is the “heatmaps” – activity data tracking where people ride frequently.

Use the heatmaps to have Strava suggest routes and segments based on popularity.

As a social app, you can follow other cyclists, share your activities, and get motivation.

The premium subscription provides additional analysis like power curves plus live location sharing for safety.

Overall, Strava is uniquely tuned in to where and how people like to cycle.

5. Bikemap

Price: free, premium features $12/month or $49/year.

Features: Huge database of user-submitted routes, elevation profiles, filtering

Systems supported: Web, iOS, Android

Best for: Casual cyclists who want to browse tons of collective routes

With over a million uploaded cycling routes, Bikemap makes it incredibly easy to find awesome rides submitted by fellow cyclists all around your location.

Elevation profiles help assess the difficulty.

Filter by distance, surface type, rating, and more to match a route to your ability and preferences.

While the tools for creating routes are basic, being able to leverage countless shared routes is Bikemap’s strength.

6. Plotaroute

Price: Free

Features: Route mapping, elevation profiles, GPX export.

Systems supported: Web

Best for: Quick and easy route planning, no frills

Sometimes you don’t need fancy features – you just want to map out a route fast.

Plotaroute is a super simple free route planner that’s perfect for that.

With an emphasis on the UK, it allows you to drag points onto a map then generates elevation info and turn directions.

You can export the final route as a GPX file to use anywhere.

While Plotaroute won’t blow you away, it’s a solid no-nonsense option.

7. CycleStreets

Price: Free

Features: Quiet/fast route preferences, UK-focused, hilliness ratings

Systems supported: Web, iOS, Android

Best for: Urban UK cyclists looking to avoid traffic

As the name implies, CycleStreets is specially designed for cyclists in the UK.

It uses OpenStreetMap data to map optimal routes.

Unlike apps that just give one route option, CycleStreets provides both the quietest and fastest options so you choose your preference.

The hilliness ratings also help you gauge how difficult a route will be.

If you’re a city rider in the UK, CycleStreets can help you avoid congestion and stay safe.

Final Thoughts

I hope this overview gives you a great starting point for finding an awesome free cycling route planner that fits your needs!

Whether you’re all about tracking detailed fitness metrics, discovering new places, or simply mapping from point A to B – there’s a perfect option out there.

Personally, I get the most pumped about riding when I have a mapped route to follow – it takes the uncertainty out of the equation so I can just pedal and enjoy.

And having a planned journey often leads to uncovering amazing new roads and trails I’d never find on my own.

If you’re new to route planning, I recommend starting with a super user-friendly app like Bikemap or CycleStreets.

But more data-driven riders may prefer RidewithGPS or Strava.

Take some of these for a spin and let me know how route planning improves your cycling adventures!

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Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
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