10 best cycling getaways in Europe to tick off your bucket list
Ever caught yourself wandering away from your daily duties and daydreaming about your next escape?
Do you ever find yourself with envy, browsing through your friends’ holiday photos on Facebook? And notice in the corner of your eye, a bike that’s standing there timidly inviting you to take it out for a spin on a beautiful sunny day?
If you have, then don’t hesitate no more. Make time if you can't find it, dust off your bike, and go for the adventure - here are 10 of Europe's best cycling routes you've got to tick off your bucket list.
And the sooner the better. :)
1. Test yourself in an Alpine setting
Even though the Alps can challenge the toughest of Ironmen, the mountain range has something to offer for everyone.
Feeling like a professional or at least a determined amateur?
The Alps allow you to test your skills at the heart of French Alps, where the best of the best world’s cyclists meet to compete in Tour de France each year.
And while this route might not be for everyone’s capabilities, it is well rewarding with the dramatic and enjoyable scenery
Meanwhile, in the East, you'll find the Via Claudia Augusta - the first real road used as a Roman trade route in 15 BC. The historic road is now turned into a modern cycling trail, which stretches across the Alps at a comfortable altitude of 1600m.
Know what that means?
It means that to enjoy this trail, you don't necessarily have to be a fitness head. While more relaxing, this route is as exciting with its ever-changing landscapes, variety of orchards, and vineyards keeping you company on the way.
2. The Cornish coastline trails of England
Ask your British friends what they love about their country, and one of the most heard answers will surely be ''coastal roads and cliff paths.''
Specifically, the beautiful English southwestern county of Cornwall that has been featured in many world-famous movies.
(Ever heard of the James Bond's Die Another Day? Yep, that one too!)
The Cornish Coastal Way has two of the most popular routes both of which, will provide you with a full on British classic experience: little seaside villages, fish and chips on the beach, and the Land’s End - the most Westerly point of England.
Overall distance is around 200km, so better plan a longer trip if you want to ride this trail from start to finish.
Because it's worth it:
The cycling trails Southwest England has to offer are gloriously scenic, with the cliffs protecting the sea shore. That's something you really want to cross off your bucket list.
3. Ride the El Camino de Santiago for your spiritual reflection
You've probably heard of the Santiago Road, made world-famous after Paulo Coelho's novel The Alchemist.
This road leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, located in a small Spanish town called Galicia, and attracts thousands of tourists every year searching for their spiritual growth.
While most people walk this route eager to find themselves, El Camino de Santiago has also been developed for cycling.
That's right - you can ride your way to self-discovery, and whilst doing that, enjoy the medieval towns, vineyards of Rioja, and stunning landscapes of Pyrenees.
And it gets better:
Camino Frances, the 790km long route, is famous for its stops for tapas, wine tasting (yes, please!), and museums. Ride this trail, and it'll take you through a dozen picturesque Spanish villages and full spiritual experience,
4. Explore Central Europe by following a river
The Danube River Cycle route is considered family friendly and a relatively easy ride. The route delights with diverse views of the countryside and cities along the way.
The most popular trail starts in Germany, in the town called Passau, and goes all the way to Vienna. It's 340 km long and will gift you with many castles, churches, stunning villages, and historic monuments.
And consider this:
If you have more time to spend traveling, don’t stop in Vienna. Continue your journey downstream to Budapest in Hungary, and compare the contrasts between the better developed western and more exotic and adventurous eastern European sides.
5. Fresh sea air at the amber-rich Baltic coast
The Eurovelo 10 route loops around the Baltic Seashore countries. The coastline of over 7000km allows you to pick your starting point from anywhere between the northern part of Sweden and Germany and follow the shore pretty much all the way around.
Plentiful of sandy beaches, national parks, and picturesque coastal towns - this route is a pure blast for your eyes.
Once you hit the three Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, do not miss out on exploring their historic capital cities and beautiful mountainous sand dunes.
Meanwhile, if you are keen on trying something new and aren’t afraid of cold, head towards the Finnish side of the Russian border. There, you can experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure of fat biking on frozen lakes and snow.
6. Burgundy for pedalling wine lovers
When we say Burgundy, you think - wine!
And while the wine is definitely on the menu when travelling through Burgundy's cycling trails, this region has much more to offer:
The nearly 1000 km of developed cycling trails can take you way beyond the vineyards, through a rich historic heritage, rivers, canals and clifftop villages.
For the pedalling wine lover, a particularly teasing ride is from Dijon (the capital of Burgundy region) down the Côte de Nuits (red wine paradise). On your way, you can attend a wine auction and visit some of the most well-known vineyards in the world.
And there's more:
Try the French cuisine that claims to be exceptional in this region. Or simply enjoy nature - in Burgundy, that's extra generous with lakes, forests, and other natural countryside landscapes.
7. From canal cruise ride into Flemish cycle route
If you're new with bikes, the flat canal route from Amsterdam to Bruges is your perfect warm-up trail. Depending on how hard you wish to hit the pedals, the distance can take you from 4-6 days.
Apart from the gorgeous towns of Antwerp and Ghent (a must-see!), your route can take you close to the North Sea with cycle paths through the dunes.
Then, once you're warmed up and ready for a tougher challenge, it's time to tackle the cobbles of Deinze, the Flemish town. This ride presents 1100m of cobbled climbing, with a challenging 20% gradient.
Not feeling like stretching yourself that much on your holidays?
Head to the Route du Comte Jean that will lead you pleasantly from Bruges or Antwerp into Northern France. The route goes through dreamy coastal roads, wetlands, sand dunes and vineyards for you to enjoy.
8. Who’s got it more than Greek Islands?
Sun, beaches, unspoilt landscapes, road and cliff cycling - Greece has it all.
If you are keen on island hopping, Ionian islands are a good way to go. Head to the lively Corfu island or not so touristy Ithaca, which will let you gain a more off-the-beaten-track experience.
Or better - try both for the comparison.
Corfu is generally a hilly island but has enough flat regions to cater to all levels of cyclists. Whereby Ithaca is rather sleepy and underpopulated, its beautiful beaches and ancient ruins can challenge you a little more through its mountainous terrain.
Meanwhile, if in Athens, take a ferry from Piraeus to Poros, where you can cycle along the Saronic Gulf coast through wineries. Or if you are a history fan, follow the footsteps of ancient Greek gods in the Mycenae and Epidaurus landmarks.
9. Pizza, pasta, wine and the beautiful landscapes of Italy
If you are planning your trip to Italy, you are in for a treat.
It's not only foodelicious and absolutely crazy in every sense possible (wait until you meet Italians and get to know their temper!), but you'll visit one of the most glorious countries in Europe.
Italian cycling trails can't disappoint. From mountains to seasides, this astonishing country has it all. But when you ask Italians, they will point you towards their beauty and pride - the stunning Dolomites.
And we can't argue here - driving through the Dolomites really feels as if you are a part of a film set. With the misty air, majestic mountains, and green color of the trees, which feels like a thousand times brighter than ''down on the earth.''
That mystery and magic around the Dolomites is addictive, so you'll want to come back again and again. But start with the trail that goes from the Dolomites to Lake Garda, which is the perfect route for a quiet escape: 180km without cars and noises, just some other cyclists on the way.
10. Mediterranean claims to be the most popular velo route
Mediterranean coast incorporates a continuous parade of shining sea and sand. And some of the most relaxed and sun-filled lifestyles in Europe.
Start your velo route in Spain and follow it through a dozen famous and historic cities, including Barcelona, Monaco, Nice, and more.
Along the way you will find several bike territories with some strenuous hill climbs and easy road cruising to catch your breath.
It is completely up to you which town or city you chose as your starting point and where you round it up. But keep in mind that wherever along the Mediterranean coast you travel, you will be spoiled with delicious food, gorgeous landscapes, and that southern lifestyle you'll be jealous of.
Really good article! I hope to do some of these rides. Just a quick note— Galicia isn’t a small town; it’s the region in NW Spain where the town of Santiago de Compostela is located. And whether you walk the Camino, ride it, or mix the two like I did, you will feel incredible arriving there. Happy riding!
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