When planning a journey, deciding where to travel is just as much fun as deciding how to travel. For every destination, there are a million ways to explore — one of the most rewarding is to travel by bike. Experiencing cultures and landscapes on two wheels gives travelers a lens that’s often more intimate, more vivid and more fun. If you’re alright with some sweat on your brow and a pumping heart rate, Europe is your starting point. Here’s a list of some of the continent’s best routes for both recreational and expert cyclists looking for an adventurous cycling vacation.
Cycling Vacation in Andalusia, Spain
Southern Spain — and Andalusia in particular — is one of the world’s most attractive cycling destinations for a range of reasons. Piece together a route that combines three of the region’s exciting cities: Córdoba, the birthplace of flamenco, Granada, a city known for its Moorish architecture, and Seville, culture-rich with great tapas bars. The landscape is fairly mellow and is best-suited to recreational cycling vacations.
Cycling Vacation in Cinque Terre, Italy
Much of Italy is primed as an ideal cycling location, but the five cities of the Cinque Terre region top our list as the country’s best spots. Pedaling along ancient walled cities, vineyards and jagged cliffs, all while stopping for handmade focaccia and locally-sourced pesto is an unbeatable day out. Cars were banned in the region over a decade ago, so enjoy a hassle-free tour through a UNESCO world heritage site and one of Europe’s most colorful coastal landscapes.
Cycling Vacation in the French Alps
Taking on the challenge of cycling in the French Alps is sure to be both challenging and rewarding. The roads winding through the Alps will lead you through some dramatic landscapes: rugged snow-capped peaks, lush green pastures, and turquoise alpine lakes to surprise you at every corner. However, the old saying holds true in the Alps more than any other location on this list: no pain, no gain. Although the 21 switchbacks up the Alpe d’Huez will stare you down like a titan on Mt. Olympus, conquering the peak will be an incredible feeling of accomplishment.
Cycling Vacation in Croatia & the Dalmatian Coast
Nobody is going to judge you if your bike happens to slip and land on a chartered boat hopping between islands on the Croatian coastline. If your party isn’t out to conquer high-altitude peaks, consider the Dalmatian Coast. You can cycle by crystal-clear blue waters, indulge in the luxury accommodations of Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Korčula, and savor the region’s specialty seafood dishes. Combining a bike and boat in one vacation has never sounded better.
Cycling Vacation to see the Fjords of Norway
The Fjords of Norway offer some of the most spectacular cycling routes in the entire continent. Sure, strolling up and seeing a fjord has its own merits, but getting there by two wheels is something else. If you’re heading North, saddle up and embark on a cliffside journey with views of the ocean’s horizon. Some of the country’s best spots for touring include Suleskarvegen, the Fjord Coast, the Helgeland Coast, the Lofoten Islands, and the Atlantic Road.
Cycling Vacation – Fat Biking in Finland
Gaining some traction in the cycling world is “fat biking” — using large-frame and wide-wheel bikes to tackle rugged terrain. One particularly adventurous destination for fat biking is Finland. Why shy away from one of Europe’s most prized hidden gems just because there’s snow on the ground? Meander through majestic winter wonderlands, test your courage over frozen lakes, and lunch on reindeer sausages and moose soup in forest cabins. The Martinselkonen Wilds Center is a great starting point with other activities ranging from dog sledding to guided wildlife watching tours.
When you need accommodation during your European tour, check out AllTheRooms for options ranging from hostels and homestays to backcountry cabins and five-star hotels.
Dillon is a travel-hungry outdoor enthusiast originally from Encinitas, California. He recently moved to Medellín to begin his next chapter as a content writer for AllTheRooms. Besides writing, Dillon enjoys live music, fútbol, cooking, and backpacking.