Europe offers a wealth of captivating destinations to explore on two wheels. From breathtaking landscapes to well-paved cycling paths, Europe caters to all levels of cyclists, promising unforgettable experiences. If you’re planning a cycling holiday and seeking inspiration, here are the top ten places for cycling holidays in Europe. Read about each below!
- The Canary Islands
- The Balkans
Belgium boasts a well-developed cycling infrastructure with an extensive network of dedicated cycle paths, making it safe and convenient for cyclists of all skill levels. Whether you prefer leisurely rides through picturesque countryside or challenging routes in hilly regions, Belgium offers diverse terrain to cater to every cyclist’s preference.
Belgium has a rich cycling culture, with the legendary Spring Classics taking place here. Immerse yourself in this cycling heritage and experience the same cobbled roads and climbs the pros race on in the Tour of Flander (Ronde van Vlaanderen) and Paris Roubaix.
The country’s compact size allows you to easily navigate between all of the best cycling spots within a short distance, maximizing your time on the bike and enabling you to discover the diverse beauty Belgium has to offer. Don’t forget to indulge in Belgian chocolate, waffles, frites, and the plentiful flavours of beer.
France is a cycling enthusiast’s dream destination, with a wide range of options to choose from. Whether you want to conquer the iconic Tour de France climbs of the Haute-Alpes, explore the vineyards of Provence, or ride along the Mediterranean coastline, France has something for every type of cycling.
The Provence region offers a mild climate and diverse terrain, while the Loire Valley is known as the “Garden of France” and features stunning castles, lush vineyards, and gentle riverside trails. Don’t miss out on the well-marked cycling routes of the Loire à Vélo (The Loire by Bike) cycle trail, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Check out our blog if you want to know more about cycling holidays in France.
Italy is a country that needs no introduction when it comes to its cycling offerings. One of the most popular regions for cycling holidays in Italy is Tuscany. With its rolling hills, vineyards, and medieval towns, Tuscany offers an ideal blend of challenging climbs and scenic routes.
As you pedal through the enchanting countryside, you’ll have the opportunity to stop at renowned vineyards for wine tasting or explore historic gems like Siena and San Gimignano. The stunning landscapes of Tuscany have inspired countless artists, and you’ll understand why as you immerse yourself in this picturesque region.
Another notable destination for cycling in Italy is Bormio. Situated in northern Italy and close to the border with Switzerland. Bormio is known for its reputation as a downhill skiing destination. However, during the late spring and summer months, it transforms into a mecca for cyclists.
One of the highlights of cycling in Bormio is taking on the legendary Passo dello Stelvio, which sits on the edge of the town. This iconic climb is often described as a “serpent of asphalt” with its five tunnels, 21.5 kilometres of distance, and 1541 meters of climbing. Within cycling distance of Bormio, you’ll also find the famous climbs of the Passo Gavia and the super hard Passo del Mortirolo, both steeped in Giro d’Italia folklore.
Renowned for its extensive network of cycling paths and flat terrain, the Netherlands is a paradise for cyclists. Embark on a cycling tour through the vibrant tulip fields of Keukenhof, pedal through one of the best cycling cities in Amsterdam, and explore the picturesque Limburg region, which features iconic climbs like Liege and Amstel Gold. The Netherlands provides a cyclist-friendly environment and a beautiful setting for enjoyable rides.
Similar to the Netherlands, Denmark boasts an extensive network of well-maintained cycling paths. The country offers picturesque countryside, charming coastal regions, and vibrant cities to explore. Copenhagen, in particular, is renowned for its cycling infrastructure, beckoning riders with its bike-friendly roads, countless cycle lanes, and remarkable urban planning. Immerse yourself in Danish culture as you pedal through the scenic routes, discovering quaint villages, historic sites, and stunning natural wonders along the way.
Spain is another European country that offers incredible cycling destinations. One of the top choices for cyclists is Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands. Mallorca entices cycling enthusiasts with its varied landscape, captivating coastal routes, and scenic mountain paths. Whether you’re seeking demanding ascents through the Serra de Tramuntana mountains or relaxed rides along the stunning Mediterranean shores, Mallorca has it all. Delight in the mild weather, awe-inspiring views, and enchanting towns such as Valldemossa and Pollensa. With superb cycling facilities, a friendly ambience, and postcard-worthy scenery, Mallorca ensures an indelible cycling vacation.
Girona, located in Catalonia, is another popular destination for cyclists in Spain. This city is home to a disproportionate number of professional cyclists and offers a mix of terrain suitable for all levels. The roads in Girona are super smooth and virtually traffic-free, making it a dream for cyclists. As you explore the city’s old town, you’ll notice the cycling influence with restaurants and cafés owned by ex-professionals, as well as high-quality bike rental and tour companies.
Girona’s terrain ranges from gentle climbs like the popular Els Àngels to more arduous tests like Mare de Déu del Mont and the well-known Rocacorba. Many consider Girona as one of the best road cycling destinations in Europe.
While it may not be the most popular road cycling location in Europe yet. The Algarve region in Portugal offers some of the best cycling holidays on the continent. Thanks to its diverse terrain, warm climate, and quiet roads, the Algarve is a cyclist’s paradise. This region borders Spain in the east and lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to the west, providing a temperate climate all year round.
Inland, you’ll find decent-sized mountains to challenge your climbing skills, while rolling hills and coastal routes offer a variety of options. If you prefer flatter routes, staying near the coast is recommended. Explore the Algarve’s scenic beauty as you pedal through its charming towns and picturesque landscapes.
Innsbruck, the home of one of our offices, is a testament to how amazing Austria is for cycling. Since hosting the Innsbruck Road World Championships in 2018, Austria has gained increased interest as a destination for road bike holidays in Europe. The Austrian Alps offer a combination of testing gradients and breathtaking scenic views, making it a paradise for cyclists.
Head west towards the mountains, where you’ll find cols that rival those in France and Italy. Alternatively, venture east for flatter terrain, particularly around Vienna. The growing popularity of cycling in Austria means it won’t remain a hidden gem for much longer, so now is the perfect time to explore its cycling wonders.
The Canary Islands
Though technically part of Spain, the Canary Islands deserve a special mention for their exceptional cycling opportunities. The islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Lanzarote offer fantastic cycling experiences. Lanzarote, in particular, is a mecca for triathletes, although be prepared to contend with the winds.
Gran Canaria has quickly gained a reputation as an excellent cycling destination in Europe. Especially for winter cycling holidays, thanks to its abundance of sunshine (3,000 hours per year). The island features challenging climbs, stunning coastal roads, and deep canyons. The infamous Valley of Tears, with sections boasting gradients of 25%, is considered the most revered climb on the island.
Tenerife is renowned for hosting professional training camps and for good reason. Taking on Mount Teide from multiple directions provides a rare opportunity to train on 40+ km climbs that take you from sea level to 2,300m. Additionally, there are plenty of coastal roads for enjoyable rides. Both Gran Canaria and Tenerife share a similar climate, making them excellent choices for cycling adventures.
We know this is a region of Europe rather than a country, but we had to mention it as a whole. The Balkans offer a unique and captivating cycling experience. The Dalmatian Coast provides a refreshing sea breeze as you pedal through scenic routes. A must-visit destination in the Balkans is Dubrovnik, where you can travel back in time between the limestone walls of this UNESCO World Heritage City. Dubrovnik boasts an impressive collection of Roman ruins, medieval coastal forts, Baroque buildings, and shining limestone streets.
Along your cycling journey, indulge in Balkan cuisine, known for its simplicity, deliciousness, and rich flavours. Another advantage of cycling in the Balkans is the relatively low chance of encountering rainy days. The summertime and autumn are surprisingly sunny and balmy, offering cloudless skies that provide clear views of the dramatic coastal scenery. If you need more convincing about the Balkans, read our 7 reasons why the Balkans should be top of your bucket list.
Europe’s cycling destinations offer an abundance of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you prefer mountainous terrains, coastal routes, or historical cities, Europe has something to cater to every cyclist’s preferences. So, prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime, pack your panniers, don your helmet, and embark on a two-wheeled journey through Europe’s captivating landscapes.
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