Cycling at home can be wonderful. The UK is, after all, home to some of Europe’s best seaside and mountain trails. If, however, you want a change of scenery – perhaps somewhere a little warmer – then you’re going to need to pack your bags and head across the ocean.
Yet, with so many different countries and climates in Europe, just how to you decide on the best destination for you? Well, to get you started, here are five of the best killer cycling destinations in Europe right now:
1: Algarve, Portugal
Portugal has everything – extensive shorelines, national parks, mountain ranges and glacial valleys. All-in-all, everything that any serious cyclist could want from a holiday destination. Plus, you’ll benefit from that gorgeous Mediterranean weather!
There are plenty of superb biking routes and tours in Portugal, ideal for meeting other likeminded cyclists from around the world. One of the best, though, is the Algarve coastal route, which will take you all the way from the Spanish border to the Western Algarve. – a trip that’s around 146 miles.
Known as one of the sunniest spots in Europe, this route can be travelled all year. Even on the warmest of days, being so close to the sea, you will benefit from a glorious Mediterranean breeze to keep you cool. There’s plenty of accommodation along the route, as well as other popular sports such as surfing and rock climbing, if you fancy a change of scenery.
2: Morzine, French Alps
Perhaps best known for skiing, the Alps are also a killer destination for biking enthusiasts. The mountain terrain here is very varied, with lots of long flat stretches as well as climbs such as Col del la Ramaz and Col de Joux Plane. This makes it an ideal destination for both beginner and veteran cyclists.
Around Morzine itself, you will find lots of hotels and chalets for your accommodation, as this is a popular destination for fans of skiing and outdoor sports alike. This makes it ideal for those who like to DIY their cycling holidays, rather than relying on an organised tour.
Even better, the French alps are just a stone’s throw from Switzerland. The prices in Switzerland – particularly for food and accommodation – is far more expensive than in France. By staying close by, though, you can venture over the border for a day trip for free.
3: Tenerife, Spain
One problem cycling-enthusiasts can face, is the fact that the rest of their family might not share the same passion. So, when it comes to booking a holiday together, it can be hard to find a compromise that fits everyone’s desires.
Which is what makes Tenerife such a valued destination. Not only is it home to beautiful weather, resorts, history and a wonderful nightlife – this island is also a favourite among many of the world’s top pro cyclists. This is because of the Parador Hotel that sits atop the Mount Teide volcano, allowing pros, such as Bradley Wiggins, to sleep at altitude.
For cycling itself, Tenerife is home to Europe’s longest continuous ascent. This trail covers 2,100 metres of elevation in just under 22 miles. You don’t need to go to the top, though, there is plenty of lower ground to cover. Plus, being an island with just 223 miles of circumference, it’s very hard for you to get lost.
4: Tuscany, Italy
If you’re a fan of the history of cycling, as well as the sport itself, then a visit to Tuscany during L’EroicaSportive is a must. The annual event takes place in early October, with those taking part using bikes made before 1987. It’s not just bikes from the past, though, as everyone wears vintage cycling kits too.
As well as this fun event, Tuscany is home to some of the best scenery in Europe, making any bike ride absolutely stunning. Here you won’t just fined smooth tarmac roads, as Tuscany is well-known for its white dirt tracks that make your bike ride just that more interesting.
Of course, being in Italy, you can also take the time to use up some of those calories you burned indulging in delicious pasta, pizza and gelato. All washed down with a few glasses of those wonderful homegrown wines!
You can’t have a list of killer European cycling destinations without mentioning Belgium. Afterall, this is a country that is home to some of the most famous races in the world. So, why not combine your biking holiday with some cycling tourism, where you can watch some pro races and soak up all that wonderful excitement.
You could even enter amateur races such as the Liège-Bastogne-Liège or the Tour of Flanders sportive, which take place in the spring.
Belgium is known for its British-like weather – that is – you never quite know when it might sunny or stormy. So, if you want your bike rides to be surrounded by sunshine, your best bet is to plan your holiday for the summer months (around June to August).
Trail-wise, the terrain of Belgium varies. In the North, you will find long stretches of flat where you can spend your day cycling from town to town, soaking up the atmosphere. If you prefer hills, head to the south.
One of the most prolific routes in Belgium is the Gouden Carolus. Perfect for fans of a tipple, this trail starts at the Mechelen brewery, heading towards the Palace of Margaret of Austria. You’ll pass the beautiful rivers of Rupel, Zenne and Nete, all surrounded by stunning nature reserves. The route ends at the world-famous Molenberg Whiskey Distillery, where you can all toast your wonderful ride.
If you are planning a cycling trip to Europe, have you considered how you will transport your bike? Not only are our bikes expensive investments, but these bikes are also beloved members of our families that we’ve cared for and upgraded over the years. Unfortunately, we can’t take our bikes on the plane with us, where we can keep an eye on them.
Instead, we need to put our precious bikes into the hands of luggage handlers – and we’ve all seen videos of these people chucking luggage around like a bag of bricks. To help protect your bike, invest in a Shok Box, which will ensure your bike is safe, no matter how rough the journey!