Top 10 European cycling destinations (and the tours to take!) for 2018
There will always be the typical perennial tour favorites: travelers take Tuscany and the Danube River by storm every year.
But if you’re the kind of person who loves to travel by bike, you’re anything but typical. Keep Tuscany and the Danube on your bucket list, but add a few more special spots that have all the beauty, but don’t always get the glory.
Check out BikeTours.com top ten picks for European cycling destinations in 2018 (and some tours to take for each!)
1. Czech Republic
Excellent cycling routes are a surprising, positive byproduct of Communist rule, which mandated that every town be connected by “highways.” These third-rate highways have since been replaced by more modern roads, and the old roadways now form a low-traffic network of bicycle routes — many of them now dubbed “greenways” around the country, making it easy to traverse beautiful countryside (much of it in protected national parks) en route to medieval castles, remote villages, Baroque towns, and a vast collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Located to the east of Northern Italy and to the north of Croatia, Slovenia was basically built for cyclists. It’s full of dedicated bike paths and bike-friendly, low-traffic roads, making your tour from adorable village to adorable village even more enjoyable. With the top-notch terrain and elevation for a variety of biking styles, Slovenia works for the mountain-biker and the competitive roadster. Add in Lake Bled, the Julian Alps, and the Triglav National Park, and you’ve got yourself a destination full of things to do and sites to see.
3. Croatia, specifically Istria
Though technically eastern Europe, you’ll get a strong Mediterranean vibe when visiting Croatia. Miles of beaches and seafood make for the unbeatable combo to partner with the country’s diverse Roman and Byzantine history. As a whole, Croatia has enough going for it to be on this list, but when you add in the beauty of Istria, you’ll want to book today. This heart-shaped (yes– heart-shaped!) peninsula shared by Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia is known for its mix of beautiful blue coastlines (Blue Istria) and rural inlands (Green Istria). The villages of Istria are full of charming shops, wineries, and olive groves.
Cycling Istria Wine Roads
4. Salzburg Lakes region, Austria
There’s not much better than exploring the fresh, open air along scenic waterways. The Salzburg Lakes region of Austria provides cyclists a bevy of breathtaking views of ten lakes, sure to captivate your senses. But it’s not all lakes and water in Austria. The area is rich with picturesque mountains and valleys, not to mention the quaint villages you’ll pass through during your time there. Plus, the Dachstein Ice Caves, the Schloss Hellbrunn Castle, and the ancient imperial city of Bad Ischl (now known as a “spa town”– yes, please!).
Salzburg Lakes Tour: Ten Lakes in the Foothills of the Alps
5. Dolomites, Italy
Breaking news: Italy is not all about the pizza and the pasta (but, oh, the pizza and the pasta!). If you dig a little deeper in the vast and varied lands of Italy, you’ll find the Dolomites, a sprawling mountain range and region in the northeastern portion of the country. Part of the Italian Alps, the range is a first-class spot for skiing and mountain climbing and… cycling! It’s also one of the 49 UNESCO sites in Italy. With well-maintained bike routes and quiet roads, it’s a great way to get off the beaten Italian path.
Dolomites to Trieste via Lake Bled at the Foot of the Julian Alps
6. Normandy, France
For history buffs and Francophiles alike, a trip to Normandy is an immersive experience into both hallowed grounds and lush landscapes. Cyclists can honor and pay tribute at The WWII Memorial, the Pegasus Memorial and Museum, and the US Military Cemetery. They can also explore the region’s farmlands and coastline to try out some of Normandy’s most delicious features: Camembert cheese and Calvados brandy.
7. Loire Valley, France
The Loire Valley’s popularity is already on the rise, thanks to its “Loire a Velo” bike route. The 500-mile route (which is part of the Eurovelo 6, connecting 10 countries: France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania ) is well-marked, much of it on dedicated bike paths and quiet back roads. The high concentration of towns means plenty of hotels and restaurants – and most have rail stations should riders wish to shorten a day’s riding.
528 miles of blue waters, sandy beaches, and the ideal temps of the Mediterranean might just be the dream for most cyclists. Luckily, that dream comes to life in Portugal. The southwestern Europe country is full of bike paths and side roads of the countryside with little traffic and ample opportunity for travelers by bike to explore. Add to it the rolling hills and charming villages, the Park of Nations in Lisbon, and Porto’s castles (and Port wine!), and that dream turned reality makes for an unmatched bike adventure.
As the third most toured country in the world (behind France and the United States), Spain offers travelers historical, metropolis locations like Madrid and Barcelona, along with the beaches and coastlines of the Mediterranean and Atlantic. with countless monuments, ruins, castles, and cathedrals, cycling is the perfect way to experience Spain, which happens to be the host to second most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. Cycling conditions are optimal for bike touring, with warm, sunny weather and easily understood signage. Spain is also home to the famous Camino de Santiago walking path, perfect for cycle touring.
Swiss chocolate. Swiss Alps. Swiss cheese. So much to love about the central European country, including its spectacular setting for bike tours. The stunning lakes of Thun, Sarnen, Lucerne, and Zug provide the unparalleled backdrop and setting to experience the region’s chalets, snow-topped mountains, cable cars. Switzerland’s storybook towns are full of history, art, and culture that you won’t want to miss.