Where to go on a cycling holiday


The world is your oyster when it comes to choosing where to go on a cycling holiday, so it is tricky to pick out the pearls. The advantage is that almost every country in the world has been discovered by cycling holiday experts already. They have worked their way up and down the mountain trails of Montenegro, along the wadis of Jordan, through the backwater villages of Kerala or from cove to cove in Catalonia, finding you all the best bits. Some of the best cycling to be had is, of course, where riding a bike has always been part of the culture, such as in Cuba, China or Vietnam. Here, you will always be given a cyclistís welcome and you will rarely cycle alone.
Catalonia Croatia Kerala South Africa Portugal Sri Lanka Jordan France Vietnam Cuba Costa Rica Montenegro Italy Central America Sweden


The famous regional pride is hardly surprising when you take in the wealth of natural Catalan beauty on offer to cyclists. From the snowy Pyrenean peaks to sun-soaked Mediterranean coves, there is also a volcanic park and plethora of cycling trails. These traverse wild deserted coasts and dainty turquoise coves, medieval villages or the inland Aiguamolls Nature Reserve.

Central America

Central American countries are slowly waking up to cycling opportunities for visitors. Some cycling holidays take you from Granada in Nicaragua to Panama City, taking in Costa Rica on the way. Because it would be rude not to, really. And at many spots along the way, you get to discover rainforests with wildlife and birdwatching aplenty.

Costa Rica

The Coast to Coast cycle route is a circuit of discovery indeed, traversing varied landscapes of rainforest, volcanoes and coast. Head south along the Pacific from San Jose, climb up to the Cerro de la Muerte Pass, and down through plantation filled valleys to the, oh yes, the Caribbean. So, if the cycling doesnít take your breath away, the scenery certainly will.


Although most famous for its coastline, there are extraordinary cycling holidays to be had in Croatia even just an hour inland. Explore the 16 emerald-green lakes of Plitvice or the Velebit National Park where the wide trails are perfect for mountain biking. You can cycle the coast too, of course, hopping and pedalling islands like Vis. Which is, of course, just bliss.


The islandís diverse landscapes Ė from the Caribbean coast to the Sierra Maestra Mountains, the tobacco plantations to the streets of heady Havana Ė mean you will be pedalling through the past and the present, the urban and the wild. Follow in Fidelís revolutionary footsteps, or take a cultural route, stopping in local bars and music venues. Youíll certainly earn your mojitos on a Cuba cycling holiday.


You donít have to do the Tour de France to have a tour de force cycling holiday. France has a host of ĎVoie Vertesí designed for bikes only, and a fine network of long distance cycling routes. Gems include the coastal cycle from Saint-Malo to Mont-Saint-Michel. Or pedal through the vineyards of Burgundy, Alsace or Beaujolais. And of course the Dordogne is always divine.


With all that amazing food itís just as well Italyís cycling menu is equally rich, to work it all off. For starters: Tuscanyís rolling hills around Lucca or Liguriaís beautiful Cinque Terre coastline. Main course: Puglia, following both the Adriatic and Ionian coasts. Or Umbria, packed with Roman ruins and divine hilltop villages. And how can you resist Sardinia for dessert?


From the wooded hills of the north to the stark mountains south of Madaba and the plains of the Jordan Valley, there is a wide diversity of terrain in Jordan ideal for cycling. The mountain biking is still embryonic, but with good guides you will find the still unmarked goat tracks and farmersí paths that MTBers go mad for.


Cycling is of the finest ways to discover Kerala. Within a few hours out of Cochin, you can be flying through spice and coconut plantations, along the banks of the River Periyar with birds and butterflies that you can only have dreamed of, following you along the route. Cycle through small villages, staying at homestays along the way. And relax those cycling muscles en route with a traditional Ayurvedic massage.


Montenegroís coastline is something else, with cycling taking you along some of the most stunning coves and clifftop views that the Mediterranean has to offer, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bay of Kotor. Itís not all coastal cycling here though, with opportunities to bike around the shoreline of Lake Skadar, the biggest in the Balkans, or up into the Budva Mountains for some challenging climbs.


Portugal offers freewheeling perfection. The Alentejo mixes fertile plains, shady oak forests and coastal delights, while Sintra's lush undulations are scattered with UNESCO architectural gems demanding picture stops. The Algarve hinterland offers gentle hills dotted with ancient villages like Moorish beauty Silves. But if you want hills, head to the Serra da Estrela, where wineries flank the ancient university town Coimbra.

South Africa

Seeing South Africa from a saddle is something else. The Cape Town circuit is not to be missed, with highlights including Langeberge Mountains, Bontebok National Park and the Great Karoo Desert. Quench your thirst with vineyards everywhere too. To push yourself a bit more, head to the Drakensburg Mountains, the highest in South Africa, passing through wonders such as the Blyde River Canyon, and on into Kruger National Park.

Sri Lanka

Cycling just seems like the right thing to do in Sri Lanka. It feels less invasive, somehow, arriving at its many sacred sites, such as Anuradhapura or Sigirya, on a bike. Popular routes include the tropical backroads that wind their way through tea plantations around Ella, or saunter along the coastal wetlands of Bundala National Park, with cool off sessions on Sri Lankan beaches such as Mirissa.


Cyclists who donít like to stray too far from water will love pedalling around Sweden. Stockholm, already very bike friendly, makes a great starting point. From here, head into SŲrmland where you can disappear for days around wooded lakes and through seaside towns such as Mariefred and Trosa. But you canít miss Swedenís archipelago, where you can hop across a handful of its 24,000 glorious islands.


The coastal cycle from Hue to Nha Trang is slow travel at its most sublime, from the historic monuments of Hoi An and Hue to the relaxing beaches of Whale Island. You can combine a cycling holiday here with visits to hill tribe villages, some kayaking on the lakes of Ba Be National Park, scuba diving or snorkelling and visiting cultural icons such as My Son, the ancient centre of Cham civilization.
If you'd like to chat about cycling holidays or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
01273 823 700

Our cycling holiday highlights


Melanie McAnaw, from our cycling holiday specialists Headwater, says:
"Lake Constance is a superb option for those who are new to this kind of holiday Ė flat cycling routes, interest-packed routes, with loads of options to shorten or lengthen the routes using the train or boats."
Andrew Appleyard, from our leading cycling holiday experts, Exodus, is the man to ask where to go on a cycling holiday:

ďWe have a cycling trip that goes across Tanzania. Itís a great way to see Africa; itís completely different. Lots of people worry about cycling across game parks with the various wildlife, but the only thing Iíve seen is some footage of a topi being chased by a lion and knocking the cyclist off his bike! A lion will not see someone with a soft-shelled hat, padded shorts and two wheels as something thatís appetising. But cycling across the Serengeti is underrated.Ē
Andrew Straw, founder of our cycling holiday supplier, Saddle Skedaddle, gives great pointers on where to go on a cycling holiday:
"Every country has amazing cycling and itís tricky to decide where is best. Sometimes ticking of a few cols in the Alps floats my boat and other times gently rolling along and not seeing a soul all day is just as important. But for me itís the scenery and local interactions that drive me to explore destinations. The Lake District of Chile and Argentina always takes my breath away and the snowcapped volcano still takes me by surprise. Combine this with chatting to the locals in a bar Öusually over a Malbec and usually about football is always fun. Places like Guilin in China are full of contradictions. One day youíll somehow find yourself teaching in a local school and the next minute be accompanied on the road by an ancient cyclist whose age belies his speed and who has slightly fewer teeth in his mouth than on his crank."
Photo credits: [Top box - Vietnam: Emma Kwee] [Italy : Pug Girl] [Melanie McAnwa quote: Headwater] [Andrew Straw quote: Steve Willey]
Written by Catherine Mack
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