The Ultimate Guide to Cycling Holidays in Europe: the 9 best routes, tips and equipment
Discovering Europe by bike is a unique experience, offering a fresh perspective on the landscapes and culture of the old continent. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or a novice, going on a cycling vacation is an adventure well worth taking. These types of trips allow you to get up close and personal with nature.
In this article, we'll give you an overview of the best itineraries across Europe, along with preparation tips and essential equipment to ensure a successful trip.
Cycling routes and tours across Europe
Europe offers a wide range of cycling itineraries for all levels, from leisurely rides on flat tracks to demanding climbs in the mountains. Whether you're looking to discover varied landscapes and historic sites, or to take on a sporting challenge, you'll find a destination to suit you. Not all routes are suitable for families. Some are best reserved for experienced cyclists. Don't hesitate to vary the length of your trip to suit your level.
The Loire by bike, France
Explore the magnificent heart of France along the Loire, the country's longest river. With its diverse landscapes and historic castles, this 800 km itinerary is a journey through French history. You'll pass through towns like Orléans, Tours and Nantes, and follow the trail of iconic castles such as Chambord, Chenonceau and Azay-le-Rideau. The route is fully signposted and suitable for all levels, making it an ideal choice for a first experience of cycle touring.
La Vélodyssée, France
La Vélodyssée, France's longest cycling route, takes you over 1200 km from Brittany to the Basque Coast. This coastal route offers impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean, deep forests, peaceful marshes and towns like La Rochelle and Biarritz. You'll have the chance to sample the culinary specialties of each region, enjoy the sandy beaches and discover the hospitality of the locals. As the level of this route is quite high, you can split it up to suit your vacation duration and level.
Via Claudia Augusta, Italy/Austria/Germany
The Via Claudia Augusta is an ancient Roman road that crosses the Alps from the Adriatic Sea to the North Sea. Along its 700 km route, you'll pass historic cities like Venice and Trento in Italy and Augsburg in Germany, discover breathtaking scenery in the Dolomites and the Bavarian Alps, and learn about the rich Roman history in the region's small villages. Although climbing the Alps can be demanding, the breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains in the Dolomites and Bavarian Alps, and learn about the rich Roman history of the region's small villages. Although climbing the Alps can be demanding, the breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and verdant valleys are well worth the effort. This route allows you to discover destinations you would never have visited otherwise.
The Danube by bike, Germany/Austria/Slovakia/Hungary
The Danube, Europe's second longest river, crosses ten countries over 2900 km, offering a wide variety of landscapes and cultures. Start your journey at the river's source in Germany, pass through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria, and end your journey at its mouth in the Black Sea in Romania. This itinerary allows you to discover several European capitals, varied landscapes and a rich history and culture.
The Vía de la Plata, Spain
The Vía de la Plata, or "Silver Route", is an ancient road 800 km long that crosses Spain from north to south, from Seville to Gijón. Originally used for silver trading in Roman times, this route takes you through a variety of landscapes, from the heat of Andalusia to the verdant mountains of Asturias. You'll pass through villages such as Mérida, Salamanca and Léon, discover the region's cultural richness, and sample delicious Spanish cuisine.
The Wine Route in France
The Wine Route takes you through France's most beautiful wine regions, from Burgundy to the Côte d'Azur. Start your journey in the picturesque vineyards of Burgundy, known for its world-renowned red and white wines. Continue south through the Rhone Valley, where you can taste robust, spicy wines, and cross into Provence, famous for its light, fruity rosés. Along the way, you'll visit wine cellars, enjoy wine tastings, discover regional cuisine in local restaurants, and visit historic sites such as the Palais des Papes in Avignon.
The North Sea Route
The North Sea Route is a coastal tour that takes you through some of Northern Europe's most beautiful landscapes. Start your journey in the north of Scotland, with its impressive cliffs and perched castles. Drive down the east coast of England, with its picturesque seaside towns and sandy beaches. Pass through Belgium and the Netherlands, with their windmills and dazzling tulip fields. Continue through Germany, Denmark and end your journey in Norway, with its spectacular fjords and majestic mountains. It's a journey of over 6,000 km, but the route is well signposted and you can choose to do just one section.
The Atlantic Route in Norway
The Atlantic route, which stretches over a distance of just 8,3 km, is one of Norway's most spectacular roads, crossing an archipelago with the help of several impressive bridges. Although short, this road is an adventure in itself, with its breathtaking views of the open sea and coastal scenery. You can incorporate it into a longer trip through Norway's fjords, or simply make it a day trip to enjoy the cycling experience in one of the world's most beautiful landscapes. This short itinerary allows the whole family to enjoy cycling while discovering a magnificent destination.
The Canal du Midi in France
The Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a 17th-century engineering masterpiece that stretches 240 km from Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea. As you travel along this historic canal, you'll pass through a variety of landscapes, from the vineyards of Languedoc to the Cathar citadels perched on the hills. You'll discover towns like Carcassonne and Béziers, learn about the canal's rich history, and stop to sample the cuisine of the South of France. The route is entirely flat and well signposted, making it an excellent option for beginners or for more experienced cyclists who want to stop for a short break in certain towns.
For more itinerary ideas, have a look at Eurovélo, a map of cycle paths throughout Europe.
Preparation and equipment
A successful cycling trip requires good preparation and the right equipment. Whether you're off for a day or several weeks, it's essential to be well equipped to ensure your comfort and safety.
It's important to be physically prepared for a cycling trip, especially if you're planning to travel long distances or climb mountains. Start training several months before you leave, gradually increasing the distance and intensity of your cycling outings.
The range of bikes available on the market offers a multitude of choices. However, the choice can be complicated. Opt for a comfortable bike, suited to long distances and the type of terrain you'll be encountering. Touring bikes, with their sturdy frames and multiple racks, are often a good choice. You can also opt for an electric-assist bike, which will enable you to cover longer distances. However, electric bikes do impose certain constraints. You'll need to be able to recharge the battery regularly. What's more, they're often heavier than conventional bikes.
To transport your belongings, choose panniers that are waterproof, durable and easy to attach and remove. A balanced weight distribution between the front and rear of the bike will contribute to your riding comfort.
Always carry a tool kit for basic repairs: pumps, patches, tire levers, Allen keys. A bike-specific multi-tool can also be very useful.
Choose bike-specific clothing that's light, breathable and quick-drying. Don't forget your helmet, gloves and goggles for safety and comfort.
Bike phone mount
Don't underestimate the importance of a good bike phone mount. A bike mount lets you access your smartphone safely and easily. After all, it's essential to have your phone close at hand to use the GPS app to guide you, track your performance, stay connected and even immortalize your adventures.
The bike phone mount lets you track your route, check the weather, communicate in case of emergency, and even take photos without having to search for your phone in your panniers.
At Tigra Sport, we've developed a range of bike phone mounts to suit every need:
- The Bike Handlebar/Stem mount: With a flexible attachment that fits both the handlebar and stem of your bike, this mount offers convenient and secure use of your phone. Find out more here.
- The Forward Bike Mount: Designed for cyclists who prefer to keep their phone in front of them, this mount offers an unobstructed view of the screen without taking their eyes off the road. Find out more here.
- Stem Bike Mount: This mount secures your phone to the stem head, with an adjustable arm for optimum screen view. Find out more here.
Don't forget other essentials like a water bottle, energy snacks, a first-aid kit, sun protection, bike lights, and a sturdy lock to secure your bike when you stop.
In conclusion, cycling vacations are a fantastic way to discover Europe, enjoy physical exercise, and experience an unforgettable adventure. With the right preparation and equipment, your cycling trip will be a memorable experience.
So don't wait any longer, choose your route, prepare your bike, attach your phone to one of our racks, and set off to discover Europe by bike. Enjoy your trip!