A holiday just gets better when you get to discover places by bike. Of course it takes quite the effort, but you don’t have to spend your entire holiday cycling, you could just hop on or off as you please and only cycle for as much or as little as you want. Here are just some routes that are definitely worth the endeavour.
1. The Atlantic Coast Route
The Atlantic Coast route, or EuroVelo 1, follows Europe’s mighty western border, reaching from Scandinavia to South and Western Portugal. It visits the majestic fjords of Norway, the wild Irish coastline, the rough cliffs of Brittany and the sun-kissed beaches of Portugal, totalling 11,000 km. Along the way you will not only be seduced by bustling port cities and cosy fishing villages, but you will be impressed by dramatic landscapes and have the chance to enjoy the best seafood each country has to offer.
Length: 11,000 km
Countries: Norway, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal
2. The North Sea Cycle Route
The North Sea Cycle Route, or EuroVelo 12, will surprise you with its diversity. Although bordering the same sea it goes from land located below sea level (in the Netherlands) to cliffs of 300 meters in height (Norway). You can sample wee drams in Scotland, pedal along the well-maintained cycle paths of Denmark, dance the night away in millennial port cities such as Gothenburg or Hamburg or stretch out on the inviting beaches of the Netherlands.
Length: 7,050 km
Countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, United Kingdom
3. The Danube Cycle Path
Danube Cycle Path follows the course of Europe’s second longest river from its source in Germany’s Black Forrest in Donaueschingen all the way to the Delta before it spills into the Black Sea. You will not only discover 6 different countries, but also get to see 4 capitals and all the stunning valleys the river creates in between. Depending on which bank of the river you chose to cycle on, you could spend the last leg of the journey either in Romania or in Bulgaria, as the Danube is the natural border between the two. Or you could just cross back and forth over the river to make sure you get to see a little bit of each country.
Length: ~3,000 km
Countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria
4. The European Divide Trail
The European Divide Trail is the longest predominantly off-road cycling route in the world. The itinerary was created by Andy Cox, aka Doubletrackfanatic, and goes from Grense Jakobselv in Norway to Cabo St Vincent in Portugal. “The inspiration for this route came from a need for a dirt road touring route exploring an alternative side of Europe, mostly away from the popular tourist destinations. (…) The challenges will come from the logistics of finding water, food and accommodation, the weather throughout the multiple seasons it’ll doubtless take to ride it, and the act of riding a heavy bike, off-road, more than 7,500 km (4,660 mi) across Europe”, the trail’s official website explains.
Length: 7,600 km
Countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal
5. The Arctic Coast Route
The Arctic Coast Route, from Tromsø to Svolvær in Northern Norway, is a paradise for those who want a real bicycle adventure. You’ll discover dramatic coastlines, sandy beaches and traditional fishing villages. Take a deep breath and fill your lungs with fresh sea air as you set off into an exciting and beautiful landscape made up by mountain peaks, ocean, fjords and islands.
Length: 305 km + possible detours