Cycle touring: 10 great routes for first-timers
Travelling by bike offers a wealth of advantages. On a cycle tour you'll see so many more sights up-close, including views and wildlife. You'll come home fitter than when you left. You'll enjoy new encounters and great attractions. You can stop when you want, rest when you fancy and cycle for longer if you have the energy. For first-time cycling tourers it's important to choose the right route so we've come up with 10 classic bike tours to choose from.
10 classic bike touring routes
1. France: the Loire Valley
Variably known as the "Garden of France" and the “Land of Castles”, the Loire Valley boasts fine historical buildings and fabulous landscaping. This is quintessential French countryside and perfect for cyclists who like to lunch and dine. A wonderful cycle tour
takes you to visit many of the Loire’s wonderful castles.
2. New Zealand
The west coast of the South Island in New Zealand offers some cycling climbs but the mountainous views are glorious and any muscle zapping riding is well rewarded.
3. Danube Cycle Path
This flat route heads along the beautiful River Danube offering easy-going and mostly traffic-free cycling through four countries, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Highlights include gorgeous scenery, the Schlögener Loop, wine tastings in the Wachau Valley and charming historic towns. A section of the route from Passau to Vienna can be enjoyed on a Classic Danube Cycle Tour
over eight days.
4. Scotland’s Lochs and Glens
A fabulous route from Glasgow to Inverness, you’ll ride through two national parks, the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park, revealing in iconic Scottish scenery all the way. It’s worth checking out this eight-day organised Lochs and Glens tour
A classic cycle touring route takes you through northern California – and the stunning redwoods – along a dazzling coast road around and over the Golden Gate Bridge to finish in amazing San Francisco.
The Adriatic Highway from Rijeka to Dubrovnik is a classic cycling tour that relies on a network of ferries to island-hop down the coast. Expect sleepy villages, bustling harbours, blazing seaside sunsets, historic buildings, fresh seafood and the chance to swim in beautiful seas.
Also check out Island Hopping by bike tour in Croatia
The Celtic Trail is one of many great long-distance UK routes. Ride from Swansea to Fishguard with two potential routes. National Route 4 heads via the coast, while National Route 47 is an inland route. Together they form two loops between Swansea and Carmarthen or between Carmarthen and Fishguard. Check out the Sustrans tour
The Canal du Midi: Ride the most beautiful canal in Europe from the shores of the azure Mediterranean to the Pink City of Toulouse. The 17th century tree-lined Canal du Midi leads you through a landscape rich in cultural and natural history. It’s the perfect place to test your cycle touring legs. Check out this organised Canal du Midi cycling tour.
Cycle from Banff to Jasper through the Rockies. Riding beneath the peaks of the Banff and jasper national parks is an incredible experience. You’ll also find quiet roads amid a vast wilderness. Take in massive glaciers, dramatic mountain lakes and broad valleys.
10. France – Provence
Gentle pedalling and fine food go together so beautifully. Leave the main roads behind and discover a lesser-known France. Visit the cultural city of Avignon, the “little Alps” and the undulating countryside of the Luberon. A leisurely eight-day Back Roads of Provence cycling tour
could be your perfect introduction to cycle touring.
Tell us about your favourite cycle tours.