Napa Valley, California’s premier wine region, is an enticing destination for any lover of nature, wine, and cycling. Renowned for its world-class vineyards and stunning scenery, this picturesque valley offers much more than just wine tasting – it’s a paradise for cyclists looking for an active holiday in a beautiful, relaxed setting.
Napa Valley is an ideal location for cycling, with miles of quiet, winding roads and various trails. The routes range from flat, easy rides perfect for beginners or relaxed cyclists to more challenging hill climbs that will test the endurance of even seasoned riders. Along these routes, you will witness an ever-changing canvas of vineyards, rolling hills, charming towns, and stunning vistas of mountains.
In addition to the beauty of the landscape, the appeal of cycling in Napa Valley lies in the temperate climate. With more than 260 days of sunshine a year, rarely a day isn’t perfect for a ride. However, the best times to visit are during spring and fall, when the weather is mild and the scenery is most stunning with the changing colors of the vineyards.
Moreover, Napa Valley boasts a culinary scene that’s as diverse and vibrant as its wine offering. Cyclists can pedal from one gourmet restaurant to another, experiencing various cuisines, all accompanied by some of the world’s finest wines.
This unique combination of physical activity, gastronomy, and wine tasting makes a cycling holiday in Napa Valley a genuinely memorable experience.
Lastly, Napa Valley is hugely bike-friendly, with many wineries offering bike racks and most roads having bike lanes or wide shoulders. Several companies also offer bike rentals and cycling tours, allowing you to travel light and make the most of your trip.
Napa Valley provides an unparalleled blend of scenic beauty, culinary delights, exceptional wines, and cycling routes to suit every ability. It truly is a bucket list destination vacation for those who wish to combine their love of cycling with an immersive wine and culinary experience.
The Best Time To Visit Napa Valley
Spring (March to May):
Spring brings beautiful weather and the start of the growing season when you can see buds break in the vineyards. The weather is warm during the day but cooler at night, typically ranging from the mid-50s to the high 70s (Fahrenheit), which is ideal for cycling. The landscape is verdant and vibrant, with wildflowers adding pops of color to the greenery. This time of year is less crowded than the summer and offers a tranquil setting to enjoy the valley.
Fall (September to November):
Known as the harvest season or “crush,” this is a magical and busy time in the valley when the grapes are being harvested, and the winemaking process begins. You’ll experience warm days and cooler evenings, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the low 80s. The vine leaves start changing colors, painting the landscape with orange, red, and yellow hues, making it a picturesque time to visit and cycle.
Winter (December to February)
Winter in Napa Valley is the off-peak season. It’s the coolest and rainiest time of year but also the most peaceful. There’s a chance to find great deals on accommodations and experience the wine country’s quiet beauty without the crowds. But cyclists may have better times due to the weather conditions.
It’s worth noting that these seasons offer relatively moderate tourist traffic compared to the summer months, making for a more relaxed and enjoyable cycling and wine-tasting experience. However, since these are popular times to visit, making accommodation and restaurant reservations in advance is recommended.
Pros and Cons Of A Summer Visit
Pros of Summer Visit:
- Extended daylight hours: The long summer days allow for more hours of exploration. You can start cycling early in the morning and continue until late evening.
- Vibrant Atmosphere: The summer months are bustling with energy and activities. Many wineries and restaurants have special summer menus and events. There’s also a chance to enjoy outdoor concerts and festivals during this season.
- Consistent Weather: The weather is typically dry and sunny, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the high 90s (Fahrenheit). The mornings and evenings are still cool, perfect for early or late-day rides.
Cons of Summer Visit:
- Heat: The midday summer heat in Napa Valley can be intense and could make cycling less comfortable, especially on longer routes or more challenging terrains. Be sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.
- Crowds: Summer is a peak tourist season in Napa Valley, meaning there can be larger crowds at famous wineries and restaurants. This might also lead to more traffic on the roads.
- Pricing: Due to high demand, accommodation and other services may be more expensive during summer.
From The UK
There are no direct flights into Napa Valley from the UK so you have to plan carefully to get there. The closest international airports are.
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO): About 59 miles from Napa. It is a major hub and offers numerous international and domestic flights.
- Oakland International Airport (OAK): Around 50 miles from Napa. It offers both domestic and some international flights.
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF): Approximately 60 miles from Napa. It mainly serves domestic flights, but there are some international connections.
The average cost of flying into San Fransisco is around £1,300 and that includes your bike box as well. The flight time is around eleven hours from London Heathrow to SFO, and this is with Virgin Airlines. View our handy guide to Virgin Atlantic bike policy.
The Drive From San Fransisco to Napa Valley
The most scenic drive from the international airports to Napa Valley would arguably be from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) via the Golden Gate Bridge, and then continuing north through the Marin and Sonoma counties before arriving in Napa Valley.
Here’s a possible route:
- Start from SFO: Head north on US-101 towards San Francisco city center.
- Cross the Golden Gate Bridge: One of the most iconic structures in the U.S. The views of San Francisco, the bay, and the Pacific Ocean are breathtaking.
- Drive through Marin County: After crossing the bridge, continue on US-101 N through Marin County. This part of the drive offers beautiful views of rolling hills and the occasional glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
- Enter Sonoma County: Take the exit onto CA-37 E, then continue onto CA-121 N towards Sonoma County. You’ll pass by wetlands, which are home to a variety of bird species.
- Drive through Sonoma Valley: Turn right onto CA-12 E/CA-121 N (signs for Napa/Sonoma), driving through the heart of Sonoma Wine Country. Here you will see many vineyards and wineries lining the road.
- Arrive in Napa Valley: CA-12 E/CA-121 N leads straight into the southern part of Napa Valley.
This route is a bit longer, roughly 2 hours without traffic, compared to the fastest route via I-80 E, which takes about 1.5 hours. But it’s much more picturesque and allows you to see the diversity of landscapes in the Bay Area and Wine Country. Plus, you’ll get to drive across the famous Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an ideal start to a Napa Valley trip if you’re not in a rush.
Car Rental SFO
If there are 2 of you traveling then you will need to book transport well in advance because you either need a full size SUV or a mini van to fit your Shokbox in. PRO TIP, there is limited availability on these types of vehicle. Expect to pay around £800 to a thousand pounds per week for this type of vehicle.
Location of San Franciscos Rental Park
Car Rental Companies at SFO
Open 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. daily
Open 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. daily
Open 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. daily
Open 5:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily. Open 24 hours for returns.
Open 24 hours daily
Open 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. daily. Open 24 hours for returns.
Getting To Napa Valley from the USA
After flying, you can rent a car from the airport and drive to Napa Valley. The drive from these airports takes about 1-2 hours, depending on traffic.
If you’re located in California or a neighboring state, you might choose to drive your own vehicle. From San Francisco, it’s an approximately 1-2 hour drive to Napa Valley via the Golden Gate Bridge and US-101 N and CA-37 E.
Various shuttle services operate from the airports to Napa Valley. Evans Airport Service, for instance, offers regular shuttles from SFO and OAK. Some hotels also offer shuttle services, so it’s worth checking with your accommodation.
From San Francisco, you can take the San Francisco Bay Ferry to Vallejo, then transfer to a bus to reach Napa Valley.
While there’s no direct train service to Napa Valley, Amtrak offers train service to Martinez, CA with connecting bus service to Napa Valley.
Where To Stay
If you are looking for a bit of indulgence on your Napa Valley Location then we have the perfect place. We will also highlight places to suit everyones budget.
Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection, Calistoga: Your Perfect Base for a Napa Valley Cycling Adventure
Nestled in the vibrant town of Calistoga in the heart of California’s Wine Country, Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection provides:
- The quintessential Napa Valley experience.
- Seamlessly combining luxurious accommodations.
- Exceptional amenities.
- A prime location.
Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a casual rider looking for an unforgettable cycling vacation, Solage is an unrivaled choice. Price Range $700 – $2000 per night.
Laid-Back Luxury Meets Natural Beauty
Designed with an elegant, understated aesthetic, Solage beautifully blends into the surrounding vineyards and rolling hills of Napa Valley. The resort offers a variety of well-appointed studios and suites featuring private outdoor spaces and some with hot tubs. The contemporary, light-filled rooms, painted with soft earth tones, mirror the natural tranquility of the surrounding landscape, ensuring a peaceful retreat after exploring.
An Oasis for Cyclists
Solage’s dedication to enhancing your cycling experience sets it apart for cycling enthusiasts. Complimentary cruiser bikes are provided for all guests, perfect for a leisurely ride around Calistoga, along the nearby Napa Valley Vine Trail, or even for a visit to the local farmers market. For those looking to venture further, the concierge team can connect you with local cycling tour companies catering to all experience and interest levels.
Beyond the bike, Solage encourages relaxation and rejuvenation. The award-winning Spa Solage offers a range of treatments. One is the signature Mudslide treatment, a three-part wellness experience involving a mineral-enriched mud bath, a soak in geothermal waters, and rest in a state-of-the-art sound chair. There’s also a state-of-the-art fitness center and a 130-foot landmark pool for lap swimming or lounging.
When it comes to dining, the resort’s Solbar restaurant delivers a culinary experience to match the quality of the world-class wines found in the region. Serving dishes that are as beautiful as they are delicious, the restaurant sources ingredients from local and sustainable farms, reflecting the seasonal bounty of Napa Valley. We particularly like the , GRILLED ALASKAN HALIBUT, (carrot-miso soubise, crispy halibut cheeks, glazed spring carrots, carrot butter sauce). Of course the menu will have probably changed by the time you visit but do share which you liked the most.
Situated in Calistoga, Solage offers easy access to some of the finest wineries in Napa Valley. Additionally, its northern location allows for convenient exploration of the less crowded yet equally impressive wineries of the Alexander and Russian River Valleys. You can find more details here.
Napa River Inn, Napa
Napa River Inn is a charming hotel located in the heart of downtown Napa. It is housed in a historic mill building, and it offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. The hotel is just steps away from the Napa River, and it is within walking distance of many of Napa’s best restaurants, shops, and wineries.
- Location: The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Napa, which means you are close to everything. You can walk to restaurants, shops, wineries, and even the Napa Valley Wine Train.
- Amenities: The hotel has a variety of amenities, including a spa, a fitness center, a pool, and a hot tub. There is also a complimentary breakfast buffet available each morning.
- Rooms: The rooms at Napa River Inn are spacious and comfortable. They all have private balconies or patios, and they offer stunning views of the Napa River or the surrounding vineyards.
- Service: The staff at Napa River Inn is friendly and helpful. They are always willing to go the extra mile to make sure you have a memorable stay.
- There is a complimentary shuttle service to and from the Napa Valley Wine Train.
- The hotel offers a variety of package deals, including wine tasting packages, spa packages, and couples’ packages.
Price is $200 – $500 per night, you can find more details on the Napa River Inn here.
El Bonita Motel, St. Helena
Discover Napa Valley’s Best-Kept Secret, Perched in the charming town of St. Helena, El Bonita Motel is a hidden gem offering exceptional value and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere in the stunning Napa Valley. El Bonita provides an appealing blend of charm, location, and affordability, perfect for cycling enthusiasts, wine lovers, and those looking for a comfortable and convenient base to explore the region.
Comfort Meets Character
El Bonita Motel combines Art Deco and Mission Revival architecture elements, reflecting a rich history while offering modern comforts. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and equipped with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, and coffee makers. Some rooms offer kitchenettes and separate living areas, providing a homey atmosphere perfect for extended stays or families.
Affordability in the Heart of Wine Country
Staying in Napa Valley can be costly. That’s where El Bonita Motel stands out. With competitive rates, it offers an affordable way to enjoy the magic of Napa Valley without breaking the bank. It’s a reminder that you don’t need to stay in a luxury resort to have a memorable wine country getaway.
El Bonita’s location in St. Helena places guests at the heart of Napa Valley. Many prestigious wineries are just a short bike ride or drive away, and you’re also within easy reach of the world-class restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries that make St. Helena such a delightful town to visit.
For cycling enthusiasts, El Bonita is an excellent choice. The motel offers a secure area for bike storage, so you can rest easy knowing your gear is safe. Furthermore, its central location in Napa Valley provides easy access to numerous scenic biking routes. Whether you prefer a leisurely ride through the vineyards or a more challenging hill climb, you’ll find a route that suits your tastes.
Amenities to Enhance Your Stay
Even with its budget-friendly pricing, El Bonita pays attention to amenities. The property features a heated pool and hot tub, perfect for unwinding after a day of cycling and wine tasting. A continental breakfast is also included in your stay, ensuring you start each day of your Napa Valley adventure on the right note. Price $150 – $300 per night.
There are also plenty of Airbnb options in Napa Valley, ranging from entire homes to private rooms. This could be a good option for larger groups or for those who prefer a more home-like environment. Search Here.
There are many options for camping around Napa Valley, all surrounded by lushes landscape. The Napa Valley boasts over one hundred campsites in the area, something for everyone. They have RV pitches, some with electricity hook ups (additional fees apply). Some have Yurts, outside showers, campfire centres. The Napa Valley State Parks Association gives you great information on the 3 parks below.
- Botha Napa Valley State Park here
- Bare Grist Mill State Historic Park here
- Robert Louis Stevenson State Park here
Additional camping parks
- Putah Canyon Campground: This campground offers a variety of campsites, including tent sites, RV sites, and group sites. It is also home to a boat launch and several fishing spots.
- Skyline Wilderness Park: This park offers a variety of campsites, including tent sites, RV sites, and horse camping. It is also home to several trails that are popular with cyclists.
- EcoCamp Berryessa: This campground offers a unique camping experience in yurts. The yurts are equipped with beds, electricity, and heat.
- Silverado Trail RV Park: This campground is great for RVers. It offers full hookups and a variety of amenities, including a pool, laundry facilities, and a game room.
- Napa Valley KOA: This campground is great for families. It offers a variety of amenities, including a pool, playground, and mini-golf.
Example Itinerary For A 10 Day Cycling Vacation Napa Valley
Arrive in Napa and check into your hotel. In the afternoon, go for a bike ride on the Napa Valley Vine Trail. You can start your ride in downtown Napa and ride south to Yountville. There are several places to stop for food and drinks, such as the Oxbow Public Market and Gott’s Roadside. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of Napa’s many restaurants in the evening.
In the morning, visit one of Napa’s most famous wineries, such as Robert Mondavi Winery or Chateau Montelena. In the afternoon, take a bike ride through the Stags Leap District. This hilly region has some of Napa’s most prestigious wineries, such as Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. You can also visit the Charles Krug Winery, the oldest winery in Napa Valley.
Take a day trip to Sonoma County. This neighboring wine region is home to some of California’s most acclaimed wineries, such as Kendall-Jackson, Sonoma-Cutrer, and Gundlach Bundschu. You can start your day with a bike ride along the Russian River. This is a beautiful river that flows through the heart of Sonoma County. In the afternoon, visit one of Sonoma’s many wineries, such as the Seghesio Family Vineyards or the Trinchero Family Estates.
Hike in the Napa Valley Wine Train tunnels in the morning. This is a unique way to see the valley, and riding through the dark tunnels is a lot of fun. In the afternoon, visit the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville. This museum tells the story of Napa Valley’s history and winemaking. There are exhibits on everything from the early days of viticulture to the modern wine industry.
Visit the Oxbow Public Market in the morning. This indoor/outdoor marketplace is a great place to sample local food and wine. There are also a number of shops and art galleries in the market. In the afternoon, go for a bike ride on the Napa Valley Vine Trail. You can start your ride in downtown Napa and ride north to St. Helena. There are several places to stop along the way for food and drinks, such as the Charles Krug Winery and the Sterling Vineyards. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of Napa’s many restaurants in the evening.
Relax at one of Napa’s many spas. Many world-class spas in Napa Valley offer a variety of treatments, such as massages, facials, and body wraps. The perfect way to unwind after a few days of exploring.
Enjoy a leisurely day in Napa. Visit some of the shops and art galleries in the city, or take a walk through the Napa Valley Vine Trail. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of Napa’s many restaurants in the evening.
Take a bike ride to the top of Mount Veeder. This is a challenging ride, but the views from the top are amazing. In the afternoon, visit the Balestra Winery. This winery offers a unique experience of tasting wine while riding a Segway through the vineyards.
Visit the Domaine Chandon winery. This winery offers a variety of tours and tastings, including a champagne flight. In the afternoon, take a bike ride along the Silverado Trail. This scenic road winds through some of Napa’s most beautiful vineyards.
Depart from Napa.
Useful Links For Napa Valley
- The Spa at Meadowood: This spa is located at the world-renowned Meadowood Napa Valley resort. It offers a variety of treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps. There is also a fitness center and a swimming pool. Here.(Luxury)
- The Spa at Calistoga Ranch: This spa is located at the Calistoga Ranch resort. It offers a variety of treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps. There is also a fitness center and a swimming pool. Here. (Mid Range)
- The Spa at Napa Valley Inn: This spa is located at the Napa Valley Inn. It offers a variety of treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps. There is also a fitness center and a swimming pool. Here. (Budget friendly)
- The French Laundry: This restaurant is located in Yountville and has been awarded three Michelin stars. The tasting menu is $395 per person, and the wine pairings are additional. The restaurant is run by the world famous Tomas Keller. Here. (Luxury)
- Solbar: This restaurant is located in Yountville and offers California cuisine. The prix-fixe menu is $95 per person, and there is also a tasting menu available for $125 per person. Solbar divides its menu into light, delicate flavors to stimulate your palate, and bold, savory dishes to comfort your soul, all with ingredients that showcase the best of what’s fresh and seasonal in the Napa, Here. (Mid Range)
- Napa Valley Burger Company: This restaurant is located in Yountville and offers burgers, fries, and shakes. The burgers start at $10, and the shakes start at $4. Indulge in gourmet made-from-scratch burgers utilizing the freshest ingredients from our community of local farmers Here. (Budget Friendly)
- Screaming Eagle: This winery is one of the most expensive in Napa Valley. The tasting fee is $250 per person, and the wines are only available by appointment. Here. (Luxury)
- Robert Mondavi Winery: This winery is one of the most famous in Napa Valley. The tasting fee is $65 per person, and the wines are available without an appointment.Robert Mondavi established his namesake winery in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world’s finest. He chose To Kalon Vineyard in the heart of Napa Valley as the home for Robert Mondavi Winery. Here. (Mid Range)
- Raymond Vineyards: This winery is known for its Pinot Noir. The tasting fee is $20 per person, and the wines are available without an appointment. Raymond Vineyards, founded in 1974, is one of the Napa Valley’s pioneers and great estates. Arriving to Napa in 1933, the Raymond family became deeply connected to the valley’s winemaking origins. Here. (Budget Friendly)
Links To The 10 Day Cycling Holiday Itinerary
- Oxbow Public Market: Here.
- Gott’s Roadside: Here.
- Chateau Montelena: Here.
- Harlan Estate: Here.
- Stags Leap District: Here.
- Charles Krug Winery: Here.
- Russian River: Here.
- Kendall-Jackson: Here.
- Gundlach Bundschu: Here.
Napa Valley an ideal place to bicycle for transportation and exploration. Many lodgings do cycle hire and there are also cycle rental companies that will deliver to where you are.
Yes you can cycle between wineries in Napa Valley, a medium cycle around 12 miles you could possibly visit 2 to 3 wineries. If you cycled around 17 miles you could visit 3 to 4 wineries and have a tasting session at each quite easily within the day.
Yes you can wear shorts whilst on the wineries tasting tour. The general dress code is smart casual and this also includes wearing jeans.
No you don’t need a car to get around Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Vine Trail is a 38-mile paved trail that runs through the heart of the valley. There are also several public bus lines that run throughout the valley, connecting the major towns and wineries. There are also many bike paths and trails, and you can even rent bikes from several different companies. If you are not feeling energetic then there are taxi’s (expensive), Uber or Lyft available. There is also the option of guided wine tours to get you around the Valley
No you don’t have to book for every wine tasting as there are walk in wineries. However, there are wineries that only accept booked wine tasting. It is best to check each winery for their individual policy.
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