Cycling at home can be wonderful. The UK is, after all, home to some of Europe’s best seaside and mountain trails. If, however, you want a change of scenery – perhaps somewhere a little warmer – then you’re going to need to pack your bags and head across the ocean. Yet, with so many different countries and climates in Europe, just how do you decide on the best destination? To get you started, here are five of the best killer cycling destinations in Europe right now: Of course you need to take your bike in a bike box by Shokbox
Cycling In The Algarve,
Portugal has everything – extensive shorelines, national parks, mountain ranges and glacial valleys. All-in-all, everything that any serious cyclist could want from a holiday destination. Plus, you’ll benefit from that gorgeous Mediterranean weather! There are plenty of superb biking routes and tours in Portugal, ideal for meeting other likeminded cyclists from around the world. One of the best, though, is the Algarve coastal route.
This will take you all the way from the Spanish border to the Western Algarve. – a trip that’s around 146 miles. Known as one of the sunniest spots in Europe. This route can be travelled all year round. Even on the warmest of days, being so close to the sea, you will benefit from a glorious Mediterranean breeze to keep you cool. There’s plenty of accommodation along the route, as well as other popular sports such as surfing and rock climbing if you fancy a change of scenery.
Why Choose Portugal For A Cycling Holiday?
Portugal has so much to offer cyclists with challenging mountain ranges, superb coastal beaches. They also have national parks, glacial valleys and celebrated vineyards!
Portugal is so happy to welcome tourists, you will find that there is plenty of accommodation options. Hence allowing you to cycle across areas changing accommodation as you please. Most places you visit have a good understanding of English and have numerous options on menus to suit every taste. Even better, as cycling is so popular here, you’ll find most places will welcome you and your bike.
When Should You Visit Portugal For Cycling ?
The wonderful thing about Portugal is the fact that different parts of this diverse country are best explored at different times of year. Consequently you can visit whenever suits you. Keep in mind, at peak times such as July and August. You might find that the sun makes it too warm for cycling and tourism is at its peak.
Spring (April to June) is generally the nicest time for cycling – as here the temperatures are a little milder as you head into summer. Plus, as this is still off-peak times, you won’t find tourist spots totally overrun by visitors.
From January to March, the winter weather doesn’t go above around 16 degrees Celsius. However, this is mild and far warmer than the UK at the same time. Perhaps the best time to visit, though, is from September to November. As, during Autumn time, you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery as it turns for winter and even see the harvests during September and October.
Some Notable Cycling Routes in Portugal
There are numerous popular cycling trips across Portugal. Indeed, with so many available, you’ll be planning numerous trips back to this gorgeous country to explore more. Here are a few of our favourites:
- The Algarve
- Alentejo Wine Country
- Azores – São Miguel Island
- The Douro valley and International park
Cycling In The French Alps
Perhaps best known for skiing, the Alps are also a killer destination for biking enthusiasts. The mountain terrain here is very varied, with lots of long flat stretches as well as climbs such as Col del la Ramaz and Col de Joux Plane. This makes it an ideal destination for both beginner and veteran cyclists. Around Morzine itself, you will find lots of hotels and chalets for your accommodation, as this is a popular destination for fans of skiing and outdoor sports alike.
This makes it ideal for those who like to DIY their cycling holidays, rather than relying on an organised tour. Even better, the French Alps are just a stone’s throw from Switzerland. The prices in Switzerland, particularly for food and accommodation is far more expensive than in France. By staying close by, though, you can venture over the border for a day trip for free.
Cycling In Spain
One problem cycling-enthusiasts can face, is the fact that the rest of their family might not share the same passion. So, when it comes to booking a holiday together, it can be hard to find a compromise that fits everyone’s desires. Which is what makes Tenerife such a valued destination. Not only is it home to beautiful weather, resorts, history and a wonderful nightlife. This island is also a favourite among many of the world’s top pro cyclists.
This is because of the Parador Hotel that sits atop the Mount Teide volcano, allowing pros, such as Bradley Wiggins, to sleep at altitude. For cycling itself, Tenerife is home to Europe’s longest continuous ascent. This trail covers 2,100 metres of elevation in just under 22 miles. You don’t need to go to the top, though, there is plenty of lower ground to cover. Plus, being an island with just 223 miles of circumference, it’s very hard for you to get lost.
Cycling In Italy
If you’re a fan of the history of cycling, as well as the sport itself, then a visit to Tuscany during L’Eroica Sportive is a must. The annual event takes place in early October, with those taking part using bikes made before 1987. It’s not just bikes from the past, though, as everyone wears vintage cycling kits too. As well as this fun event, Tuscany is home to some of the best scenery in Europe, making any bike ride absolutely stunning. Here you won’t just find smooth tarmac roads, as Tuscany is well-known for its white dirt tracks that make your bike ride just that more interesting. Of course, being in Italy, you can also take the time to use up some of those calories you burned indulging in delicious pasta, pizza and gelato. All washed down with a few glasses of those wonderful homegrown wines!
When you hear that a certain cycling route is the toughest in the world, most avid cyclist would want to take on the challenge. However, before you start booking flights to Italy, Mortirolo is known for being the world’s toughest route for a reason. So, a look at our Mortirolo guide first, otherwise you might find yourself halfway up the climb wishing you’d never got on that plane!
What is the Mortirolo Cycling Climb?
Back in 2004, Lance Armstrong described the Mortirolo climb as the most challenging climb he’s ever encountered. So, you know that embarking on this route is not for anyone faint of heart! The route itself is approximately 11.5km when starting in Mazzo, however, what makes this climb so challenging is the gradient, which averages as 11% but does go to a crazy 18% as you make your way up to the 1,852m summit.
Of course, with such a hard climb, surely there’s beautiful scenery that will compensate you. Well… Not exactly. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of easier climbs out there with far more stunning backdrops. If you’re looking to take on Mortirolo, it needs to be for the pure challenge, not anything else.
What is the Route Like?
Starting off, you might be a little surprised by the town of Mazzo. That’s because, for the starting point of one of the world’s most famous climbs, this town is quiet and unassuming with a myriad of roads and pathways . Luckily, the route has a lot of signs so, once you spot these, you’ll soon find yourself going in the right way.
The actual road you take for your climb isn’t much wider than the winding lanes of Mazzo. Indeed, this trail was originally used for goats. These days, it is a little wider and the road is smooth, so you won’t have too many battles with any rocks or debris.
Just keep in mind, as wonderful as scenery can be for distracting from the pain, the majority of this gruelling road is through dense woods with only a few clearings on the way. Although, at around 8km into your journey, you’ll find the Pantani memorial, which is worth stopping for.
This is also a road used by cars, so always keep your ears out for traffic. Thankfully, though, not many cars use this road, as drivers prefer the Stelvio, which is longer but less steep.
Tips for the Journey
- Train before embarking on this tough climb. If you’re new to cycling on steep gradients, this is definitely not the route to start with.
- Bring plenty of water and, if you prefer, gels and energy bars with you. There aren’t too many options while on the route, although plenty of places to eat in Mazzo before you start your ride . There are also some options after you reach the summit and make your way down to Monno.
- Check the weather before you go. The last thing you want on this adverse route is the added disadvantage of poor weather.
If you’re feeling brave enough to jet across to Italy and take on the Mortirolo, have you thought about making sure your bike arrives safely? Well if you are worried about travel, you can read about our bike transport cases here.
Cycling In Belgium
You can’t have a list of killer European cycling destinations without mentioning Belgium. After all, this is a country that is home to some of the most famous races in the world. So, why not combine your biking holiday with some cycling tourism. You can watch some pro races and soak up all that wonderful excitement. You could even enter amateur races such as the Liège-Bastogne-Liège or the Tour of Flanders sportive, which take place in the spring. Belgium is known for its British-like weather.
That is, you never quite know when it might sunny or stormy. So, if you want your bike rides to be surrounded by sunshine, your best bet is to plan your holiday for the summer months (around June to August). Trail-wise, the terrain of Belgium varies. In the North, you will find long stretches of flat where you can spend your day cycling from town to town, soaking up the atmosphere. If you prefer hills, head to the south.
One of the most prolific routes in Belgium is the Gouden Carolus. Perfect for fans of a tipple, this trail starts at the Mechelen brewery, heading towards the Palace of Margaret of Austria. You’ll pass the beautiful rivers of Rupel, Zenne and Nete, all surrounded by stunning nature reserves. The route ends at the world-famous Molenberg Whiskey Distillery, where you can all toast your wonderful ride. If you are planning a cycling trip to Europe, have you considered how you will transport your bike?
Not only are our bikes expensive investments, but these bikes are also beloved members of our families that we’ve cared for and upgraded over the years. Unfortunately, we can’t take our bikes on the plane with us, where we can keep an eye on them. Instead, we need to put our precious bikes into the hands of luggage handlers – and we’ve all seen videos of these people chucking luggage around like a bag of bricks. To help protect your bike, invest in a ShokBox bikebox , which will ensure your bike is safe, no matter how rough the journey! https://www.trustpilot.com/review/shokbox.co.uk
Marmot Tours road cycling holidays and challenges have been crafted over a decade. All by passionate and experienced cyclists, mountain experts and outdoor enthusiasts. Over the years we’ve evolved, tweaked and carefully crafted our itineraries into a product that we’re immensely proud of. We’re passionate about helping cyclists achieve their goals in Europe’s most famous mountains. Everything we do is with a personal and attentive touch – whatever you need, we’ll do our very best to help. When you come on holiday with us, the trip is your goal, your dream. It’s your mountain to climb. We love the preparation so you can love the ride. We leave no stone unturned to ensure that your holiday runs smoothly and exceeds your expectations.
Biking Holidays With A Premium Bike Box
On every Marmot Tours holiday we gear the experience around your abilities, your needs and expectations. Our range of holidays really do offer something for everyone; from cyclists new to climbing to experts and those in peak fitness. We know that when you come on your cycling holiday you’ll be bringing months of training, your beloved wheels, your hopes and fears. We’ll be bringing two of our second to none, ridiculously well-equipped and technically competent guides to support your ride with 2 fully customised support vans on the road, so we’re 100% confident that we offer the very best possible service there is to all of our riders; no waiting around for the rest of the group or indeed, feeling under pressure to keep up.
Our guides’ knowledge, skills and that all-important sense of humour ensure that you can relax and just turn the pedals, enjoying the scenery, the culture, the cameraderie and the escape. Whether in France(Pyrenees, Alps, Massif Central, Provence & Corsica), in Italy (the Dolomites or Sardinia), or in Spain (Catalonia, Picos, Tenerife or Gran Canaria), whether you’re a novice or an expert – we’re here to make it real, make it fun, and make your cycling holiday the very best it can be. Why not come with us? Once you do, you won’t want to go on holiday with anyone else. Marmot Tours. It’s your ride, our passion.
The Laws of Cycling in Europe
When you plan to travel and cycle in EU countries, you will find that Article 44 in the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic lays out what laws you will need to comply with when cycling in those countries within the EU. In particular, you must ensure that any bicycle you bring or hire should have:
- Working brakes
- Working bell – no other sound devices allowed
- Front lamp – either white or yellow
- Rear lamp – red
- Rear reflector – red
You should also ensure that you cycle on the same side of the road as the cars in that country do and, just like you do in the UK, you should stop at red lights and give an indication when turning right or left.
Cycling Laws in Specific European Countries
Although the above states the guidelines for many countries across Europe. It’s important to remember that specific countries might have more stringent cycling laws so, it’s important that you research any country before you take your bike on the roads there. Here are some of the specific laws you might face in some popular EU holiday destinations:
Cycling Laws In Spain
In Spain, when riding in rural areas, you should wear your helmet. There are some exceptions to this, such as not needing your helmet if you’re a profession cyclist, going uphill or it’s a very warm day. For anyone under 16, helmets need to worn all the time.
Cycling in Groups
It’s legal for two cyclists to ride side by side in Spain as long as they stay as close to the right side of the road as possible. However, a cyclist should return to single file if the traffic behind them builds up or if the weather is providing very low visibility on that day.
If there is a bike lane on the road that you’re using, you must use that lane. It will depend on the city in question over how strictly this will be enforced. If there is no cycle lane, the road should be used.
Presumed liability is exercised in Spain, meaning if a car hits you it’s presumed the driver is at fault unless it can be proved otherwise.
Other Notable Laws
- If you do not have your lights on at night you can be fined €200
- You cannot drink alcohol and cycle on the road
- Having no bell or faulty brakes can result in a fine
Cycling Laws In Germany
There’s no law saying you have to wear helmets, but you should.
Cycling in Groups
It’s preferred that you cycle in a single file, however, you can cycle in pairs when not interrupting the traffic.
Cycle lanes that are blue with an unbroken line are compulsory and must be used. Those lanes with a broken white line do not need to be used, however, it might be safer for you.
Presumed liability, like Spain.
Other Notable Laws
- You will be fined for wearing headphones, being on your phone or skipping red lights. You can also receive fined for cycling with alcohol in your system and not having appropriate white front or red rear lights.
- Children cannot cycle on the road when they are under eight years old.
Cycling Laws In Italy
Parents can be fined €90 for a child under 12 not wearing a helmet. Otherwise helmets are not compulsory.
Cycling in Groups
You can ride single file or as a group of two side-by-side. At night, though, or when traffic is busy you should cycle in single file. Also, if you are in a group of 10 or more, you must be split into two groups.
Cycle lanes must be used when they are provided.
Other Notable Laws
- Headphones are illegal when cycling.
- You cannot drink alcohol and cycle.
- As well as the regular additions to a bike – such as front and rear lights – you must wear a reflective vest at night.
- You cannot cycle on pavements (unless you’re under the age of eight).
These are just some of the cycling laws across Europe, always research your country of travel before you cycle. Especially when there may be a language barrier, as here it’s important to know your rights.
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