Many of Europe’s backroads are best explored with a bicycle. With sweeping views and jaw-dropping landscapes as varied as the vibrant countries that make up the vast continent, it’s no wonder that biking in Europe has always been part of many cyclists’ bucket list. If you’re dead set on fulfilling your dream of cycling in Europe, that start putting together your backpacking or bike touring packing checklist and head out to any of these top biking routes and destinations spread across the “peninsula of peninsulas”.
1. Via Francigena
The Via Francigena is undoubtedly one of the most popular cycling routes in Europe, running from Canterburry in England all the way to Rome, Italy. Aside from its religious and historical significance, the route is also peppered with beautiful and interesting landscapes like the Apennines, the Gran St. Bernard Pass, and the Gotthard Pass to name a few.
Although most of the roads are easy to ride, there are some sections which can be quite challenging and even categorized as “Difficult” in cycling standards such as the Passo della Cisa and the stretch between Aulla and Sarzana. That said, Via Francigena is best recommended for experienced cyclists who are familiar with the use of bike tool kits to perform regular maintenance and occasional repairs.
Distance: 1,118 miles
Duration: 44 days
2. Camino Frances
Camino Frances or The French Way Starts from the small Pyrenees two of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and goes all the way to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Along the route you’ll pass several charming vineyards, tranquil villages and rustic medieval towns. You’ll also get to enjoy the sight of majestic mountain ranges, rolling green hills and large plateaus. The Camino Frances is certainly one of the best routes to take for cyclists who want to enjoy the quaint and rugged beauty of Spain, with all its rich history and old world charms.
Most of the route goes through roads and paved paths, but you’ll also be cycling dirt tracks and old-fashioned trails in some sections. Thus, the most efficient setup would be a mountain bike equipped for touring, with touring panniers and touring saddles. There should be enough accommodations along the way, but you may also want to bring along a backpacking tent and backpacking sleeping bag just in case you need to spend the night in municipal parks and infrequent campsites.
Distance: 500 miles
Duration: 18 days
3. Loire a Velo
Many of France’s charms are best discovered on two wheels, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when tackling the Loire a Velo. The route generally starts from St. Brevin les Pins, where you’ll get a good glimpse of the Atlantic Coast before you set off on your adventure. Then you’ll be passing through the historic city of Angers, the medieval towns of Saumur, the Blois waterfront and other beautiful and interesting places before ending your adventure in Nevers and its many fine buildings. From Cathedral cities to riverside villages, this is one of the most scenic routes to take when cycling in Europe.
The route goes through chains of roads and bridges and very few off-road trails. However, you’ll delight in the idea that there is very little traffic along the way and that there are more bikes than cars on the road. The level and flat terrain and good roads means that you can use whatever mountain bike you have on this trip.
Distance: 248 miles
Duration: 14 days
4. Romantic Road
Over the past decades, the Romantic Road has become one of the most popular cycling routes in Germany thanks to the bustling culture and wonderful scenery along the way. The route takes you through many of Germany’s finest wonders, from enchanting valleys to idyllic towns and heritage castles. Don’t forget to take a photo of the Nordlinger Ries depression as well, a crater formed 15 million years ago due to a meteorite’s impact.
The terrain is mostly composed of tarmac side roads field paths with easy to medium ascents. With very little traffic to mind about, you should be able to relaxingly enjoy sights of forests, meadows, and fields along the way.
Distance: 310 miles
Duration: 16 days
5. Amalfi Coast
Coastal rides offer a unique kind of adventure, and one of the best coastal biking in Europe can be enjoyed along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Set on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Italy’s Amalfi Coast offers scenic coastal ride, with untouched fishing villages and cliff top tracks along the way. Of course, there’s plenty more to enjoy like Greco-Roman ruins and the world’s best-preserved Greek temples, terraced vineyards, and the Mingardo Canyon in Cilento National Park.
The terrain is mostly composed of smooth tarmac surfaces together with long, steep ascents. In the slower seasons of the year, there’s very little traffic on the roads except for those located near the towns. There are plenty of accommodations along the way, so make sure that you bring a bike lock to secure your ride when to turn in for the evening.
Distance: 111 miles
Duration: 6 days
6. Danube Cycling Path
Truly one of the best biking in Europe adventures, the Danube Cycling Path takes you through different countries across the continent which makes it the perfect route to run your touring bike. Needless to say, you’ll be exposed to varied cultures, lots of interesting and historical sights, and an overall rewarding cycling experience you won’t find anywhere else. The whole route can take a long while to complete, but there are options to bike only certain sections like from Germany to Hungary for instance.
The route takes you through quaint vineyards and villages, vibrant cities, and lots of historical places like the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. With all the scenic views and rich history, this is definitely one of the most memorable cycling in Europe adventure you can ever embark on.
Distance: 1,800 miles
Duration: 60 days
7. Tauern Cycle Trail
If you plan to go cycling in Austria, then the Tauern Cycle Trail is one worth pursuing. Right from the start you’ll be treated to a sight of the majestic Krimmler Waterfalls, considered to be the highest in Central Europe.
From there you’ll be making your way through Hohe Tauern National Park and its captivating mountain backdrop and the National Park Center in Mittersill. Although the waterfalls for some is the highlight of the trip, the artificial lakes of Glockner-Kaprun and others are also worth visiting. What’s more, you’ll get to visit the Liechtensteinklamm der Eisriesenwelt known to be the largest closed ice cave in the world. Aside from these natural wonders, cyclists are also treated to destinations of various historical and cultural significance like the Hohenwerfen Castle and the Obernberg, as well as charming old towns, abbeys, and more.
Given all these and more, there really isn’t any reason for you not to include the Tauern Cycle Trail on your bucket list.
Distance: 192 miles
Duration: 8 days
8. Alpe Adria Cycling Route
The Adige Cycling Route is a meandering path that starts from Salzburg, Austria all the way to the Mediterranean Coast in Grado, Italy. The route is generally composed of flat terrain with well-signed pavements, making the ride much more comfortable and enjoyable at the same time.
The Austrian section of the ride is exhilarating, with the route showcasing the beauty of the Alps without doing any climbing. Sceneries include lots of mountains and valleys, and you’ll be riding flanked by scenic landscapes to your left and right. The charming vineyards and apple orchards also make for great photo ops.
On the other hand, the Italian section of the tour winds along rivers and lively towns. Take some time off to enjoy the wine and pasta the country is famous for, or simply relax in the many cafés in the area. Do visit the different plazas and square for some cultural immersion.
Distance: 254 miles
Duration: 9 days
9. Adige Cycling Route
With lots of fresh and scenic landscapes, bustling towns, and lots of culture to be enjoyed along the way, it’s no wonder the Adige Cycling Route has been attracting cyclists all over the world.
You can start your tour at the charming Lake Reschen, riding through several manageable inclines on your mountain bike. From there, you can choose to continue heading downstream or follow the route along Lana for a more scenic and enjoyable ride. You’ll be treated with wonderful sights of orchards as far as the eye can see, as well as Sigmundskron Castle towering over the Bolzano in the distance. The route goes on until you reach Lake Garda, the trip’s final destination.
Distance: 186 miles
Duration: 6 days
10. Rhone Cycle Path
The Rhone Cycle Path allows riders to enjoy a variety of charming and scenic landscapes while riding through colorful flower fields of lavender and sunflower and rich orchards. The whole route that runs between Oberwald and Geneva provides travelers with various types of terrains. Riders can enjoy an alpine route with several ascents and plenty of downhill rides, as well as leisurely pedaling in gentle slopes and flatlands.
Stops are just as enjoyable as the ride as you get to visit world famous spots like the Pfynwald, a nature reserve on a huge mound of glacier detritus and the Jungfrau-Aletsch. Historic castles, churches and mansions also abound in Sion. Enjoy all these and more as you make your way to the end of the route in Geneva.
Distance: 201 miles
Duration: 8 days
11. Hebridean Way
As one of Europe’s last frontiers, the far-flung Western Isles or Outer Hebrides is a famous destination for cyclists all over the world. Crossing islands and riding in ferries, the cycling route is a must-visit for cyclists looking for a marvelous escape from the hustle and bustle of urban riding.
Serene landscapes, fabulous beaches, and an abundance of wildlife awaits cyclists who ride along the Hebridean Way. Spots of historical and archaeological interests like the 5000 years old Callanish stones in the northern isle of Lewis are also worth visiting. From shelled-packed beaches to majestic rocky coves and rugged hills, the Western Isles have more than enough to satisfy any cyclist.
Distance: 185 miles
Duration: 6 days
Another cycling route that takes you across different countries in Europe is the Parenzana. The route follows an old railway that runs from Italy, through Slovenia, and ends in Croatia. In the Italian and Slovenian sections, the route pretty much runs on dedicated cycling paths of asphalt, while in the Croatian section it would mostly be gravel.
Needless to say, there are plenty of things to see along the route. For starters, you get to visit idyllic towns and quaint villages, and get to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the place as you go. The tunnels and viaducts along the old railway also provides some interesting views. Because of the easy roads, the Parenzana is also a great choice for families when biking in Europe.
Distance: 75 miles
Duration: 5 days
Norway is the place to be for cyclists looking for sights of majestic fjords, and one of the best cycling routes to take is the Rallarvegen. The ride starts at Haugastol, and right of the bat you’ll be treated to beautiful scenery and historical relics from when the railway was built. You continue to make your way through Finse where you can see the Hardangerjokulen Glacier with its ice cap and icefalls, then all the way up to Lake Fagervatnet which is the highest point in Rallarvegen.
There are plenty of other interesting sights to see and things to enjoy as you travel the final stretch of the route. The Flamsdalen Valley is worth noting since this is where you get to see Norway’s natural beauty at its finest. From steep mountains to lush valleys and cascading waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers, all these are sure to leave you in awe.
Distance: 51 miles
Duration: 2 days
14. Vasco-Navarro Railway
A former train route, the Vasco-Navarro Railway is now a beginner-friendly bike route in Spain best known for the natural beauty, historic landmarks, and quaint villages and towns that can be enjoyed along the way.
The route starts in the charming town of Victoria-Gasteiz and goes all the way to the historic city of Estella. On the way, you’ll be crossing the plains Llanada Alavesa and the mountains of Araba, two sights which brings out the best of the rugged Spanish landscapes. Then you’ll be cycling along rolling meadows while following the route of the rivers Berron and Ega until you reach your destination.
Distance: 51 miles
Duration: 2 days
15. Dutch Coastal Route
As part of the longer 6000 km North Sea Cycle Route, the Dutch Coastal Route offers exceptional cycling adventures along splendid beaches and marvelous sand dunes. The ride starts from the picturesque village of Sluis where you can enjoy the peaceful environment while feasting on delicious regional cousine before you head out on your fat bike and make your way to Nieuweschans.
Along the way you can enjoy a variety of coastal pleasures, from wonderful seaside landscapes to beaches and culture. The wide peaceful landscapes makes it a perfect spot for cycling, while the terp villages and the beautiful Wadden Island adds to the charm of the region.
Distance: 354 miles
Duration: 11 days
16. The Lakes Route
The postcard-perfect landscapes of Switzerland are made even more stuning by the wonderful sights along the Lakes Route. Starting from the shores of Lac Leman, cyclists make their way to the eastern fringes towards Lake Constance.
Along the way you’ll be enjoying sights of towering cliffs and mighty passes. Of course, you’ll also be treated to glorious views of the many lakes in along the route like the Zugersee, Sihlsee, and Zurichsee to name a few.
Distance: 316 miles
Duration: 10 days
A wonderful outdoor experience awaits cyclists traversing Klaralvsbanan. The route meanders through the landscapes of Varmland, passing through Forshaga, Deje, and others along the way. The Klaralvsbanan is a disused railway embankment. The tracks have been removed and the entire route is coated with asphalt for a less exhausting ride.
A route of natural beauty, the Klaralvsbanan takes you from the rich and open farmlands of the south all the way up to the mysterious and enchanting forests of the north.
Distance: 56 miles
Duration: 2 days
18. The Castle Triangle
The Castle Triangle Route in Bruges, Belgium is an excellent trail for cyclists who love the enchanting appeal of old Europe. Bordered by Bruges, Torhout, and Oostkamp the triangle route is bustling with picturesque villages and impressive castles from centuries ago.
Along the route you’ll be treated to sights of grand chateaus and aristocratic mansions like the Loppem Castle, Wijnendale Castle, and TIllegem Castle to name a few. The route is well-maintained and any type of road bike will do. All these and more makes the Castle Triangle an excellent cycling adventure for the whole family.
Distance: 32 miles
Duration: 1 day
19. Transylvania Epic Bike Ride
Transylvania hasn’t always been as popular as other countries in the continent, but it does offer one of the best cycling in Europe adventures.
Riding through lush greeneries, picturesque villages and an overall beautiful landscape, the Transylvania Epic Bike Ride is bound to be one of the most memorable trips you’ll ever make, passing through more than ten spectacular major tourist attractions along the way.
Distance: 201 miles
Duration: 7 days
20. Carinthian Lakes
One of the best cycling routes in Austria is the Carinthian Lakes Route. Also known as the Austrian Riviera, it makes for an excellent retreat for cyclists who are looking for an easy and more relaxing ride.
The whole route passes through several lakes in the region such as Lake Faaker See, Ossiacher See, Klopeiner See, and others. If you want to avoid traffic, you will want to follow backroads that runs along rivers and up through hills. Nonetheless, such paths will require very effort to pedal on, and you’ll mostly be biking on tarmac and side roads so you can use a hardtail mountain bike or a touring bike or whatever mountain bike you have.
Distance: 225 miles
Duration: 5 days
Globo Surf Overview
Biking in Europe is one adventure that you’re going to remember for a very long while. The whole continents is strewn with various cycling routes, catering to riders of varying degrees of experience and expertise. Whichever type of cyclist you are, you are bound to come home with a big smile on your face after cycling in Europe.