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10 Best Cycling Trips for 2016: Which One Is Your Favourite?

By Adam Marsal

There’s nothing more exhilarating than a cycling holiday. It’s just you, your bike, and the glorious landscape ahead. Whether it’s pedalling along a river past vineyards and small villages, or free-wheeling down Alpine hills, it’s difficult to conceive of a better way to explore a destination.

1. Over the Alps (Germany, Austria, Italy)

The München-Venezia (Munich-Venice) cycle route is a new signed international cycle route that crosses the border with Italy at the Brenner Pass before taking you through the Südtirol and into the Veneto and of course Venezia. The total length of the route is 560 kilometres – of which 350 are in Italy. The route links together some of Italy’s best traffic-free cycleways including the probably most scenic cycleway of Italy, the Ciclabile delle Dolomiti which follows the course of the old rail line through the Dolomites. If you head south, the route is pretty easy with no significant climbs. Heading north, there is of course a lot more climbing – although most of the climbs are long and gradual. A significant proportion of the route (about 200km) is dedicated traffic-free cycleways. The first half of the route is almost entirely traffic-free. The second half is mainly quiet roads, but there are a couple of stretches on busier roads. The large majority of the route is surface cycleways and roads, there are, however, two significant sections of aggregate cycleway between Toblach and Cortina d’Ampezzo, and along the River Sile between Treviso and Venezia. These sections are most suited to trekking and mountain bikes – although they would be rideable with cyclocross and similar types of bikes. The route is signed in both directions. Details of this route and hundreds of another cycleway tips in Italy on: italy-cycling-guide.info


2. Connemara Loop Cycling Route (Ireland)

By many cyclists the Connemara Cycle Route is considered the most beautiful and scenic road in Ireland. It is a moderate 1 to 3 day (150km or 100 miles) looped scenic cycling trail through the wilds of Connemara, visiting one picturesque village after another, stunning beaches and inspiring Wild Atlantic Way coastlines in Co. Galway on the west coast of Ireland. The route mainly follows minor country roads, and a combination of smaller loops allows for a number of options of varying length, difficulty, and areas of interest. The trail travels through unspoilt and spectacular terrain that is dotted with beaches, islands, scenic viewing points, lakes, coastlines, cliffs, beaches, mountains, hills, caves, and rivers. There are many top attractions along the route, including Kylemore Abbey, so be sure to stop and savour what’s on offer, and plan your route to visit the ones that interest you. Starting from Clifden, the Connemara Cycling Route is a looped trail encompassing the best attractions, things to see and do. There are also a number of Wild Atlantic Way discovery points along the route. Map, details and more cycling routes in Ireland on: www.activeme.ie (More info section)

, Image: 292991868, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: , Model Release: no, Credit line: Profimedia, Alamy

3. Yas Marina Circuit (Abu Dhabi)

Do you like Formula 1? You’ve probably heard of Yas Circuit in Abu Dhabi then. Now you have the opportunity to tackle this track with your bike. Yas is opened to public every Sunday and Tuesday evening between 6pm and 10pm. At that time the Formula 1 track welcomes both cyclists and walkers, and you can go at your own pace either by yourself or with friends. The best part? You can hire a good-quality bike and helmet and get pedalling for free! All you have to do is register before your arrival. The lap is 5.5km-long with a lot of turns and even a climbing with an incline of 2% in the turn number two. All the hire bikes come with data loggers so you can monitor your stats. For a ride register here: www.yasmarinacircuit.com (Fitness section)

Formula One Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

4. Imst: Tackling Fern Pass (Austria)

All across Imst Region in Oberinntal Valley, pedal pushers and electric bikers get up close and personal with the stunning scenery while filling up their lungs with crisp mountain air. With many appealing road cycling routes, cyclists can choose from beginner to expert terrain. For a memorable Electric Bike Tour, ride across the scenic Gurgltal Valley to the top of Fern Pass and get a good grip on your handlebars before flying down. What’s more, Imst is conveniently located on the Inn Cycle Path, which offers amazing riding in both directions, toward Innsbruck and toward Landeck. A local must-see is Rosengarten Canyon in Imst, one of Austria’s most spectacular natural sights. A scenic walking trail takes you from the heart of Imst up to the Blue Grotto via a delightful series of beautiful wooden boardwalks and stone steps. More cycling tips in Tyrol on: www.tyrol.com (Things to Do/Sport&Active Section)


5. Around Corsica (France)

One of the best ways to see one of the most beautiful islands of the Mediterranean Sea is to ride its 600km of coastal roads, staying in a different campsite each night. Leave early to avoid the heat, and you’ll have the afternoon to rest by the turquoise sea. Plan more time for the winding and hilly roads on the west. It can be done in two to three weeks. Plan it for September, as in August the island is occupied by Italian tourists. Find your campsite for the night: www.campingcorse.com/vacances-corse-uk.html


6. Follow the Danube (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary)

There’s a good reason the Danube River is one of the most popular rides in Europe: Almost anyone can do it. There are no hills to speak of, and most of the riding is on a network of paved paths that follow the river. Most of its travellers cycle downstream, starting in or near Passau and ending their bike tour in Vienna. Some go even further to Bratislava (Slovakia), as it is only 35 miles away down the river. Just to avoid any confusion, Passau is in Germany. From here to a point 17 miles down the river, the Danube represents a natural border between Germany and Austria. It’s recommended to cycle the Danube downstream. Otherwise you would not be able to enjoy it as you’d have to look out for oncoming cyclists every minute. Approximately 38,000 people bike the route every year between Passau and Vienna. Assuming that the majority cycles between May and September, that’s about 300 people per day. If you cycle the Danube downstream, you will only face a fraction of them. You will be able to relax way more compared with an upstream itinerary. You may also think about extending your bike tour at the beginning. If you start in Regensburg (Germany), you will enjoy another 100 miles to get rolling. Regensburg’s got a wonderful mediaeval town and the cycle path to Passau is flat and less travelled. All you need to know about your Danube trip can be found on: www.danube-cycle-path.com

Europe Austria Wachau Stift Gottweig near Krems an der Donau cyclists

7. Along Greek Historical Sites (Greece) 

Cycle Greece’s eight-day tour (one of Bicycling magazine’s “best tours” of 2009) travels through arguably the most beautiful part of mainland Greece and offers both long (358 miles) and short (237 miles) options. Stretches in the saddle are broken up by stops at some of the Greece’s most famous sites, including the Olympic grounds where the first games commenced in 796 B.C. Also included are tours of Epidauros, the most famous healing centre in the classical world, and the ancient city of Mycenae. You can get inspired by this trip arranged by a touring agency: cyclegreece.gr/pages/tour_Sacred_Sites.htm


8. The Trossachs (Scotland)

Often described as ‘mini Scotland’, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park encapsulate all that Scotland is famous for: majestic mountains, misty lochs, fabulous views, wild landscapes and remote villages. Located just south of the Highlands, not far from Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Trossachs have been a designated national park since 2002. The cycling here is superb and – if you know where you’re going – relatively hill-free. Pedal along idyllic loch-side lanes with dramatic mountains as a backdrop, conjuring the adventures of the famed Scottish outlaw Rob Roy, who called the Trossachs his home. All about cycling around The Trossachs: www.trossachs.co.uk/cycle.php

Autumn view across Loch Lubnaig to the slopes of Ben Ledi, near Callander, Loch Lomond and the Tross

9. The Alp d’Huez of Paris (France)

Paris is a great place for cycling. With over 23,600 bikes covering the city, available 24/7 all year long in 1,800 bike stations located every 300 meters, Velib’ public bike sharing system offers a perfect way to move round Paris. You can try a route called The Alp d’Huez of Paris. Beginning at Metro Parmentier, the climb is mild at first, along the tight Rue Overkampf, allowing you to gather momentum while watching bar-goers hang out. Once you pass Bd de Belleville, the street name changes to legendary Menilmontant, and it gets mighty steep. You’re on your way to Sacré-Cœur located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Turn left on Rue du Télégraphe, and when you reach Rue du Belleville, you’ll be right by the Sacré-Cœur. Next comes the reward. Turn left downhill on Rue de Belleville, through Edith Piaf territory, and at Metro Pyrénées turn right on Pyrénées. After about 200 metres you’ll be at the hidden wonder of Parisian nature, the multilevelled Parc des Buttes Chaumont, with rolling hills, waterfalls and a tall stone-arched bridge. It’s Paris’ largest and steepest public park. We recommend preparing this route in your Strava mobile app in order not to get lost. About Velib’ bike-sharing system: en.velib.paris.fr


10. The South Downs Way (England)

The 160-kilometer route is hardly Alpine on the face of it, crossing some of the most stereotypically lush and rolling English countryside you can imagine. But all those small ups and down add up. Riders tackling the entire route commit themselves to almost 4,300 meters of uphill pedalling. A much tramped walking route for thousands of years and now a fully signposted hiking trail, the South Downs Way meanders from the precipitous cliffs of Beachy Head to historic Winchester, virtually all off-road and much of it on ancient chalky bridleways. Open to cyclists, walkers, and horse riders, those on two wheels generally allow two or three days for the trip, and there are plenty of absurdly picturesque villages en route with pubs and guesthouses. Some hardy souls tackle the entire thing in a day, but there’s an argument that pedalling furiously through some of England’s most glorious vistas kind of misses the point. Details of the route on: www.southdowns.gov.uk

Cliffs at Beachy Head, East Sussex, England