Guide to the top cycling tours for 2023
In the last few years, bicycle touring has exploded in popularity. Thousands of people now squeeze into their Lycra and pack their pannier bags every summer and head to the continent to explore the hundreds of bike paths the region has to offer. From short weekend rides across the Low Countries to trips that last one, two or even three weeks and take cyclists through multiple nations, Europe is home to some of the most varied and exciting routes in the world.
With so many outstanding long and short-distance bike adventure tours available across Europe, picking just a few isn’t an easy task. To help get you in the mood for exploring the continent on two wheels, we’ve selected a variety of routes that are guaranteed to deliver on scenery, cycling and, most importantly, satisfaction.
The Danube Bike Route, Vienna to Budapest
One of the best cycling holidays Europe has to offer, the Danube bike path, part of the Eurovelo 6, runs from Vienna to Budapest, taking in Bratislava on the way. The route is largely off road, with dedicated bike paths keeping riders away from traffic and close to the river. Hills on the route are few and far between, making it perfect for novice bikers as well as seasoned cyclists.
The Danube bike route runs for 270km between Austria and Hungary and takes riders through three of Europe’s most enigmatic capitals. Riders can explore Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest and enjoy the spectacular central European countryside as they discover this unique part of the continent.
Thanks to excellent signposting, the route is easy to follow, so a lot of cyclists opt for self-guided tours, although fully guided trips are available.
Land’s End to John O’Groats
Another classic among European bike tours, Land’s End to John O’Groats is a challenging 1,000-mile cycle that takes in some of the most beautiful scenery in the United Kingdom. Beginning in the far south of the country, the route meanders up through Cornwall, Devon and the West Country and skirts the Welsh border before crossing Cumbria and the spectacular north of England.
Once cyclists enter Scotland, the scenery becomes even more dramatic. The Highlands offer breathtaking views at every turn, with lochs, mountains and valleys stretching out in every direction. The challenging cycle is generally completed in around two weeks, though longer tours allow cyclists more time to enjoy the scenery.
For anyone planning on taking part in this challenging endurance ride, here are 28 things you need to know.
The Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia
Largely flat, incredibly beautiful and very affordable, the Baltic States are fast becoming an established cycling destination. Both the Eurovelo 10 and the Eurovelo 13 trace the coastlines of these three petite countries, while the Eurovelo 11 takes riders inland, through the forests, fields and villages of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
As the Baltic states become very cold and dark in the winter months, the summer is the perfect time to enjoy a guided bike tour of the region. Guided tours last between eight and 11 nights and take in a variety of landscapes, towns, and cities.
The Pyrenees, France and Spain
If you prefer mountain biking to road biking, the Pyrenees is the perfect cycle touring destination. The mountain range boasts a fantastic variety of adrenaline-pumping rides, with routes available to suit cyclists of all levels.
For pristine trails and deserted hillsides, head to the Spanish half of the range, which is largely undiscovered by mountain bikers. The Basque Region also offers outstanding downhill routes, with spectacular views on offer on most rides.
Once you’ve completed your bike trip, why not extend your European adventure by booking yourself into one of the outstanding holiday cottages found across the UK and Europe? To make your break even more enjoyable, book a cottage with a hot tub and give your muscles a chance to relax after all that cycling.
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