Europe is a wonderful destination for cycling. Its beauty lies not only in the landscapes on offer and their proximity to the UK, but also in the amazing variety of destinations. Indeed, many of the best places are not only favoured by pros and committed amatuer cyclists alike, but also provide perfect opportunities for leisurely rides too.
Below, you’ll find a list of Europe’s top cycling destinations, as well as a few tips on travelling with your bike.
Travelling with your bike
It’s actually much easier to fly with your bicycle than you might think. For example, at Monarch it costs just £25 – £28 to check your bike in (up to a weight of 30kg) and fly it to your chosen destination with you, if you arrange to do so in advance.
All you need to remember is to pack it correctly in a cycling bag or box, with the handlebars turned inward and the rear wheel secured. Pad the pedals and, finally, remove the front wheel and secure it to the main frame.
If you don’t want to bring your bike with you, check what the options are for hiring before you travel. In some cases, it’s a good idea to arrange your bike hire in advance to avoid disappointment.
Flight time from the UK: Approximately four hours
Cycling highlights: Mount Teide; Europe’s biggest continual climb
Tenerife is a fantastic destination for keen cyclists – especially those who really want to give themselves a challenge. While there are flat spots for cycling on this sun-soaked Canary Island, its mountainous terrain is the real highlight. In fact, it’s so good that Team Sky even use it for training purposes!
The ultimate challenge is tackling Europe’s biggest continuous climb, which runs from sea level to an altitude of 2,200 metres – even for experts, this route takes several hours to complete. Mount Teide itself stands at 3,718 metres (though the road stops at 2,200 metres) and whether you choose to tackle it from sea level or not, it makes for some truly dramatic, challenging cycling.
For those looking to take a more leisurely pace, Tenerife offers some great opportunities for cycling through flatter countryside and towns, combining sightseeing with cycling.
Another advantage of Tenerife is that it is very much a year-round destination, thanks to its consistently good climate. Plus, the roads are generally very well surfaced, and drivers are patient with cyclists, making it a particularly welcoming place to enjoy a few days on your bike.
Flight time from the UK: Approximately four hours
Cycling highlights: Volcanic landscape; the 10 km ascent at Tabayesco
Tenerife isn’t the Canary Islands’ only major cycling destination; Lanzarote has a lot to offer keen cyclists too. Its amazing volcanic landscape has a lunar-like appearance, which makes for some truly unique cycling experiences. Like Tenerife, it provides a selection of spectacular climbs, such as the 10 km ascent of Tabayesco, which is particularly scenic, and Femes mountain in the south.
There are also plenty of bike shops and rental stores, which make the destination very cycling-friendly. One thing to be mindful of before travelling is that Lanzarote can get rather windy at times, so it’s best to be prepared for the occasional day of cycling in a strong breeze!
Flight time from the UK: Approximately two hours
Cycling highlights: The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range; flat coastal cycling
Perched in the Mediterranean, Majorca is another island that promises cyclists a combination of good weather, a strong cycling infrastructure, and a wide variety of cycling routes. Indeed, when it comes to variety, Majorca is a destination that’s hard to beat. Here, committed cyclists can test their skills on the Serra de Tramuntana’s Puig Major, which provides the longest climb on the island at 854 metres over 14 km, while those seeking the occasional leisurely bike ride can cruise their way along flat coastal roads.
Indeed, the roads here are well maintained and typically very quiet, while any cars you do encounter will be very patient with cyclists. What’s more, Majorca generally has good weather all year round, though it does tend to be more changeable early in the year (January and February), so if you’re looking for more consistent weather for cycling, travelling outside these months can be a good idea.
There are also several good rental options in Majorca, offering bikes for both the duration of your break, and full or half days for the more casual cyclist. If you do plan to rent, bear in mind cycling is a very popular activity here, so it’s worth booking as soon as possible after you’ve arranged your holiday.
Flight time from the UK: Approximately 90 minutes
Cycling highlights: Some of the continent’s most scenic cycling
The closest destination to the UK on our list, Nice is also one of the Europe’s most charming cycling spots – somewhere that promises incredibly scenic cycling paired with the lavish, cosmopolitan ambience of the French Riviera. This is the ideal choice for anyone hoping to balance a little relaxation and indulgence with some excellent cycling.
Plus, it is a year-round cycling destination, though exactly when is best to travel depends largely on how much biking you’d like to do. The keenest cyclists may prefer spring and autumn, when the temperature is milder and there are fewer tourists, while those looking for the occasional day’s cycling as part of a more varied holiday are likely prefer the summer months, when the sun is in full swing.
In terms of cycling routes, there are several that can be tackled directly from Nice, such as the Col d’Eze, which is a must for more serious cyclists. It climbs for 10 km and provides stunning panoramic views of Nice.
Cycling is also simply an excellent way to explore the French Riviera. In addition to challenging mountain routes, there are options to pedal through gorges, charming medieval villages and along the coast. If you’re looking for a leisurely ride, the green cycle path running the length of the coastline is a great place to start, and offers many good stops for refreshments along the way.
Planning a cycling holiday? Find out where we fly to.