If you are looking for a fresh way to spend your vacation, consider traveling to cycle. It’s eco-friendly, healthy, and can show you all the beauty of landscapes up close and personal. As the world is full of fantastic trails, here are our top 10 cycling destinations that must be on your bucket list.
1. Join an African cycling tour
Joining the Tour de Tuli is one of the most exciting ways to see African landscapes. This year’s tour will start on July 25 and include terrains in South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. The Tour de Tuli takes four days to finish with 35–50 miles of cycling every day.
The tour starts and ends at the Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa and all the money from donations goes to a non-profit charity organization. You will get five nights of African glamping, all meals included bike service, accompanying medical team, and massages. Mountains, elephants, and savanna are some of the landmarks you will encounter riding through the African landscapes.
2. Explore the Baltics on a bike
Best done from May to August, cycling the Baltics will take you over the three less exposed European countries: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The route goes through historical towns full of architectural landmarks, like castles and churches.
It will also take you on Route 10 that goes over the Baltic Sea and to Estonia’s capital Tallinn, famous for the medieval Old Town district. Along the way, you will see national parks, forests, and beaches, as well as many monasteries. Exploring the Baltics approximately lasts for 11 days so you can spend nights in farmhouses or camp under the starry sky.
3. Embark on a Patagonian ride
If you love spending time in nature, traveling through Patagonia should be among the top destinations on your bucket list. Cycling 621 miles of the Carretera Austral route, also known as Route 7 in Chile, is not an easy trip. It connects Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins, spanning across the barely populated land of Chilean Patagonia.
The road is unpaved in spots, has potholes, and sometimes you can’t pass certain points due to the weather conditions. Carretera Austral includes 10 of the 17 national parks with sights like lakes, glaciers, and mountains. Towns like Chaitén, Chile Chico, and Puerto Aysén are nice places to stop, meet friendly locals, and rest during the ride.
4. Ride the landscapes of New Zealand
New Zealand is often praised for its natural beauty, so it’s a perfect destination to explore by bike. South Island offers many cycling routes that vary from smooth and wide to those only for experienced bikers. Great Taste Trail is exactly for the latter showing you the views of Tasman Bay, and the Western Ranges.
If this is not a hard-enough route for you, try the Old Ghost Road considered the hardest one in the country. It goes over alpine ridges, through the rainforest, and by the lakes with its 50 miles length. Those not so skilled will have the same amount of fun on the Otago Central Rail Trail, the easiest ride with volcanic rock formations, wetlands, and swing bridges over forests.
5. Cycle through China
Situated between Lhasa in Tibet and the Nepalese border, the Friendship Highway will take you on a ride through picturesque China. This is a 500 miles long route at a high altitude so you need to prepare for high elevations before cycling here.
Since this is a challenging ride, make sure to plan ahead to overcome tough terrain and long distances between settlements. Some of the most memorable things to see are Mount Everest and mountain pass Gyatso La. Make sure to check what permits and documents you need for this trip since the bordering nations are in constant political turmoil.
6. Go on an Australian cycling adventure
Munda Biddi Trail is one of the best cycling routes in Australia, located on the west. In Aboriginal, its name means “road through the forest” and that’s where it will take you. Riding through the eucalyptus forest and encountering some of the native wildlife, like wallabies and kangaroos are the main attractions on this route.
Taking your mountain bike on a 600 miles journey is a challenge, but when completed you can be proud to finish the longest continuous off-road cycling trail in the world. However, you don’t have to travel all this distance from Mundaring to Albany. There are many shorter routes, like the 200 miles trail going from Mundaring to Collie.
7. Bike the South African wine routes
Some cycling routes are more focused on pleasure and sights than recreation. Cycling around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa is one of them, with wine tasting events and exquisite cuisine. Besides visiting the best wineries and vineyards here, you will also have time for whale watching and admiring the Boulders penguin colony.
You will have a chance to cross the Karoo desert and stop by Barrydale, a little Dutch town in the Tradouw Valley. Since you will be in the Stellenbosch area, you will get to try some of the premier wines South Africa has to offer. The right time for this cycling expedition is from September to January, although April is also a good month for a ride.
8. Travel from Canada to Mexico
Those interested in cycling through the North American continent should travel the Great Divide. This route goes from Banff in Canada to the Mexican border in Antelope Wells. The Great Divide is over 3,000 miles long and can take up to ten weeks to finish.
It will take you through the US states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico on mostly unpaved roads. This is a demanding trail so check your bikes before riding, use appropriate tires, and prepare for over 100 miles distance between sources of water and food.
9. Try a piece of the Tour de France
Tour de France is one of the most famous professional cycling races. You can get the taste of it as an amateur by cycling an 84-mile part known as L’Étape du Tour. This is an annual event taking place in the mountainous terrain from Albertville to Val Thorens.
However, this is not an easy ride. L’Étape includes three climbs and the last 22 miles are cycling only uphill. Each year, around 15,000 cyclists apply regardless of their abilities, and the fastest ones receive awards after the race.
10. Pedal through jungles of Burma
Burma is ideal for cyclists who want to travel quiet roads and see lots of landmarks. Starting from Myanmar, the road will take you to the city of Bagan, passing by thousands of temples. You will go through the toddy palm forest to Mount Popa, by the Inle Lake, and several Buddha sculptures among the limestone caves.
Since Burma wasn’t open to tourism until recently, the scenery is untouched in most parts. Full of sincere people, you will always feel welcome among the villagers, fishermen, and people you encounter on the road.
In the end
These top 10 cycling destinations are only a portion of wonderful spots to explore by bike in the world. So, when you start a bucket list, make sure to include one or more to experience the freedom and excitement of riding in the unfamiliar nature.