Bicycling is one of the most intimate ways to explore a new place. Bike paths and cycling trails often wind through untouched countryside, and the open air from atop a bike seat seems to only amplify the entire experience. Up-close views and discovering new places on a bike journey combine to create the very essence of freedom. Whether your ideal bike trip is an arduous, week-long journey through remote surroundings or a quick ride through a city square, we’ve got the perfect cycling experience for you. Here are some of the best cycling destinations in the world:
Copenhagen consistently ranks among the most bike-friendly cities in the world. The city has invested a great deal of time and money into creating a superior bicycle infrastructure, and it shows. There are bike lanes on almost every street, as well as countless stand-alone bike paths and the Cykelslangen (bike snake)—an independent bicycle viaduct. The city even has Cycle Super Highways, which connect Copenhagen to nearby suburbs.
Amsterdam is considered by many to be the world capital of bicycle culture. Over 60 percent of trips in the city are made by bike. In addition to 250 miles of bike lanes and regular guided bike tours, the city provides guarded bike parking stations. But Amsterdam is not the only bike-friendly city in the Netherlands. Utrecht, Groningen, and the Hague also support thriving bicycle cultures. It’s hard to top a spring ride through the tulip fields or pedaling through a former Tour de France stage. Whether you want your ride to last an hour or a week, the Netherlands has a bike route for you.
South Downs Way is a bike and footpath dating back close to 8,000 years. It runs 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne in southern England, and includes nearly 14,000 feet of elevation change. The trail is popular with casual day walkers, backpackers, and cyclists.
There are numerous areas of interest along or near South Downs Way. One of these is Ditchling Beacon—the highest point in East Sussex, once used to warn villagers of impending invasions. Another is the Long Man of Wilmington, a giant hill figure thought to have been created in the 16th or 17th century. The trail continues past the remains of the medieval village of Lomer, which was likely abandoned during the plague in the 1300s. South Downs Way also traverses South Downs National Park, home to the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs.
The Shimanami Kaido is a bicycle route running 43 miles through scenic islands in the Hiroshima Prefecture. One of Japan’s most popular bike paths, this family-friendly route is all about casual riding and breathtaking scenery. There are some steeper climbs to reach bridges, but overall the route is moderate. Many people finish the route (which runs between Onomichi and Imbari) in one day, but it could take longer depending on scenic stops. There are a handful of bike rental shops and drop-off points along the way.
This challenging mountain bike route promises the two-wheeled adventure of a lifetime. Named after an annual bike race of the same name, La Ruta de los Conquistadores runs 168 miles from Costa Rica’s Pacific coast to the Caribbean coast, tracing the route taken by the Spanish conqueror Juan de Cavallon in the 1500s. The arduous journey is usually completed in three days.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores starts on the western side of the country at the resort town of Jaco Beach. Riders can expect to kick things off with over 9,800 feet of elevation gain up muddy roads during the first day of the ride. The route continues through remote rainforests, volcanoes and coffee plantations. It ends at the sandy beaches along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Reward yourself with rest and relaxation at Playa Bonita near the city of Limon. Sitting back on a beautiful beach is just what the body needs to repair and rejuvenate after tackling La Ruta.
Another advanced ride, China’s Friendship Highway runs 500 miles between Lhasa in Tibet and the Nepalese border. This route definitely requires proper training and optimum health due to the sheer distance, extreme altitudes and three mountain passes of more than 16,400 feet, but the rewards for completing this journey are abundant. In fact, the Friendship Highway bicycle route is considered one of the planet’s most epic adventures and one of the best cycling destinations in the world.
The strenuous route commences in the city of Lhasa. One of the highest cities on Earth, Lhasa is home to the Jokhang Temple and multiple impressive palaces. Other places of interest along Friendship Highway include the Rongbuk Monastery, the prayer flags at the mountain pass of Gampa La, and the town of Gyantse. Gyantse hosts a historic fort and monastery. Throughout the trip, cyclists are rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the world’s five highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest.
Roughly translating to “path through the forest”, Western Australia’s remote Munda Biddi Trail winds nearly 600 miles from Mundaring to Albany. It is currently the longest off-road trail on the planet. The Munda Biddi Trail can be completed in full or in any number of stages. The path includes various sections that are suitable for all abilities and available time frames. Plus, the conditions are good for cycling throughout the year. There are numerous free campsites along the trail offering water supplies.
The Munda Biddi Trail meanders through pristine eucalyptus forests and bushland. This mostly gentle terrain allows for ample time to take in the surroundings. There is a good chance you will spot native wildlife, including kangaroo and wallaby.
Whether your ideal vacation involves just using a bicycle to better view a city or is actually centered around a once-in-a-lifetime bicycle ride, the aforementioned trips should provide a great starting point for planning your upcoming journey. These are undoubtedly some of the best cycling destinations in the world, and specific itineraries can be created for a wide range of abilities. Happy riding!