Cycling in Europe
Cycling is a great way to limit your dependence on anything but your own schedule. It grants you immediate access to those lesser known, wayside secrets and, what’s more, it’s cheap and good for both you and the environment too.
Holland is world famous for its accessible cycleways. The flatlands are ideal for cycling and most of the country can be travelled using interwoven lanes and paths. Look forward to smooth pedaling atop grassy dykes and surrounding views over canals, polders and tulip fields.
Check out our dedicated Cycling in Holland page for more information on Dutch cycling routes.
There is a 20km route starts at Vianen and following the meandering canal to the historic town of Gorinchem. There are several tours that include this route, but if you prefer to cut your own path it's still a good place to start. Then the next day you can wander the sleepy markets of Gorinchem and discover Castle Loevestein, an island prison that dates back to the Middle Ages, before cycling on to the fortified town of Heusden.
Another popular route, blow the cobwebs away with an early morning cruise to see the 19 traditional windmills of Kinderdijk, before pressing on to the quaint cheese town of Gouda. Make sure you set some time aside to check out the gothic St. Jans church, which is the longest church in the Netherlands, with mildewed monkey statuettes and exquisite stained glass windows.
Germany boasts over 200 long-distance cycle routes, ranging from undulating challenges in the Alps to breezy wanderings though the country’s famous vineyards. You can follow the meandering of rivers or weave through cities on a museum spree.
The Groenmetropool (or Green Metropolis) route is a huge – 370km to be exact – route taking in all of the best that Germany has to offer. Coherently and sensibly signposted, Groenmetropool connects the former mining towns to the northern Euregio region of the Dutch-German border. A fairly new route, groenmetropool has only existed since 2008, but is the perfect way to experience Germany. During the trip, nature, history and culture jump out at you, filling your trip with interesting contrasts.
Tour de Fries
A 250km trail in the north-west of the country, the Tour de Fries alternates between city and countryside regions. Taking you on a route along the German coast, past seaside resorts such as Carolinensiel and Schillig, the medieval town of Jever, home of the eponymous beer, and the Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer national park.
France has a strong cycling tradition due to the national fervour stoked by the Tour de France. If that's your thing, keep an eye out for the cyclosportives, which include everything from intimate local events to the Etape du Tour, which recently had up to 13,000 participants. Aside from these competitive events, France’s scenery is begging to be explored by cycle.
Wiggle French Revolution
If you're up for the challenge, Wiggle French Revolution has been heralded as the most exciting and innovative sportive of 2015. Traditionally the riding begins in Calais, near the port, and progresses on traffic-free courses across the North Coast. You'll fly along winding coastal roads, into the shadow of the stunning Mont d'Hubert, through fort-scattered plains steeped in history and even inland to the National Park, where the epic Mont d'Licques climb awaits.
If you favour a more leisurely pace to your cycling, then there are numerous cycleways beautified by frequent stops and plenty of freewheeling. The North-South Veloroute from La Baule (at the mouth of the Loire) to Biarritz is particularly popular, owing to the smooth, tarred surfaces and stunning surroundings.
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