By Susan McDonald
A cycling holiday is one of the great adventures you can go on, especially if you love the outdoors. Not only does it keep you active and fighting fit, but spending your holiday on two wheels allows you to see so much more of the country you’ve visiting. You might not go as far as you would in a car, but you’ll have a deeper connection to the ground that you do cover; going at a slower place allows you to establish a more authentic impression than if you were zipping back at 70mph.
With that said, we’ve put together some of the top destinations for a cycling holiday and some useful information on how you can turn your dream into a reality.
Preparing for a Cycling Holiday
There are some essential things to take care of before you enjoy your cycling holiday. For a start, you’ll need a bike. If you already have one that you would prefer to use over a rental, talk to your airline to see if you’re able to take it on the plane; be aware that there may be a considerable charge for this service. If you’re happy to rent a bike, do some research before you travel to see what bikes are on offer and how much they cost; any big cycling destination should have a number of bike rental agencies. Once you have sorted out your bicycle, ensure that you have adequate insurance to protect your bike against any accidents or personal injuries – some of the most famous bike routes are challenging for a reason and there will always be a semblance of risk when you traverse them. Finally, try to build up your fitness and endurance in the weeks and months before you travel as you’re likely to spend many hours on a bike and don’t want to have to cut your vacation short due to inadequate fitness.
Italy’s diverse landscape makes it one of the best cycling destinations in Europe. Start in the north, at Lake Como, and slowly make your way down to the vineyards and beautiful, sweeping landscapes of the south. If you have time, don’t forget to catch the train or ferry to the island of Sicily; its sunsets, mountains, and pleasant small towns are a joy to explore by bike.
Almost every Mediterranean country can be explored by bike, but Spain’s myriad small, sleep towns and dusty mountain scenery make it one of the best. If possible, stay toward the south as this is where the most bike friendly trails are. You can also take the ferry to Morocco, another excellent cycling destination where somewhere the sunshine and water just feel different.
Iceland is a country steeped in great myth. Known as the ‘the land of fire and ice’, Iceland sometimes feels like it could be straight out of Game of Thrones. Home to just 300,000 people, the country can feel deserted pretty quickly if you take a wrong turn, but this is just what you want from a cycling holiday: adventure. At the end of a day cycling, unwind in a natural hot spring and keep your eyes out for the majestic northern lights.
The United States are great for many types of holiday, and cycling is no exception. The hard part is picking which route to take. However, if you saw any of Mark Beaumont’s adventure journey from Alaska to Southern Argentina, you might just think that heading to the American West is the way to go. In particular, the land around Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, where the rocks are red, the lanes wide, the sky blue, and the views absolutely unforgettable.
Though Thailand and Vietnam are also good cycling destinations in Asia, India offers the best overall experience. For one thing, India has an excellent array of landscapes, ranging from sensational mountains to pristine beaches. It also has an atmosphere that is best savored by being on the ground and a part of it. Being on a bike also gives you the flexibility to explore cities (just watch out for traffic) as well as getting out into the open landscape, which would ordinarily require an awkward journey via public transport. India won’t be as peaceful as other countries, and you really must pay attention to the sometimes reckless drivers, but for spirit and atmosphere it is hard to beat.
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