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European Cycling Routes

Posted 12 Oct 2023

Are you looking for the best European cycling routes? Whether it is gradually soaking up the culture and scenery of a new place, savouring the best food and drink, or exploring a region’s specialities, we offer all this and more, from the seat of a bicycle. Take life in the slow lane, enjoying the experiences en route as much as the destinations themselves. You can set off on a standard touring bike or make use of a little extra ‘oomph’ on our e-bike tours. Here is our Softies pick of the best cycle routes in Europe.

Loire à Vélo route, France

The Loire is one of the best places to cycle in Europe. We recommend the roundtrip between Montsoreau and Saumur along the excellently signposted Loire à Vélo route. An easy route with a few short inclines, it includes riverside paths, passes old troglodyte dwellings and a stretch through hilltop vineyards. From a short ascent you are rewarded with stunning views of the Loire Valley below and Château de Saumur, which really encompasses the experience of cycling in this part of the world.

A large stretch of the Loire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is also known as The Garden of France. You’ll pedal past spectacular castles through the Loire region, playground to the French and English nobility for more than 1,000 years. With châteaux to explore, take in the elegant gardens, underground tunnels and elegant architecture preserved for all to enjoy. 

On our tours you will cycle between 20km to 36km a day visiting ancient riverside towns and sun-baked vineyards. The terrain is predominantly flat, meaning that the miles fly by on a bike and many interesting places can be experienced on each ride.

View our Loire Valley cycling holidays here

Loire Velo

Bourton-on-the-Water and Lower Slaughter, The Cotswolds

This quintessentially English area of countryside is packed full of hidden gems that can be explored by bike. Our recommended cycle routes take in Burford with its plentiful antique shops. You will follow the river to begin with, hopping from village to village, before approaching Bourton-on-the-Water with its model village and then Lower Slaughter.

Cycling on to Cirencester allows for a trip back in time at the Corinium museum which documents the town’s Roman heritage. Its proximity to Westonbirt National Arboretum gives cyclists the chance to discover more than 2,500 species of tree from all over the world in a stunningly beautiful setting.

On a Softies Cotswolds tour, we use e-bikes in our itineraries, making it easier than ever to cycle around. After a day’s cycling, pamper yourself in one of our luxurious spa hotels.

View our Cotswolds cycling holidays here

Couple cycling

Costa Smeralda coastline, Sardinia

Costa Smeralda is one of the best places to cycle in Europe. Cycle the glamorous Costa Smeralda, a stunningly beautiful coastline dotted with fine accommodation, excellent restaurants, and no shortage of natural beauty. The roads here are largely car-free and with e-bikes used as standard on our Sardinia cycling tour, you’ll be able to cycle further and tackle the rugged coastline with ease, leaving more time to enjoy the ocean views.

Begin by heading into the granite hills of San Pantaleo, a charming little village and enjoy a fantastic freewheel back down to the coast. We recommend stopping off at the glamorous town of Porto Cervo, playground of the rich and famous. This cycle route has spectacular coastal views and secluded beaches. Remember to try a crisp glass of Vermentino post-cycle.

View our Sardinia cycling holidays here

Coastline in Sardinia

South Tyrol to Lake Garda, Italy

The South Tyrol has some of the best cycle routes in Europe. It really is a cycling paradise with stunning scenery, great food, and wine. The geography of the region sees high alpine peaks with deep valleys. Each major valley in the region sees at least one cycle route running through it, with countless mountain passes branching off into the hills at regular intervals. The cycle routes come together in the Adige Valley, where they join one of the world’s best developed cycle paths, linking charming towns including Bolzano, Trento, Riva del Garda and Verona. 

We recommend the cycle route down from the high, German speaking valleys to the lower, Italian speaking ones – pedalling from a land of speck to a land of spaghetti. Weave through apple orchards and vineyards down to the shores of glamorous Lake Garda and enjoy a glass of wine on arrival. This really is one of the best places to cycle in Europe.

View our South Tyrol cycling holidays here

Lake Garda

Dune du Pilat, Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the best places to cycle in Europe. Worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage status, bike friendly Bordeaux has a rich history, world-class architecture, haute cuisine and fine wines. The cycling routes vary between flat riverside paths and scenic coastal routes to cycling through vineyards. We recommend the cycle route along the Atlantic coast to the Dune du Pilat. The 110m dune is the highest in Europe. You can walk up and along the dunes for incredible views of the Atlantic coast. 

The cycle route takes you along the coast to the classical seaside town of Arcachon. Taste the locally farmed and deliciously fresh oysters, made creamier when paired with a sweet Muscadet or champagne. Jump on one of the ferries with your bike, cruise across the bay and enjoy a nice, easy ride around Cap Ferret. Cycle past the famous lighthouse and glorious beaches, it is one of this part of the world’s most charming and traditional spots.

View our Bordeaux bike tours here

Arcachon, Bordeaux

Mazan to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Provence

Explore the Côtes du Rhône region by bike, enjoying the postcard-perfect landscapes, charming towns and delicious wines of Provence. Pedalling around 30km each day, you'll weave between the Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards and through the history-rich streets of Avignon.

Start with a cycle into the town of Carpentras, a treasure trove for lovers of history and architecture. Keep an eye out for the Port d’Orange, the fortress ruins. From Carpentras pick up the Via Venassia cycle path for an easy, traffic-free stretch taking you to the village of Jonquieres. Further down the road lies Courthezon, perfect for a quick refreshment stop on your way to Chateauneuf-du-Pape. From the hillside, we drop down into the Rhone valley and take a flat route loosely following the rivers path, following the Euro Velo 17 long distance cycling route with our final destination at Avignon. 

View our Provence cycling holidays here

Cycling through vineyards

Gubbio to Assisi, Umbria

Start your cycle at the Tuscan jewel of Cortona, set up in the hills of southern Tuscany with spectacular views of the valley and Lake Trasimeno. Enjoy lunch in the Upper Tiber Valley before cycling the riverside path and country roads to medieval Montone where you can enjoy a fabulous dinner. Here, pick up the trail of St. Francis of Assisi and enjoy the spectacular vistas before arriving in Gubbio. Cycle through the city gate towards the rolling foothills of the Apennine and the Via Flaminia, Rome’s ancient highway to the north. We recommend stopping for a coffee break, before cycling to Assisi, the birthplace of St.Francis.

Our Tuscan e-bike tours are the perfect way to discover the rolling hills of the region. Pedal your way gently along quiet side roads; travel the ancient 'via Flaminia' highway and feast on delicious Italian cuisine and Italian wines. Umbria is high on our list of the best places to cycle in Europe.

View our Umbria bike tours here

Lake Trasimeno, Tuscany

Our tours for the best cycling routes in Europe

Check out some of our favourite tours which feature the best cycling routes in Europe. From the lavender fields of Provence to the glistening coast of Catalonia, enjoy a leisurely journey of the senses.

Classic | Châteaux of the Loire | Self Guided

Steeped in history our Châteaux of the Loire tour takes in fantastic landmarks of the area. You’ll get to visit the many impressive castles and beautiful vineyards in the Loire. The route will peacefully take along the Loire à Vélo path. In addition, you will stay in some of the best accommodation in the area during your stay.

View Châteaux of the Loire tour here

The Châteaux of the Loire tour is one of the Best Cycle Routes Europe.

Classic | Picture Postcard Provence | Self Guided

The views in Provence are next level, our tour route will give you a chance to soak in the natural beauty of the area from your saddle. Whether it’s the stunning lavender or vast meadows, you will be surrounded by incredible scenery. In addition, you can enjoy rustic street cafés, Roman ruins and fantastic luxury accommodation.

View Picture Postcard Provence tour here

The Picture Perfect Provence tour is one of the Best Cycle Routes Europe.

Indulgence | A Taste of Champagne | Self Guided

Champagne is an iconic destination and our tour will showcase all it has to offer. If you’re a foodie you’re in for a treat as the route is designed to visit the best restaurants and vineyards in the area. Admire rolling countryside, ancient landmarks and delightful towns by the tranquil canals.

View A Taste of Champagne tour here

The Taste of Champagne Self Guided tour  is one of the Best Cycle Routes Europe.

Classic | Catalonia from Mountains to Sea | Self Guided

This unique region of Spain boasts exceptional views around every corner. Enjoy a leisurely cycling adventure on some of the best cycling routes in Europe thanks to well-maintained paths. Explore ancient towns and historic cities surrounded by a beautiful landscape of olive groves and vineyards.

View Catalonia from Mountains to Sea tour here

Catalonia has some of the best cycle routes in Europe

E-Bike | The Historic Douro Valley | Self Guided

One of the oldest wine regions in the world, The Douro Valley is a cycling adventure like no other. Pedal through cascading vineyards as you follow the Douro River and bask in the authentic and friendly culture found in Portugal. With delicious food and even more delicious wine, this has got to be one of the best cycle routes in Europe.

View The Historic Douro Valley tour here

Douro Valley has some of the best cycle routes in Europe

That concludes our list of the best places to cycle in Europe. For more information on the best cycle routes in Europe, please call our cycle experts today. 

View our cycling holidays here

Other posts you may like:

What is a bike and boat holiday?
7 Foods to Try in Catalonia
Sussex cycling routes

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