15 breathtaking trails in Europe for avid and amateur cyclists
Regardless of whether you're an avid cyclist on the hunt for your next big adventure, or just looking for a fun excursion for your next family holiday, there are plenty of cycling routes across the continent to choose from. Here are our picks for the 15 most breathtakingly beautiful bike trails in Europe.
Bike trails in Europe for experienced cyclists
This selection of long-distance bike trails are perfect for experienced cyclists who are looking for a challenge, and they all provide gorgeous views across various European countries.
1. Passau to Vienna
The bike path from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria - which is also known as the Classic Danube Cycle Path - is an icon that every cycling enthusiast must try. It is one of the most popular cycling holidays in Germany, making for a long yet relatively easy-going route through many stunning vistas. Stop in the many quaint towns, churches, and breathtaking scenery as you cycle through multiple cities in Germany and Austria. Stretching over 287 kilometres, the journey takes about six to seven days to complete.
2. Canterbury to Rome
The historic path from Canterbury to Rome, also known as Via Francigena, is not only a bike route, but also a pilgrim route starting from the cathedral city of Canterbury, through France and Switzerland, and then to Apulia, Rome. In mediaeval times, this was an important pilgrimage route to visit the Holy See and the tombs of the apostles' Paul and Peter. Spanning over 1.700 kilometres, it takes around nine to 10 days to bike along this stunning path.
3. North Sea Cycle Route
The North Sea Cycle route, also known as the EuroVelo12, is a very diverse route that spans many regions of northern Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. Taking in areas below sea level in the Netherlands right up to coastal heights of 300 metres in Norway, this route is one of the most geographically diverse out there. The entire route is 7.050 kilometres long - which would take approximately 90 to 100 days of biking (including ferry rides) - but it's also possible to just do short stretches of the route.
4. Croatian Coast
Enjoy all that Croatia has to offer with this cycle ride along the Dalmatian Coast, taking in the stunning Adriatic, pristine beaches, and secret coves. Stop to enjoy fresh seafood and sublime fruits, and even sip delicious wines from Croatia’s sprawling vineyards. The route spans 555 kilometres, taking approximately five to seven days to complete, but the incredible beaches might convince you to stay a little longer!
5. C2C (Sea to Sea)
The Sea to Sea cycle has become one of the most popular bike routes in the United Kingdom, which comes as no surprise, given the rolling green hills, imposing hilltops and magnificent lakes it takes in. It is recommended to follow the bike path from west to east as the gradients are more gradual, making it an easier trip. Your journey will take you through the Lake District National Park, the Eden Valley and the Pennines, before finally stopping in Tyneside. The path is approximately 265 kilometres, and it takes around three to six days to complete.
Stunning short-distance cycle routes in Europe
If you're on the hunt for something a little less demanding, then why not check out one of these short-distance cycle routes. You'll still get a bit of a workout, and will definitely be able to enjoy some gorgeous views, but it won't be quite as challenging as the long-distance options.
6. Dunajec River Gorge
This stunning path cuts through the Pieniny Mountains, bordering Poland. On either side of the route are steep hills that wall up to 300 metres, and with the Dunajec River running through the middle, it creates an unforgettable view. You can also stop and discover the unique flora that grows only here on the limestone and dolomite. At just over seven kilometres long, this route is perfect for a short bike trip in a beautiful place.
7. Piva Canyon Road
The Piva Canyon Road is a beautiful track right at the top of Montenegro, hugging the Piva Reservoir. At 675 metres above sea level, this is the highest artificial reservoir in the world. The road runs along the Piva River with enormous cliffs and canyons on either side, but the most stunning aspect of this track is the 56 man-made tunnels that are carved out of the canyons. The route is 136 kilometres long and so could be completed in one day, if you're up for it.
8. Vasco Novarro Railway
The Vasco Novarro Railway is a greenway in Spain that is 143 kilometres long and takes the route of a train that once connected the two important regions of Estella-Lizarra and Bergara. It runs through the mountains of Araba and Navarra, with beautiful scenery all around for visitors to enjoy. This trail is perfect for those who enjoy history as well as cycling because the trail has preserved most of the old railway. The path also contains shrines and religious landmarks for visitors to enjoy.
9. Rothorn Zone
The Rothorn Zone trail is at the point where three Swiss cantons meet: Lucerne, Bern, and Obwalden. At just 24 kilometres long, it is a short but beautiful ride. You get to the start by taking the cable car to the peak of Brienzer Rothorn mountain and then follow one of the several trails back down. The terrain here is formidable but exhilarating!
10. The Camel Trail
The Camel Trail is a beautiful cycle route in Cornwall, England, which runs along two disused railways. It is packed with stunning English beauty, and at 29 kilometres is perfect for a one-day biking trip with the family. It runs from Padstow to Wadebridge to Bodmin, before finally ending at Wenfordbridge. And, after the long bike ride, you can treat yourself to some fish and chips!
The most beautiful cycle routes in Europe
While all the routes featured on this list offer stunning views of the surrounding areas, some bike trails have that little something extra that makes them even more special. These are the most beautiful long - and short-distance routes in Europe.
11. Romantic Road, Germany
Founded in 1950, one of the most beautiful bike paths in Europe is the Romantic Road in Germany. Starting from Würzburg and ending in Fussen, this path in Bavaria is packed with romantic, idyllic towns, incredible scenery, and delicious German food. The path is around 500 kilometres, making for an amorous five days in Germany.
12. Tauern Cycle Trail, Austria
The Tauern Cycle Trail in Austria is a paradise for cyclists, with views of the Krimmler Waterfalls. The path is around 300 kilometres long. It starts at the foot of the Hohe Tauern, which is one of the largest rivers in Austria, then continues via Salzburg onto Passau. Along the path are the largest ice caves in the world, with stunning views of the Hohensalzburg fortress in the background. This path is an incredible experience that every cyclist should experience at least once in their life!
13. Baltic Sea Cycle
The Baltic Sea cycle route is around 820 kilometres long, the longest in the National Cycle Route Network of Denmark. The route is beautiful, and you also have the option of taking a ferry if you would like to mix modes of transportation. Surrounded by the calm rhythms of the Baltic Sea and then passing through typical Danish villages with their ambient and cosy atmosphere, this route is the perfect opportunity to meet friendly locals and try regional dishes!
14. Elbe Cycle Route
Another stunning bike path is the Elbe Cycle Route, which runs from Czechia into Germany. Indeed, it's actually the most popular biking path in Germany, running 1.220 kilometres between the Spindleruv Mlyn in the Krkonose mountains and the North Sea. The route is packed with adventurous sites, old gothic churches, and quaint villages, all against the backdrop of one-of-a-kind natural scenery.
15. Windmills at Kinderdijk
This cycle path is unique because it takes in the largest collection of historic windmills in the Netherlands. The path is not only stunning, but can also be taken on foot as well as by bike, making for a very beautiful trip at your leisure. There are 19 historic windmills at Kinderdijk, which is near Rotterdam, and the 43-kilometre long route is packed with stunning canals and incredible nature.
Plan your next European cycling holiday!
There are plenty of cycle routes across Europe that all have something slightly different to offer those looking to explore the continent while also keeping fit. Think we've missed any thrilling or magnificent routes off this list? Let us know in the comments below!
This article originally appeared on IamExpat in Switzerland.
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